Artist Eric Standley creates intricate art through layers of cut paper. By discovering this by mistake, Standley has grown to create many unique pieces. We interviewed the artist to learn more about the journey and technique behind his beautiful craft. To view more work visit eric-standley.com
Art on Paper Miami 2015, December 1 – 6
Sic Itur Ad Astra (Thus you shall go to the stars), Islamic Arts Festival, Sharjah, UAE, December 16 – January 16
Daphne, Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke VA, April – August 2016
What materials do you use to cut the paper?
The cuts are made using a Universal Laser System PLS 6.75 with high density optics. And of course a good old Olfa knife to pick out the chads and correct things by hand.
The depth of your work is beautiful and adds an interesting element. How did you come up with the idea to layer multiple pieces of paper on top of each other?
It was an accident really. I was using a laser for an earlier project in 2005 and stacked up the practice cuts I had done on paper. That led to questions about being conscious of drawing multiple layers that correspond to one another, while also drawing across the composition. It took me about 3 years to become fairly proficient in thinking about drawing on a matrix like that.
How do you decide how each layer will look/ how it will fit with the previous layers?
I think about the absence of material for each layer, and how that translates into a built 3D space. Each layer is developed as a direction related to the other layers, somewhat like old-school cell animation. I start with sketches from my sketchbook that plot out events in space. While I am drawing vectors on the computer, I make decisions per layer on how to occupy space from one event to another. Color is considered as I draw the layers, and then edited during the cutting process.
About how long does it take to complete one project?
The drawing process for the larger works average about 4 months. I usually have several things going on at once and some are left behind for a year or so, then picked up again. Ceres took a year create, starting in 2013. Either/Or Epsilon Orionis took about 8 months in 2014, and was re-worked in 2015.
Where do you grab inspiration for your work/ what influences it?
My process is a compulsion really, and satiates a need to organize complex visual patterns. I am attracted to paradoxes related to the infinite. I visually organize experiences from my childhood, multi-cultural Mythologies and Histories that contain paradoxes. Contextualizing my thoughts into compositional relationships in space seems to be a natural way of thinking for me. I have developed different categories of compositional events for my work, such as a “float”; a suspended section of paper layers that appear hover above other areas of the composition. There are also “jumps” from one layer down to another, “rooms” etc.
What is your favorite piece? Why?
My favorite piece has consistently been the next piece I am about to create. I think this is because my process takes so long, and there are so many changes and edits that I am constantly adding ideas and plans in my sketchbook that could be picked up and carried out in the future. I am starting an installation called Daphne for the Taubman Museum of Art that has been in the back of my mind for years. I am excited to bring it to fruition in 2016, so yeah, Daphne is my favorite piece right now.