The Art of Paper Design – Interview with Sarah Suplina
In this series of the Art of Paper Design, we interviewed Sarah Suplina. A full time middle school art teacher and professional paper artist — Sarah creates small collages that are typically inspired by nature and the seasons. The collages, which she likes to call “snippets” are created by using pieces of painted paper, that are layered together to create lifelike shapes and textures.
Read on to learn more about Sarah and her amazing work!
“There is something magical about working small.”
Tell us about yourself and how your art journey began.
I am both a full time art teacher and professional paper artist. My paper journey began approximately eight years ago as an experiment. I loved working with traditional watercolors but was getting bored with them. I was working on a landscape and it was just dull, so I tore it up and reconstructed it with layers and tears. I loved the textures, cast shadows and added depth. I have been working with Paper Art ever since.
Can you tell us a bit about your current work process?
My pieces always start with an inspiration. Once I know what I want to create, I then research, sketch and start painting my paper. After that, the cutting and assemblage process begins. I rarely sketch an entire composition out prior to beginning; I like a piece to have room for organic decisions.
What inspires you to create/design each of your art pieces? Has it changed over time?
The seasons inspire me and the different sights and colors of each one. My anticipation of a season can also inspire my work. Spring and summer are big inspirations with the colors, birds and florals. In the cold of winter, it is great to work with warm imagery.
My interest has always been in nature but my style does fluctuate between realism and abstraction. I recently completed a large abstract inspired by wind. I enjoy jumping between these two styles because the approach is very different. Realism is extremely satisfying by its completion and success, while abstraction is a much more mindful approach for me.
With all of the different options available to express one’s creativity, why do you choose paper as your primary medium?
I love paper for all its creative possibilities. Layering the paper creates depth and casts shadows that painting alone cannot create. Folding, creasing, and bending the paper add yet another layer of interest that I love to play around with.
What was the first “snippet” that you created in this miniature collage art form?
My first “snippet” was part of a 100 Day Art Challenge on social media. The prompt was a vessel, so I created a small potted plant. I decided to take on this art challenge as a way to motivate myself in my studio. At the time, my pieces took several weeks to complete. I knew that in order to complete the challenge, I would have to change the size of my work. I really enjoy the challenge of working small; there is something magical about working small.
What is your favorite part of the artistic process? What motivates you to continue creating?
My favorite part of the artistic process is getting lost in my ideas. When I step into my studio, I try to leave the real world behind and just focus on my work. I put on my favorite music, wear my comfy clothes, and dive deep into my creative side.
I also really enjoy the support and inspiration of the creative community. Sharing, displaying and discussing my work with my peers is wonderful.
What has contributed most to your evolution as an artist?
My evolution as an artist has been a very organic path, as I follow my interests and inspirations. One piece will lead to another, and then to another one… I have a strong desire to try new techniques, subjects, sizes, styles and enjoy challenging myself.
What are you seeking to portray to viewers of your work?
I want my viewers to look, to admire and appreciate the small, beautiful details around us. I want my work to be a pause on a busy day. I want my work to be a small moment of joy. I want my viewers to see things in a slightly different way, possibly more beautiful way.
As an art teacher, how do you balance your job and making time to create your own art?
At times, the juggle between my two careers can be challenging. During the school year, my teaching is my priority. I will work on my own art on my days off or at night. The summer is when I can really dive deep into my artwork. The key to balance has been to separate the two.
When I am teaching, I am there to work with my students. When I am in my studio, I focus on my own art work and ideas.
Where do you hope to see your creations in the future?
I hope to see my creations with more exposure in more exhibits, books, and art collections. My dream collaboration would be to work with our National Audubon Society.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given for your career?
My best advice to any creative, is to be yourself; Do not be afraid to follow your vision or put your work out to the world to see. You never know the impact or influence of your work unless you are willing to put yourself out there.
Do you have any upcoming shows/exhibits/endeavors that you would liken to share?
I have quite a few exciting projects in the works. I am currently working on a Tiny Art Exhibit that will be on display in Massachusetts. I am creating tiny pieces, in scale, of my work. My work will also be published in an upcoming book by Martha Sielman, and I am currently researching Birds Art Exhibits that I would like to participate in.