StyleBible Preview

This Chicago-Based Filipina Is Turning Paper Into Beautiful Art

Illustrator and artist Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo takes milestones and turns it into intricate papercut art.
This Chicago-Based Filipina Is Turning Paper Into Beautiful Art
IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo
Illustrator and artist Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo takes milestones and turns it into intricate papercut art.

Papercutting is the delicate art of cutting paper into intricate designs. One Filipina who has turned her craft into a business is Chicago-based illustrator and artist Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo. Read on to find out how she got started and what inspires her creative work.

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

How did you get started in papercutting?

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

“I quit my corporate job of five years in 2013. Before going back to the workforce later that year, I decided to dabble in a few creative activities. One of those activities was a papercutting workshop in Cookie Collective, which used to be in Cubao Expo (if you’re curious, Cookie Collective is now the burger joint Sweet X). I was always making art growing up, but that was my introduction to the craft.”

CONTINUE READING BELOW
Recommended Videos

What was the very first piece you designed?

“I honestly can’t remember. I created random designs during my papercut exercises. And this was way before I decided to open an online art shop last year. I feel so bad not remembering! [Laughs] I remember the first piece that I sold though. In December 2013, I ended up putting two of my amateur pieces up for auction for the benefit of typhoon Yolanda victims. They were both sold and I donated all of the proceeds to the cause. That experience served as sort of a compass for my artistic journey.”

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

How long have you been creating papercut art?

“As I mentioned, I started in 2013 and had two of my art pieces sold that year. But other than that, I did not actively pursue it until after a very eventful 2016 (getting married, moving to Chicago permanently, and hosting a weekend radio show), I finally invested in more supplies and went back to illustration and papercutting regularly, with a timeline and goal to open an online art shop in 2017.”

What do your clients usually request for when having papercut art customized?

“My best-selling custom piece is my celebration map. I hand-draw and hand-cut an intricately-designed state silhouette and personalize it with details of the event or milestone that took place in that state.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

“Most custom orders are artistic representations of things that are very sentimental, personal, and meaningful to my clients—and those are what I love the most. I once had a project for a custom papercut art of a wedding lace pattern. This lovely girl from Florida had it made for her mother-in-law who lost her wedding gown a long time ago from constantly moving houses and has always been sad about it. It was so touching that her daughter-in-law came up with this idea for a unique art piece to remember her wedding by.”

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

How long does it take for you to work on a piece? Where do you usually create them?

“The time I take to complete a project depends on the size and details of a design. A smaller piece may take longer than a bigger one depending on the details. So the range is big; say anywhere from two to 12 hours. But art pieces that I’m currently making to build my first collection and potentially exhibit in galleries is a totally different story. They are taking me days!

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

“Right now, I work from a home studio in Northern Chicago. It’s a quaint corner in our tiny home. My husband DIY-ed a counter-height table from shelf brackets, gray-washed wood planks, and pipes!”

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

For your personal work, what inspires your art?

“The initial inspiration was probably the fact that the shop was opened in the middle of the woods. I set it up and activated it while spending the weekend in a summer house in Wisconsin—and we got Wi-Fi, yay!

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

“So my early batch of papercuts for sale was mostly woodland creatures/forest animals. I also draw inspiration ‘from inspiration.’ It sounds silly but it just means that inspiring and motivating thoughts are also good sources of my designs, because I create a few pieces with text and my own visual representations of virtues such as strength, courage, acceptance, etc. Also, my illustration style always comes through in my papercuts. I love doodling and I always illustrate using fine, repetitive lines and I think that habit often shows in my papercuts, too.”

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

Aside from papercutting, what other art do you create?

“I also paint with watercolors and acrylics. I’m actually contemplating on offering them the past few months, but I wasn’t sure if I should disrupt my current artistic direction. But art is not supposed to be stiff and strict, right? So who knows… I am also first and foremost an illustrator, which helps a ton with papercutting because it gives me the creative liberty and flexibility in coming up with designs by hand. I was a political cartoonist in college so it felt great to be able to illustrate again when I opened shop.”

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

What are your tips for people who are first-time papercutters?

“This won’t be the first time I gave this interview answer: Never drop your precision knife because it will instantly dull the blade! [Laughs] On a serious note, don’t be afraid to dabble in papercutting! It can be intimidating because creating with a knife is nerve-wracking as compared to drawing with a pencil and an eraser to correct mistakes. So start with very basic designs, be very patient, and never rush into finishing a piece—I tried and went berserk. Once you get better with cutting and controlling the tools that papercut artists use, then you can move on to more challenging designs.”

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

IMAGE Courtesy of Yang Pulongbarit-Cuevo

What are your dream papercutting projects?

“One of them is actually an idea from a fellow creative here in Chicago. We are planning to collaborate on an art installation sometime in summer or fall. She is a stylist who’s really good with textiles and staging so that’s pretty exciting! I have a number one, big, crazy—or not—goal, but not a single soul knows about so I have to leave you hanging right there and update you when it is finally in the horizon.”

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

What’s the best thing about being a papercutting artist?

“I think as with any other artists, it is having an incredible and unique ability to evoke a feeling or emotion. Also, my goal is to have my work in as many houses as possible as a part of their interior art. It is not just a conversation piece, but also an art that completes a home because of what it means to the people who own it. The craft is also very flexible and has great potential to produce various compositions. I aspire to be a mixed media artist and I believe papercutting is the perfect foundation for me to build my artistic identity.”

You can follow Yang’s work at yangcuevo.com, @yangcuevo, and shop her art at paperhuggerstudio.etsy.com.

MORE FROM PREVIEW.PH

COMMENTS