POWPAPER by Eric Pow
Eric Pow, that is who I am. An American born Chinese living with each leg in a different culture. Just like many who share my cultural mixture I am influenced by both cultures to live a life not dedicated to either side.
In college I learned about the techniques of Art while studying Graphic Design. Design classes were about learning conformity and working within a system of corporations with specific objectives doling projects out to designers. Art on the other hand was teaching technique with creative expression and individuality. You could make art by other masters but always be able to take it one step further through experimentation.
My day job, responsibilities to life and living the so-called ‘American Dream’. As a full time designer I create restricted art, restrictions of corporate identity and branding. Paying the bills as such as the other millions of people in the world. It is a necessity of life, but that other side of me wants to be creative and free. For my free time I spend on friends and family, then on creating Art and running my personal craft small business. Like the sharing of cultures I have a leg in both Design and Art.
In the summer of 2012, I started my Etsy store, POWpaper. It was really a way of clearing space so I could continue to create more pieces. I had found that many people loved what I was doing. I began creating more and more. Year after year I have met new people, gained much experienced and translated many ideas into paper art.
Paper as medium
There is an understanding of other mediums such as paint, where painters are not questioned on why paint as medium. Though are many paper artists it is less widespread as paint. I create art out of paper because it is the medium that relates to me the closest.
Growing up Chinese I am influenced by my culture who created and developed this material. The Chinese used it as a form of communication while creating forms of art by cutting and folding it. I was always drawn to the cutting of paper and the intricate designs one can create out of the material.
Three dimensional objects made by building up the paper in structural forms or gluing stacks to carve like a sculpture. Back in college you were either sculpt or paint, or art or design. I tended to be in the middle of every group, painted with a layout with design in mind or sculpted paper on 2D panes like I were painting. Though I leaned towards sculpting as design and painting were on similar dimensions.
Techniques in paper art
Paper cutting. This Chinese styled art of cutting paper was a traditional form of paper art for over a thousand years. Taking a flat sheet of paper the artists would cut shapes out of the paper to create images then paint could be applied. Some other techniques were to fold the paper first then cut. Nowadays the most common paper cuts are cut from a sheet of red paper, usually thin for easy cutting, found in most Chinese gift shops around the globe.
A few hundred years ago this European art style consisted strips of paper that were rolled and curled for décor in many upper class homes. Quilling can be found in abundance as the technique is popular among crafters/artists.
I think the history would be along the lines of wood carving. I had a need for certain complex and curvier shapes that I just couldn’t get with traditional means. For those pieces I needed to carve 3D shapes out of stacks of joined paper sheets. It takes a sharp knife and a little risk for those smaller shapes to avoid injury.
I always wanted to to do art that paid homage to my Chinese heritage while connecting it to my American upbringing. Creating art out of paper with western influences allowed me to do just that. Although I love and will continue my paper art I do have other styles I want to express that paper as a medium cannot portray as well as ink as a medium. Often found in the early works of Asian art paintings using ink and water were the mainstays of origins of art in Asia. I wanted to create something similar with the boldness of original coloring of black and red without the tonal difference as those ancient arts. Using modern and ancient techniques POW INK will display the boldness of ink.