Yarning with an Artist: Charlotte Trimm

by Anna Blanch on May 4, 2012

This week’s I’m yarning (having a chat with) Charlotte Trimm, otherwise known as Charlie of By Charlie’s Hand. Charlie is a papercut artist of considerable talent. I’m glad to have two of her original works in my collection and I’m looking forward to adding a couple of items from her homewares and prints soon – you can take a look at her range of cushions and cards on her By Charlie’s Hand – Folksy page. This woman’s career is taking off. Her work is extraordinarily detailed, wonderfully creative and whimsical!


When did you first realize you are an artist?

I don’t think I’ve ever really noticed becoming an artist I had always been creative but when I was about 14 I decided I wanted to be an artist professionally for a career but I never really realised I was one until I had to start telling people what my job is now. The first time I actually said to someone that I was a self employed artist I was a little freaked out that it had actually become a reality for me rather than an ambition that I was still working towards. It has been a really wonderful moment to go forward from and now when I say I am an artist it feels comfortable and right it never worked for me before that I was always an artist on the side, it was a secondary label to where I worked as a day job so for it to be now my job and what I do every day is amazing and I love telling people I am an artist.

Could you tell us some more about your work? what are you working on at the moment?

I am a papercutter, I cut images and words out of paper with a scalpel not cut myself with paper like some self-harming performance artist. I mostly work on commissions at the moment and I develop and create original works for myself when I have the time. One of my most recent pieces was a donation to Marie Curie Cancer Care which was auctioned off on the 3rd of March and raised £450. It is a heart shaped filled with an A-Z of flowers with particular attention on the daffodil as it is the charities logo, it is one of the largest pieces I have ever made. I am also planning on another collaboration with jewellery maker Molly Ginnelly and designing works for an exhibition in Scotland later in the year which is very exciting along with expanding my product range I am hoping to branch out into prints and textiles! [see her Folksy page for those textiles!]

Describe yourself as a sandwich/lunch?

Tea with a fish finger and tomato sauce sandwich, a little bit childish, nostalgic and fuelled by tea.

What is it that inspires you to paper cut a particular subject?

Beyond commissions I mainly cut things I like personally, so things like birds, trees and hearts feature heavily in my pieces, nature seems to get a serious look in along with lots of repetition and symmetry as I often describe myself as suffering from art induced OCD I have a need to balance things a lot or they don’t look right to me which is sometimes a problem as the world isn’t as symmetrical or ordered as I would like it to be! otherwise I take inspiration from the world around me, poetry, rhymes and sentimental ideas, I am not the most romantic person in the world but the side appears to come out in my work sometimes.

What famous artists have influenced you, and how?

Rob Ryan is what I call my ‘Papercut Hero’ he is the reason I started papercutting as I liked his work so much I thought I would give it a go and it turned out I was pretty good at it too! other paper cutters include Su Blackwell who never ceases to amaze me and I adore the way she cuts books as I would never have the courage to do so as I think books are very precious so I admire her having the guts to cut them! Heather Moore’s work is so simple in plain black but beautifully executed and Patricia Zapata uses layering and basic colours in her work and both’s methods make their work striking and I admire their skills. Otherwise Antony Gormley I love the scale of his work and he is very repetitive using his own body as a form, Rachel Whiteread, Anish Kappor, Ian Davenport for his use of colour, Richard Long due to his simplicity and one of my most treasured possessions is a signed book of ‘Countless Stones’ I love artists who are systematic and embrace scale and their media whole heartedly.

What about an artist/creative person I may not have come across but that you think the world needs to know about?

Simon Fenouleht, he was a guest lecturer when I was at university and he was very inspiring again his work is very repetitive but he uses everyday objects to create amazing works often manipulating them with light, one of my favourites works was part of a collection of three works for an exhibition entitled ‘Lucent Lines’ called ‘Curtain’ which is made up of plastic drinking straws threaded over electro-luminescent wires it was spectacular and I had the pleasure of watching him test the piece whilst at university and assist him a little. He tutored during his time with us and I found speaking to him was like taking my brain out and having it talk back to me perfectly as I think we worked in very similar ways and had thought processes that followed the same threads which really helped me develop my ideas that little bit further as he had the confidence and experience to suggest things to me that I may have not been able to think of or confident enough to pursue. He helped push me a further and gave me such confidence in my methods and idea which was so encouraging to have as a student and he is also a very nice person!

What do you do for fun/other interests besides art?

I am fairly boring and do the usual things, watch TV, I read quite a lot, socialise with my friends, go shopping and spend time with my boyfriend and just generally enjoy being 24! You can find me drinking lots of tea and looking at coloured paper quite a lot though which I suppose isn’t that normal.

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

I find inspiration all over the place, small things can spark big ideas, I can see or hear something and it can start an idea ticking over which then gets scribbled and improved, perhaps a little test cut then moving onto a more defined and figured out finished piece.

When things get tough I walk away, there is nothing worse than forcing myself to try and doing something because it actually makes me feel anxious and I have to get away from it and have a cup of tea, watch some bad daytime TV , calm down and then go back to it and usually once I have done this it all seems to flow a little easier and the scalpel starts to work it’s magic!

How have you handled the business side of being an artist?

It’s been a big learning curve! Putting a price on my time and talent has been one of the biggest things I have struggled with as I think modesty kicks in and when I first started out I was so pleased that someone wanted to buy my work I was just far too excited to be practical about what it was worth. Now I am better at it as I try to work on a basic hourly rate and factor in all my costs it’s not yet a perfected system but I am getting there. Otherwise I am officially registered as self employed and I keep records or my sales/expenses and try my best to keep no top of and be realistic about the work load I can handle again this is something that has been a big learning curve as it is so easy to keep saying yes to commissions.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

The basic hope/dream is that I will still be papercutting to my hearts content and hopefully earning a decent living from it. The very big dream would be that I would be exhibiting and have a large product range, built up a very impressive portfolio of works and have worked/working with other artists and companies on larger scale projects and pieces.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Your career may not start off with a bang but persistence is key, having self belief and confidence in yourself and your work will always show. Never stop loving and enjoying what you are doing you cannot create wonderful things if you do not love or enjoy creating it! Network as much as possible there is loads of help and support out there so find it and use it, self promote there are so many free platforms to use, I will call them ‘social media’ here but we all know what I really mean, and take advantage of any opportunity that is offered to you you cannot afford to say no. I never thought that when I graduated in 2010 that I would be a self employed artist so soon but be realistic about what you can do, set yourself little goals and make smaller plans rather than larger ones so they are achievable and realistic we would all love to do the big things but the ground work needs to be laid.

What/Where is the most inspiring place in the world for you?

I think any where or time that my mind can float away and go off on it’s own then come back with a little idea going ‘Charlie! Charlie! Do this!’ is an inspiring state or place to be in. I have thought of some of my best ideas whilst sitting on buses or walking to a friends house. I have a few places in the world that are very special Cornwall is always a beautiful place to visit, I went to New Zealand when I was 18 and I always think about it and how wonderful it was. My boyfriend Rob took me to see ‘The Angel or The North’ and ‘Another Place’ on Crosby Beach and I found being at both incredible, we go on little UK holidays a lot and go for random drives around our local area in South Wales and I think we forget how spectacular our country really is. I always love a good wander around art galleries, museums and places with interesting architecture.

Thanks so much Charlie. I’m really glad to have a chance to chat with you a bit more about your work and to share your work with the blogosphere!

All image are used with Charlotte Trimm’s permission.Take a look at her website for more: http://www.charlottetrimm.daportfolio.com/ connect with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ByCharliesHandpapercuts, on twitter through @bycharlieshand or on Folksy: http://folksy.com/shops/bycharlieshand

This artist spotlight interview is part of an ongoing series of interviews with emerging artists. It is about celebrating artists and the work they are creating and sharing. If you have a suggestion for an artist to be featured in this series, send an email to enquiries@goannatree.com

Connect with Anna on Academia.edu, Linked In, facebook page, & Twitter.

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