If you live in Sydney, it is highly possible you saw the beautiful birds in the Telstra showcase on Georges St. I discovered her via the Art Pharmacy Website where I immediately loved her work. I wanted to meet the Artist in real and know more about those mysterious paper pieces. Meet Marine Coutroutsios, Paper Artist.
From France to Australia, what is your background?
I studied Plastic Arts in Uni et then worked for two years in a sculpture workshop. I then went back to studies and got an interior architect diploma. I started working as an interior architect for two years in Paris but then left my job to follow my boyfriend in the USA.
I couldn’t work there so I was travelling between there and France et I started drawing again with what I had in my suitcase. I also had a scalpel I never used but I started cutting my sketches and I really like the 3D effect. I continued in this and wanted to launch my activity in France but we moved to Australia!
Once installed, I launched my website that I really specialized on Paper. I started in December 2012 with several ideas. I did a calendar before Christmas, I popped in Paddington and CBD stores for showcase decoration.T hey welcomed me really well and I had few positive answers. It was great and I gained in public credibility. I also started doing some live performances in four different cafes. I was sitting at a table and showing people how I was cutting. The last café asked me if I wanted to show my creations so once again I gained a lot in experience.
Then I also discovered a pop up show in Oxfort St with Art Pharmacy. I contacted the gallery as I already started my parrots paper series. She was really interested so I sold everything thanks to her! Instagram also really works well in Australia. All my commercial projects are thanks to Instagram. Two years after I arrived, the contacts I made from the beginning revealed when people saw I was doing real things and they started to recommend me. Network is what work best here.
How would you define yourself artistically?
I am working only with paper. It is funny how the words are different from country to country, culture to culture. Here I can say I am an “artist”, people like it where in France, I think this has a very elitist connotation. However what I am doing is very craft and approachable. I can’t say it in French but here I am a “paper artist and designer”. It is always hard to define yourself but I tried to with my project to get more precise in my presentation and so people immediately understand.
"I am very old-school, I do everything by hand. "
As a French in Sydney, do you feel a difference for work?
Yes, I really think that I am french and that my english is not that good really helped me. Australians love my accent and that they need to pay attention to understand really makes them listening to what I need to say. They also really like me treating about Australian thing with an European vision. They love when I get interested in their culture and that I get it in a different way.
What do you think of Australian culture?
I think I arrived at the right time because people always told me there wasn’t much culture in Sydney. However, I think the museum are really beautiful, there are lots of pop-up stores and people collaborating. It is growing a lot so I’ve never felt this lack. It is really developing culturally.
What’s inspiring you in Sydney?
I love the Art Gallery of NSW - a mix between old, contemporary, aboriginal and the interesting asian collection. In not much time you can see a lot. It is my favourite. I also love the Contemporary Art Museum but I find it more difficult to step back from recent things. I am very nature so I love parks to get inspiration. It amazed me when I arrived here to see parrots everywhere in the streets like the Parisian pigeons. I love walks like the Blue Mountains. I prefer being in the nature than the city.
"There were 85 piece of paper for each bird."
What’s your creating process?
For personal projects, I have few ideas that I’ll draw and write but without knowing what I will do later. It can take several months until an idea will suddenly become real.
For example the fens I did for the French Alliance, I really loved the idea of arboreal ferns with the sun filtering, it’s another dimension. I had the idea since a long time and I wanted to do something very graphic like my parrots with a round. So this time I chose the Triangle as a constraint.
Then I draw on the paper before cutting. For the parrots, I did a feather template. I am very old-school, I do everything by hand. For the Ferns, I used layers and I cut and glue. The drawing is long but the cutting as well. It is like being in a meditative state when you follow the line and you cut. It took me about two days full-time. I sometimes glue but also sticky tape which gives the 3D effect and doesn’t wet the paper.
For commercial projects, people came to me with a brief and I had to give an idea. It really differs from projects but I did a big one in Melbourne with huge wooden panels. I used 5000 small paper circles I had to glue. I also did the birds in Telstra. They came to me with a design idea from an animation. I did a prototype of the parrot and after approval, I created 10 of those. There were 85 piece of paper for each bird.
"I love creating something quick and easy."
What are your future projects?
I recently did an interesting collaboration with a photographer and models with a bunny paper mask I made. I am also working on another collaboration with He Made She Made for the InDesign Event in August in Sydney. We are creating installations for the showroom with strings with a carpet company so it is new. For personal projects, I am starting the 100 days challenge on Instagram. I love creating something quick and easy. All I do is very long so I want to start something quick and short. I think this is great to develop other ideas.