Ppaer artist Helen Musselwhite talks us through her branding project for Leon Coffee

Versatile, cost effective and readily available, for illustrators looking for a unique way to express their ideas it doesn't come more intriguing than paper.

paperPaper sculpture is simple, humble and an everyday thing that anyone can try! It’s an understandable medium, and that’s why its intriguing.

Helen Musselwhite

For Helen Musselwhite, paper has been the medium of choice for the last 8 years, turning her hand to everything from editorial briefs to branding campaigns. “A love of art sustained me through school and it felt the most natural thing in the world to study graphic design and illustration after leaving,” reveals the artist.

“Since then, my creative ventures have embraced decorative furniture, jewellery and painting – all of which I’ve deeply enjoyed but which have since been eclipsed by my affinity with paper; the medium that was patiently waiting for me all along.”

You don’t need expensive tools or vast amounts technical knowledge to work with it – a pencil, scalpel and glue and lots of ideas are all that’s required!

Helen Musselwhite

Catching the eye of Leon Restaurants earlier this year, Helen was recently commissioned their ‘Thoughtful Coffee’  campaign, with the idea was to get people to recognize that Leon not only sell coffee, but that they genuinely care about the coffee itself – from where the beans grow, to the taste, to recycling as much of the coffee waste as possible and everything in-between.

We spoke to Helen to find out more about how she approached the project.

The brief

“Leon needed a way to convey this message that they care about the coffee they serve, so the campaign had to reinforce this idea.” reveals Helen. “The artwork needed to communicate in an engaging way – with warmth, sunshine, elemental and full of positive energy.” To reinforce the concept further, Helen used five shades of coffee coloured paper, designed to create depth within the artwork.

You don’t need expensive tools or vast amounts technical knowledge to work with it – a pencil, scalpel and glue and lots of ideas are all that’s required!

Helen Musselwhite

There were several stories and messages that had to be conveyed, within the brief. The quality of the beans (100% Arabica) and the fact they are Fairtrade and organic were really important. They (as Leon) work with the World Land Trust (who conserve areas that the coffee is grown in), organic cows milk and almond, so this was all key. Leon also take recycling of waste very seriously, working with Bio Bean a clean technology company that has industrialized the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels.

The process

Every project starts with thumbnail sketches in proportion, then choose a few to enlarge so I can work in details and form layers. Then they are drawn onto tracing paper and the layers colour coded. Sometimes I make up paper roughs – it depends who much time I have. If times tight I go straight into the final piece, making all the elements and laying them out as I cut. I take a lot of process photos so my client can see how it’s coming together! At this stage revisions can be made before everything is glued into place.

For Leon I used just five shades of coffee coloured paper and several different weights and textures of (unpainted) watercolour papers.

Helen Musselwhite

At this stage revisions can be made before everything is glued into place. Most artwork is photographed. Simple pieces by me, everything else by professionals. I use mostly paper in my work although wood, Perspex semi precious beads and wire make an appearance sometimes.? I use lots of different makes of paper and have drawers full, I cant go past an art shop just incase they sell a brand, shade or weight of paper I haven’t yet found. Watercolour paper that I use as is or paint to get an exact colour is a firm favorite.

If time is tight I go straight into the final piece, making all the elements and laying them out as I cut. I take a lot of process photos so my client can see how it’s coming together.

Helen Musselwhite

There was a lot of detail in the pieces so using a limited palette didn’t over complicate and underlined the coffee message. This project (along with several other recent ones) was photographed by Jonathan Beer. He shares the same eye for detail and craft as me so we work very well together.? Good photography and re-touch is so important to this kind of work. Jonathan brings the work to life!

I think the reason paper craft illustration has seen a massive resurgence in the last few years is because although it’s a skill it has the feel that anyone could have a go at it so even though the viewer is impressed by it they know that because its made with a simple, humble and everyday thing they could have a go too! It’s understandable and intriguing. Paper sculpture is very analogue in our digital world; although, I produce everything by hand I do have to use the digital world (or more often engage with professional’s) to take my work from the studio to its final destination.

helenmusselwhite.com

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Posted on Apr 19th, 17 by | Twitter: @inkygoodness

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