Monday, May 18, 2015

Graphic Quilling - Ashley Chiang of Paper Liberated

If you haven't come across the on-edge paper illustrations of Ashley Chiang of Maryland, you're in for a treat. She and I met on Instagram and I knew an interview would be of interest to lots of us paper rolling aficionados... just as soon as she found time to answer questions. You see, not only is Ashley's Etsy shop, Paper Liberated, attracting a nice amount of attention thanks to active promotion on Facebook and IG, but she has three young children... in fact, the youngest is just a month old!

Quilled Peacock Feather by Ashley Chiang

You know the saying though... if you want a job done, ask a busy person. Ashley replied to my message with in-depth answers, so sit back and enjoy hearing how this young woman is enthusiastically meeting the demands of a growing and mostly commissioned-based business. She also speaks thoughtfully about competitive pricing, copying, and sharing.


Quilled Typography by Ashley Chiang - Family
a new piece begins...

What launched your interest in working with on-edge paper?

I'm the lucky girl with a sister and two cousins, all close in age, who receive gifts twice in December - for the holidays and their birthdays (all within two weeks time!). While trying to think of something original to give in December 2012, I came across Yulia Brodskaya's work and was just taken over with this fantastic craft. I got started right away, only to hand my sister an I.O.U. on her birthday because it took me so long to complete! But I've been in love with this slow craft ever since.

Quilled Typography by Ashley Chiang - Letter M
 Ashley's first project - a gift for her sister

Most people, upon seeing my work recognize it as something they tried in school or something their grandmother did: quilling. I have never done traditional quilling, however, and I don't use any tools beyond scissors, a pair of tweezers, and a Scotch glue pen. I also cut my own strips using heavier paper (65 pound) and cut them quadruple the width of typical quilling strips (1/2 inch instead of 1/8). I just love the graphic look of bigger strips and the sturdiness of thicker card stock.

Quilled Typography by Ashley Chiang - Home (detail)

Did it take a long time to develop your own style of combining loose coils with block lettering?

My style is still developing and hopefully always will. I've certainly gotten faster with time and am always adding to my arsenal of skills and techniques. Immersing myself in other artists' works, especially those who don't do what I do, is so inspiring and helps keep me (and my style) on my toes! Some paper artists are very precise (and their work is gorgeous as well) but all of my work starts out as a blank board.

Quilled Typography by Ashley Chiang - Home

Only about half the time do I sketch out a word or phrase in order to keep the letters uniform, but otherwise all lettering and design is completely on the spot. And that is something I love about my style. It's free, based on emotion and spontaneous. And color. Lots of color! As much as people have loved the muted pieces I've done (particularly "Home" which I've sold three duplicate originals of), I find myself struggling through them. Color is so energizing and I fly through colorful pieces with ease.

Quilled Flowers by Ashley Chiang

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

It's pretty funny but I tell people that every piece reaches a point (usually about midway) when I decide I hate it and want to start over. It happens with Every. Single. Piece. And then something clicks (sometimes ten minutes later, sometimes ten days later) and I visualize how to finish it. As much as I enjoy the peacefulness and concentration that comes from my work, the best part is that harmonious finish of color and movement. And that's what inspires me to start again!

 Quilled Frog by Ashley Chiang
A 24 x 24-inch commission by the Rainforest Alliance and Domtar, a recycled paper company whose papers Ashley used exclusively for the project.

I noticed you mentioned on Facebook that changes are coming to your business... if the time is right to elaborate on that, do tell!

I've just held a great big giveaway on both Instagram and Facebook and am thrilled to be sending prints out all over the world to the winners. It was in celebration of the first fine art prints being made of my original works. Each print has been scanned and printed on archival 100% cotton rag. Super lovely paper that gives the look of an original. I'm so thrilled at the response to the prints and am running a special on the initial print "love" through June 1st for 30% off through my Etsy shop, Paper Liberated. Each print is sent with an accompanying mat for gifting or easy framing and can be shipped worldwide. It just tickles me to know that a colorful idea from my brain is being shared internationally.

Quilled Typography by Ashley Chiang - Love

I'm so glad you don't undercharge for your work. People often think because we work with simple paper, how hard can it be? Have you felt much resistance to your pricing?

I'll be honest and say that when I started selling my work on Etsy in early 2013, I was grossly undercharging to the point I had another quiller write to me and practically demand I raise my prices. It was purposeful and I don't regret doing it at all as I gained a lot of experience that I might not have otherwise. I raised my prices probably every three months or so until the start of 2014 when I realized I needed to take it a bit more seriously because I was happily swamped with work, but obviously hadn't reached that lovely balance between receiving work and valuing my own time.

Paper Sculpture Flower by Ashley Chiang

Sometimes people contact me for a quote and I don't hear from them again. I expect that. Perhaps they are just curious or want to know for future reference. The only time I've ever received any negative feedback on price was at the OOAK show in December 2013 in Chicago (and it was just a handful of folks out of the 60,000+ visitors). Many people who recognize my work as quilling, deem it something they can do quickly and easily. It doesn't even seem to be the fact that it's paper, just that people grossly underestimate the amount of time and skill it takes to complete a small work. I had one mom look to her daughter, who may have been about 9, and say, "You could do that!"

Quilled Typography by Ashley Chiang - Zen
Zen - a new print in the shop

In the same vein, I'm never concerned about copycats as I welcome anyone to try to duplicate my work. Firstly, I think most people would give up an hour or two in, and secondly, if someone puts in the hours and patience to copy my work they deserve some credit!

Quilled Typography by Ashley Chiang - Love

I believe a rising tide floats all boats and there's no reason to think we can't support one another and appreciate each artist's unique spin on things. On Etsy and social media, I'm always very candid about my challenges and sharing my techniques with anyone who inquires, and that brings me so much satisfaction. I love that people feel they can reach out for help and hopefully I can steer them around whatever missteps I've made over the last couple years.

Quilled Typography by Ashley Chiang - Letter R

Ashley, thank you for taking the time to be interviewed and I want you to know I've positioned your lovely R in this spot as my way of saying Right on. Like you, supporting other artists has always been my modus operandi, as well as the mission of this blog. Continued success to you!

Ashley Chiang of Paper Liberated
 Ashley at a RAW Artists showcase held in Washington, D.C., spring 2014

Contact Ashley via Paper Liberated on Etsy, Facebook, and Instagram.


19 comments:

Cindy deRosier said...

Stunning work! Thanks for this interesting interview.

Ann Martin said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Cindy!

Suzana Miu said...

Extraordinary creations!
Thank you for sharing!

Maureen said...

Knock-out quilling!

Ann Martin said...

Hi Suzana, you're welcome! I'm happy you liked seeing Ashley's designs.

Ann Martin said...

I'm glad you like it, Maureen!

Michele said...

Beautiful work. I notice she doesn't frame her work behind glass. I wonder if or how she protects the paper? Thanks for sharing!

Ann Martin said...

Hi Michele, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I can't answer for Ashley about framing, but I don't often use glass over my quilling since the frames I find usually don't have enough depth. I hang or stand my pieces in non-humid and non-sunny locations and when they get dusty, I use a feather duster or blow on them.

SUGANTHI said...

Although I follow her page , I am seeing lot of her work first time here . So happy to hear her talk about her work. Truly inspiring!!

Meghan Davis said...

Gorgeous. I especially love the frog design!

lilli blackburn said...

I adore this site. It is the highlite of my email . Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing. I love the variety of artists you have introduced. Please don't stop

Ann Martin said...

That's so nice of you to say, Lilli - thank you! I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. :)

Anonymous said...

your quilling is beautiful I just started quilling myself . is this something you learned on your own or did you take classes .

Ann Martin said...

Hi Anon, I'm not sure if your question is directed to Ashley or me, but both of us are self-taught. I learned via books, kits, and by asking questions of other quillers in online groups. There are now many online blog tutorials and YouTube videos to get you started. Lots of practice helps the most. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

thank you for your responce and information its nice to know that there are people out there that want to help others who want to learn this craft.

Ann Martin said...

My pleasure, let me know if you have questions as I'm happy to help.

Unknown said...

Hi... I do paper quilling crafts.I want to try to do something like your crafts..will u be able to help me out with some YouTube links
Appreciate if u can help me
Thank you :)
Nabeela

Ann Martin said...

Hi Nabeela, here is a link to my quilling video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCugDrL-T0I On the same page are links to many others. If you want tips on how Ashley quills, follow her on Instagram where she shares lots of ideas.

Nehir said...

I follow your curations about paper art and I love each and every one. Thank you for introducing these great paper artists.

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