Helen Friel’s work is meticulously precise in its handling of 3 dimensional form. The multifaceted structures she creates transform the simple material of paper into vibrant sculptures.
As she goes on to describe below, the process she has developed is reliant on the right tools to achieve the finish she does in the final images.
She tells us about some interesting inhabitants of her toolbox and about the stages she goes through from initial concept to photography.
I’m a paper engineer and illustrator based in South London. I began working in paper when I was studying at Central Saint Martins and it’s something I’ve been doing ever since.
I’ve always liked working in a precise way and paper is ideal for that – you can keep prototyping until a model fits together perfectly.
When a client commissions a project, I begin by sending them detailed sketches so they can see what the final paper set will look like. They have to sign off at this stage because once the model has been made and photographed it’s almost impossible to make changes.
It means they have to trust that they’re going to like the outcome. Once the sketches are signed off I design the 2D nets for the models in Adobe Illustrator. For simple models, this is a fast process but more complex ones can require lots of mock ups.
The pieces are usually cut on my vinyl plotter which means I can make adjustments very quickly. This is especially important when I need to meet short editorial deadlines.
When the final pieces are cut I put them together using a glue syringe. I was introduced to glue syringes by a production designer on an animation I was part of while in uni and they’re brilliant. They allow you to glue very precisely and are an essential part of my toolkit.
When everything is finished, models are photographed. Photographers are incredibly important in my work.
The clients hardly ever see the real models so the photographs are the final pieces. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible photographers, I wouldn’t have a job without them.
© Helen Friel, 2016