CHECK OUT THE INCREDIBLE PAPER-CUT ART BY EELUS!
We had the pleasure of corresponding with artist Lee Pennington, AKA Eelus, about his process behind the mind-blowing paper-cut artwork that we’ve been admiring over here at Threadless HQ. Below, Eelus goes into depth about his background, creative process, working with Death Waltz Records, and his sources of inspiration. Enjoy!About Eelus:My name is Lee Pennington, but I make art under the name Eelus. I’m from a small town called Wigan in the north of the UK. After ending a career in ‘new media design’ after leaving university with a degree in graphic design, I’ve since crafted myself a new path in the strange world of art.I’ve spent the last 10 years cutting and painting stencils in my studio, in galleries, and on the street all across the world, and have had a jolly old time in the process. I also release a lot of limited edition screen-printed posters, a process and medium that I think I’ll always find exciting and will be involved in.More recently, my focus has moved away from stencils and I’m now putting the majority of my time into establishing myself as a paper-cut artist. I create images from hand cutting smalls holes into single sheets of paper, or by layering many many separate pieces of painted paper together to create more of a 3-D effect that has a lot of depth.About the process:Everything starts with an idea. It may not always be my idea, sometimes I’ll take someone else’s idea and take it to a new place and turn it into something of my own. My 3-D paper pieces evolve over a number of stages. The early stages involve a lot of drawing. Once I’m happy with the pencil work I’ll scan it in and then trace everything in Adobe Illustrator. I’ll give every single piece a unique code so that once everything is printed and cut, I know where it’s all meant to go. Some of my pieces have over 100 pieces of paper, so this allows me to remember where everything is meant to be. After giving everything a code, I’ll then dismantle the vector version of my drawing and print all the separate elements onto sheets of acid free paper. I’m using a Fabriano at the moment, and will use different weights for different pieces depending on where they’ll be placed. So for example, if I know a certain piece will be at the back and will end up having quite a lot of other bits attached, I’ll use a thicker stock to help support everything.Once everything is printed, I’ll hand cut everything with a Swann Morton scalpel using a 10A blade. As soon as the blade loses it’s lovely razor sharpness, I’ll swap it for a new one. Once everything is cut, I’ll place all the paper together and see how everything is looking. This helps me get my head around the next stage, which is the painting. I use spray paint and paint everything in a large fume extractor which is located in a different, much colder part of he building where my studio is. I’ll start with the bottom layers and work my way up, sometimes going back and re-doing pieces if they’re not fitting well.Once everything is dried, I go back to my nice warm room, sit my a** down, stick on a podcast and start assembling everything. I use various types of acid-free adhesives, the most important parts are these sticky foam squares that I’l buy in different sizes and depths. If I want something to have a subtle effect, I’ll attach it using a 1mm deep square, if I want something more dramatic that will cast more shadow, I’ll use a 3mm, or will stick a number of 2 or 3mm square together. That’s pretty much it for that particular style of work, which I’ll be exploring much more from now on.On working with Death Waltz Records:I became involved with DWR as Spencer, the rotting brains behind the company, has bought work from me in the past and so we would email now and then about various horror related weirdness. After he set up the company, he very kindly asked if I’d be up for designing the artwork for their first Hammer Horror soundtrack release, which would be Twins of Evil. I spat my goblet of goat’s blood all over my keyboard and said yes immediately.On inspiration:I like to take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. My main loves are films and books, especially when they fall into the categories of sci-fi and horror. I grew up surrounding myself with work from Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo and HR Giger, and I’m still madly in love with all three. But all kinds of art inspires me. A lot of classical and contemporary, in all kinds of different mediums. I adopted a dog just over a year ago, which has forced me to take a lot more walks and that gives me some good time to think. I also meditate once or twice a day to help my mind get some clarity and to help keep me calm and focused. I think it definitely helps me ‘catch the big fish’ as David Lynch, a big advocate of meditation wrote about in his book on meditation and creativity ‘Catching the Big Fish’.I like comics. I creep around online. I’m a bit of a nature lover and find the natural world incredible. I’m fascinated by the microcosm and macrocosm. I’m intrigued by multiple dimensions. I believe the current understanding of the history of Earth is wrong and I day dream about extra-terrestrial intelligence. I’m convinced Bigfoot exists but I don’t think the Queen is a reptile. I own some fragments of meteorites which I hold in my hand and stare at until my mind starts to ache knowing that their age could be countless and they’ve travelled across the gulf of space. I also find it impossible to look at a penguin without smiling.A HUGE thanks to Eelus for taking the time to let us in on all of his little secrets. Check out more of his artwork right here!
INSIDE THE MIND OF A STREET ARTIST: MR PRVRT
We were fortunate enough to have New York Street Artist MR. PRVRT do an amazing piece on one of our garage doors. The process video above was captured by Craig Shimala. Let’s get to know him a little bit more!
(Photo: Craig Shimala)
How about a quick introduction?
I’m originally from Albany, NY; but I have called Rochester, NY home for about 8 years now. I work closely with several groups including Wall Therapy, Bushwick Collective, FUA Krew, and Sweet Meat Co.
What’s your process like?
While all of my smaller works are created using hand cut stencils, my larger scale works and murals are made using nothing except cans of spray paint and a reference image. When painting freehand, I strive to retain the aesthetic of my stenciled work by layering flat colors to create depth instead of using soft shading techniques. It was extremely gratifying to be able to fool the likes of Martha Cooper earlier this year when she saw one of my murals in progress, and was completely convinced it had been made using stencils.
How did you first get involved with doing street art?
I first started cutting stencils about 12 years ago back home in Albany, NY. My first real exposure to street art was through the work of Chris Stain and Brian Scout, who both lived in the area and had been collaborating on projects in one of our city’s most neglected neighborhoods. They were targeting abandoned houses and installing paintings over the boarded up surfaces. While I have done my fair share of writing on things that don’t belong to me, most of my earlier work involved stickers, wheatpastes, screwing up paintings to telephone poles, etc. I was genuinely surprised that people started to notice my work, and even more so when I was asked to paint my first murals. Its really gratifying to know that even after leaving my home town, younger writers and artists still reach out once in a while to let me know that I helped inspire them to get started on the streets, the same way Stain & Scout helped inspire me. Being able to invite Chris Stain to Rochester this year for Wall Therapy was equally rewarding, and in turn, he facilitated my entry in Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn, NY. The longer I do this, the more I’ve come to realize that street artists, as a community, are one huge family that stretches to every continent.
What was your inspiration for the piece you did on our garage door?
For a while, all of my mural work involved portraits of wildlife, until a fellow writer named Biles told me he didn’t want me painting “hipster animals” on graff production walls. Ever since then I like to bring out some wicked shit every once in a while!!
What do you hope for people to take away from your art?
I rarely try and attach any sort of deep meaning to my work - if anything I hope it makes people realize that our entire world is a blank canvas. Its amazing how much love people show for you when they see that you are doing something that makes their neighborhood look a little nicer.
How would you describe the difficulty of using a spray can versus a pencil on paper?
Free hand work with spray cans is all about muscle memory. As cheesy as it sounds, its like you are dancing with the wall, its a lot about moving smoothly and with confidence. The larger the wall, the harder the actual drawing becomes. I’ve never projected a freehand piece, so there is usually a period of time when everything looks pretty terrible, before I step way back and start to adjust the proportions. Most of my sketching on walls is done using transparent black or white spray paint, which I find is actually quite similar to drawing with pencils.
Do you think street art needs more appreciation?
Over the past decade the internet really did a lot to make people aware of the fact that there are people doing this in every city and every country. I think street art is most appreciated by the people who will see it from their window every day, or pass by it on their way home. There will always be someone who hates it or finds something to be offended by.
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve done?
My favorite piece so far was the Anatomical Cow I did for Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn. I really tried to push what I was capable of, and it was an exciting challenge to take on so much detail and deal with so many bright colors. The general goal is to make each next piece the best one ever, and repeat.
What’s the biggest challenge or weirdest encounter you’ve had?
I was painting with a friend in Rochester’s abandoned subway tunnels (yes we have those), a homeless guy stole a can of my paint and used a lighter to make a blowtorch, he proceeded to start lighting anything he could find that was flammable. Things started getting pretty intense, so we actually ended up calling the fire department. Just a couple of vandals helping to do our civic duty!
Do you have a formal art education? Do you have a day job?
I dropped out of school in the middle of my bachelor’s program. I had been taking a lot of printmaking classes at the time, and actually first started using stencils as cheap means of simple printmaking, versus a lot of processes that require a massive press to print. I’m currently lucky enough to say that I do not work a day job anymore. It’s definitely a hustle, and I’m always chasing the next project down the line. I’m always accepting commissions for murals and canvas pieces, and I’ve done a fair amount of print releases as well. It’s never a steady paycheck, but it’s amazing, the idea of actually owning your time.
What would be your advice to young artists trying to find their groove?
First and foremost, I do this because I love it. I’m not getting rich off of this, that’s for sure. I do plenty of pro bono walls, and I think that’s important, because this isn’t just a job, it’s a passion. Also, if you want to learn how to spray paint, please do it on plywood in your backyard, not on top of any real street art or graffiti.
What are some of the trends you’ve found in other cities?
Each city is different, but what remains consistent are the people. I’ve painted in some terrible areas, but most people immediately accept you when they see that you are going to make their neighborhood look a little better.
Have you ever considered submitting to Threadless?
I guess sometimes I neglect to realize that people might actually like the work I’m doing!! Maybe your followers can look forward to a future collaboration!
Any last words or shout outs?
Big thanks go to Dr. Ian Wilson for always having confidence in me. Much love to my friends and collaborators in Rochester at 1975 Gallery and The Yards. Lastly, if you’re in Chicago, make sure to check out my show “SPLATTERHOUSE” at Chicago Truborn, located on W. Division St, the show runs through Nov 13th!