Diana Beltrán is a Colombian artist living in London, England. Her magic hands create with just paper incredible sculptures of birds. Diana's work is full of patience and precision. Each piece she creates is unique, each color and every detail is handmade. We collaborate with her in our campaign for the Aves del Paraíso collection, an homage to the wings that overfly the jungles, deserts and forest of Latin America. Learn more about this talented artist in the next interview.
How did you arrive to London and when does the relationship with paper begins?
I’ve been working with paper for many years. I remember it was in 2010 when I started to work with it, right after I graduated from Industrial Design at the university Jorge Tadeo lozano, in Bogotá, Colombia. I have always seen paper as a humble material with a precarious perceived value. This idea has allowed me to create with more freedom and less fear, because if something goes wrong I can always start again easily. In addition to this, I’ve found in paper many positive characteristics, one of them is that it can be transformed without complex industrial processes, employing simple tools available at home. That immediacy has allowed me to generate many proposals in a short period of time. As years have passed, I’ve established paper as the center of my work, not only because of its low cost in relation with other materials, but also because of the infinite possibilities of form and volume that it let me explore. I see paper itself as a challenge, I’m constantly pushing its limits as a material.
I arrived to England with the idea of studying an MA. At that time I felt design as a profession wasn’t enough and I wanted to learn a bit more about other disciplines, to understand my creative process and to acquire certainty regarding my career path. For sure it could have happened in any country, but my partner was located here so it was easier for me. In London I’ve found open doors to create and collaborate with different european companies interested in papel and its possibilities as a communication tool and as an art form.
How would you describe your creative process? Is it chaotic, methodic, both?
My creative process is organized, in general terms I like to establish a workflow divided in steps that take place in a specific order. During production I’m extremely careful with the material itself because it’s delicate and can easily get dirty. I try to maintain always my workshop clean so it’s simple to start over again the next day. Materials are placed in order and I have different working areas as well, it facilitates the creative process and avoid things to get accumulated. I try to provide a proper space for objects so they can exist on their own.
How would you describe the collab with Mercedes Salazar?
I really liked the invitation to collaborate with Mercedes in her latest collection Birds. At the beginning, I thought it would be easier because I’ve had worked with similar elements in the past. Nevertheless, the inclusion of the earrings into the compositions was quite a challenge, I had to find the right balance for each element within each collage. From design to production there’s always a gap because many factors intervene, such as light, depth and color, and it’s precisely there where one must remain calm to find the right solution.
What about the technique, the materials, how was the process, did you find any challenges along the way?
For this particular case I employed a French paper (Canson) and other one from Britain (Daler Rowney), both are part of a similar line of products and both are high end textured papers normally used in pastry. They’re perfecto for sculpting or collage. I used a 165gr width paper that provides rigidness, avoids unwanted folding or wrinkling and facilitates cutting. The technique was collage, every piece was cut and assembled in different layers to create the illusion of depth in each composition. This paper retains any form you give to it, for instance, you can simulate a reflexion of a flower or a leaf with a more natural look and feel. Sometimes, when I want to achieve a specific color I tint the paper with watercolors and a brush.
The process starts with a digital sketch, it helps me to clearly establish an idea of what elements and colors will be included and how they will be organized. Many times the initial design has to be modified completely. In this case, due to the quantity of pieces that were created along with the fact that almost none of them were repeated, production took more time than expected. For me the most important thing is quality, so I don’t mind to go back to a certain design over and over again until I achieve the desired outcome.
What did you like the most about the collab with Mercedes Salazar?
I truly enjoyed the trust and freedom they gave me to create. I also loved the touch of liveliness I infused into the new collection Birds while experimenting with different paths and colors. I’ve never interacted with similar products before and it was exciting to find new scenarios to use my techniques and work.