Meet Cameron Garland, a self-taught illustrator and cut-paper artist currently based in the serene city of Edmonds, Washington. Cameron graduated from the University of Washington with a BFA in Art History, but didn’t pursue art as a career until the age of 25, from which point he has been constantly working and creating his beautiful and delicate pieces for freelance clients and galleries.
When he’s not doing work for clients such as Disney Parks, Nordstrom, and Marvel, he’s tabling at conventions, creating personal work, and contributing to gallery shows. Cameron is a very welcome addition to Light Grey’s own Botanica Exhibition.
You can read about Cameron's artwork, process, and inspirations below. You can also see more of his projects on his website here:
What does your workspace look like? Where do you gather the materials for your cut-paper pieces?
I'm not even going to pretend like my workspace is ever clean. It's always a jumbled mess of scrap paper and colored pencils, but I like to keep myself surrounded by toys, art books, and prints I've collected through the years. Right now, I'm tucked away in a spare bonus room while we work on remodeling the entirety of our new home. It's the largest space I've ever worked in, so I'm really enjoying having several desks set up to spread my clutter. My dog also requires her own designated area of the office, because she hardly ever leaves my side.
I've compiled a pretty large collection of colored paper that I've purchased everywhere and anywhere I can find it, and I do my best to keep them organized by color in storage carts that I'm able to tuck under my desks. After some of my favorite colors that were discontinued, I've learned to not be wasteful with my paper and have kept just about every single piece of scrap paper from every piece I've done, no matter how small it is.
What is your process like for these pieces? Each of them have so many tiny details and embellishments, and the medium you work in is pretty uncommon in the larger illustration world, what drew you to this form of art making?
My process is very organic and unconventional, which I attribute to learning the cut-paper medium purely through exploration and experimentation. Often times, I will have a vague idea, and immediately begin gathering the colors I'd like to use and comparing what works. I typically start with what I consider to be the focal point of the piece (usually the most difficult part) and then work outwards, adding details as I go along and expanding on my ideas and concepts. I'm terrible aboutplanning and sketching things out prior to cutting, but I greatly enjoy the "Aha!" moments of unexpected discovery and little surprises that come from this process. I like to just 'going for it' and let the piece evolve as I make it. Doing this also really helps keeps me invested throughout the entirety of a piece, since they can take me quite a while to finish.
What drew me to this medium was how different it felt compared to illustration. From an interaction standpoint, both as a creator and viewer, these 3-dimensional pieces communicate in a very different way than digital/traditional illustration. They exist independently and physically occupy the viewer's space and aren't confined to the flat surface of 2 dimensions, sort of blurring the lines of reality in a sense. I can hold a piece in my hand and study it from several different angles, giving it a very dynamic effect, which is something I really enjoy.
Nature and flora seem to go hand in hand with the dimensionality and graphic elements of your work. Do you draw a lot of inspiration from the natural world? Do you have any specific types of environments that you’re interested in, both artistically and in your own life?
As of late, tons of my inspiration comes from appreciating my new environment, after trading in large apartment complex and office buildings for rich greenery engulfing our new neighborhood in Edmonds. The subtle blending of differing greens and browns, with the sporadic and loud blooming of contrasting hues helps me to see combinations of colors that I never would have been able to conceive of on my own. I draw inspiration from many different environments though, and I do my best to try and break down what makes them so unique. So many hidden qualities get lost in the entirety of the environment, and it takes a lot of time and patience to appreciate it all.
What has been your favorite project so far? Any dream gigs?
Choosing a favorite project is tough! To me it's like asking which of your children is your favorite or who makes the best chicken nuggets... they’re all my favorite! While I love all the exhibition and client work I've done over the past few years, what I've had the most fun doing are a series of tiny themed houses, which is in preparation for a large gallery show I'll be participating in later this year. What I love most about these pieces is not only the challenge they present in terms of scale, but also figuring out new ways to incorporate more and more detail into my pieces, which I always put a HUGE emphasis on. I really enjoy including little hidden components for the viewer to find on their own, almost like a Where's Waldo spread.
Someday do work for a major studio like Laika or Cartoon Network doing prop design or something along those lines, or even doing toy design somewhere, but my ultimate goal is to eventually get a children's book published. And as corny as it may sound, I think I'm currently living out my dream gig and I've been so thankful for each opportunity I get to share my work -- it has really been a dream come true!
What else have you been working on recently? Any big projects or events that you’re excited about?
I just finished up a small collaboration series with long time Light Grey artist, Angela An, which was a lot of fun! I have several unannounced gallery exhibitions lined up for the remainder of 2016, two really big ones with Q Pop Shop and Hero Complex Gallery! Other than that, I've been super busy working alongside my wife and in-laws as we do the bulk of the home remodeling ourselves. So far, nothing has caught fire or exploded, so it's going pretty ok at the moment.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Favorite resources, media, or other inspirations?
So much of my inspiration comes from differing art styles and mediums, it's hard to narrow it down to a few names. My father gave me his comic book collection of childhood comics when I was young, and I have loved comic books ever since!! They are what got me interested in art. I grew to love anything involving Jack Kirby, Mike Allred, Steve Rude, and Paolo Rivera; they are my Mount Rushmore of inspiration. As of late, I've been closely studying the work of Cory Loftis, Benji Davies, Amélie Flechais, Sam Bosma, Louie Zong, Campbell Whyte and Cale Atkinson. I admire each of them for very specific aspects of their work, whether it be their shapes, application of color, sense of design, lines, etc. My love of details and accessories/props comes directly from toys and video games that I grew up with in the early 90's. Mighty Max play sets and Star Wars Micro Machines gave me a huge appreciation for all things tiny, and the original NES Legend of Zelda taught me that it's really the accessories that make the hero.
Anything else you want to add? Where can people find your work?
People can find most of my work on Instagram: @campluswhit, but every once in a while I'll stop by Twitter to share little nuggets of incoherent nonsense full of grammatical errors, which is @campluswhit as well. I also try my best to keep my Tumblr updated and answer questions about anything and everything at cameronpluswhitney.tumblr.com.