Without art, you lose the notion of emotion and imagination - you need both to be a good paper artist.
Camille Benoit has a long-held passion for paper and its plethora of different textures. This fascination started during her art direction studies and soon developed into an elegant independent artistic practice. The diversity in color, structure, weight, and size of the medium allows her to create incredibly detailed sculptures and adventurous worlds in which this seemingly simple material is king. Often inspired by the intricate patterns and designs found in nature, Beniot has made animal life her core subject, creating a paper ecosystem inside her own home.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. How did you go from studying art direction to being an artist working with paper?
A. As a student, I completed an internship for a set design agency that specializes in paper art and once I graduated, I ended up working for them full-time. That was my first experience with paper and from that moment, I began to perfect my technique. I worked at this agency for two years, but then Covid-19 came along and the company had to close. To stay busy, I focused on projects that were close to my heart. One such project, which I worked on with a former colleague, ended up being published in some well-known design magazines such as Dezeen, AD, and Novum.
Q. What fascinates you about this rather unusual medium?
A. Working with paper is always different thanks to the many different textures you can use. You can, for example, achieve more architectural or organic results depending on how you treat the paper and the tools you choose. For me, the feeling of paper in your fingers has always been something very special and now I found this exact same pleasure in creating paper sculptures.
Q. Many of your pieces are nature-based, is this something that has always been an inspiration to you?
A. Nature is a source of inspiration to me because of its variety in patterns and shapes. Choosing an animal/insect and doing research to do justice to their form, patterns, and colours is a real challenge and a creative process that I love. Seeing an animal take shape in my hands is always a special moment, which is why I always give them names. My dream would be to find a collaborator who could bring motion to my sculptures e.g. flapping of their wings/paws.
Q. What are some other subjects you enjoy creating?
A. I love to create vegetation as the paper gives immortality to the plants and flowers made. For example, my mum doesn't have a green thumb, so I made a paper flower arrangement for her that will never fade (or at least not for many years). Architecture is also a very interesting subject and I enjoy starting a project by thinking about its structure and how to make it stand up and remain stable.
Q. Where do you think (if anywhere) lies the distinction between art and craft?
A. I think the difference between art and craft is very small. As paper artists we need a knowledge of crafts to gain access to the techniques and skills that enable us to create the art we want. I believe anyone can get into paper art but what will make the difference between an expert paper artist and an amateur will be how they employ the techniques and skills they learn. Without art you lose the notion of emotion and imagination - you need both to be a good paper artist.
Q. What would you like your work to evoke?
A. I really enjoy seeing the exact moment a viewer discovers that a project is made solely of paper. There is a moment of realization and surprise followed by a new appreciation for the work. This is the effect I am looking for with paper, a certain elegance and a moment of discovery.
Q. What would you still like to achieve as an artist?
A. Now that I am specialized in paper, my next challenge is to integrate technology. Paper is an incredible material but adding lights/movement/animation allows for innovation. The desire to create something unique is a motivator that has driven me since I started in art direction.
Q. Which other creatives do you admire?
A. I am a big fan of Iris van Herpen and her collaboration with artist Anthony Howe. I also have a lot of admiration for the photographer Helmut Newton and his disciple Mark Arbeit.
Q. Could you describe your work in three words?
A. Elegant - Sophisticated - Thorough