1. Please, tell us a bit about yourself?
Summing up my life isn’t really easy, and it’s not for pretending I’m an interesting person... I am just a "vintage" person... LOL. When I was a child, I spent my time drawing, reading, writing, playing with Lego and modelling clay. They weren’t just a game; it was my way of being in the world. Unfortunately, my parents were a bit like Roald Dahl's "Matilda" parents: I was forbidden to engage in anything artistic or creative. At school, I won some prizes for drawing and collage, but I didn’t find the necessary support either. So, by family imposition, I studied a Bachelor in Psychology that, by the way, never helped me find a job.
After collecting a lot of "junk jobs", I looked for my life on my own and I learned some things in a self-taught way. That’s how I first worked as a critic and editor in an online film magazine. Then I have dedicated myself until today to be a web designer/developer, web content creator, SEO and community manager.
My love story with paper art is, in fact, very recent. When the COVID pandemic broke out, and our government forced us to stay locked up at home for a month, I decided, suddenly, to start making paper stuff, specifically handmade 3D dioramas, during my spare time, as a way to escape the situation mentally. Simply, I learned by making, by trial-error. I had no idea that it was an artistic discipline and I just made it as a game/therapy/hobby, until I discovered that there were people who seemed to like my paper works, and that there were many more people creating similar things.
I started to take myself a little seriously when a blog contacted me to include me in an article about paper artists, and then when Behance awarded two of my works by selecting them for their Paper Works online gallery. Then I registered an Instagram account in which I only post the finished works (and the very long process in the Stories).
Actually, I am still puzzled and surprised that people are interested in my paper vignettes and I have come this far, considering that I spend most of my spare time on this without receiving any economic compensation. Anyway, most likely, after the summer, I try to monetize this hobby, either selling some creations or looking for a niche in the publishing world, advertising, window dressing, etc.
2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
This will be a short answer: in my life. I’m a kind of oyster -well, a little less ugly and hard, just a little- which turns a tiny piece of garbage into a pearl. In this case, I try to turn a pile of pain and darkness into light, beauty and sense of humour. That’s art too, isn’t it? -Did I mention that I also sell paper handkerchiefs?
3. What is the most challenging part of working in your technique?
In principle, everything. I consider each diorama as a new challenge to try, and therefore learn, things that I have not made before. They are getting bigger, with more complex structures, with more elaborate characters, with more props, more details... The only way to improve is to get out of your comfort zone, and repeat as many times as necessary something until you are half satisfied (I am never satisfied at all, LOL).
But, in general, the fact that the whole process is 100% handmade, from design to final assembly, through a lot of drafts and prototypes, complicates and lengthens the creation.
4. What is your favorite part of working with paper?
All the phases of the process bring me happiness, learning and self-knowledge. This has sounded a bit mystical, I ask forgiveness. If I ever overburden myself mentally, it is because I demand too much of myself, I am a very perfectionist, and because I cannot find time for my creations between my job and domestic responsibilities.
Actually, there’s a part I don’t like so much, although nobody would say so, and that’s when I have to promote my work on Instagram and Behance. I’m good at selling other people’s work, but not mine. I consider myself a fraud -the unfortunate inheritance that my parents left me and my teachers reinforced-. I like to chat with people and it’s a way to ease my nerves, so it seems I love to publicly present my work on social media, but it causes me a lot of anguish. Keep the secret.
5. How do you store all your lovely creations?
With the first two sets, I didn't have so much problem; they are stored whole in a bookcase-showcase of Ikea -insert your advertising here, LOL-. With the third, I already had to go to the dismemberment -painless, for the record- to be able to fit it there.
And my fourth and last paper diorama, a forest with anthropomorphic animals entitled "Life", is so big that it occupies a long table and a half, and I still have it installed in my working room because it will cause me a terrible pain to have to break it into pieces to keep it: I don’t have enough space available at home to keep it whole -Poor little me and my first world problems... I accept donations of castles and mansions with swimming pools-.
6. Who's paper art do you recommend I take a look?
Well, this could be the longest answer yet. So in order not to bore you with an endless list, and to avoid possible involuntary forgetfulness and consequent annoyance, I will limit myself to name 3 people who use a technique like mine or very similar, and that motivates me a lot to follow on Instagram: @peopletoo.ru -one of the pioneers-, @negpapercraft and @similarte_estudio.
7. How do you manage between your life and art? Worklife balance?
Another easy, quick and short response: I handle it badly. As I explained before, very often, finding enough time to focus on a project in the little free time I have left between my job, my domestic obligations and other hobbies is complicated and exasperating.
8. If you could give yourself some advice to your younger self about making art, what would that be?
It’s complicated, because it happens a bit like in those time travel movies and their time paradoxes. If my path had been smooth and easy since childhood, I probably would have made art, but an art empty of content or with a content that I would have borrowed.
Having to wait so many years to be able to start realizing myself as an artist, has not only allowed me to have something deeper to transmit, but now I do it with a lot of enthusiasm and strength, as a kind of compensation/rematch.
9. Where can we see your work?
You can find my portfolio perfectly ordered and organized in a coherent way in:
You can see my work dismembered in different posts, and not always well treated by the algorithm -less and less- in:
Dog Days of Summer
It has been hot, hot, hot in the South. I've been staying indoors and taking time to work on book dummies, new portfolio pieces and surface patterns. I also spending time this summer to teaching at a summer camp. I've really enjoyed it! They are some wonderful students that I'm sure will go onto have some amazing careers in the arts.
I also made some time to do a podcast interview with James Yang! He is one of my favorite children's book authors and illustrators. His skill at putting together his words and images together fascinated me. He also recently received 2022 APALA Honor Title for his book A Boy Names Isamu. Congrats to James Yang! To see his work visit his site:
To listen to the interview visit: My Creative Life Podcast
Below is a spread from his award winning book! Buy a copy of the book on Amazon!
My name is Nancy So Miller. I'm a freelance illustrator that specializes in cut paper illustrations and is based out of Savannah, Georgia.