Interview with Kristine Benum Braanen

The paper perfectionist who created joint success

She is one of the founders of The Paper Artist Collective, a teacher in arts and crafts and committed to world problems. The paper artist Kristine Benum Braanen may have tossed many of her creations, but those she kept are perfectly geometrical even to the smallest detail, some of them even made it all the way to London Fashion Week. 

Kristine Benum Braanen, from Oslo, is a perfectionist. When she is working with her paper cuttings the environment needs to be tidy and clean, since she finds it hard to concentrate if the environment is too messy. The atmosphere has to be calm when she’s starting the creative process, and when she finds that special mood, she can cut for hours. The perfectionism can especially be seen in her creations, which consists hundreds of hundreds large and tiny circles and triangles.

 
School, volunteering and a paper artist collective

At the moment, Kristine is taking her master in Multi-cultural and International Education, and she is already an educated teacher in Arts and Crafts, Religion, Ethics and Norwegian, plus, she is committed as a volunteer at The Red Cross. She finds time to her paper art and the society The Paper Artist Collective during evenings, nights and weekends. 

– Mostly, I work with paper cutting during the evenings, but now, when I study, I also can work a little bit during day time. I discovered paper when I studied art, when we got the chance to cut out trees from paper sheets. I liked it from that moment on, but I had difficulties getting it right. It was when I started to cut geometrical figures that I finally managed to do something I actually could be satisfied with, says Kristine.  
When Kristine began with paper art a couple of years ago, she was missing a place where she could discuss different techniques, bounce ideas around and ask for advice regarding paper cutting. She got the idea of creating a collective online, where people could be able to apply for membership. The Paper Artist Collective grew fast on social media, and people post pictures of their creations almost every day under the hashtag #paperartistcollective. She started the collective together with the likeminded artists Norman von Schmeling and Samantha Quinn early in 2015. Shortly after Norman moved on and today, the collective is run by Kristine and Samantha. It’s the two of them who decide who is going to be a member, together with inputs from other members. 

– The time flies by so quickly! It was only a bit over a year ago we started and we already have over 60 members from all around the globe, from almost 30 different countries, for example from North America, the Philippines, and a number of places in Europe, someone from every continent in fact. We inspire each other and arrange joint exhibitions that open up for possibilities, even if we never even meet each other in real life. I haven’t even met Samantha who I run the collective with. But wow, we have so many plans for the future, says Kristine. 

  • Photo: Terje Abusdal

    Photo: Terje Abusdal

  • Photo: Terje Abusdal

    Photo: Terje Abusdal

  • Photo: Terje Abusdal

    Photo: Terje Abusdal

  • Photo: Terje Abusdal

    Photo: Terje Abusdal

  • Photo: Terje Abusdal

    Photo: Terje Abusdal

The Geneva Exhibition and the London Fashion Week

According to Kristine, paper art is a trending topic at the moment, especially since paper is an easy medium to work with and that you can learn the basics rather quickly. But for Kristine, the road toward becoming a great paper cutter hasn’t been straight and she did think about giving up many times along the way. 

– A friend of mine has saved a lot of my drawings that I tossed away, she took them out of the trash can and framed them. I really want everything that I do to be perfect, which is hard when I also have trouble sometimes to focus. I can have a hard time to concentrate during a long sustained time, and it often ends up with me bouncing around the room. And even when I finally get going, I have to take a lot of breaks and do something else for a moment, one piece of work can therefor take up to 30-40 hours to make, says Kristine. 

Even if Kristine mostly wants to work as a teacher, she is very happy that her paper art is getting more and more attention. For example, she recently got the chance to make a jewelry display made out of paper for the designer brand Eshvi, for London Fashion Week. But she is also very proud of her latest exhibition, which ended recently, in Geneva. 

– It was called ‘The Geneva Exhibition’ and we were 11 artists from the collective who exhibited, which was very exciting. It is so fascinating that you can do so much with paper, it is just a blank sheet but can become so much more. You can even make a house if you want to. But I will stick to triangles and circles, that’s my biggest inspiration, says Kristine. 

Overcoming perfectionism

For the future, Kristine do not imagine herself working full time as a paper artist, maybe when she is 50 she says, but she still has dreams. She wants to do something big in 3D, a mass installation perhaps, something people can look at and enjoy but not wanting to put up on the walls of their homes. But right now, she is focusing on her paper creations when she has the time and she wants to concentrate on the things closest to her heart.

– I just have to be a teacher. I really can’t imagine how everything is going to turn out for me, but you can’t get stuck on dreams. I want to believe that I can manage to achieve my life goals whether or not I have them exactly figured out. I have to believe that the things I’m doing right now is good, and for now I’m trying to overcome my perfectionism by doing more abstract paper cuttings. And if I’m going to learn this I have to realize that everything doesn’t have to be perfect all the time, says Kristine. 

 

  • Photo: Terje Abusdal

    Photo: Terje Abusdal

  • Photo: Terje Abusdal

    Photo: Terje Abusdal

  • Photo: Terje Abusdal

    Photo: Terje Abusdal

FACTS
Name: Kristine Benum Braanen
Title: Teacher, paper artist and founder of The Paper Artist Collective
Favorite material: All kinds of textured, white and smooth paper (200-270 g)
Favorite tool: Paragon England Scalpel, 10 A blade

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