Geertje Aalders (4/5)

Papercut artist Geertje Aalders makes such beautiful stuff. Using a knife she cuts the most wonderful scenes from paper, often with animals and flowers taking center stage. Luckily, she does this for Flow quite often. In this guest blog she tells us all about herself, her life, and her work.

I’ve already showed you how I work and what I make. Now I’d like to give you some insight into where I find my inspiration. Like a small tour through my mind. There’s a lot going on up there. I love outdoors, particularly the woods. If you were to look for me, you’d never find me as I always take the little rabbit trails and the narrow sneaky deer paths. A walk with me can be a bit tiring: if I find one then I insist on pulling apart an owl pellet to find out what was on the menu. I’ll be fiddling with my backpack, looking for my binoculars so I can study a bird that has usually flown by then. I’d help a dung beetle cross the road. Or I’d inspect a lair to decide what animal resides there. I sometimes check whether droppings (like the ones I showed you last week) are fresh, so I can calculate whether we’ll be likely to run into the boar. It’s never happened so far. Pretty vistas I’d store inside my head, dead insects I’d take home with me.

Nature has loads of cool stuff to offer. Like these animals. I feel the bowhead whale is swimming upside down. Look how he starts to shine once you turn him over! Imagine being a horsfield’s tarsier, or a slender loris. And just look at the pink fairy armadillo… Wouldn’t you just stick him on the barbecue by mistake?

There’s lots of old stuff in my atelier. Often these books, cans, boxes have been designed with so much attention to detail, it inspires me to take the time to get to the bottom of things and patiently make something beautiful.
It’s kind of complex to find out where my ideas come from. I see so much and I remember a lot, I marvel and collect everything. And all those things sometimes emerge together as a whole new thing. I take a lot of pleasure in the sound of the wind, rustling through a poplar. And in a radish in mint condition. How a duck sometimes swims for a while with its butt sticking out. In the weird things people say to one another without even noticing. The way a caterpillar moves. In a tale from the Thousand and One Nights. In the fact that there are herons on the Albert Cuyp market (big market in Amsterdam). The scent outside after a huge downpour on a summer day. The creaking sensation you get when you cut a mushroom in half. The fact that a fat sheep can bellow very low and a big goat unseemingly high. How some people start resembling their dogs. How during a bike ride an insect will fly right into the center of your forehead. And the noise it makes.

I take pleasure in lots of things and I work these small stories into my illustrations. Sometimes quite literally, when I translate a mythological story to the here and now in an illustration. Or when I turn a pretty forest edge into a papercut. And sometimes I have simply no idea from which shelf in the filing cabinet I like to call my mind this idea sprang from.

Next week will be the last edition of my blog. I’ll be showing you which exciting project I’m working on at the moment. See you then!