Towards the end of 2012 I saw a wacky poster advertising something called Fun a Day in Dundee. It was bright and colourful and unlike most other graphics that I had seen floating around. The poster encouraged me to think of a creative project that I could do every day in January and join a pop up exhibition – I promptly emailed the organiser Morgan to let her know I would like to join the fun. I decided to cut one word from paper each day – real crazy fun that would allow me to explore paper cutting a little.
At first I hadn’t really made any specification for choosing what the word would be each day and words came easily for the first few days (although they were pretty simple), day one was fun and day two was sunshine. I quickly discovered that one of the nicest elements of paper cutting was the increased potential they had when photographed with light directed at them. Light made the paper glow, shadows loom, negatives became positive and spaces filled with light. So quite quickly the daily process became more than just a paper cut…
As the first few days passed by, I found that I was starting to spend more time thinking about each word (sometimes more time than I would spend on the actual paper cutting) and so the process developed. Mostly I would start by picking one fun element of my day to think and write about, from that I would pick a word that summed up this extract and then I would just started cutting. I never really made a plan about the aesthetics of each word before starting cutting…
I wanted to see where I would get to by just exploring different mark making techniques – so on different days I tried scratching, folding and deleting in different ways. I was quite strict with myself and I only ever made one attempt at the papercut word each day. I wanted this limit, as I thought it would help me focus and avoid wasting time. So the result is that these paper cuts are not perfect and often a little rough, but I like that. Once cut, I would photograph the piece and upload it to Flickr.
I was really happy with the final paper results. Then as January neared to an end I started to think about how I would display them for the Fun A Day exhibition. I knew I would have to drop it off during my lunch hour from work, so I wanted something that was almost ready to go. I also didn’t think the lone paper cuts depicted the extent of the process…
So subsequently I formatted them into postcard format and titled the piece A Postcard to Myself – you can spot these in the edge of the exhibition photo and read the summarising extract below:
A Postcard to Myself – Fun A Day 2013
I sometimes find it hard to remember things. Then sometimes I can remember exactly what I want to. I wonder if I just take in too much information on a daily basis to store it all? Or if my memories just like to play hide and seek inside my head?
I found that choosing one word a day and carving it into the paper meant that the words acted as a memory trigger. That each daily word now helps to tease out all of the other words associated with the fun I had that day.
I had hoped that the Fun a Day would encourages me to have more fun and let me explore a new mark making technique. I think it worked.
What I found so refreshing about the Fun A Day process was that I would never have thought up the full project if I hadn’t completed it in this way. The way I chose to cut the paper was random and abstract, sometimes influenced by a font I might of seen that day – but mostly just by thinking what kind of shapes suited the words. Often the words I chose were influenced by the people I met, saw or interacted with that day. I also think I was more likely to say yes to things during that month as my mind was open to the possibility of fun and as a result I think that it is what lead to me to…
- Get up early and go to the beach on day 5
- Try some mocktails on day 8
- Retweet the GSA tweet & subsequently win something on day 11
- Play my drums a little on day 13
- Go to Glasgow to watch a Design Thinking documentary on day 15
- Complete an interview with Gary Hustwit on VERY short notice on day 16
- Attend a lecture & a few exhibition openings on day 18
- Help out at the Skillshare bike event on day 19
- Run up to hills to catch a days skiing on day 20
- Join a free screening of a French film on day 21
- Watch an improvised artist sound installation on day 24
- Join an event that explored the future of the book on day 31
- Enjoy a few other fun moments on the other days
It was the first time I have ever exhibited such a personal piece of work. Any exhibitions I have taken part in previously were always more design focused and often more outwardly looking. It made me reflect on how I had found it easy to upload the words to Flickr on a daily basis and watch the data of anonymous views grow and grow, than to actually display them in the exhibition.
Ultimately, I think it has influenced the way I have approached many projects this year and these quickly crafted words have been the base of a few other designs that I have since developed e.g. I used the rough paper cut of the word Chaos from day 22 as the base of the two prints as I learned how to screen print – the first one was completed very quickly with a paper cut stencil and the second was developed in illustrator before exposing the screen and printing it in three colours. As you might notice – I have also developed it into a one colour graphic for this blog.
Words and Images © Hazel Saunderson 2013.