Part Traditional, Part Contemporary: The Paper Cut Art of Bovey Lee

Bovey Lee creates intricate paper cutouts employing traditional Chinese paper cutting techniques alongside modern, digital, tools. Her creative process is three-fold: first, hand drawing, then digital rendering, and lastly, hand cutting.

“Typically, I develop drawings before making a digital template on the computer,” she explained her artistic process in an interview with Design Boom. “After completing the template, I print it out and use it as a positioning and visual guide. the template is largely photographic and I spend a lot of time translating continuous tones into patterns of solid and void. The final step is to spend lots of hours, hand cutting the image.”

Born in Hong Kong, and currently based in LA, Lee has lived a rich creative life. Practicing Chinese calligraphy since the age of ten, she went on to study painting and drawing in her formative years and completed her BA degree in Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 1993, she came to the United States as a painter and earned her first Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a second MFA in computer graphics and interactive media at Pratt Institute in New York.

But it was only in 2005 when she created her first cut paperwork. “After practicing digital arts for years, I began to miss creating with my hands,” she explains her artistic transformation. “I sought an expression to satisfy my creative impulses and combine my skills.”

Using the same Chinese rice paper that is used for calligraphy, Lee defines her technique as “drawing with a knife.” “When I cut paper, it is a visceral reaction and natural response to my roots and affection for precision, detail, and subtlety,” she says.