The Creative Process Behind My Cut Paper for The New York Times Magazine

Who would have thought that my first cut paper artwork for the New York Times Magazine was a Cannabis Sativa? Since the Magazine is published weekly, there was very little time to work on the piece. Time is always a challenging issue, for my creative process is naturally slow. In addition, I already lined up my calendar for the rest of the year but pretty much had to push everything back in order to fit it into the schedule.

Despite its simplicity, a lot of preparation and work went into the cut paper leaf. As I said in the last post, what seems easy is not. Firstly, I read Bruce Barcott’s fascinating article and learned about the angle of the story. And then, the Art Director and I discussed how to represent the angle of the story all in a single cutout leaf. The color scheme and composition were then decided. After a dozen back and forth with the AD, I went about to research hundreds of images of the Cannabis leaves. Realizing there were three different types, I had to make a quick choice on which one to depict and settled on the Sativa because of its graceful shape. I also researched images of vintage botanical and scientific illustrations.

The article centered around the investment and marketing of marijuana for pharmaceutical use. On the computer, I rearranged, reshaped, and adjusted the spacing and symmetry of the leaf. The idea was to give the leaf a clinical look, almost like a specimen drawing. Before cutting it out, I did a pencil drawing based on the computer image to show the AD. After approval, I then began the hand cutting process until it was completed. The finished artwork was shipped to a photographer in New York for the post production work.

Bovey Lee, Cannabis Sativa, pencil on paper, for The New York Times Magazine, June 30 issue, 2013

Bovey Lee, Cannabis Sativa, pencil on paper, sketch for The New York Times Magazine, June 30 issue, 2013

Given the photographer who has never taken pictures of my work before, he did a good job for white-on-white is very difficult to do well, especially because the leaf has very delicate, thin lines.

I want to thank The New York Times for inviting me to collaborate on this interesting project.

Bovey Lee, Cannabis Sativa cut paper artwork for the New York Times Magazine, June 30 issue, 2013

Bovey Lee, Cannabis Sativa cut paper artwork for the New York Times Magazine, June 30 issue, 2013

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