Meet Paper & Wood’s Zack Mclaughlin
We first met Zack Mclaughlin on ITV’s The Big Audition back in 2018… and we were blown away by his incredible talent when it came to crafting with… well, paper & wood! Zack has since been back to Create and Craft HQ, and we just had to take the opportunity to find out more about the incredible work he produces, his love for all things nature, what the future holds for this talented artist… and just how long it really takes to produce one of those breath-taking birds!
Where do you find inspiration for all the stunning designs you produce?
Nature is my happy place, and has been my way to escape from reality, ever since my childhood. I’m obsessed with nature because there’s such variety and detail… it really inspires me, those details!
When did you first discover your passion for crafting?
I’ve always been into painting and illustration, but my 3D passion actually developed as a result of the children’s book I wrote! The story features a little boy who makes a bird lantern out of old book pages and willow sticks. After struggling to envisage what such a thing would look like, I decided to make my own as a prop to draw from… and so Paper & Wood began!
Now that crafting has taken over your professional life – is it still something you turn to in your spare time to help you unwind?
I don’t have any spare time! Now that my hobby has become my job, all the time I have is spent working on commissions (that’s what you lose when you turn your passion into your job… which is also a blessing!)
What’s your favourite commission that you’ve worked on to date?
My favourite job was for Jo Malone in London… we could do whatever we liked, the scope was big! There were over a hundred thousand paper details in total, and it took us over 8 weeks… then we had to install everything in one night (which was fun!) I’m used to working on my own so it was actually really nice to get to work with new people, and share experiences with others too. It has definitely broadened my horizons to new things!
What’s Your Favourite Bird?
Definitely the robin! It’s a bold, brave and cute little bird… and I always manage to find one in the garden!
but when it comes to Paper & Wood birds, my favourite is always one that I have not yet made… I am always looking for a new challenge!
How long does it take to make just one of your stunning birds?
It can take anywhere from 30 – 120 hours! But I really enjoy the journey, even though it takes so long to build these, just because I want to build the dream that I have in my head. It’s a dream-come-true to see my ideas come to life, and I really enjoy each moment. When it comes to beauty, you can never beat nature, but you can do it justice and leave it there to inspire others, by sharing the details that you love the most.
Have you managed to convince any family or friends to take up crafting over the years?
My sister always says that I’ve influenced her path; she’s now a creative director! But no, not anyone else… my friends still mock me, in jest, for being an artist, and say that I need to get a real job!
What do you do when you hit a creative brick wall… any advice on conquering artist’s block?
I always need a deadline. I’m quite lucky because I have so much going on and so many deadlines… I have try and get around the side of the wall whenever I can… but if creative block strikes, don’t beat yourself up, it’s not worth it!
If you could share three tips with someone new to the world of mixed media, but keen to get started, what would they be?
Just play! Find out what you can make out of anything that you get hold of, that’s what i do ALL the time!
Also, try to find what inspires you, and immerse yourself in it (be it a flower, a tree… whatever catches your eye).
Stay true to yourself, and don’t try to copy someone else. If you love what you do, people will see that, and they will love you for that.
Always try and see the world through the eyes of your inner child… don’t hear the adult voices! Don’t be afraid to be the quirky kid – just embrace it because, one day, it will pay off and you’ll stand out from the crowd as something special.
What’s next for 2019, and beyond?
The products I’m doing for Create and Craft are really exciting! I’m also getting my children’s book published, which is a really big one for me!
I wrote this book when I was at the university (about 15 years ago) and it’s about me and my escapes…
By building a bird lantern out of paper, the little boy escapes his world by holding onto the lantern… but the lantern is emotionally attached, so when he’s feeling low the light dims and it sinks into the landscape, and he has to overcome that fear. When he does, the lantern brightens back up and he flies on to continue his journey! Nature and art combined created this book, which has been a real self-reflective journey for me.
Feeling inspired by Zack’s passion for his creative work at Paper & Wood? Whatever your passion, be it papercraft, woodcraft, or something else entirely, we’ve a range of supplies to keep you crafting at Create and Craft!
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