Paris In Pen and Paper by Karen O’Leary


Charlotte, North Carolina-based artist, Karen O’Leary, blew up the blogosphere (with a story that originated here) last week with her intricate and jealousy-inducing, NYC Map Cuts.

And now she’s back with her self-described, “hands down favorite piece yet:” Paris in Pen and Paper (more detailed shots on the other side).

O’Leary talks with The Jailbreak about her artistic process after the break.

*UPDATE: Karen just informed me that she sold this piece to a person in Australia.

Paris in Pen and Paper measures 30″ x 22,” and was drawn with a 0.25 mm blank ink pen on Strathmore watercolor paper.

It’s a one-of-a-kind piece and is available to purchase here for $700.00 $550.00.

Below is our interview with O’Leary. Enjoy!

The Jailbreak: What draws you to creating maps? It seems like maps haven’t ever really changed from their traditional form, yet you completely re-imagine them in new and artistic ways each time.

Karen O’Leary: I love the idea of a completely familiar object made new and even more beautiful.  I was tired of seeing the Manhattan subway map and decided to create a new image.  I’m not really creating a map, it’s more of a graphic image borrowed from a map.

The Jailbreak: What’s the process from start to finish of both the map cuts and the “in pen and paper” versions?

Karen O’Leary: The process is simple, it’s the initial concept and execution that takes time.

The Jailbreak: How do you stay focused when the process seems so tedious?

Karen O’Leary: The hours just fly by when I’m working on them.  The pieces themselves continually inspire me.  It’s tedious, but I know the end result is going to be well worth it!

The Jailbreak: How did you conceive the Paris In Pen and Paper project?

Karen O’Leary: I just love the graphic image that the city of Paris lends.  I wanted to express the image in another form to emphasize the beauty in it.  I like things that are simple and elegant.  What’s simpler than a thin vertical line?

The Jailbreak: Describe your maps to someone who is blind.

Karen O’Leary: Imagine all the sounds and smells and feelings of being in a large city……then try to transfer that to paper without using words.  Only by using a knife or a pen.  These maps reveal the density and delicacy of a modern city with a single element and infinite subtleties.

“The subtle texture and depth of the repeated vertical lines reveal the individual fingerprint of the city of Paris in its simplest form: in pen and paper.”

*Click each image to expand

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