“I try to keep my work area as clean and tidy as possible, as I need somewhere to be organized because my head is always racing ahead of what I want to do. I think keeping things simple is the best way to do this as it makes updating things, getting on with a new papercut or planning new designs a quick and easy process – plus I really can’t concentrate when there is a mess around me. At the moment I am currently using the board above my desk to rotate inspirational images every month and little pieces of ephemera that I find too.”

mrYen (aka Jonathan Chapman) creates papercut stationery and artwork. Using his trusty scalpel, all his designs are hand cut in Leeds (UK) and take influence from patterns, nature and typography. To see more mrYen stationery, paper goods and designs, visit the mrYen shop.

FROM YOUR DESKS: How do you work?

mrYen: I use schedules, timetables, a diary and lists! I create papercuts by hand drawing ideas, concepts and designs – which I then scan into the computer to trace over and create a digital template. I then use this template printed out over paper to create a hand cut paper cut design, using only a scalpel and a few very sharp blades! When drawing designs and cutting actual papercuts, I work at my desk, but when I have work to do on the computer I work on the sofa as I work from home and it’s just more comfortable to get through all the emails that need replies.

I wanted to include something Japanese as the Japanese aesthetic has had such an impact on my designs, ideas and products.

FYD: How long does each papercut take to create and cut?

MY: It depends on the design and how complicated is. If I am creating a custom order it can also take obviously longer as I have to wait to hear back from a client to make any changes or adaptations to the design – which I don’t mind as I want them to love their paper cut. When creating my own papercut designs it could take a few days to finish a design, from rough drawings to the final papercut. I use mock ups and prototypes of my designs before I make a piece available for sale, but I do always feel that a piece can be altered and developed, so I am always looking at how to improve my designs and techniques.

FYD: How do you decide to enter colour to a pattern or design?

MY: Using colour is always a hard decision – I prefer the white papercuts myself too, but if I feel a paper cut should be created using a particular colour then I will go with it – for example, my very first paper cut was a design for the fairy tale Hansel & Gretel and as I wanted to represent the dark storyline I decided that black paper would be more suitable. When I create patterns I prefer them to be completely uniform.

FYD: How did the name of Mr Yen come about?

MY: The Japanese influence in my interests and designs is obvious in the Yen part in the name, but I wanted something that sounded friendlier while still sounding formal and professional such as the “Mr” part of my name. I feel as though it’s a unique and friendly name that matches my personality and I wanted to include something Japanese as the Japanese aesthetic has had such an impact on my designs, ideas and products.

FYD: Does the simplicity of the Japanese aesthetic inspire you?

MY: I love the mix of traditional materials and processes with modern simple designs that the Japanese aesthetic has. I love simplicity in all its forms and I find it to be very challenging to create something simple. Sometimes I have to hold myself back and remember that less is sometimes more.

FYD: Do you keep lists?

MY: All the time! I have lists on my computer, lists on random pieces of paper, notepads and books full of lists. I really need them too, as getting everything out of my head and on paper helps me to work through things more methodically and helps me make sure I don’t miss anything out or forget about anything.

Follow Jonathan/Mr Yen on Twitter @mrYen

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