The Art of Love with Annie Howe

The Art
of Love

with Annie Howe

From the instant we saw Baltimore-based artist Annie Howe’s
papercuts, we were enamored by their mesmerizing patterns,
tiny details, and playful spirit.

From the instant we saw Baltimore-based artist Annie Howe’s papercuts, we were enamored by their mesmerizing patterns, tiny details, and playful spirit.

Inspired by nature, the city where she lives, and writing she admires, the intricate papercuts are used for a variety of projects including illustration, surface design, and three-dimensional work.

For her Art of Love creation, Annie turned her focus to romance in the natural world with animal pairs that mate for life. Delicate, lacy, and altogether enchanting, we’re delighted to share it with you! To celebrate the launch of our collaboration, we caught up with Annie to learn more about her artwork, her creative process, and the papercut she made especially for us.

Inspired by nature, the city where she lives, and writing she admires, the intricate papercuts are used for a variety of projects including illustration, surface design, and three-dimensional work.
For her Art of Love creation, Annie turned her focus to romance in the natural world with animal pairs that mate for life. Delicate, lacy, and altogether enchanting, we’re delighted to share it with you! To celebrate the launch of our collaboration, we caught up with Annie to learn more about her artwork, her creative process, and the papercut she made especially for us.

On Work & Inspiration...

Q: How did you discover the art of papercutting?

A: Like a lot of things, it was a windy way into papercutting. I studied fiber arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art, often working on puppets and community parades. After college, I worked with a community arts organization planning an annual lantern parade, which ended with a large-scale shadow puppet show. There, I discovered that I loved using silhouettes to tell stories. Eventually, I got into papercutting to make gifts—the materials are super easy and affordable. People responded really well and encouraged me to show my work, then my audience grew as people began asking me to make custom pieces. I’ve been a full-time artist for more than 6 years now. I feel so lucky that I get to work on amazing, challenging projects for all kinds of clients!

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

A: I take a lot of inspiration from nature and the amazing city of Baltimore, where I live. I also find inspiration in poetry and pieces of writing; a phrase or sentence may stop me in my tracks, and an image will start to develop in my mind. I love figuring out new ways to create patterns using variations on textures and shapes.

Q: Walk us through ‘a day in the life’ as an artist.

A: On weekdays, I usually spend 9-5 in my studio. I walk or bike there, answer any emails that need attention, then work on sketches, proposals, and client follow-ups. I also try to get a lot of papercutting done early, when I’m more focused. My days also include prepping cards, prints, and lasercuts for local shops that sell my work, mailing out orders, talking to clients or collaborators, and jotting down new ideas as they pop into my head. My favorite days, though, are when I get to papercut all day! Give me some new blades, a cutting mat and some paper, and I’m so happy!

Q: What is your studio like?

A: I have such a great studio! It’s a 15-minute bike ride from my house, in a lovely neighborhood in northeast Baltimore. I share the space with two other artists; we each have our own rooms and workspaces. I’m always rearranging, but I have a nice mix of work and display space. (Usually there are tons of paper scraps, like confetti, on the floor!) My neighborhood really loves to support locals, and I feel like my studio is my second home.

Q: What do you listen to while you’re working?

A: I love listening to audiobooks and podcasts, especially non-fiction. I recently finished a fascinating book called The Feather Thief. If I’m listening to music, I have Orville Peck, Florence and the Machine, and Snail Mail (a great Baltimore band) on repeat.

Q: Is there a project you’re most proud of?

A: I’m in the process of a very large, complex public art project: creating papercuts that will translate into murals for the new Children and Teen Psychiatric Unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. I’ve collaborated with the architects and the amazing doctors, nurses, and staff to find imagery and colors that will be soothing and comforting for everyone. I’m honored to create artwork for this project and feel a great deal of responsibility in making work that will have a long-term impact.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being an artist?

A: I love that I’m constantly working on something new and learning something new because the applications of my papercuts change. I’m always being challenged to push my work further and try new things.

On The Art of Love...

Q: Can you tell us about the making of your artwork for BHLDN?

A: I started by getting to know my animals that mate for life by doing reference sketches, plus sketches based on prompts from the BHLDN team. After some feedback to refine the sketches, I began cutting. I hand-draw and hand-cut all my originals; for this one, I used Tyvek, a sturdy construction material that’s good for larger pieces. I start by folding, drawing, and cutting the symmetrical elements, then I unfold the piece to draw and cut any non-symmetrical parts. Once the bulk of the piece is cut out, I stand back, look it over, and edit out anything distracting. I can cut those details out, but I can’t add details back in!

Q: What was your favorite part of working on The Art of Love?

A: I love how open this process has been and the freedom to create something unique to me! I also love creating super intricate papercuts and pushing myself to new levels of complexity. Researching lace patterns and incorporating the animals into the florals allowed me to play.

Q: Did you have a favorite animal pair?

A: I like them all, but the sandhill cranes are really neat! I love the skinks, too.

Q: How did the concept of love inspire this piece?

A: I love the idea that all kinds of partnerships are filled with love and connection. This is represented by all the different animals in the piece—is pair is unique and special in their own way!

Q: What does love mean to you?

A: Love means respect, integrity, and generosity from platonic to romantic.

The Love Lace

Take a closer look at Annie’s Art of Love creation.

Animals that mate for life are hidden throughout Annie’s intricate, lacy design—each detail cut by hand. Alongside traditional symbols of romance like swans and lovebirds, you’ll also find more unexpected pairs. Some of our favorites? Seahorses, gibbons, French angelfish, barn owls, European beavers, and shingleback skinks!

Want to see more from Annie? Follow her on Instagram!

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