Every artist knows that inspiration can come from virtually anywhere. It can come from a trip that you take, from witnessing a conversation between two strangers, from children playing in the park, or even a powerful speech. For artist Carrie Moradi, however, inspiration comes in the form of southwestern sunsets and mountainous trails. Moradi creates abstract tissue paper collages by layering tissue paper with specific color palettes in order to give her collages a blended, almost paint-like look. We were able to speak with Moradi regarding her work, where she finds inspiration, and what her goals are as an artist.
Tomorrow’s World Today (TWT): How would you describe yourself as an artist?
Carrie Moradi (CM): While I’m serious about the work I am creating as well as building my small business, I try not to take myself too seriously. The modern, abstract tissue paper collages I make are an expression of fun and boldness, balancing youthfulness and sophistication. I feel best when I approach pieces with an open mind and enjoy the organic and spontaneous process.
TWT: How did you get started with tissue paper collages?
CM: I’ve been working as a graphic designer in a variety of fields for twenty years, but I dipped my toe in the collage pool in 2011 during my grad assistantship in the design department at the Wexner Center for the Arts while pursuing a Master of Architecture degree at Ohio State. After being assigned a summer kids’ art program brochure project, I conceptualized a fun, popsicle-inspired color palette and textural treatment. My paper stash at home included a bunch of colored tissue paper—a material that screamed summer camp art project to me—so I put off a studio project and focused on cutting long strips of tissue paper and layering them to create a variety of tonal striping patterns.
There was something special about getting out tissue paper—a humble, overlooked material—and making something with my hands and using it in an unexpected and modern way. That specific ideation process always stuck with me as a pivotal moment and ultimately grounded me in the graphic design field after graduating with my March degree. Working in an interdisciplinary manner while studying Architecture has continually steered me professionally and gave me the confidence to enter my first Minted design competition in the summer of 2018. Minted is a design marketplace, sourcing content from independent designers and artists through crowd-sourced competitions for a variety of products including stationery, fine art, home goods, and décor. As I conceptualized ideas for my first few competitions, I went back to the collage medium that brought me so much joy.
TWT: How has your work changed over time/how have you grown?
CM: My first handful of compositions were very simple, utilizing semicircles and the inherent translucency of the fine tissue paper to create additional colors and forms through the overlapping shapes. I’m continually pushing myself to create more complex compositions and expand my color palettes to include a wider range from bright to more neutral hues. Original commissions have also considerably advanced my work. While I’m staying true to my techniques and style, I work with clients to create pieces that are truly custom to their spaces and sometimes get pushed to experiment with new color combinations that grow out of the collaborative process.
TWT: What inspires your art?
CM: I’ve had the fortune of living in different areas of the country including various cities in the state of Ohio, the American Southwest in Tucson, Arizona, and now near the Rocky Mountains in Fort Collins, Colorado. Little by little, I’ve been picking up inspiration from the landscape of all those places. Whether it be hiking on verdant, wooded Midwestern trails, in the Sonoran desert, or in the Rocky Mountains, natural color combinations and patterns found all around in nature serve as inspiration. Sometimes the shapes of trees, leaves, or flowers will spark an idea, or the texture of stones, boulders, or mountain ridges will trigger a visual that gets translated into abstract cut or torn tissue forms.
TWT: What has been your biggest challenge as an artist? How did you overcome it?
CM: Imposter syndrome is definitely a major challenge, and I’m not sure I’ll ever completely overcome it. But starting a new creative venture right around the age of forty after working as a creative for twenty years also gives me a level of confidence— or rather a greater “just go for it” attitude — that helps tamp down those pesky imposter syndrome feelings.
TWT: What are your goals for the future?
CM: Overall I’d like to continue to organically grow my business while still enjoying the process. Since I’m working solo, I intend to stay nimble with the ability to pivot if something isn’t working. My husband and I are also raising two young boys, ages 4 and 5, so finding a balance between my work and home life — which have blended considerably over the course of the pandemic — is something that remains integral to my professional goals. Expanding my shop offerings beyond art prints and original artwork to products that feature my collages is my next short-term goal. It’s nice to carve out the space to experiment and figure out where my energy is best spent.
TWT: Who are your role models?
CM: As far back as I can remember, my parents worked very hard at their respective jobs and lead by example to develop a solid work ethic, even when the job or work is not your favorite. My mom especially supported creative endeavors and cheered me on when choosing a career in the arts. Growing up, I also looked to my sister for advice since she was more studious than me. And I still bounce ideas off of her! My husband is a mechanical engineer and often approaches ideas with a totally different lens than my own, so I’ve valued his point of view throughout my career…even if I don’t always take his advice.
TWT: Describe a specific instance where a real-life event, image, or person inspired one of your pieces.
CM: Living near the mountains heavily influences most of my work, but my tissue paper collage pieces titled mountain sunset one, two, and three—available exclusively from Minted—are direct interpretations of the layered visual of mountain peaks and canyons, with color tweaks, of course.
TWT: Favorite artist(s)?
CM: Ray and Charles Eames, Alvar Aalto, Frida Kahlo, Alexander Girard, Anni, and Josef Albers
TWT: Three artists you’d like to be compared to?
CM: You know, while I admire so many people throughout history and contemporary art and design, I feel like my story has just begun and I don’t really compare myself to anyone specifically. However, in the spirit of answering the question, I’ve always admired Ray and Charles Eames for their interdisciplinary design practice and know that my own varied design experiences have guided me to weave together an aesthetic and approach to projects that are uniquely mine.
TWT: What piece of advice would you give aspiring artists?
CM: For me it’s twofold: don’t focus your attention on what others are doing, but rather concentrate on developing your own skills, and take the time to figure out your finances if you’re hoping to build a business around your craft. For me, it’s been a long road accumulating knowledge, experiences, and confidence to even consider calling myself an artist. And I’m still building and learning every day. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve worked for many years as a graphic designer and project manager in different fields before I branched out to develop the side of my business that’s more firmly based in fine art. And while I may hire a bookkeeper in the future, in the meantime it’s just me staying on top of all of my finances and taxes alongside designing, managing, marketing, and creating artwork. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.