Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Paper Art of Megan Brain

As you can see by her Paper Art and international cast of characters shown here, Megan Brain is an amazing talent. We are so impressed with the details, the color, and the composition of these characters—from Marie Antoinette to Carnival Dancer! Megan grew up in California and graduated from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, with a BFA in 2D Animation and Illustration. She began creating paper sculpture while studying at the Chouinard School in Pasadena, where she was mentored by veteran paper sculptor Leo Monohan. We were delighted to chat with Megan:

There seems to be a trend in paper art, what might you attribute this to?
I think paper has a very clean, graphic, and modern look which seems to be a popular aesthetic at the moment. It is also interesting to see all of the diverse styles and techniques being created with paper. Everything from computer print out figures you can fold and put on your desk, to huge complex installations in fine art galleries.

Did you create paper art while studying Animation at the Academy of Art College, or was that discovery in Pasadena completely awakened while studying under Leo Monohan?
I did not experiment with paper while I was in art school but wish I had. It was not until I took a design and color course with Leo that I became inspired to work with this medium. If I hadn't taken the course, I would not have a career in art. I was creatively stagnant for four years after art school and the class woke me out of my coma. The knowledge I came away with from his design and color lessons gave me a new confidence to start making art again. Leo's skill and exploration with paper inspired me to try it out for myself. Another important factor to me getting back to art was meeting my husband Shannon. His art is inspiring, and his criticisms are always constructive. {Megan's husband is Shannon Tindle, a visual development artist at Dreamworks.}

One thing that might resonate to some of your readers... if you feel like you are an artist but haven't found the inspiration to create art, keep exploring mediums until you find one that excites you and motivates you to work. Once I found paper, I had ideas for projects and energy to execute them.

We love your international characters... can you tell us about your inspiration?
I'm very attracted to the various cultures of the world. There is so much visual information to be inspired by such as clothing, color, dance and mythologies. I lived overseas for two years when I was a teenager. A year in Dublin, Ireland and a year in the Netherlands. The experience has given me a great appreciation for culture and travel.

Creating the paper art for the United Airlines commercial must have taken hours and hours! Can you tell us a bit about that? Did you do the animation in addition to the paper art?
I was brought on the project as the art direction phase was beginning. Once Jamie, the director, and the client approved the character and background designs {created by Alexander Juhasz and Jared Purrington}, I was asked to help give the paper puppets dimension and texture. I added tiny creases in sleeves, layered the clothing, and cut little strands to create hair texture. I also worked on some of the background elements such as the water fountain and the theater scene. I did not do any of the stop motion animation. The director hired very talented animators that specialize in this technique. I adore the look of traditional stop motion, but it is a very challenging approach when you are working with paper puppets. They stood upright on the set, and were held together with little pins. Gravity was our enemy. Typically, paper stop motion animation is shot laying on a flat surface with the camera focused down onto it.

Megan blogs here. Thank you Megan!

Here is a look at the United Airlines commercial "Heart."


  1. Thanks Jen... we love her work too and Megan gives great advice for aspiring artists!

  2. Check out The Finer Things today! You will find a shout out in Fun Friday Finds!


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