Scrawl. Draw. Snip. Tear. Rip. Stick. This is the sound of Destiny Belgrave’s process. The Brooklyn-based artist and teacher’s papercuts begin life as written pieces – titles, poems and fragments of stories – which she transforms into brightly colored, deeply personal visual joys with her scalpel and scissors.
Piecing together all that inspires her, exploring and honoring her heritage with references to food, family and flora – Destiny’s art is all heart. We visited Destiny in New York to talk about her body of work and she was as warm and open as her compositions.
On making and creating art
I love creating art, it’s very much a part of my life and who I am. To put it simply, it’s pretty much a lifelong joy. Ever since I was a child I loved drawing, coloring and creating and I knew from a young age this is what I wanted to do.
I’d describe what I do as paying homage to the things that I cherish. Within my art I am giving my loved ones, familial members and my heritage a place to be seen, and connected to. I make art out of love, joy and reverence.
“I’ve been able to fall in love because of art, find friends, be inspired and view a lot of things from different perspectives because of art.”
On her creative process
My process usually starts with a memory, family photo, emotion or a mixture of all these things and I build a piece of art about it. Writing is a big, yet hidden, part of my practice – it sort of acts as my first sketch for many pieces. I flush out the sentimental ideas and work out the logistics and technical aspects of the piece through writing.
For whatever reason, writing instead of sketching them out is just way more helpful and feels more natural to me. I’m always using random pieces of paper, tearing them out and writing on it, sticking it to the wall so that I can make sure that I can lock in this idea or a poem that’s come to me.
It's pretty much the same process each time – some source of inspiration, writing, family photo or family story. Making the draft and creating the piece through whatever medium I choose which is normally a paper cut.
On life, learnings and self-discovery through art
I learned that there is art in practically anything. Since my art focuses on family I've also had moments of introspection revolving around familial karma, love and what it means to care and be loved platonically and wholly. There have been quite a few moments of learning about myself and my loved ones through learning about our intermingled histories and personal narratives.
Art has been a catalyst for a lot of things in my life. I’ve been able to fall in love because of art, find friends, be inspired and view a lot of things from different perspectives because of art.
Art is one of my first loves. It's something I always come back to no matter what iteration I happen to pursue it through; painting, drawing, writing, photography, etc. I love art, I love creating, I love the beauty of it, I love crafting something with my hands and bringing it into this world. It's amazing, frustrating, freeing, emotional and for me it's just a part of my being.
Food, family, relationships, love, flora and foliage. All of these things play a part in my work and you can find elements of them in my body of work.
I’m inspired to make sure that I am making sure that the people and things I cherish are remembered, even after I’m gone. And I’ll just keep making work for that reason.
To keep up with Destiny’s daily musings, latest works and events, follow her on Instagram. Or if you’re feeling inspired to cut and snip something of your own, start the process with our art-inspired collection.