Central Saint Martin graduate and former advertising guru, Mandy Smith today is one of the world’s premiere Paper Artists. 

Now calling Amsterdam home, the British native from Merseyside has always had an affinity for the arts. Mandy describes herself with grace and humility and with something of a split personality, she professes to having been a keen math whiz with an eye for the creative, these two worlds of hers eventually intersect. As Mandy grew up in the humble town, Merseyside, west of Liverpool, she discovered the industry leading University, Central Saint Martins through a conversation with her A-Levels tutor. This conversation may possibly have been her first life shaping conversation.

During her collegiate years, the advertising program at CSM engaged her the most, the energy, the excitement and most importantly the pace of advertising was the allure she needed to begin shaping her professional career. She became an art director and honed the disciplines of creation and conceptualisation. Upon graduation she realised the real world was not as autonomous as Central Saint Martins. 

“When I got into the real world I realised I actually preferred to be on the production end of the chain. I was a creative for a little bit of time in London and then I moved to Amsterdam where I decided to slightly change my approach and get into production.” 

Fast forward to today, while Mandy still professing her love for the ‘MadMen’ world, she opted for the more creative craft of artistic installations, and thus – Paper Smith was born. Her approach to creating installations is incredibly hands on, without relying on the singular involvement of CGI, or as Mandy says, “being a CGI replica.” The installations manifest as real pieces making them “fun as they are able to invite people into that world.” The reward of the craft is seeing the awe in “people’s faces when they can pick up, hold or walk through what” has been created for them. Mandy professes a desire to move beyond art-direction of her projects and onto full scale production, while remaining hands on especially in the most complex of pieces. There are certainly instances where she has taken a step back in large scale commissioned works in the past.


“When googling FGM I received a search back that was so far removed from what I thought would appear I just didn’t quite believe it”.

Bringing us to Mandy’s most recent focus, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), something she came upon over a decade ago in what might be the most unorthodox way — whilst researching “fractionally gradient materials.” 

FGM has made headlines periodically over the last ten years, and now in 2016 it has returned to the forefront of media attention. Mandy is a part of this and conscious of the difficulties in highlighting the problem, “I think the topic of FGM is very complicated and it’s hard to get the tone of voice right”. The Independent UK covered this work in June presenting the new project and various statistics, for those unaware of the cause. No More Cutting is aiming to celebrate the genitals of all women and in Mandy’s words “get more women and guys talking about a taboo subject”.

Text by OCD.

Where They’ is a visual documentation of the creative environments of artist & people, that meet during my travels, of homes and studios.

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