Zack Mclaughlin is a London based illustrator who constructs realistic looking birds from wood and cut paper. He graduated with Ba Hons in illustration from the University of Westminster. He works mainly in acrylic paints and creates colourful, fun and informative artwork for all ages to enjoy. When he was in his third year at university, he found direction and purpose for his love of art. He came up with his own children’s book, which dealt with his own childhood and a few years later the book became the reason he got into paper crafting.
In “Hairy and Scary”, Mclaughlin’s first book, the character makes a bird lantern out of old paper from books he had found. Since he couldn’t visualize the lantern, he decided to make one himself from scratch. “It took me a long time and I had never attempted anything like it before – but the result was highly rewarding.”
He began exploring the technique by making more and more realistic looking birds, using different papers, wires, and wood. Mclaughlin says his inspiration comes from nature itself. He loves to find new details, colors, and shapes that he is desperate to recreate. “At the moment it is birds that I am inspired by. The sheer variety and beauty out there is a lifetime’s work in itself. Feathers are just beautiful objects; when they’re together on a living bird, spread wide and used in flight, they look simply stunning.”
In order to create the impeccable pieces of art he spends a long time researching picture after picture, from every angle to be able to get a real sense of the bird. Then he draws out the silhouette of the bird’s body, maps out the wings and tail feathers in the correct sizes and shapes. He adds thin metal wires for strength and structure. “I will always use paper for the feathers as it lends itself very well to the look and feel of the real thing!” The body of the bird is made from a block of solid wood which is carved and sanded down until the artist is happy with the shape.
Mclaughlin wants to be able to expand what he does. He wants to be able to create as many different birds as he could to fill a huge space. Also, he would like to create paper scenes in large box frames and play with materials for the visuals.