An Interview with Andrea Courchene of Paper Sparrow

Andrea Courchene, the artist behind Paper Sparrow

Art Star: Tell us a bit about your work.  What inspires your imagery?
Andrea Courchene:  As an artist and musician I am divided between two creative worlds. My process of creating art is intrinsically like refining a passage of music through practice, writing original pieces, or listening to my favorite recordings–it is quite involved. I have always found a special interest in the connections between the sound of music and visual art. Performing music inspires my art with an appreciation for the audience as well; people of all ages can find an instrument, an animal, or a scene which may capture their imagination.  I’m also inspired by vintage illustrations, nature and living in New York City.

AS:  Are you formally trained? If so, where did you study?
AC:  My formal education is in music.  I have a bachelors and master’s degree in music.  I’ve always loved creating art as a hobby as far back as elementary school.  I’ve taken a few art classes at both my undergraduate college as well as in graduate school.  I recently completed two courses at Columbia University: one in painting and the other, lithography.  I’m also starting an etching class there this Spring.

Andrea working on a lithograph

AS: Are you originally from New York?  What are some of your favorite places in NYC to go for inspiration?
AC:  I was born in England and immigrated to Florida with my family when I was in high school.  Since then I’ve been lucky to travel around and have recently lived in Chicago, Portland, Oregon, and am now based in New York City.   New York City is a wonderfully cosmopolitan city but I find that I am most inspired by my neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan which is always bustling and has the added advantage of two great, enormous city parks on each side: Riverside and Central Park.

poster by Paper Sparrow

AS: Are you able to focus on your work full time?  Do you have a day job?  Any employees?
AC:  Paper-Sparrow is currently my full-time work.  I am fortunate to be able to supplement my income with freelance performance and teaching music.  I do get a lot of support and an extra pair of hands for shipping packages from my partner, Paul, who is also a cellist.

AS: What materials do you use for the original illustrations?
AC: It varies from piece to piece.  I tend to gravitate towards paint: gouache, watercolors and acrylics with added textures and backgrounds.  Other times I simply draw in pen and ink and digitally manipulate the images in photoshop and illustrator.

AS: Any new and exciting projects in the works?
AC:  This year I’m focusing on expanding my line of greeting cards and taking on more freelance opportunities.

AS: Aside from Etsy & Art Star, where else do you sell/show your work?
AC:  I tend to sell at a few craft fairs every year in the summers and the holiday season.  I also wholesale my cards to a number of boutiques and stores across the US and to a few in Australia.

“Smoky Mountain Gypsy Jazz” by Paper Sparrow

AS:  Who are some of your favorite artists/illustrators?
AC:  I have pretty eclectic taste but I particularly love art of the bauhaus movement and mid-century design.  I love scouring vintage children’s books for illustrations by Martin and Alice Provensen, M. Sasek, Sandy Hoffman, Aliki Brandenberg and Brian Wildsmith.

AS: What music are you listening to these days?
AC: We always have music playing in our apartment.  You can bet on lots of classical and chamber music, jazz, Django Reinhardt and some 60s pop.

Check out our collection of work by Andrea’s line, Paper Sparrow, HERE

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