Raven Alum Flying High with Cut Paper Artistry | Benedictine College

Of Pearls and Paper

Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Angie Pickman ’02 always knew she would be an artist. She just had that feeling. She came from a creative family and was surrounded by art, music and literature. Being the daughter of Dr. Ruth Krusemark ’73, Kremmeter Professor and Chair of the Music Department at Benedictine College, that is not hard to imagine.

“There was always art around, always music around, always artistic and musical people around and it created this great background to my life that kind of drives me,” Pickman said.

But when she came to Benedictine College, there was no art major.

“When I started at BC, the art major hadn’t been developed yet,” she said. “There was only an art minor available. I kind of always had the idea that I could do art, but I thought it wouldn’t be a career. It would be something I could do more for fun.”

So she took advantage of the art minor and majored in business, looking at that as providing a good foundation for her moving forward. She would soon need that foundation.

“After leaving Benedictine I ended up doing my Master’s Degree and then just kind of jumped off this cliff and opened a restaurant in New York City,” she laughed.

Ultimately, that business didn’t work out. It was changed to a bakery, but that was still a challenge. Angie thinks of it as a huge learning experience.

“Because of that, I wasn’t afraid to fail. I wasn’t afraid to dive into my art,” she said. “I thought ‘I can do this, I just need to work hard at it. And if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay, too.’”

She had completed a Master’s Degree in Interactive Telecommunications at New York University and had been experimenting with computer animation and movement in art. She had seen the 1926 movie “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” in one of her classes. It was a stop-motion silhouette animation by Lotte Reiniger using intricately cut paper to create shadow puppets.

“I had always been trying to find the art inside of me, what I really want to be doing, and when I saw that I thought, ‘this feels like what I want to be doing,’” she said.

Pickman at work in her studio.Pickman studied Reiniger’s style and method and ended up doing a thesis paper on her, which included her own animation. That was her first work in cut paper artistry. While still running the restaurant and later the bakery, she could not forget about the art and she began to cut out still figures, mostly just to relax. It was a process of coming up with an idea, sketching it on paper, then cutting it out with a precision hobby knife. Often she pastes several pieces onto a background to create a collage. Some can take a few hours, but the larger ones can take up to a month to complete.

She started posting some of the pieces on My Space, which was a popular social media platform at the time, and she got a very positive response. She began getting requests for posters and other work and the thought occurred to her that this might be a possible career after all.

Pickman art sample - The Fox.She had been using the Rural Pearl moniker to tie her work back to Kansas nature and she was missing that in New York City. So she created the Rural Pearl Studio website at RuralPearl.Com and moved back to Kansas, landing in Lawrence. She began pursuing her art fulltime and suddenly found herself busy doing her own art and exhibiting at galleries and art shows. She began to get commissions to create specific pieces and bands, craft fairs, and other groups wanted posters designed and printed. She eventually opened a retail space in the art district in Lawrence.

To date, she has won an Independent Music Award for an album cover, animated the PBS documentary “Daughters of the Forest,” has been featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine, Midwest Living magazine and Food Network magazine, and received many awards for her art from regional art shows and fairs. She has done illustrations for books, but her latest venture is a book of her own.

“A few years ago I had created a series of images for a solo exhibit at the main branch of the Omaha Public Library,” she said. “I did this series of 26 animals and objects that go along with the ABCs.”

Over the years, she continued to refine it and began to craft it into a book, adding text. She put together a prototype of the book and a friend passed it along to a publisher, Ascend Books. The publisher loved it and Merry Menagerie: Animal Antics from A to Z was released in early July to resounding success. It is available in bookstores and on Amazon and is the #1 New Release in Children's Books.

“I feel really lucky to be able to do this for a living,” she said. “Not every artist can make a living off of their art. I’m a goal setter and I write down goals, usually in my sketch book so I have these things all in one place. And I’ve been able to check off a lot of goals…things like do a band poster, have my own retail space, publish a children’s book. It’s really cool to look at that and know I actually did it. And it’s exciting to have new goals.”

Rural Pearl Studio is located in Lawrence, Kansas, at 8th St. and Delaware in the East Lawrence Warehouse Arts District. Angie is available by appointment at info@ruralpearl.com.