Liliwhat? Lilibot Design!
Decoupage – from the French word découper, meaning to cut out – is a craft or art form that entails pasting cut-outs (typically paper) to an object and then covering them with several coats of varnish or lacquer. 
The art of decoupage has a long history that can be traced to many parts of the world – from Eastern Siberia where the tombs of nomads that date back to the times before Christ were decorated using the technique to more recently in Asia, Germany, Poland, and France. In the late 1600s it is thought to have evolved as a kind of “poor man’s art” in that expensive hand painted furniture could be closely imitated using decoupage techniques. When done skillfully, the process gives the appearance of depth and makes patterns and pictures look as though they are painted on the decoupaged object.
Designer/artist Sue Evans of South Orange NJ through her creations (aka Lilibot Design) has perfected this ancient craft and has taken the art of decoupage to new levels. Her techniques have brought decoupage into the 21st century by incorporating the world of digital art into her work and thus reinvented both the methods and the potential for creativity.
Traditional decoupage uses paper cutouts and images that are arranged and glued to an object which is then covered with layers of clear sealant to preserve the design and create a smooth surface. In addition to interesting colored and patterned papers, Lilibot Design uses both existing images and newly created digital images that Sue designs and produces electronically before printing for use in the decoupage. Hand-painted finishing touches or design accents (e.g., draw pulls, legs) are sometimes added to complete the work. Attention to detail is her hallmark and present in every piece she completes – a cabinet or storage box may have designs on the inside as well as the outside; every piece is named and has a sticker of authenticity by the artist on the bottom.
Her images and approach cover a broad range of styles from the whimsical to the ornate. Her works are exquisite, one-of-a-kind pieces of art and at the same time oftentimes functional objects. You might find a Lilibot Design jewelry case, cabinet, tissue box, serving tray, display plate, coasters, stool, or lamp stand.
“Color, pattern, texture, movement — all go into the making of multidimensional pieces that may be provocative or whimsical, but all of which are designed to be a visual treat. The result: decorative and functional pieces reflecting the diverse artistic and cultural influences that have shaped my aesthetic.” [Sue Evans]
But one of the main things that attracts me to her work is her re-use of discarded materials that most of us would consider useless junk. From these old cigar boxes or cast away pieces of tacky furniture come the recycled, finished pieces of functional artwork suitable for a museum. Fortunately (for us) her prices are still very reasonable considering the amount of work that is required to complete a piece, but like any newly emerging artist those prices are likely to increase when her work is more widely recognized and sought (hint: invest in a Lilibot Design today). In addition to the selected pieces shown here, her catalogue can be found at : http://www.lilibotdesign.com/
Interview with the Artist
As is the custom on these pages I try to get some the back story behind the artist and their work by means of interviews… and we are fortunate to have connected with Sue Evans of Lilibot Design for a behind the scenes account.
Opinion8ed2: I guess a basic starter question is what first got you interested in the world of decoupage – was it the finished products that spoke to you or did you see someone decoupaging? (I figure if page can be a verb we can conjugate decoupage).
Sue: I don’t know that I started with “decoupage” but rather decorating with paper. It goes back to my passion for designing my environment, and love of mixing color, pattern, texture in a way that is not what you see every day. I always liked the idea of taking something old and unloved, and transforming it into something new. One of my early forays was using decorative paper on an old trunk to create a coffee table/plant table. The sun faded the paper, and the plants (and my sloppy watering) scuffed it up, but I was hooked, and have tried since then to improve my techniques.