Rachel M. Bray is a Canadian artist specialising in pencil, graphite powder and ink work. Here, she tells us more about herself and shares her portfolio.

How would you describe your work?

My drawings are informed by Asian art history and their themes are combined with my own cultural expression of French allegorical surrealism.

What are your favourite tools?

Today my favourite tools are pencils and the assorted custom brushes I use when drawing with graphite powder.

What techniques and approaches do you use most?

I most often use a combination of graphite powder and pencil for a level of dimension, play of light and vitality. I think graphite powder is an underused medium with potential that is greatly unexplored.

What has been your favourite piece you've created and why?

My favourite lately is a small quick drawing I did called 'Hound'. I'm growing increasingly focused on the potential of drawing to render heightened levels of living vibrancy, and this drawing is a small piece of that.

Where have you exhibited your work?

My latest show was at the CAJA group show this summer in LA. Earlier this year, I had the great privilege of lavishing two whole pages of Tiny Pencil magazine with my drawings.

Who are your biggest influences?

My earliest and strongest drawing influences were illustrations from archaeology, anthropology and biology textbooks. I'm always inspired by artists like Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Hiroshige. My imagination is sparked by artists like Tilo Baumgärtel and his surreal night scenes of quiet mystery and subtle violence.

What has inspired you most recently?

The great Tyrus Wong, Chinese-born American artist who is best known as the production illustrator for Disney's "Bambi" and chiefly responsible for its painterly quality. The way in which Tyrus Wong combines the aesthetics of traditional Chinese painting with modern western animation perfectly captures what I see as the great potential of cultural interplay in all forms of art.

What is your dream commission?

My dream commission is to never have to fulfil a commission.

Papercut is something many creatives would like to become skilled in, but spend five minutes with a scalpel and some paper and it becomes clear that this isn’t just like picking up a pencil – you need to learn new skills to produce even passable work. Papercuts aren’t so complex that they’re beyond the skills of most creative people – and they don’t require years of practice to produce something you can be proud of – but there are techniques that you need to understand and work on before you’ll make something you’d be happy to show to another human being.

Learning these papercut techniques requires a good teacher, and this is why papercut artist Mr Yen – aka Jonathan Chapman – has published his first book, Teach Yourself To Papercut. In this tutorial, we've published an exclusive extract from this, covering practical and creative techniques for cutting letters.

Jonathan says that the best way to think when cutting letters is that you are simply following a line.

"Don’t try to make your scalpel cut a shape that you think makes a letter," he says, "you’re simply following a line. Just think of letters, as mixtures of squares and circles and you should be fine."

Let's get started.