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Cheryl Humphreys | Embossing & Debossing

Thoughtfully curated and cozy, Cheryl Humphreys' studio is decorated with colors and shapes, stencils and mock ups. It bursts with artistic inspiration and energy, and is quietly tucked away in the back of her West Hollywood home. Her flat file is carefully organized, where she stores, like treasure, her illustrious icons ranging from cacti to vibrators, mushrooms to hand-cuffs. While simple in composition, each piece has a kick - there’s no lack of personality in Cheryl Humphreys’ work (or her for that matter).

She’s to the point, she’s decisive, and she’s undeniably meticulous. 

Humphreys is a designer. A hard worker by nature, she is constantly figuring how to communicate a concept and tell a story through her pieces. This has been evident in her past works, especially her iconography series where a single motif communicates so much, but when paired with another, you cannot help but construct a story between the two. Her attention to detail and simple, affective motifs make these embossed works such a treasure to experience. Each is so personal yet universal simultaneously. 

Using the technique of embossment, Cheryl creates impressions in raised paper, which presses a design into paper from beneath. This technique challenges the idea of two-dimensionality, adding a depth to the paper, and encourages a more intimate experience with the imagery of each piece. Sharing these contemporary and seemingly “edgy” icons through such an ancient form of mark-making beautifully marries these contrasting elements. 

Counter Parts is the beginning of a new series of studies exploring compositions using the “counter parts" [cutouts] from stencils Humphreys has made over the years. Using shapes from varying degrees of her past work, elements of these motifs are now free from the layouts they were initially placed in, re-contextualized and abstracted, seeking to explore a secondary narrative that innately exists within her work. Interestingly, these pieces are created by debossing the paper, meaning the imprinted design causes depressions into the paper, rather than from beneath it. 

Humphreys is noticeably departing from the visual language of common-place iconography she shared with us previously. Appropriating elements from her older series, these works are abstracted, incorporating sinuous lines and imbuing the works with more sophisticated earth tones rather than poppy, vibrant hues. This new series is bold and brings an even higher level of sophistication to her oeuvre. 


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