Sunday, 24 August 2014

Paper Cut: Book + Exhibition

Paper Cut:

An Exploration into the Contemporary World of Papercraft Art and Illustration

By Owen Gildersleeve

Rockport 2014

Hardcover, £20.00 UK, $30.00 US, $33.00 CAN

ISBN 978-1-59253-902-4

Star rating: ****

This big, beautiful book goes exciting places. It examines the working lives of 25 of the world’s top papercraft artists, whose work is at the interface of papercraft, paper engineering, and digital technology. (Appropriately, the cover art is a papercut design that has been obviously Photoshopped.) The author, Owen Gildersleeve, is a well-known graphic designer himself. He is our tour guide around an exciting creative wonderland.

The book begins with a capsule history of papercutting. Although concise, it yields many treasures. (Full marks for citing Hans Christian Andersen and his performance papercutting  that accompanied his storytelling to great effect.)

Fast-forward to now. “ Unlike paper-cutting of the past, a new wave of designers are emerging whose skills have developed in tandem with digital media, and so the two are strongly interlinked. ... Some artists use digital devices to cut out their artwork, and some rely on digital manipulation after the image has been photographed.  Some artists use... digital methods to create artworks that appear to be handmade.”

Many of the showcased artists are set designers who create fantastic papercraft worlds to photograph in the studio. Others have honed identifiable styles of working – like Yulia Brodskaya, who has re-invented quilling with her on-edge typographic compositions.     

There’s an in-depth interview with internationally-acclaimed papercut artist Rob Ryan, who divulges his studio practices and generously shares some very handy papercutting tips.

Other  designers include Andersen M studio, two brothers who craft papery stop-motion animations, and Bianca Chang, whose intriguing layered sculptural pieces are constructed by a method that is more or less the papercraft equivalent of 3-D printing.

The featured artists are an international bunch, although the selection is slightly London-centric. Fair enough, as London is a creative hub and that’s where the author is based. He does a pretty good job of casting his net far afield hunting for papercraft talent.

Whether you are looking to find your niche as a professional graphic designer, or if you are a papercraft  hobbyist  who wants to up their game, a browse through this title will yield plenty of inspiration. I found it refreshing to find a title that focuses on digital developments in papercrafting.

Good news if you live in or near London  – there’s an exhibition to accompany the book:
Paper Cut, the exhibition, at The Proud Archivist Gallery, Regents Canal, Haggerston, Sept 4th-25th 2014.

The show features 50+ pieces by the contributors to the eponymous book. Papercuts by Rob Ryan, 3-D pieces by Bianca Chang, handcrafted props from Andersen M Studio’s animation Going West (it won the Golden Lion at Cannes),  some of Marc Hagan-Guirey’s kirigami artwork series Horrorgami, and large scale creations by LA-based artist Jeff Nishinaka will be on display.

There’s also  a programme of talks and workshops, offering opportunities to meet the artists and sample creative techniques.