Friday, April 10, 2009

An advance look at the Papershapers show

Scion has a long history of promoting pop art, including hosting shows at its gallery in Culver City, California, and sponsoring a currently-ongoing art tour. I've also featured the Scion Crest Generator and Kung Fu Puppet shorts in the past.

The latest show in Culver City opens tomorrow night, was curated by Giant Robot, and focuses on Papershapers.

In selecting artists for the show, Eric Nakamura of Giant Robot chose artists who represented a wide variety of paper art. Of the ten he contacted, he'd only had prior contact with three. All ten artists contacted agreed to participate in the show.

Below are my photos of the installation, as well as what I learned speaking to the artists, who were all gracious with their time.

Shin Tanaka:

If you like Shin Tanaka's work, you can easily download the templates and make your own. At his site, you can download a few versions of his Hoophy template, customized by artists who approached him. More versions will be made available for download once they're prepared. You can also find download links for the big robot, which was included in issues of Giant Robot magazine, here.

To obtain the Boxy template, you'll have to send Tanaka an email requesting it. This is because he wants to meet customizers. To date, he's sent out approximately 500 templates and received roughly 50 designs in response. He has no webstore, choosing to use the website simply as a gallery to show off his creations.

Polly Verity:

Polly Verity creates a wide variety of papercraft works, ranging from costumes (which are not included in this show), to geometric folded patterns (which she was still setting up), to a menagerie of mythical monsters.

She creates the wire armatures, soaks small pieces of wet strength tissue paper in a mixture of water and glue, and then places the tissue on the frame. The tissue shrinks slightly, making the tissue taut when dry. You can see more creations in her Flickr gallery.

Annie Vought:

Annie Vought loves words. She buys vintage letters on eBay and at garage sales and then uses a projector and tracing paper to make copies of words that catch her eye. She mounts the cut out words on bug collecting pins, which she paints white to make them blend into the white walls of the gallery. The words seem to float in the air and cast striking shadows:

The works on display featured relatively random words, but Annie's more recent works feature fully reproduced letters. Her website is woefully outdated, with nothing more recent than 2007 works, but she intends to flesh out the site after she graduates this month.

Ryohei Tanaka:

Ryohei Tanaka's creations are a bit like incredibly complicated paper dolls. It's hard to believe, but he creates his work just using scissors - - without first making a detailed sketch. Below you can see a very simple sketch of two people sitting under a tree, and the dramatically more complex paper cutout he created based on that simple concept:

He uses a regular pair of scissors:

And if you look at the ground in the photo above, you'll see some simpler designs he had cut out of brown paper and simply left lying on the ground. Ryohei is one of the two artists in the show with a blog. His site includes a link to a webstore, but he's never put anything in it.

Hunter Stabler:

Hunter Stabler uses a compass and carbon paper to create the repeating patterns in his designs. You can actually see him reflected in this photo:

Hunter specifically chooses not to post his work regularly on a blog because he prefers to create several pieces to be unveiled at one time in a live showing. Because of glare, I had difficulty taking decent photos of his work, but you can find several photos at his website.

Ana Serrano:

This colorful cityscape is called "Cartonlandia" and splits into four pieces for transport. Ana built it up more or less organically, without a rigid plan.

To bring the buildings to life, Ana took photographs of windows and doors in her neighborhood, and then printed them out at the right size to match the doors and windows in her buildings. The photos give the buildings real depth and life.

Ana Serrano was one of only two artists in the show with a blog, also maintains a Flickr gallery, and has been pleased by the feedback she gets from visitors to her sites. She's the only one in the show with an active webstore.

Ana's parents are from Sinaloa, which is somewhat infamous for drug trafficking. Her upcoming works, and you can see a few at her websites, explore pop culture's unfortunate glorification of drug traffickers.

Mu Pan:

Mu Pan creates his "origamu" with colored paper and paint. He uses reference images, but does not sketch out his designs ahead of time. There's no wire support, so each piece has to be balanced carefully.

Mu Pan actually devotes most of his time to painting, and displays his creations at his main site. However, he knows some people are only interested in the paper creations, so he displays those at Flickr. He has no webstore and does not believe in cheapening his work by selling prints or reproductions.

Works by artists I didn't interview:

Autopsied books by Brian Dettmer:

Cutouts by Peter Callesen:

Abstract shape by Richard Sweeney:

And last but not least, Matt Hawkins won the paper toy design contest with this creation:

Shin Tanaka selected Matt's design from approximately 45 entries.

The show runs through May 2, and I believe will be followed by one curated by

UPDATE: Here's photos from opening night.

*Previously: Find countless, simple papercraft projects here.

*Buy Matt's book "Urban Paper: 25 Designer Toys to Cut Out and Build" at Amazon.