4.11 Illustrators that use paper

The purpose of this exercise was to look at a range of illustrators and artists that use paper as a medium rather than just a surface within their work.

Key words from the brief:

  • How have they used paper and what processes have they put it through?
  • Reflect on their working processes.


The OCA course material mentioned gave these four illustrators as examples and after looking at their work and practice I decided to research them further because each has a different approach giving a broad overview of the practice.

Bruce Angrave (1914 – 1983)

Bruce Angrave was born in Leicester and attended a number of London art schools. He is most well known for his London Transport posters that he produced between 1942 and 1964.

He worked as a book and periodical illustrator, designer and paper sculptor.

Bruce Angrave - Les Amoureux
Fig 1 – Les Amoureux (1948)

How have they used paper and what processes have they put it through?

The scope of his work in paper ranged from work commissioned for the Festival of Britain, Idents for Pathe News and numerous characters and caricatures.

In his book ‘Sculpture in Paper’ he includes 10-pages of instructions showing how to create a gentleman’s bust.

angrave-gent-diag paper instructions
Fig 2 – Diagram showing how to make a paper model 

This shows the complexity of his designs and how fiddley they must have been to build.

The sculptures appear to be stand alone and built out of coloured card with the shapes and angles achieved through folding and slotting or gluing the paper in place.

Su Blackwell (1975)

Su Blackwell describes her work on her website: “I often work within the realm of fairy-tales and folk-lore. I began making a series of book-sculpture, cutting-out images from old books to create three-dimensional diorama’s, and displaying them inside wooden boxes”.

She goes on to say,

“For the cut-out illustrations, I tend to lean towards young-girl characters, placing them in haunting, fragile settings, expressing the vulnerability of childhood, while also conveying a sense of childhood anxiety and wonder. There is a quiet melancholy in the work, depicted in the material used, and choice of subtle colour.” (Blackwell, 2016)

Her portfolio includes work catagorised as fine art, editorials, set design, advertising and books.

Su Blackwell - Financial Time
Fig 3 – Financial Times (2012)

How have they used paper and what processes have they put it through?

Although some of the paper models consist of just folded paper, many use paper moulded around some kind of support frame. The example above clearly demonstrate this.

She also maximises the use of the studio shoot to get the image that she wants, using additional props, product placement and lighting as required.

Many of the images she creates could only exist as a carefully constructed studio photograph.

Rob Ryan (1962)

Rob Ryan studied Fine Art at Trent Polytechnique and went on to the Royal College of Art where he specialised in printmaking.

He has exhibited widely across the UK and internationally and his work includes publishing a number of children’s books, screenprints, papercuts and product designs.

Rob Ryan - I'm not fake
Fig 4 – I’m not fake (2018)

How have they used paper and what processes have they put it through?

His typical working method is to cut intricate images from different coloured paper and use the flat silhouettes this creates to make the picture. I can see a strong connection between this method and his printmaking background – in a sense a multi colour screen print is designed and constructed using layers in a similar fashion.

Guy Laramee (1957)

Guy Laramee is a Canadian artist that has worked in numerous disciplines including theatre writing and directing, music composition, sculpture, installations and painting.

On his website he describes his work: “I carve landscapes out of books and I paint romantic landscapes. Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains. They erode a bit more and they become hills. Then they flatten and become fields where apparently nothing is happening. Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything…” 

Guy Laramee - Historia das Americas II
Fig 5 – Historia das Americas II (2018)

How have they used paper and what processes have they put it through?

Of all the four artists that use paper, Guy Laramee uses the most extreme process where his landscapes are literally carved out of stacks of encyclopedias. This is a process of reduction. Rather than using the delicate qualities provided by individual sheets of paper, his work is made by cutting into whole books.



Blackwell, Su (2016) Artists Statement At: https://www.sublackwell.co.uk/profile/ (Accessed: 20.03.20)

Laramee, Guy Artists Statement At: https://guylaramee.com/artist-statement/ (Accessed: 20.03.20)

List of illustrations

Figure 1 – Angrave, Bruce (1948) Les Amoureux [Paper sculpture] At: http://www.fulltable.com/vts/p/publim/1/03/a.htm (Accessed: 16.03.20)

Figure 2 – Angrave, Bruce (XXXX) Diagram showing how to make a paper model At: http://vintageposterblog.com/2011/01/19/paperlicious/#.XnSBE27grUI (Accessed: 20.03.20)

Figure 3 – Blackwell, Su (2012) Financial Times [Paper sculpture] At: https://www.sublackwell.co.uk/editorials-magazines/ (Accessed: 16.03.20)

Figure 4 – Ryan, Rob (2018) I’m not fake [Papercut] At: https://robryanstudio.com/archive/im-not-fake/ (Accessed: 16.03.20)

Figure 5 – Laramee, Guy (2018) Historia das Americas II [Carved paper] At: https://guylaramee.com/ (Accessed: 16.03.20)

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