The Candyman of Artists’ books

The Magic of Paul Johnson: Movable Book Artist and Teacher

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson: book artist and children’s literacy expert

Last year I was fortunate enough to experience first-hand the art and magic of British book artist and children’s literacy expert Paul Johnson, as part of the Designer Bookbinders autumn series of lectures at the St Bride Foundation in London.

In her interesting blog about making books with children, www.bookmakingwithkids.com, Cathy Miranker said:

“Johnson’s specialty is doing exceptional things with single sheets of paper, and he uses his magic in two ways, teaching book arts to school children (and training teachers to use bookmaking in their classrooms) and making many-layered pop-up paper constructions.

“His show-and-tell session was electrifying, the most inspiring talk I’ve heard. The audience applauded and applauded—they just couldn’t stop. There was a lot of hugging, too, as if people hoped to catch some spark of his.

 

 

PaulJohnson_34

“Paul himself is modest, low-key, soft-spoken, undemonstrative. Except that as he talked, something extraordinary began to happen: a quiet passion seemed to take possession of him and spill over into the audience, too.

“I was completely carried away by the story of how he discovered paper—he said he didn’t notice it until he was 45, and then he couldn’t help but change his life—his endless fascination with the possibilities in a single sheet of paper (“I didn’t add anything, I didn’t take anything away, but look what it turned into! I think this must be Zen.”), his work habits, his love affair with color, his belief in book arts as a compelling path to literacy for children.”

 

 

Paul Johnson has an international reputation for his pioneering work in developing literacy and visual communication skills through the book arts. He is author of over fifteen titles including A Book of One’s Own, Literacy Through the Book Arts and Pictures and Words Together (all published by Heinemann,USA.)  Recent teaching tours include Sweden, South Korea and Thailand and he regularly teaches in the USA.

 

Innovative educator and successful book artist, the work of Dr Johnson can be found in the collections of the Tate Gallery, London, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, the National Gallery, the Library of Congress, Washington DC, and many US universities including UCLA, Berkeley, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Yale and Harvard. His work was selected for the Stand and Deliver USA touring exhibition of pop-up editioned books, as well as the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild’s, The Art of the Book touring exhibition  for which he also received the guild’s Book Art Colophon Award. He is on the UK Craft Council’s select list of British designer-makers.

 

 

 

Johnson studied at Norwich School of Art and Rabindranath Tagore’s University of Santiniketan in India. When he was and art educator at the Manchester Metropolitan University in the late 1980s Paul Johnson inaugurated The Book Art Project, the main focus of which was to teach writing to children through the book form. Since then he has made books with over 200,000 children and over 25,000 teachers worldwide.

Paul Johnson says, ‘It was seeing the sculptural bindings of Phillip Smith over thirty years ago that inspired me to look beyond the book as something to read.’

pauljohnson_05In the Designer Bookbinders autumn series of lectures presentation, Paul Johnson shared his life experiences as book artist and teacher. It was simply delightful “eye candy” to see several of his unique carousel pop-up books: first in the flat-pack state, then assembled into the 3D form. An added joy was hearing how these books inform the pop-up books that children – some as young as four years of age – make in his workshops.

pauljohnson_06More information

 

Advertisements

Beautifully crafted inspiring paper art

If I wasn’t already a fan of paper art, then I think Creative Bloq’s feature on the art form would have made me one. I can’t yet say which one is my favorite as there are so many wonderful examples even just in this article.

Yusuke Oono is a Japanese artist and designer  creating books that tell their stories in a multi-layered 3D scene, where each page is a separate laser cut plane, together making deep and gorgeous 3D images that reveal the story as you make your way from the front to the back of the book.

Japanese artist and designer Yusuke Oono's exquisite books with multi-layered 3D scenes

Japanese artist and designer Yusuke Oono’s exquisite books with multi-layered 3D scenes

See more of Yusuke Oono’s exquisite work:

http://www.loftwork.com/portfolios/oonoyusuke

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/01/visual-narratives-cut-into-360-paper-books-by-yusuke-oono/

http://twistedsifter.com/2014/01/books-fan-out-into-360-degree-stories-yusuke-oono/

http://hifructose.com/2014/01/15/books-that-unfold-into-cut-paper-art-by-yusuke-oono/

Yulia Brodskaya combines classic design principles to create beautiful and thought-provoking visual fusions.

Yulia Brodskaya combines classic design principles to create beautiful and thought-provoking visual fusions.

Perhaps one of the most well-known of the contemporary designers working with paper art, Yulia Brodskaya’s art “brings together all the things she likes most: typography, paper, and highly detailed hand-made craft objects”. See more http://www.artyulia.com/

Yulia Brodskaya's colourful creations are bursting with life

Yulia Brodskaya’s colourful creations are bursting with life

 

I really love paper engineer Helen Friel’s Revolution “pop-up book”: it follows the cyclical journey of a single water droplet, and unsurprisingly took almost a year to make and shoot in one continuous take. This is a collaborative film by photographer Chris Turner, animator Jess Deacon and paper engineer Helen Friel.

Pam Langdon shows there’s much more that can be done with a book besides reading it. The paper sculptures are created by meticulously folding pages of old books, transforming them into eye-catching pieces of art, inspired by marine environments and patterns within nature.

Pam Langdon's paper sculptures are created with meticulously folded pages of old books

Pam Langdon’s paper sculptures are created with meticulously folded pages of old books

Langdon says of her work:

“They are transformed from a discarded and unloved existence. Intricate folding and rolling of their pages forms spirals symbolising movement and energy and reflecting growth patterns in nature. Casting shadows of their previous lives, they are cut and bound and metamorphosed into precious specimens. The labyrinth of folds and curls entices the reader for closer inspection of their mysterious new life.”

https://www.flickr.com/people/pam_langdon/

Zim&Zou's colourful paper creations have been used to promote recycling in Paris

Zim&Zou’s colourful paper creations have been used to promote recycling in Paris

Continuing the re-use and recycle theme, Zim & Zou’s colourful paper creations have been used to promote recycling in Paris with design agency June21. The Zim & Zou website could keep me transfixed for hours… http://www.zimandzou.fr/

Moscow is recreated with paper art by Matthew Picton.

Moscow is recreated with paper art by Matthew Picton.

UK-based artist Matthew Picton caused Creative Bloq to have their “minds … a little blown” by his finely crafted paper map sculptures. His maps are based on past events, and depict various cities in the midst of historical events, including fires, war and disease. Picton also takes the project further, by constructing the sculptures with paper connected with each event.

Blow your mind a little more when you visit his website: http://matthewpicton.com/paper-sculptures/paper-sculpture-gallery/

Nahoko Kojima somehow crafts some “truly original and awe-inspiring” paper scultpures from a single sheet of paper. Mind-bendingly the large-scale works are each hand-cut from a single sheet, “exploring themes of human existence, animals and the forces of nature.” Visit http://www.solokojima.com

Peace (2014) Paper Cut, handmade by Nahoko Kojima One Single Sheet Black Gold Japanese Washi

Peace (2014) Paper Cut, handmade by Nahoko Kojima One Single Sheet Black Gold Japanese Washi

Illustrator Eiko Ojala draws everything by hand to create the landscapes, figures and portraits that look as if they’ve been cut from paper.

Illustrator Eiko Ojala draws everything by hand to create the landscapes, figures and portraits that look as if they’ve been cut from paper.

Illustrator Eiko Ojala created ‘Vertical Landscape’ was digitally but without the aid of 3D software. Everything is drawn by hand to create the landscapes, figures and portraits that look as if they’ve been cut from paper. Nominated for the Young Illustrator Award at Berlin’s Illustrative festival, Creative Bloq summed it up: “this is only the beginning of a flourishing career for Eiko.”

I could go on, but while I inspire myself in doing so personally, do check out the Creative Bloq article for yourself – there are another 25 artists showcased in this fabulous article by Meryem Meg and the Creative Bloq staff

http://www.creativebloq.com/graphic-design/paper-art-1131666

 

This is so beautiful!

This is so beautiful!The Ice Book, created, directed and performed by Davy and Kritin McGuire, with music by Ben Woods and costume by Studio Seven, was described by Lyn Gardner of The Guardian as: “A charming, fragile show.”

I’m relatively new to social media, blogging, YouTube etc, and this is one of the countless gems I can’t believe I’ve missed out on all this time! This is an gorgeous, inspiring and uplifting piece of work – I’m so glad they made it and shared it with the world!