You know and love Lori Zimmer as Inhabitat’s art editor and the founder of ArtNerd, but did you know that she’s a published author too? An eye-popping fresh look at a medium that’s usually considered more-than-mundane, The Art of Cardboard celebrates and elevates cardboard by showcasing a selection of artists who are re-branding the brown boards in exciting new ways. We recently caught up with Lori to learn more about the book and how cardboard is forcing the art world to look at it with new eyes.
INHABITAT: In The Art of Cardboard, you managed to elevate a seemingly mundane material into something new and exciting. Do you see cardboard in a different light after writing the book?
Lori: Definitely. I’d always been aware of artists using cardboard in art history like Picasso and Rauschenberg, but never by artists focusing solely on the medium. Before meeting the artists in the book, I saw cardboard as fun and crafty, used for school projects and forts. After the interviews and studio visits, I have a greater appreciation for not only the medium, but also for the intense creativity these artists have all had to transform something found on the street into something truly special. I also love that the medium is so forgiving- a failed sculpture or structural mess-up can simply be thrown into the recycling bin, without having to worry about a waste of expensive art supplies.
What are some of the most exciting ways you’ve seen cardboard being used for art?
Lori: What I’ve seen through working on this book is that cardboard seems to inspire unbridled imagination in artists- and also its lightweight property has encouraged working at grandiose scale. I was lucky enough to witness artist Laurence Vallieres transform strips of cardboard into oversized ape and monkey sculptures right before my eyes, which was pretty incredible. I also love how technology like laser cutters or sanding machines can make rough edges appear pristine, and totally change the reception of the material. It is also interesting that the childhood make-believe of turning a refrigerator box into a house or (in my personal case) a time machine, holds a little presence in some of the artists’ current work, like the duo Doss Haus who create a completely black and white alternate world in cardboard, that is then captured in elaborate photographs.
IncorporApe by Laurence Vallieres
Though the title of the book is pretty straightforward, you do touch upon some of the more nuanced facets of the art world – from the artist’s role in society to innovative new ways that artists are making money. Can you tell us a little about that?
Lori: I have a Masters in Art Business and work regularly as a curator and art consultant, so I tend to see and analyze these facets in no matter what I do within the art world. I think for this particular book, the artists face a bigger challenge than artists using say, paint, since cardboard is so democratic. Being a familiar medium, I think these artists have to fight harder to find their place in the art market, as well as validation. As far as I’m concerned, I think their work is just as valid as traditional store-bought materials. Great artists can use any medium to convey their message.
In addition to showcasing imaginative cardboard art designs from around the world, how does The Art of Cardboard encourage readers to create their own DIY cardboard creations?
Lori: The book was designed to present twenty amazing artists using cardboard (and elevating it) as an artist medium, which I hoped would stir up some inspirations. For the DIY projects, I asked ten artists who had previously not worked in cardboard to glean their own inspiration from the artists in the book, and then create projects that those of us who are less crafty might to do get started.
Do you have a favorite project from the book? Which ones stand out to you the most?
Lori: I don’t like to pick favorites, but I’ve made Lacy Barry’s cardboard balloons a few times to accompany gifts. They are just so darn cute.
And finally, you’re known for being somewhat of a DIY whiz yourself, especially when it comes to Halloween costumes. Have you ever made one of your famous Halloween costumes out of cardboard, and if not, do you have plans to do so in the near future?
Lori: Of course I have! I’ve whipped up most of my costumes using cardboard, felt and hot glue haha! My Chrysler building hat was dreamed up after a particularly large Amazon.com delivery, and last year when faced without a costume, I whipped up a bird cage out of a large cardboard mailing tube and gold duct tape.
Intrigued? Pick up your own copy of The Art of Cardboard here.