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Image Credit: ColetteFu's Pop-up Books, Facebook
Image Credit: ColetteFu's Pop-up Books, Facebook

10 Pop-Up Books That Are Works of Art

Image Credit: ColetteFu's Pop-up Books, Facebook
Image Credit: ColetteFu's Pop-up Books, Facebook

We often think of pop-up books as a simple way to entertain the little ones (or at least we did before the iPad came along!) but they can be so much more than that. When done well, pop-up books can be engaging, imaginative, and even works of artistic brilliance.

1. Haunted Philadelphia

Paper engineer and photographer Colette Fu is an award-winning artist whose 36- by 53-inch pop-up series Haunted Philadelphia features paper interpretations of haunted historic sights around the city like Boathouse Row (pictured above). On her portfolio, Fu explained that she included "Male statues representing 'diversity and achievement of a mature nation...the Laborer, the Poet, the Preacher and the Scientist'" and "images of restrained female mannequins at the Gore Psychiatric Museum" into the full spread.

2. This Book is a Planetarium

Image Credit: Adobe TV

Among Adobe's 2015 Creative Resident Kelli Anderson’s many projects is This Book is a Planetarium: And Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions. The book has a number of interactive features including a working musical instrument and a fully functional mini planetarium

Image Credit: Adobe TV

Adobe filmed Anderson in action, showing off this book and her other equally innovative projects. The Creative Residency enables two artists to spend a year pursuing their craft by providing them with the resources and financial aid they need to bring their ideas to reality. Residents also speak at conferences and give workshops. 

3. The History of Lacoste

Image Credit: Lacoste screenshot

Debuted in 2010, Claude Foulquier and Septime Creation's project is an interactive, digital pop-up book that tells the history of René Lacoste and the famous brand he founded. While it’s not a tactile object, it still incorporates the components of an actual paper pop up book, like little tabs to pull to reveal hidden features. The digital book has been taken off Lacoste’s website, but you can still see parts of it here.

4. The Pop-Up Book of Phobias

Image Credit: josdoming, YouTube

Looking at Gary Greenberg, Balvis Rubess, and Matthew Reinhart’s The Pop-Up Book of Phobias doesn’t quite count as immersion therapy, but it’s a start. Each page is an eerie illustration of a different common phobia including dentophobia, claustrophobia, and arachnophobia. There’s a YouTube video of the book so you can get a sense of how it moves, but for a less time consuming alternative, you can also skim through these pictures.

5. Everyday Wonders

Image Credit: Commercial Archive, YouTube

For Samsung’s 2013 Everday Wonders campaign, paper engineer David A. Carter created a full scrapbook of London as part of a promotional effort of one of the company's phones. The series included five promotional videos showing hand-made pop-up books of different notable cities—New York, London, Singapore, Amsterdam, and Milan—created at home by different paper artists. A press release from Samsung announcing the campaign explained that the goal was to "utilize the craft of paper art to detail in a simple, yet striking fashion the individual features and functionality of the device within the pages of a pop-up book." The videos were shown on prominent screens—like Times Square, for example—in each of the five cities. In a YouTube video, Carter explains his process for making the scrapbook. 

6. Pop-Up Art Book

Image Credit: The Art of Skinner, Facebook

Originating as a Kickstarter campaign from Poposition Press, the Pop-Up Art Book is a collaboration between pop-up book creators Rossten and Marc Meyer, graphic designer Kevin Steele, and six street artists. Each page features street art that’s been deconstructed, digitally cut, and rebuilt as a 3D paper representation. Artists included are Angry Woebots, kozyndan, Jim Mahfood, Junko Mizuno, Skinner, and Tara McPherson.

7. Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros 

Image Credit: Game of Thrones, Facebook

Fans of the HBO series can explore landscapes like King’s Landing in Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros. Designed by Matthew Reinhart, the book was inspired by the show’s title sequence and has five full spreads, each with three to five mini pop-ups. The book folds open to unveil a full map of Westeros. A “pop-up review” and a full demonstration of the guide are available on YouTube

8. Moby-Dick: A Pop-Up Book

Image Credit: South Kensington Books, Facebook

Sam Ita's Moby-Dick: A Pop-Up Book tells an abridged version of the search for the great white whale. With multiple pop-ups per page, the book incorporates paper engineering with classic comic panels. Ita created similar books for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Frankensteinand The OdysseyA YouTube video from the Taiwan-based Pop-Up Kingdom provides a full demonstration of Ita's Moby-Dick. 

9. Il était une fois

Image Credit: Benjamin Lacombe, YouTube

Il était une fois (once upon a time), the 2010 collaboration between artists Benjamin Lacombe, José Pons, and author Jean Perrot, beautifully interprets eight classic tales such as Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, and Little Red Riding Hood. The animated book trailer is available on YouTube

10. Panties Inferno

Image Credit: Cult of Weird, Facebook

Peter Larkin's burlesque themed pop-up Panties Inferno may never get published. Not because it's too risque—there's a highly graphic Pop-Up Book of Sex, so nothing's off limits, really—but because publishers believe that it would be too costly to mass produce. However, some of Larkin's creations were published in The Paris Review, along with an interview with the 88-year-old four-time Tony-winning production designer

Over the last 20 years, Larkin has been combining his technical know-how with his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of burlesque to create and refine a number of drawings and mock-ups that—when arranged in the intended order—would take the reader through a full old-fashioned burlesque show. The idea wasn't to produce a dirty object. In the interview, he explains, "I really wanted to figure out how to make someone take their clothes off in a pop-up book. It's no good having them come off and then having to rearrange everything yourself." 

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Art
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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