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Insect Papercuts for a commission

April 22, 2021

I’ve been working on a few poster designs for a commission from Aaron Huey of the Amplifier Foundation and National Geographic magazine. Each poster involves my interpretations of iconic photographs or photo projects from National Geographic photographers, and it’s been a really fun thing to work on. The final things aren’t quite ready for release yet , but I can share part of the process of one of the posters; a series of papercut versions of images of insects from David Liitschwager’s The World in One Cubic Foot project. Liitschwager’s project involves cataloguing and documenting all of the biodiversity found in one cubic foot of soil or water at a variety of locations around the world, and reveals the always astonishing levels of biodiversity that surround us, no matter where we are at any given moment.

When I was getting started in printmaking I used papercuts as the basis for a lot of my images, and I spent many years making elaborate silhouettes for shadow-puppet shows. It had been a few years since I worked in this medium, and it was a treat to pick it back up again- there’s something about quality of contrast and line in a papercut that you really don’t get anywhere else. Also, I am a big fan of the insect/arthropod world, and getting to make a bunch of cuts representing such a wide variety of forms was very satisfying. I have a theory about the contemporary popular appeal of entomology and botany- the presence in our lives of insects and plants is one of the only places we can get close to the more-or-less wild world and observe it at work; something that I think almost all of us are desperately missing, whether we know it or prefer to acknowledge it or not.

Keep an eye out for the finished projects soon!

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2 comments on “Insect Papercuts for a commission”

Thanks Roger— and you are so right! The presence in our lives of plants and insects and the increased appeal of entomology and botany is, indeed, very encouraging!

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