Story | Community
10 April 2019

Making iconic landscapes your imaginative playground

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Combining photography with paper cut-outs, artist Rich McCor reimagines his surroundings by installing new characters and stories in landscapes.

With the increasing worldwide uptake of smartphones around the world, taking photographs of famous landmarks and posting them on social media has become all too mainstream.

It was the urge to upend convention that pushed photographer Rich McCor to launch ‘Paperboyo’, an Instagram account that captures iconic landmarks around the world with a creative twist. Using black paper cut-outs, McCor transforms some of the most recognizable places around the globe into exciting, imaginative scenes.

Paperboyo’s unique style of photography — brought about by blending perspective, imagination, and craft — has earned McCor global acclaim and publishing of a book titled “Around the World in Cut-Outs.” McCor spoke to us about Paperboyo’s recent visit to Education City, Doha.

How did you get started with your unique style of photography?

It was sort of an evolution of two hobbies: paper craft and photography. I had started exploring photography in 2015 by taking photos across my home city of London. After a few months of sharing my images on Instagram, I realized I was taking the same sort of photos like that of most people in London. That realization inspired me to think of capturing the city differently.

The papercraft side of things was something I’d been interested in many years prior, so I decided to use paper in some way within my photos. Eventually, I developed my style of using black cut-outs to transform and embellish landmarks.

“I’ve never come across anywhere like Education City, where there is so much dynamic and varied architecture condensed together. Any photographer or architecture-lover would love exploring Education City because there’s so much to see.”

Rich McCor

What’s your creative process and source of inspiration?

I usually begin by researching interesting pieces of architecture, landmarks, landscapes, etc, and then doodling out some ideas on paper to see what works with them. I then design the stencils on my laptop and cut them out with a craft knife and a range of other tools. The final step is to travel to the destination and take the photos, sometimes hundreds of them until I’ve found the angle I like the best.

In terms of inspiration, it’s whatever wacky idea comes to mind. I try not to filter ideas initially so that I don’t restrict myself. My most successful images are the ones based on pop-culture references because they’re iconic and people instantly understand the imagery.

How was your photography experience at Education City?

I’ve spent the last three years traveling around the world but I’ve never come across anywhere like Education City, where there is so much dynamic and varied architecture condensed together. Any photographer or architecture-lover would love exploring Education City because there’s so much to see. I’m also excited by the fact that it’s still evolving, so I think I may have to return in a couple of years to see what else has been built.

I had done a lot of research before visiting Doha but what I loved the most was finding exciting new angles for some of my photos. The Qatar National Library, for example, is an exciting building to photograph because of its angles; it looks quite different from various vantage points. I often take “normal” photos alongside my cut-out images, so I really enjoyed indulging in pure photography, finding those interesting angles around Education City.

Do you have a message to the future artists studying at Education City?

It took me a while to find out what I wanted to do with my career, but I always knew I loved to travel and be creative. I used to work in the TV industry, so my time was mostly spent bringing other people’s creative visions to life, but I made sure to dedicate my evenings and weekends to work on my creative outlets. Eventually, this paid off, so my advice would be to keep exploring your hobbies whenever you get the chance. Indulge in them and really explore them.

Try combining them, too (like I did with paper-craft and photography), because once you find the thing you love to do, I honestly believe the rest will look after itself. I would never have had the energy, dedication, and tenacity to turn what I do into a career unless I absolutely loved doing it.

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