Q&A with paper artist Paperboyo

October 31, 2017

In celebration of his new book launch Around the World in Cut-Outs, we caught up with Rich McCor, now better known as ‘Paperboyo’. He has become an Instagram sensation with his paper cut-out photography, so we chatted to him about being fearless and pursuing a dream career…

Paperboyo art

A paper artist is quite an unusual profession, what led you to it?

I first started making things with paper about seven years ago when I was creating a music video for a friend’s band and realised we couldn’t afford to do a proper shoot, so I suggested we make the set and characters out of paper. Through doing that I became fascinated with exploring the spectrum of what was possible with paper art. Then when Instagram started getting popular, I became interested in photography but quickly realised my photography skills weren’t up to par with a lot of the big names on the platform. So, through a process of experimenting, I decided to combine papercraft with photography and eventually found my niche in transforming landmarks with cutouts. I never intended for it to become a profession though, it was always just a hobby I kept for my evenings and weekends but when it took off I was keen to see how far I could take it. 

Your job must require a lot of concentration and critical thinking. How long does this process take?

The process of cutting out the designs has definitely sped up, through experience and the fact I’ve been introduced to an array of tools and gimmicks to help me cut the designs. There is no way to speed up the idea development though – that can take hours of doodling, pacing around my room or sometimes just being patient and waiting for an idea to come. But this is where the creative challenge lays and so when I do get an idea that I think will work, it’s such a kick. 

What advice would you give to children about pursuing their dream career?

Some people seem to know exactly what they want to do when they’re young, others (like me) took a lot longer to realise what my dream career was. What I did was follow the things that interested me, and then I often got distracted by something else that interested me and I spent time exploring that. I think that’s okay though because it eventually lead me to where I am now doing my dream job. So my biggest piece of advice would be to remain curious. Life is much more exciting for those of us that are curious. 

What are your most favourite aspects of the job?

It’s essentially a job that didn’t exist until I made it a job, so this role is perfect for me because I sort of wrote the job description in a way. It’s a combination of the things I love – creativity, travel and inspiring other people. I will never tire of running around cities with a bag full of camera gear and cutouts creating these unique photos. It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to do it.

And least favourite?

It’s hard to complain with the lifestyle I have at the moment, but I will say that the magic of airports has pretty much dried up. I remember getting really excited every time I went to the airport before it became a regular thing for me, but now I’m just keen to land in my destination and get to work. Paper cuts are also a downside to what I do! 

What was your favourite subject at school and how has this helped in your job?

I always loved English Language at school. We were often given rough guidelines about what to write and then we were left to our own devices and it always amazed me how a room full of people could all come up with something different. In some subjects, like maths, everyone is meant to have the same answer but in English, everyone had a different response and that was always far more interesting for me. 

The world is moving up in technology, are you incorporating your paper cuts with some form of technology soon?

Just as the world of technology is fast-moving, I think the world of social media is also a field where anyone who wants to succeed has to be innovative and surprising. I’m definitely aware that I need to change things up so I’ve started playing around with animation and exploring that area, and beyond that, I’m certainly keen to take my style of photography into new areas and combining it with technology in some way would be really exciting. I think there’s some potential to do something cool with Augmented Reality for example.

We encourage children to be fearless learners, how have you had to be fearless in your job?

There’s a saying that goes “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. It’s so true, so I would say prepare to have your ideas ignored, prepare to be laughed at. But if you’re confident in what you do and absolutely love it then I promise you, people will start to pay attention to you and then encourage you to keep doing what you do. 

You can buy Paperboyo’s new book Around the World in Cut-Outs today.

At Explore Learning, we support children to excel academically, be confident in the classroom, thrive in exams and be fearless in school and beyond! Contact your local Explore Learning centre to find out more.


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