How Paperboyo turns ordinary landscapes into comical scenes simply with paper

Rich McCor, aka Instagram artist Paperboyo, on how his simple concept made him a huge Instagram artist, now with an upcoming book.


Rich McCor, aka Paperboyo on Instagram, in a genius at turning ordinary landscape photographs into clever artwork with a simple paper cut-out technique.

Exploring his home city, London, with only a Canon 6D camera and the knack for creating shapes with paper, Rich finds different places to shoot his hand cut out in front of, with a little touch of Photoshop. It’s as simple as that, yet he’s managed to build an Instagram following of more than 309,000 followers (at the time of writing) within two years. Now labeled an 'influencer' as well as an artist, Rich creates art for big commissions, and he’s about to release his first book filled with his signature style photographs.

Rich wasn’t fishing to become the next best thing on social media – he simply was looking for a way to experiment with his new love for photography while making it worth following on Instagram. With an eye for something different, an appetite to experiment and the world at his fingertips, Paperboyo became a fully fledged artist.

About seven years ago Rich started making cardboard sets and paper characters for his “friend's band's music videos”.

“Using paper was our way of bringing ambitious narratives to life with no budget. Through this I learnt about paper craft and it became a hobby that I kept up,” he says.

LG recently collaborated with Paperboyo for the launch of its Wallpaper TV. For this, Rich created a pop up ‘paper-thin home’ which was showcased in London’s Spitalfields Market (seen here).

On October 5, his book Around the World in Cut-Outs will be available to purchase from Penguin. You can pre-order it now from Amazon.

Miriam Harris: What's your creative process?

Rich McCor: "When I began it was very straightforward.

"I'd create a cut-out based on a landmark and then I'd go to that landmark with the cut-out in one hand and my camera in the other. As my photography gradually improved I learnt a bit more about Photoshop, so I learnt to edit the colours, improve my images and realised I could come up with more ambitious concepts.

"However that hasn't changed my approach; I always travel to the locations to take the photos, it's always my hand in the shot and the cut-outs are always real."


MH: Congrats on your new book coming out! Why should people buy it?

RM: "The book is a collection of my favourite images that I've taken over the last two years, but there's also a lot of new content in there that I haven't shared anywhere. There's also a bit more of an insight into me, my creative process and where I get my ideas from (something I'm always asked on Instagram). We've also filled the book with some surprising content, such as some of the photos that didn't work and templates for readers to make their own cut-outs."

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MH: Talk us through what a typical day looks like for you.

RM: "At the moment I'm in London preparing for the book launch, but I'm also about to head to Brussels to work on a project with their tourism board. Today I'm organising some images I shot earlier in the year for the Canadian Tourism Board to celebrate Canada 150, which I'll be posting on my account very soon. This is the equivalent of downtime for me, there have been times this year when I've juggled five projects and I'm not sure how I managed to pull them all off."


MH: What tools and software do you use?

RM: "I have a range of paper cutting tools, a range that seems to keep on growing. I use 240gsm black card that I buy from an independent craft shop in Clapham, and I use my trusted Canon 6D to take the photos. There's a bit of editing on Photoshop to polish the photos."


MH: How do you manage to travel so much?

RM: "A changing landscape means a changing canvas, so travel and art goes hand in hand for me. It's crucial for me to live in a city like London so that when I'm not travelling there's still plenty of inspiration to be found on my doorstep."

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MH: You’ve managed to gain a huge Instagram following and earnt the 'influencer' label as well as an artist. Was this always a goal for you?

RM: "I didn't have any goals when I took my first paper cut-out photo, I just remember looking down at my camera screen afterwards thinking 'that's quite cool'. That was enough to make me want to keep on doing it. For months I was taking these photos around London with very little attention on my Instagram, and then suddenly it went viral and turned into something that I wasn't expecting at all. I absolutely love doing it, but I didn't think it would lead onto anything other than a new hobby."


MH: How does Instagram serve your style well?

RM: "People scroll through their social media feeds so quickly so unless you're making something that can resonate with an audience in moments, it'll be forgotten. I think my style has the ability to catch the eye and entertain which also makes it very shareable."

MH: How do you build and maintain your online presence?

RM: "I think that goes back to me having found something that I love to do. I'm addicted to my hobby so that naturally means I'm producing content and sharing my work. In turn, the more I post the more interest I gain on Instagram. But I'm also re-inventing what I do and improving as much as I can as I go along to keep it fresh and to stop it from getting old."


MH: Do you think a large social media following is vital for aspiring artists?

RM: "I never considered myself an artist before I joined Instagram, it was the support and encouragement I received on the platform that made me continue to produce work that people then started calling art. I think I was in the right place at the right time, but there will be many more right places and right times for talented artists in the future either on social media or in other areas."

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MH: Tell us a little about your project for LG.

RM: "I think artists and inventors have a similar drive to want to be doing something new, innovative and surprising.

"For the LG Oled Wallpaper TV project, I worked with LG to design a pop up ‘paper-thin home’ which was showcased in London’s Spitalfields Market. The home was four metres high and displayed the Wallpaper Oled TV within it, surrounded by paper thin furniture (seen here).

"I shared a series of short Instagram films and also hosted a number of workshops. I particularly loved this element because it was a chance to share my love of the craft and see other people get the same kick I get when they take a photo with a cut-out."


MH: What advice do you have for other artists looking to build their social media following?

RM: "Whatever it is that you love to do, keep on doing it and keep on sharing it. Listen to the feedback you're getting, even if you've only got a handful of followers. If you're getting no feedback at all, then change it up until you do."

MH: What artists do you like to follow on social media?

@abstractsunday

• @ari_fararooy
• @joelrobison
• @tommylundberg