Thomas Allen creates amazing work!


Hullo everybody!

An artist that influences me is Thomas Allen. He ingeniously deconstructs old pulp paperbacks and photographs them.
I discovered him a couple of months ago in Chip Kidd’s Book One. (Chip Kidd is a book designer and he’s someone you should check out too if you don’t know him yet). However, you might already know about Thomas Allen because he graduated from University of Minneaoplis in 1996 but I discovered him when I was still living in Canada. It sucks that I wasn’t here yet for his exhibition at Thomas Barry Fine Arts in 2007.

Here are some links to Thomas Allen’s work

Why is he so damn great? Just look at his stuff. He takes two dimensional old forgot books and reconstructs them into three dimensional dynamic pieces. He doesn’t use any expensive tools to deconstructs these pieces just scissor and x-acto knife. The magic is all in how he bends and folds his cut outs and the tension is created by the way he places and dramatic lights his creations. He photographs them in a way that there seems to be movement. Some of photographs cast hard shadows creating more depth.

I cut and paste the info below from

Allen’s photographs are inspired by his childhood experiences with pop-up books and View-Masters. He begins his process by cutting figures and images out of illustrated pages of old books and vintage fiction novels. Allen then cleverly rearranges and juxtaposes the forms to create three-dimensional scenes. Next, he carefully lights his subjects and photographs the scenes.

When separated from their original stories, the figures take on fresh roles in entirely new situations. Yet they retain their intended purpose of storytelling. Characters and objects originally created as two-dimensional illustrations are raised from their pages and given new life in three-dimensional space. The figures return back to two-dimensional objects, this time in the form of a photograph.

As a director would stage actors, Allen stages his cut-outs in ways that create humor, tension, mystery, and drama. A boxer fights his own shadow in Spar, and in Bookend a gunfighter stands over his recently fallen opponent. Although the characters are freed from the closed pages of books, the books themselves still remain present in each photograph. A ship sails across the curved pages of a dictionary-sized book in Swell. In Cover, a gunman finds safety behind the spine of a book. And in Recover, a worn paperback acts as a life raft to three weathered shipwreck survivors.

The work combines the humor of children’s pop-up books, the nostalgia of dime novels, and the drama of the stage. Allen’s inventive and evocative photographs capture characters and events in mid-action. And the viewer is left to wonder what will happen next.