Thomas Allen’s Playful Paper Cutouts Spring from Vintage Books and Color Swatches — Colossal


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#Thomas Allen

February 4, 2024

Jackie Andres

“Bearings.” All images © Thomas Allen, shared with permission

The aging books and color swatches can be transformed into scenes by meticulous incisions and methodical folds. Thomas Allen’s paper cutouts. Having loved pop-up books and shoebox dioramas since childhood, the artist cultivates a passion for “manufactured realities.”

“The vintage paperback work happened by complete accident,” Allen shares. “I was cutting into a pulp novel one afternoon with the intent of removing the illustration completely when I noticed that if I left some areas attached, folded the parts carefully, and looked at them from a single vantage point so that everything aligned, they created the illusion of 3D pop-ups. Everything snowballed from there.”

By photocopying the pages that he intends using, the Coloma artist can make test cutsouts of possible compositions before moving on the final product. He then photographs the iterations while taking into consideration light and angle.

Allen spends his remaining time as a public lecturer, township clerk and a township clerk. He is looking forward working with Joseph Bellows GalleryThe next few months. His website has more information and updates. WebsiteFollow him on Instagram.


A small boy leaning against a tree branch stands in front of a textbook diagram of an eclipse.


A group of young children low to the ground look at something together. The figures emerge three-dimensionally from a book page.


A cowboy falls backward, breaking a wooden railing. The figure and railing emerge three-dimensionally from a book cover.


A paper cutout of a man bowling emerging from a book


A paper cutout of a man bowling emerging from a book


Left: a vintage book titled, "10 Secrets of Bowling." Right: a man picking up a bowling ball.

Detail of “Unyielding”

A paper cutout of a man bowling emerging from a book

Detail of “Unrelenting”

A paper cutout of a man bowling emerging from a book


Two men talking, cut from a paper color swatch


Test cutouts

Test cutouts in Allen’s studio

#Thomas Allen


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