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Internet heroes: 

Jedi paper tricks: Marc Hagan-Guirey’s Star Wars Kirigami

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Star Wars kirigami takes patience and steady Hans. *ahem*

Marc Hagan-Guirey might be the closest we’ll get to a real-life Jedi. Like any young Padawan learner, his craft requires skill and dedication. He has the patience to satisfy Master Yoda, and he even comes armed with his own specialist blade – although it’s a scalpel, not a lightsaber.

Marc – who goes by the name Paper Dandy – practices kirigami, which is the art of sculpting intricate three-dimensional patterns out of a single sheet of paper. It’s fiddly beyond comprehension, and there are no shortcuts or workarounds – it just takes time and serious amounts of talent.

Following the success of his first horror-themed exhibition, he’s now taking on Star Wars in a project called ‘Cut Scene’ – and the franchise’s obsessive fans won’t accept any mistakes. We caught up with Marc to learn more about his new work, how he’s coping with the pressure and the difficulties of getting paper spaceships to float.

When did you first get started doing kirigami?

It’s been about 3 years now. I’d been in advertising for about 7 years and decided to take a break. Making kirigami was just a side project – a hobby really. After I’d made a few models I quickly saw a trend with making haunted houses. Horrorgami was born.

 I love how my new venture was the complete antithesis to digital media 
As it began to get some interest online, I started to become more focussed on it. I secured a deal with a gallery and the show ended up being hugely successful and globally viral. Then came the offers to work with huge clients and then a book deal. I love how my new venture was the complete antithesis to digital media. It felt like a return to what made me who I am today – making stuff out of other stuff for the love of it.

How long does it take to make each piece?

For commercial work it usually takes around five days. However pieces that I exhibit are as long as it takes for me to get it right – I’ve been tinkering with some of the Star Wars work for a long time. To answer your question, anywhere between 5 days and 2 years.

Were you surprised at all by the success of Horrorgami?

Of course! It was quite overwhelming but very enjoyable. This was just a hobby of mine that was very suddenly getting a lot of attention. I had emails and phone calls every day from journalists during the run up to the opening, people calling the gallery from the States to reserve pieces. I’m very grateful to still be doing it and still managing to get interest.

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One wrong move and Marc gets a bloody finger. Or Han Solo loses an arm.

So how did you settle on Star Wars for your next theme?

Ah well it wasn’t a matter of ‘settling’ on it. More of a necessity for me to do it. Like most my age I’ve grown up with Star Wars. I’d actually started sketching and making a few prototypes before Horrorgami had opened.

Has the Star Wars universe thrown up any specific kirigami challenges?

I like to think of myself as still learning the art form so every thing I do I push myself a bit more. The best example for Star Wars kirigami are that space ships hover above the ground, so creating a model that appears to have floating objects is challenging.

Every element has to be attached to the rest, it’s all engineered in a way that it stays upright. For technical reasons it’s not always possible to do things in a way that’s entirely faithful to the original scene. In those cases I have to apply a little bit of artistic license. I’ve started using acrylic rods that keep everything in place now.

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Yes, the force is strong in this one.

…any paper cuts?

Does a bear sith in the woods?

What can people expect from the Cut Scene exhibition and photo book?

A big dollop of nostalgia and I hope some will be inspired to go home and make something. Not necessarily kirigami. As a kid I was happiest when I had a couple of loo rolls, cereal boxes and some PVA glue.

Who are your own internet heroes?

The best thing about having a little bit of a following yourself is that artists you enjoy and respect make contact with you. It feels like a very privileged thing. I follow incredible artists I love such as Eelus, K-Tee and a guy called Robert Xavier Burden. If you don’t know him look him up. He does the most incredible gigantic oil paintings of 80s action figures, He-man, Thundercats, Star Wars. Immensely talented. I want to hang out with him!

I’m also kind of obsessed with Cherylyn Barnes. It’s best if you look yourself. My description might be misleading.

What are your plans for the future?

I’ve worked pretty much every evening and weekend for two years so I’m going to go on holiday. After that I’ll start writing another book. (The first one is out 7th Sept ‘PaperDandy’s Horrorgami’)

I might leave it a couple of years before I create a new collection or exhibition, but typically for me I’ve already started designing it… I can’t help myself, it’s an obsession.

Marc’s Star Wars kirigami exhibition, ‘Cut Scene’, will be on display in London’s Base Gallery from August 8-16.

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