We came across the fun and truly original work of serial Instagramer, Photographer and paper-cutter Rich McCoy and was instantly captivated. We got a chance to pose some questions to him to find out more about his paper-cut, city-trotting adventures.
Can you give us a little introduction of yourself and what you do?
I’m a 28 year old Londoner, who takes photos with paper cutouts to transform locations into entirely different scenes.
Can you explain a little bit about where the idea originated for your cut out series from and how you became to be discovered by Lonely Planet?
I was looking for a way to photograph London in a unique way, there are so many talented landscape photographers in London but I wanted to try and find my own way of shooting the city.
I came up with the idea of trying to make Big Ben (or as it’s officially named, the Elizabeth tower), look like a wrist watch by using a cutout. It took a bit of walking up and down Westminster Bridge to find the right spot and get the depth of field right, all whilst receiving a few strange looks from passerbys. Whilst I was there, I was approached by a father and daughter who were intrigued by what I was doing. I showed them the photo they both smiled and said I should do more.
So I made more, including the London Eye and St Paul’s. Then one day I had a message on Instagram from Lonely Planet saying they liked what I was doing, and wondered if I wanted to do something for them.
Your work’s been gaining a huge amount momentum online, have you been surprised by the attention and where did it stem from originally?
Last week I had under 5k followers on Instagram. Today I woke up to 55k followers, so part of me is still wondering how it got so popular, so quickly. I try to add in some variety and humour, and I guess that’s gone down well. I also add quirky facts to most of my photos, often really surprising insights that I’ve found out whilst travelling around the area, so I think they help to attract interest. I think it all stemmed from the fact that the Daily Mail featured it in the UK. After that it was featured on some big art blogs and it’s gone from there.
What city’s architecture has provided the most fun to work with?
London’s been great because it’s my home city. The more that I explore it, the more I learn and the more fascinated I become about things that are very close to my doorstep. That’s why I started the project, I wanted to become a tourist in my own city and see why so many people love London. I’ve started to see why now.
What cities and/or landmarks are next on your wish list to visit and work with?
The iconic landmarks are the ones I love playing with the most because people are familiar with them, so when you put a twist on them it’s even more surprising. Because of that places like New York, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney spring to mind immediately as being great locations for what I do. However, I try to create fun pictures anywhere I go, the UFO one in Copenhagen is probably my favourite one but the bridge that I took it on isn’t that well known outside of Denmark.
How does the process work – do you decide on the landmarks you’re going to work with prior to visiting or do you just explore and work with what you come across?
I research for ideas by looking at famous landmarks from wherever I’m planning to visit. Sometimes ideas instantly come to me instantly and other times they have to sit in my subconscious for a while. I think as a result, I’ve sort of trained my brain to look for quirky shapes and ideas in architecture and everyday objects. It’s a pretty good mental exercise.
Paper-cutting is seeing a resurgence recently in popularity – where did you learn the skill from?
The cut-outs came out of a love for stop-motion animation that I’ve had for a few years. I started developing my paper skills by making music videos for bands I liked, and a couple of small commissions. The photography interest has always been there, my university degree was partly about photography. It was only recently that it occurred to me to combine the two.
Finally, what’s your favorite cut-out piece?
The UFO one in Copenhagen. It’s simple but effective and I had the idea as soon as I saw an image of the bridge.
A big thank you to Rich for taking the time to speak with us! Discover more of his work on his brilliant Instagram account. You can also help Rich’s new project on Kickstarter where he’s looking to create postcards as well as cut-out kits so that everyone can create their own witty and creative scenes. It’s a fantastic project and backers can in exchange get some fantastic one-on-one photography/paper cutting sessions with Rich himself! You can find out more here.