Paper In Three Dimensions:

(Articles by two artists. See more of their work in the Erotic Art Gallery)


I’ve always been fascinated with paper—papier mache, origami, paper dolls—and 3-D art. I used to paint on layers of acrylic and sandwiched them together—similar to the early animated art of the late 20s and early 30s. My artwork has covered many mediums: blown glass, copper enamels, and photography. Before the advent of the computer I did airbrushing. Cutting an airbrush mask marked the beginnings of my artform. I was working with rubylith masks for a project and laid them one on top of another. I liked the effect and started experimenting with recreating that "look" using various papers instead of the transparent rubylith film. So, armed with an array of colored papers, I began using paper as an art medium.

I prefer to break my images up into shapes of solid colors and textures, very much like a collage artist. This proved to be an asset working with cut paper. I began with the male figure, breaking the body down into simple shapes and layering them atop each other. I loved the effect! It was abstract enough, but still recognizable as the male form.

"David" by Brian Crede
$380, Cat. #025-001

My first series of work was done with dark backgrounds. All the shadow areas of the image were incorporated into this "layer" of the artwork. This top layer is the basic image, somewhat abstracted as though seen as a high contrast image, with the shadows and background merging into one. In the next layer I work in the middle tones of the image to give some definition to the illustration. Sometimes I incorporate a second layer of middle tones creating a more detailed image. The lowest layer fills in the highlights of the figure. Once these layers are cut I stack them upon each other. But instead of just laying one on top of the other, I space them apart so that they appear to float above each other. This achieves two effects: first, it gives the finished illustration some depth that would be impossible to create any other way, and second, the image appears to shift as the viewer moves about because the shadows created by the layers change.

My later experiments have included exchanging the top layer with the bottom layer. With this style the highlights of the image are worked into the background. The middle tone remains the same, but the lowest layer is now the shadow area. The resulting art is lighter in appearance, but still has a kinetic aspect to it. I’ve also used only one color of paper for all the layers, sometimes altering only the texture of the paper. About a year ago I began replacing my neutral palette with rich red tones. This created a very dramatic image—as though the figure were seen in a dimly lit setting.

The effect is quite pleasing, as has been the public’s reaction to it. Everyone who sees my work comments that they have never seen the style or technique used anywhere else. I consider that quite a compliment! It certainly sets me apart and makes my art even more unique.

— Brian Crede


I get ideas from all kinds of sources. Many of my works have titles taken from movies or songs. Sometimes a finished work suggests a movie title to me or sometimes a title evokes something in me that inspires a piece of art. I’ve always been fascinated with the Fifties and the Seventies so I sometimes use those decades as a way of framing a contemporary idea.

Once I get an idea, I seldom rough anything out, except in my mind. Generally, I have a clear picture of what I want the piece to look like at the end. However, most of the time, the finished work has changed significantly from what I envisioned. This is sometimes because of technical constraints or because I’ve become inspired and changed paths during the process of creating a piece. Once in a while, when concentrating on a more technically complex work, I will do a rough draft so that I'll have a clearer idea of exactly how to surmount the technical hurdles. The idea with the finished work is to make the viewer feel as though he could walk into this little world I've created.

"Backstreet" by Ross Johnston
$1,180, Cat. #025-002

I use photographs like a lot of artists use live models. I hand draw a given figure—say, the figure of a man—using, generally anywhere between two to nine different photos. I collect images from books, magazines greeting cards, the Internet, and this forms the basis of my compositions. The right "look" on my subjects is achieved by making faces in a mirror until I get just the emotion I'm seeking—and then I draw it.

I create my drawings on Stonehenge paper. I've tried other types, but always return to Stonehenge because of its creamy, smooth texture. Having virtually no texture of its own I use my pencils to create the finish I want. The medium I use is colored pencil. Being self-taught, I use my medium in a unique (i.e. wrong) way.

Instead of the crosshatching method generally taught in art school, I blend my colors together using lighter fluid and little, pointed, tightly wound paper sticks (smudgies). I dip the pencils in the lighter fluid to blend two colors together seamlessly, then rub the hell out of them with the smudgie. Usually I apply several layers of pigment, smudging between each layer until the line between the colors disappears.

The drawing is then cut out and sprayed with fixative. I place the finished component onto a sheet of black foamcore, trace around it, and cut the silhouette out with a disposable blade. I light a candle and hold the blade in the flame until the blade is hot enough to slice through the Styrofoam like warm butter. Next, I glue the drawing onto the silhouette with an acid-free glue.

When all the drawings are completed, a box is built. The foreground drawings are glued to the background (or sometimes to each other), the two to four inch box is glassed in, and sealed up, and voila (whew!)—the finished work.

One particular challenge in marketing my work has been finding a way to accurately reproduce the three-dimensional work in a photo or slide. I show the pieces themselves whenever possible. Especially when the work is non-traditional, there ain't nothin' like the real thing (baby).

— Ross Johnston



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“…I named what I thought was an enormous sum. Without blinking an eye, he gathered up my life work and handed me the amount I asked for: $70… I didn’t expect more. Remember that homosexuality was forbidden in most of the Western world; so all those businesses were illegal, black market. I knew that they wouldn’t have paid me more anyway — or so I believed then.”
— Tom of Finland