Playing with food: how Paperboyo keeps things fresh

Rich McCor, the creative mind behind Instagram's Paperboyo, chats about his passion for papercrafting and explains how he used the Canon SELPHY Square QX10 to create incredible food-themed art.
A lemon hovers in the air above an illustrated print of a tennis player about to serve. The effect makes it look as if the player is about to hit the lemon.

"The reason I'm so passionate about what I do, is that I found the path to it purely by following the things I was curious about," Rich McCor explains. "For me, that was how to capture the world around me in a different and imaginative way that I hadn't seen done before, while also having the opportunity to explore my home city of London."

For Rich, the British artist behind Instagram's popular Paperboyo, combining his hobby of photography with papercrafting was initially a way to produce original content that sparked his own imagination. Some of his most iconic work involves holding black paper cutouts up to London landmarks to create clever illusions.

"It was around the time of selfie-sticks and when Instagram feeds had started to become mainstream," says Rich. "It became my intention to avoid clichés and instead find a distinct style, so I experimented with different variations of my papercraft."

More than half a decade later and Rich's work has transformed from a hobby into a booming career. He's released a book entitled Around the World in Cut-Outs, collaborated with major brands such as Disney® and enjoys a lifestyle that, prior to 2020, saw him travelling the globe.

Reflecting on his success, Rich exclaims: "What started as a little evening and weekend hobby became a career that took me around the world where I got to be playful for a living."

Creativity with the Canon SELPHY Square QX10

A Canon SELPHY Square QX10 printer surrounded by prints and scribbled concept art.

"My immediate mindset was not to see the Canon SELPHY Square QX10 as just a printer, because that's obvious and no one needs telling that it can print beautiful images," says creative photographer Rich McCor, aka Paperboyo.

A Canon SELPHY Square QX10 prints a colourful illustration of a young girl with pink hair and bubblegum on her face.

Cable-free and portable, the Canon SELPHY Square QX10 is capable of delivering punchy high-quality prints in seconds.

Now, with almost half a million Instagram followers, Rich is taking his inventions to the next level. His latest project allowed him to express his creativity with the Canon SELPHY Square QX10, introducing cartoon character prints into a food-focused theme – along with a large dose of Paperboyo originality.

Rich knew the Canon SELPHY Square QX10 could produce vibrant photographs, but he wanted to try his hand at illustration so he could get the colours to really pop. Rich illustrated his animations using Adobe® Photoshop® before applying a stock photography background, exporting them to his smartphone, and printing remotely using the SELPHY Photo Layout app.

Playing with creative interpretation

A tomato is suspended in the air in front of an illustrated print of a boxer. The effect makes it look as if the boxer's left glove is reaching out of the picture.

"The restrictions in 2020 forced my work and the environments in which I create images, to evolve," says Rich. Keen to find ways to keep pushing his creativity, he turned his focus to his home environment. "Rather than creating visuals with landmarks and landscapes, I'm now playing around on my kitchen chopping board or on my desk. Gradually my designs have become more intricate – it made sense to take my silhouettes further and make use of my illustration skills, adding colour and more detail to my characters."

Referring to a lemon that replaces a tennis ball, and a tomato that stands in for a boxing glove in two recent short animations, Rich says, "when I was challenged to get creative with food, I immediately interpreted that as 'playing with food', which led me to think of sports and how I could use food to replace the sports equipment."

Two hands hold up a print of a knight and a print of a dragon either side of a coffee cup. The foam on the coffee makes it appear as if the dragon is breathing fire.

You can print straight from your smartphone with the Canon SELPHY Square QX10 – the square prints with a captionable border were the ideal size for Rich to incorporate into his quirky food-themed images.

Inspiration for this particular challenge also landed in the form of bubblegum popping on a character's face, and likening patterns in coffee foam to a flame, which was then placed next to vibrant 68mm square prints of a dragon and a knight. "I take something recognisable and add a creative twist to surprise the viewer," he says. "I've moved into animations and changed my environment, but the concept of creative transformation is always at the heart of my work."

Embracing the endless pursuit of ideas

A colourful illustration of a young girl wearing a red baseball cap and blowing a large pink bubble with bubblegum.

For Rich, the key to Paperboyo's continued popularity is not being afraid to try new things.

A colourful illustration of a young girl in a red baseball cap with splattered pink bubblegum all over her face.

"The bubblegum transition was just a well-timed camera cut," explains Rich. "I wanted to create a sequence that impresses but also didn't feel beyond something that anyone could do."

Rich knows that he needs to continue to try new things if he's going to maintain the success he's found with Paperboyo, even if he makes mistakes along the way. "I think it's important for aspiring artists and creators to know that there are a lot of fails, mistakes and bad art that lead to the good stuff," he says. "For every good idea I've had, there's been at least 10 bad ones that I had to work my way through until I had the spark that led to the better idea."

Having a passion for his art also helps fill his feed with photos that audiences love and want to buy prints of. "I often get asked, 'How can I get big on Instagram?' and I think that's the wrong question. It should be, 'How do I find something I love?', because that's how I managed to make a success of this.

"It's a strange transition to go from having a little hobby that's all yours, where you own all the failures, but you also own all the successes, to it then becoming a career whereby you have to let other people's opinions form the content," Rich continues. "I'm keeping audiences engaged because I've managed to evolve and find new directions to take it in, and again that's because I still love it and I'm still hungry to find and create unique content."

Written by Lorna Dockerill

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