Are you are using your Instagram channel to its best potential? Do your beaches and monuments cut through the noise or sink without a trace in the vast insta-universe? Rich McCor who Instagrams as @paperboyo transforms landmarks with paper into commercially successful art and social media projects. Here he shares some of his creative inspiration with The Family Adventure Project’s Kirstie Pelling…
The boy who reshapes the world
“I always feel my best self when travelling. That’s when I feel I’m my most social and inquisitive,” says artist Rich McCor who goes by the name of @paperboyo on Instagram. And Rich is in demand for his travelling – or more specifically the images he produces on his journeys. His imaginative paper cut outs give a new lease of life to the same monuments we all see on Instagram each day.
Going global starts local
But Rich McCor wasn’t always travelling the world cutting out teeny tiny things with scissors. His journey started in London. “My travel buddy was my camera. I was spending loads of my evenings and weekends on photography and the history of London. I’d been in Trafalgar Square to watch the sunrise and I’d met Harry the Harris Hawk and picked up little facts. I’d been up to the top of Monument and been to Westminster with all the other tourists.”
At that stage Rich says he was consuming travel pretty much like any other tourist. “I was having that sense of wonder and excitement that I have whenever I am abroad. I was exploring and learning. Picking up facts like the lions in Trafalgar Square being made from canons seized from ships that took part in the Battle of Trafalgar.” While wandering around London, he embraced social media via Instagram and started to realise a lot of his photos were similar to other people’s. “I was starting to pay a little more attention to the craft of photography and really enjoying the Instagram community. I was looking at my photos of Big Ben and wondering how I could take a photo that looked different.”
He was inspired to do his own thing. And his own thing was a little different.
“I’d always had a papercutting hobby where I’d made some stop motions and music videos for my friends’ bands. So I went home and cut something out and I went back a couple of days later and held it up in front of Big Ben.”
With a bit of work with the scissors, a sleight of hand and a flick of the shutter, Rich turned Big Ben into a wristwatch.
Transforming monuments into likes
He found his cut outs were popular. “There were more likes than I was getting for the other photos. So then I carried on going round London, going back to the places I’d gone before looking for paper transformations. My engagement was good and I was getting more followers.”
He flicks through his gallery and pulls up a picture of the London eye as a bicycle part. “As a photo it’s not that great but as an idea I think is.” he says.
He says standing out on Instagram is often a case of just looking at things a little bit differently, seeing shapes in different scenes and having a bit of a weird and whacky imagination.
Running with an opportunity
His first break came when Lonely Planet asked him to do a few photos for him. “I thought, well, if Lonely Planet are going to give me some money to do some photos then I am going to run with this opportunity.”
He booked some flights, ran round more cities and took photographs with ideas behind them. “And then things started to go viral. The Daily Mail did an article. I got invited to go to Singapore and do what I was doing abroad.”
Weaving in advertising
When brands started to contact him, he worked adverts into his feed – “The key is to make the adverts look quite natural on your page.” Tourist boards began getting in touch too; Rich has spent time recently in places from Easter Island to the Alps. A quick flick through his account shows a woman strumming Deokjin Park Bridge in Korea like a harp. A gymnast is flying from Olympic rings on the giant cranes of the Harland &Wold shipyard. Two kids are see sawing on the pinnacle of Loews Hotel in San Francisco.
Why does it work? Perhaps because his work is simple to understand, accessible in whatever language you speak, and there’s a definite sense of humour at play. Leo DiCaprio is hugging Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue like it’s his soulmate on the Titanic and the Arc De Triomphe is transformed into a Lego Minifigure.
A sideways look at the world
Of course Rich doesn’t recommend we all start cutting extensions to the Eiffel tower out of thin card. But it’s a sideways look at the world that we could all take. For ideas, he recommends checking out photographers and videomakers who are doing things differently and elevating Instagram to new levels.
Here are some of his own favourites:
Content creator @ari_fararooy is based in California. “He did some filming for Coachella recently that was really eye catching. He collaborates with some interesting people. No one else is doing the same kind of stuff. I normally get turned off by products being thrown on my face with Instagram but his stuff is so clever I’m cool with that.”
“Someone else that I really like is Stephen McMennamy who combines photographs. His work has gone superviral. He photoshops together two or three different images. They work fiendishly well.” Check out the Statue of Liberty holding a stop sign or the Capitol Hill Pill. Or the poodle with the cauliflower head.
Aurelie Cerise is a visual and paper artist from Paris. “You like rainbows? You’re in the right place,” she says on her profile. Her feed is a pastel paradise. “She did some stuff for Swatch lately, beautiful colourful stuff but it doesn’t reek of advertising.”
“Casey McPerry was featured by Instagram a while ago. He’s like a magician” says Rich. “All his photos interweave with each other. They work perfectly on their own too. Also when he uploads one at a time they all jump across.”
Tommy Lundberg animates videos using a little bit of animation and some colour. “The internet has a plethora of amazing photographers. but this guy makes his stills come alive. He does simple edits that stand out and catch your eye.” Click on his seven magic mountains video to see the trippy effect.
Are you inspired to set up your own Instagram account or looking for more tips on how to build an Instagram audience? Check out Five Instagrammers You Should be Following Right Now and How to Boost your Instagram Presence.