Of all the paper artists you may have seen, he must be one of the most unique. His name is Matthew Shilan, popularly known as Matt Shilan. And his claim to fame is his original creation called ‘Misfold’, completely designed by him that has swept the viewers off their feet.
That art was in Shilan’s blood was borne out by the fact that he, as an undergrad, originally went to school for ceramics. Not content with this he also studied glass and painting and delved in performance and sound. He did his major in ceramics and print media.
Shilan started out with traditional print and ceramic work but began creating large digital prints that he developed into large-scale pop-up spreads, using a series of cut scores and creases. He created V-folds and strut pieces as big as four feet. Although by his own admission he didn’t know what he was doing, it motivated him to make paper his medium.
For Shilan, figuring out the pieces is like a jigsaw puzzle and he simply loves the geometrical shapes he creates. He uses a variety of papers in his work, such as acid-free archival paper, Canson and colorplan. As far as tools are concerned, he uses blades, creasing tools, reverse action tweezers, spatulas, soft crease meteorites, flatbed plotter cutter and the like.
There is no standard process in Shilan’s works; it varies from piece to piece. Where planning is concerned, he often starts with no clear goal in mind. It’s his creative streak that rules his mind. He may choose to use only curved folds on one piece or vary his lines or angles.
What’s really astounding is the fact that if mistakes happen in creating a piece, it excites Shilan no end and motivates him to work on it to achieve a novel shape or form. And he’s not even interested in visualizing the end product. Why so? He explains, “I’d say my starting point is curiosity; I’ve to make the work in order to understand it. If I can completely visualize my final result, I’ve no reason to make it…I need to be surprised.”
Shilan doesn’t share his diagrams or cut patterns and doesn’t even explain how he makes his sculptures since each one is different. Says he, “I learned by taking things apart, doing things the ‘wrong way’ and being curious. Getting something wrong is way more important to learning than copying something perfectly.” His work speaks for itself. Little wonder, he enjoys a sizeable following on the internet.