Why reusing cardboard is a great place to start

Paperboyo, Recycling Week Campaign 2020

Guest Blog by – @paperboyo 

Hi, I’m Rich, also known on Instagram as paperboyo. Some of you might already be familiar with my handywork, as over the past five years, I’ve helped people to see the world-around them differently with my paper-based cut-outs and stencils.

With stats showing 53% of Brits knowingly throw away packaging that could be recycled, I teamed up with Beyond the Box for this year’s Recycle Week to encourage the nation to stop sweeping sustainability under the carpet. In my opinion, art has always been a great place to start for anyone looking to prioritise sustainability as it’s an easy way to get the whole family reusing and appreciating the materials around them.

Since partnering with the team at Beyond the Box, I’ve learned even more about the paper-based materials I use on a daily basis. So, the next time you have a cardboard delivery box or a pizza box that’s ready for the recycling pile, why not give it a go yourself? Follow my simple tutorial below and have a go at trying to create your own cardboard cut outs… you never know, they might just change the way you see the world around you.

Four steps for creating a paperboyo cardboard-based cut-out:

Step One – Choosing an inspiring design:

The most effective ideas are simple and instantly  recognisable. When brainstorming, I tend to sit down and doodle pictures of things that I love or that inspires me.

So, firstly have a think about something that has meaning to you or your children. A cut-out of your family pet? A stencil of a tree in your garden? Or even a popular shape like a love heart, if you’re planning to give artwork as a gift  to  grandparents or friends?

Pro tip – The great thing about cardboard is that the fluting from the corrugated layer adds a shadow effect to the stencil, and a 3-D effect to the design. It might be worth thinking how you can utilise this when planning if you are really looking to impress with your stencils!

Step Two – Selecting the essential tools :

Once you have a design you’re happy with, the next step is to cut out your cardboard masterpiece. I tend to use a strong pair of scissors or a craft knife, however these are often quite sharp, so adults and parents should take their time and help any children to ensure there are no accidents.

Pro tip – If you’d like to create the perfect cut out, I’d recommend using a cutting board and a metal ruler to help neaten up the lines.

Step Three – Finding the perfect background:   

Half term is the perfect opportunity to get out of the house and explore the great outdoors  and the great thing is, from rolling hills in the countryside to your local town centre, the UK has some amazing backdrops that will really make your cardboard stencil pop.

When selecting a location, have fun and play around with ideas as you’ll constantly be able to find new ways to adapt your ideas to see the full creative effects of the buildings and landscapes around you.

Once you’re happy, grab your camera and hold the cardboard cut-out in front of these objects around, before taking the final showstopper picture.

Pro tip – It’s always best to use an easily identifiable  location – and ideally one which links in to your cardboard stencil – for example, I used to cut-out a whale tale and hold it above lakes and swimming pools which then became the body of the whale in the finished shot.

Step Four – The final shot:

Use your settings on your camera or phone to ensure your cardboard stencil is in focus. Make sure that you’re not holding the stencil too close to the camera lens as this starts to create a blurred depth of field, which is the trickiest thing about what I do. So, hold the cut-out at arm’s length to get the best shot and get everything in focus.

Pro tip – The secret to all photography is patience. Keep trying and you’ll eventually figure out how to create impactful images that make a statement.

And there it is, your ultimate cardboard cut-out – it really is that simple! I’d love to see your creations so don’t forget to tag #BeyondTheBox and @paperboyo in your posts. And remember to recycle your cardboard stencils when you’re finished!