New York City-based artist Warren King makes incredible life-size sculptures using only cardboard and glue. In one of his latest series, titled Shaoxing Villagers, he attempted to recreate cardboard figures inspired by the villagers of his grandparents’ hometown in China.
“His work is not so much about the individuals that are represented as it is about his own attempts to understand them, and also the limitations of these efforts,” reads his website.
It’s hard not to be wowed by his work. But amazingly enough, besides a few drawing classes that he admits he took in college for fun, King doesn’t have any formal art education. In fact, until about five years ago, he worked in a whole other field – data mining and analysis. It was only when he took a break from software startups that he started making his first sculptures.
“I’ve only been doing this for about five years, so the learning curve has been steep,” he admits in an interview with Embodied Magazine. “There’s a lot of trial and error. But one of the benefits of using cardboard is it’s very quick [to] use, so it’s relatively easy to try things. If it doesn’t work out, I can just cut away whole sections and try something new. I’m still learning with each new piece, but now that I have some proficiency with making basic shapes, I’ve started to experiment with other techniques, like coloring with inks.”
In his latest pieces, King has been working on a new technique of pasting images and patterns cut out of paper to the surface of the figures. “There’s a long tradition of Chinese cut-paper art that I’m drawing from, and it gives me another vehicle to further the storytelling,” he says.
“The intimacy you get from making art, especially figurative art, is pretty intense,” he adds. “I previously had a long career in data analysis software. I can’t think of anything more impersonal and detached. It’s head-spinning to think about how different it is to now be creating figures by hand, figuring out how to evoke emotions with gestures and expressions. With every medium, but maybe especially so with cardboard, there’s a range of detail that can be used. More detail is not necessarily better, and accuracy is not what I go for.”
Follow his incredible progress on his Instagram page.