Since 2007, Russian artists Alexej Lyapunov and Lena Erlich — collectively known as "Peopletoo" — have been creating dynamic artwork with one the oldest materials around: paper. Their work ranges from flat collages made up of multiple pieces of colored paper to incredibly detailed three-dimensional dioramas.
Peopletoo makes a living by crafting images for advertising, and recently wrapped up a campaign for the human rights charity Amnesty International. We spoke with Lyapunov and Erlich to learn more about their history, influences, and processes.
Lyanpunov first experimented with paper craft as a child. The pair were both members of "creative children's clubs" in the Soviet Union, and cite their time spent in the clubs as a major influence. Peopletoo's first commissioned work with paper didn't come until 2008, when they created the piece above for The Expert Siberia. "We realized then that this was the right field for us."
Before settling on paper craft, the pair worked as designers and, in Lyanpunov's case, programming. They often have two or three projects on the go for weeks on end. This dynamic piece is part of a set created for Amnesty International that took four weeks from start to finish.
The set plays on Amnesty's logo (a candle) and the medium used (paper) to incite people to "fan the flame" of human rights.
The pair use various craft and design knives to create the intricate scenes, but most of their work utilizes knives from the Japanese company OLFA. "Working with paper is very nice. Just like any other 'real' material such as clay, paint, or wood, there's no undo button... the difficulty is that there is often no time to experiment with variations and improvements."
After creating an artwork, the pair clean up irregularities in the photos, often adding effects like a gradient sky or snowflakes.
Although their pieces generally take weeks, there are exceptions. This piece, commissioned by a Russian company that sells children's tights, went from conception to finished product in the space of four days.
This incredibly detailed diorama, on the other hand, took weeks.
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