December 20, 2009

Campbell's Soup Can Papercraft

I have begun experimenting with a method of creating papercraft that involves using digital photos. For my first attempt, I grabbed a Campbell's soup can from the pantry and took a few photos from which I created a 1:1 scale papercraft model. I intentionally chose a Campbell's soup can because I think it brings up some interesting questions. Is papercraft art? Most people would say that urban paper toys created by professional graphic designers are art, but what about papercraft created from 3D models ripped from video games? What about my soup can which is a life size paper replica of a real world object? I would like to believe that if Andy Warhol were still around he would say all these things are indeed art. In 2008, Warhol's 1:1 scale reproductions of a Brillo box, a Campbell's tomato juice box, a Del Monte peach halves box, and a Heinz tomato ketchup box together as a group sold for $4,750,000 at a Sotheby's auction. If only my papercraft tomato soup can would do as well. :) A download of the template is here.


  1. Digital photos? you mean slapping a jpeg into a 3D model. You're a bit confused, the "art" that they always mention in the paper toy community is not the models themselves but the "original" designs/textures that they put on it. Isn't the whole point of paper crafting to create a 3d replica made entirely of paper, may it be life-size or not?

  2. Confused? Hardly. You bring up some good points. If I understand your point of view correctly, you feel the whole point of paper crafting is to create 3D paper replicas. You seem to agree with my post that there is some element of art involved in that branch of the papercraft family tree known as “urban paper toys”, but you feel that the art lies in the textures applied and not in the models themselves (I think there are some paper toy designers out there who would disagree with you on that point). Your comments raise numerous questions. First, if papercraft (regardless of scale) is only about making 3D replicas, would it be better then to categorize paper crafting as a hobby or a craft and avoid the term "art"? But then again, isn’t craft and hobby work a form of art? It may be closer to Folk Art than Fine Art, but most would still consider it art nonetheless. Andy Warhol created 3D replicas of objects which are today classified as art, so why can't paper replicas be considered art as well? What about the artwork of artist Bert Simons who creates life size papercraft portrait heads? I am pretty sure his method involves something pretty close to “slapping a jpeg onto a 3D model” as you call it, yet his work is displayed in art galleries. Would it have made a difference if I had painstakingly recreated a soup can in Adobe Illustrator for the texture on my papercraft soup can instead of using a digital photo of an actual can? Now I am not about to suggest that the papercraft models I create just for fun are “Fine Art”, but I can use them to continue the dialog that Andy Warhol started about “What is art?” My personal take on the subject is that the definition of art has more to do with the intent with which something is created and less to do with the materials and methods used.

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