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Marc Hagan-Guirey talks to Live for Films about Horrorgami

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Here is some horror that makes the cut. Paperdandy aka Marc Hagan-Guirey uses the art of Kirigami to create stunningly intricate images from just one sheet of paper. His beautiful creations have been displayed at popular exhibitions including his incredible Star Wars Cutscenes. But it all began with his Horror themed images. Now in time for Halloween, you can try them yourself in his excellent book Horrorgami. I sat down with Marc to discuss the book, and his work.

Marc Hagan-Guirey

Marc Hagan-Guirey

Where did you first experience kirigami?

I had been a digital art director for seven years but I had essentially lost that thing you have as a kid where you would just make stuff. My currency as a kid was egg cartons and toilet roll tubes. As soon as my mum came from doing the grocery shop I was immediately like, “I’ve ironed six shirts and twelve pillow cases, can I exchange that for decanting the cornflakes into a carton to use the box”. I’m 35 now and even as an adult, to see a toilet roll tube go in the bin, it pains me, I’m thinking I could totally make something out of that.

A few incidental things came about. My ex-partner and a friend had arranged for us to see one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous buildings. He was a hugely famous architect and he built the iconic Ennis House, It’s been in lots of films. the major one is House on Haunted Hill. It was also in Blade Runner but the place I probably first saw it was in the S Club 7 video (laughs), have you ever loved and lost somebody. I genuinely spotted that house in that video and thought, ah that’s cool.

So, the house was on market for something like 15 million dollars and without me knowing they had arranged for me to have a look around it. Part of me was pure joy but seriously, I’m thinking I’m not ready for this, I need to psyche myself a bit because it was almost like a spiritual experience for me. When I got back to London I wanted to make something to commemorate that and during my research, I came across Kirigami. I thought I could render an architecturally accurate Ennis House using that.

What inspired you use the theme of horror in making your kirigami?

After the Ennis house, I made the Addams family mansion and it was then I thought the Ennis House is from House on Haunted Hill, Adams Family Mansion is a haunted house, I love horror, I love architecture, I’m going to make Horrorgami and that’s where it all started.

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What I love about the book is that with patience anyone can do it. How long did it take to master creating the templates?

I still don’t feel like I’ve mastered it! It always feels like a bit of a challenge. How do you render something that’s as accurate as possible with such a limited material? On face value, they seem simple but it can be frustrating not being able to do something in the way you want to. Every time you set up a new template it gets better and you improve in the time. It can still be pretty frustrating, now I sit down to start a new template and I think, how do I actually do this again (laughs).

How do you plan the image you want to make? Do you draw a finished idea then work out the mechanics?

I create drawings first and very quickly take it into illustrator because you can quickly get the right distances. If you get just one measurement wrong it pulls the model in really odd ways as everything is connected. Even now, when I think one is ready to cut I can find there’s something wrong with it. Often I have to start ripping the paper to figure out how it should be sitting.

With the Star Wars exhibition, one scene in particular, I made the first version two years before it was finished, I kept going back and refining it. I don’t see the value in the labour of the cutting, I mean a crafter might find its one of the things they enjoy because it’s quite meditative but it’s the planning and engineering is the part I get really excited about. I probably would still go back if I could and change some now if I could.

There are also a lot of classic horror images in the book, House of Usher and Frankenstein for example. Are you an avid horror literature fan?

I would love to say I am an avid literature fan (laughs) I thought I can’t pretend to be an expert in this and not have read all this stuff. But, I don’t know if you have tried to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula but it’s so flowery, I got a 1/5 of the way through and thought I can’t do this so I switched to an audio book version of it.

The exhibition was based on classic horror films when it came round to get the opportunity to do the book I thought of it as like a sequel. I had more freedom to create things that were made up from my head or based on my childhood experiences. Bran castle, for example, the link between that and Dracula is so small. Vlad was held there for a night and they think Bram Stoker saw a picture of it. It’s funny to think that the Romanian Dracula tourism is built off the back of something like that (laughs). So I guess Bran castle wasn’t exactly in a movie but it is all connected to the horror theme.

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Each drawing in the book comes with a bit of an explanation about why the particular scene is relevant to you. Do you have particular favourite? I really like the gallows scene, it’s quite stark.

Loads have people have said that to me. “The hanging one, oh that’s a bit dark”. From a graphic design point of view the Fall of the House of Usher, I love the simplicity of the model and the crack down the middle of the building. For me, it really encompasses the art of Kirigami and how it can tell us a story. Frankenstein’s Laboratory is fun because it looks like a stage and if I could magic up a couple of years to learn set design that’s what I would do. Frank N Furter’s castle is a funny one actually, I recently tweeted a picture of the model and they loved it and in a couple of weeks, I am going to stay there.

What films scared you growing up?

I never did a Kirigami of it but Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, it’s the creepiest thing you will ever see. It came out in the 1970s, a made for TV movie and people think it was the inspiration for Beetlejuice. It’s one of those films that you have seen and gone ‘what was that film with those creatures that come out of the fireplace’ I remember sitting at my desk job thinking I have to find out what that movie is. With those older films, they have a certain charm about them. They never had amazing storylines but there was some good acting and it was an era where people were more superstitious. There is a texture and a feel to it that you just can’t recreate with a modern adaptation. My other favourite is Blair witch project I think it really stands up today and totally gives me the creeps.

What about more recently then? What was the last horror you saw that you enjoyed?

I thought the Babadook was really good, I mean I watch old ones all the time, I watched rosemary’s baby a couple of months ago they did a TV remake of that but haven’t got round to seeing it yet

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I have to talk about your Star Wars cut scenes which were Incredible. What do you think of the most recent films?

It was fever pitch with me with The Force Awakens. I remember when the first full trailer came out for the Superbowl, I don’t even know what the Superbowl is (laughs). It aired on an American channel at night and I got up at 5.30am because I couldn’t sleep and watched it. I was a mess, I was welling up and I was waking up my friends to talk about it. I loved it, once the pressure I felt from my friends to find out “do you like it” was over I was ready to watch it again a couple of times and I adore it. I obsessed about elements of it. I own the Darth Vader helmet from the prop shop which I believe has closed now so they aren’t making any more of them. It’s so incredibly beautiful. But I love force awakens and I am really excited by it and of course, I’m excited for Rogue One as well.

What’s next for you, are there any plans to release another book?

Well, I actually spent some time in South Africa working on a new book about Frank Lloyd Wright that will be coming out soon so that’s probably the next thing.

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You can try your hand at Horrorgami and create fantastic scenes from simply one sheet of paper by purchasing the book here.

Marc can be found on twitter, facebook as well as at his website.

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