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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021 3 months ago

Paper precision: Winter Garden artist brings cutouts to life

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Daniel Longman creates detailed 3D art with a stack of thick, colored paper and a thin, sharp blade.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

There’s more to paper than meets the eye — especially if Daniel Longman gets his hands on it, taking 2D simplicity and turning it into 3D beauty.

Longman is the artist behind Longmania and the creator of cut-paper art. The craft involves thick, colorful paper; a thin, sharp blade; a ton of patience; and a steady hand.

The Winter Garden artist is the creative art director for Shuffled Ink, studied industrial design at the University of Illinois.

He and the marketing team at Universal Creative built an entire award-winning campaign based on words in the paper-art style, and it was there that he fell in love with the unique way of expressing art.

“(I was) able to utilize my skills as an artist in a major campaign — my voice as an artist was through paper and design,” Longman said. “The paper art was a way for me to bring it to life in three-dimension.”

The walls in his home office are filled with his 3D paper-art pieces. Many carry the atomic space theme — his favorite — and feature colorful starbursts mixed in with planets, astronauts, rocket ships and retro designs.

“I just love outer space, and (I’m) a huge fan of thinking about what’s outside of Earth,” Longman said.

A few of his pieces depict scenes in downtown Winter Garden, and his daughter has claimed one that includes an outer-space ice-cream cone and popsicle.

 

THE PROCESS

Longman said it takes about two weeks to create the larger projects, from concept to sketch to full production. He currently is working on a smaller piece with a small alien playing pinball in outer space.

“It used to be longer because I would usually draw things out first, flush it out on the front side and cut it out,” he said. “Now, the X-Acto (blade) is my pencil and I sketch with the X-Acto.”

What makes the artwork so unique is the tedious process it takes to create one piece of 3D art. To create this effect, Longman adds layers of paper separated by small, foam-core supports to give the layers height.

One piece of his art features the clock tower in downtown Winter Garden. When starting the process, he looked at the photos and took note of the basic shapes that make up the structure. He then created those shapes in paper.

“(I started) with the darkest of the reds because that’s the base,” Longman said. “And then I would create a complementary red to give detail to that block shape and, upon that, build the next shape. And then the roof will have white trim. Does the white trim bleed into the background? What physically is in the back of each piece, and how do you build off it? … The roof is orange with white trim and then dark orange lines on top of that, and then it’s all raised over the red.”

Between most of those layers are the foam-core supports.

Longman likened the process to 3D graphic design on the computer, but instead of using Photoshop to create the interacting layers, he lets the paper layers and the supports to create their own shadows and space.

He sells both the original framed artwork and photo prints, and sometimes that means an extra step in the process — exaggerating the layers for the print version.

His paper artwork runs from $80 to $300, depending on the size, and is available at Longmania on Etsy.

 

SCALED-DOWN VERSIONS

Longman has a passion for other types of art creation, too, and his office shelves hold various miniature sets, each telling its own story.

The Mid-Century Modern living room/dining room is reminiscent of his grandparents’ style.

“I grew up with my grandparents having the furniture,” he said. “The generation above me, that’s the stuff they didn’t want to see anymore. My generation is like, ‘I want to see that again.’”

So his tiny room has those pieces of his past: floral carpeting, a faux stone fireplace, record player, period tables and sofas, and minute details such as an ashtray and Monopoly game in play.

These pieces are more of a hobby for himself, Longman said, but he would be interested in discussing a commission.

 

MOMENTS IN TIME

“It’s all about understanding the scale and staying true to that,” he said of the process. “It’s 1:12, so one inch here is 12 inches in the real world. And (I look) at the interior design and think about what elements I would have to make to bring that room to life. Then (I start) with the bigger pieces, the couch and chairs and the fireplace. Once I have those laid out defining the room, then I go in and make the accents, the tables, the lamps, the record player, the fireplace poker set.”

As the story in this miniature goes, a boy invited nine guests to his birthday party, and they all showed up with gifts. Details include the family portrait on the wood-paneling wall and Grandma’s glasses and cards on the side table.

He prefers to design the rooms as moments in time.

“What do I think was happening with these people when I paused at that moment?” he said. “How did the living room look when they left?”

Longman keeps craft boxes of small random items, such as foliage and beads and baubles.

On another shelf sits a small downtown scene — all created out of printed paper — with the Broken Records music shop, movie theater, sweet shop with a soda fountain, little pub, bowling alley, empty lot, Bean’s Bakery and a florist.

Longman said it’s loosely based on his hometown of Minonk, Ill., where his grandparents owned the theater and he worked at the sweet shop.

“I finally realized later in life that I’ve always been making tiny things,” he said. “I never really focused on building a whole set. As a kid, I would make a miniature version of something because I thought it was neat, like doll houses.”

Longman doesn’t know where this craft will take him, but he has enjoyed the creativity and finding his voice in paper art.

Several pieces are for sale at the new Main House Market, in downtown Winter Garden.

He makes and sells pins and tarot cards and playing cards on Etsy. The box office at the Garden Theatre sells the decks of playing cards, and a portion of the proceeds is given to the theater.

He is working on some new art pieces that will depict Winter Garden, and those will debut on his Etsy page.

 

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Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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