Buckeye Beat: Keith Allen, Pop-Up Artist

Learn a little more...with a link!

PDFs & Videos: What a Mess! Freebies | Keith Allen’s website shares how to make pop-up crafts.

Video: YouTube, How to Make Pop-up Book | Make your own book with easy instructions.

Website: The Art Career Project, Careers in Art | Find out the many jobs you can have using your artistic talents.

Read the script:

KEITH: WHEN YOU OPEN THE PAGE, YOU GET LITERAL GASPS.

MARGARET: IN THE BASEMENT OF HIS OLMSTED FALLS HOME, AUTHOR KEITH ALLEN, PUTS X-ACTO BLADE TO PAPER. THE TOOLS OF THE TRADE ARE A LITTLE DIFFERENT WHEN YOU'RE WORKING ON A POP-UP BOOK.

KEITH: I'M A PAPER ENGINEER, I WORK ON GREETING CARDS AT AMERICAN GREETINGS, AND THEN I ALSO MAKE POP-UP BOOKS. I LOVE THE CHALLENGE OF A POP-UP BOOK. I LOVE THE CHALLENGE OF HAVING SOMETHING FOLD COMPLETELY FLAT AND THEN MAKING IT COME ALIVE WHEN YOU OPEN IT UP.

MARGARET: KEITH RECENTLY PUBLISHED HIS SECOND BOOK, WHAT A MESS, A POP-UP MISADVENTURE.

KEITH: IT'S INSPIRED BY MY KIDS. THEY DON'T LIKE TO CLEAN UP AFTER THEMSELVES, WHICH, I KNOW THEY'RE UNLIKE MANY OTHER KIDS THAT DON'T LIKE TO CLEAN UP. THERE'S NOT MANY THAT I FOUND THAT DO. SO, IT'S JUST A FUN STORY ABOUT THAT.

I WANTED EACH PAGE TO REALLY BE EXCITING AND HAVE SOME KIND OF BIG EVENT HAPPENING, SO THAT THEME REALLY LET ME DO SOME EXCITING THINGS ON EACH PAGE, LIKE THE FIRST PAGE, THEIR ROOM EXPLODES WITH TOYS, SO YOU GET THIS BIG EXPLOSION. THE NEXT PAGE, THERE'S LIKE A MOUNTAIN OF TOYS, SO YOU CAN REALLY COME OFF THE BOOK LIKE REAL HIGH WHEN IT HITS THE STRETCHES, AS HIGH AS I CAN POSSIBLY PUSH IT.

THE TWO KIDS IN THE STORY, THEY'RE LOOSELY BASED ON MY KIDS. I ALSO HID MY KIDS' TOYS THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE BOOK, SO THEY LIKE TO GO 'ROUND AND PICK 'EM OUT.

MARGARET: GOING FROM IDEA TO REALITY IS A PROCESS OF TRIAL AND ERROR.

KEITH: YOU FIRST HAVE YOUR IDEA, OR YOUR THEME, AND I JUST IMMEDIATELY START SKETCHING. JUST SKETCH A WHOLE BUNCH OF IDEAS DOWN IN A SKETCH BOOK, AND ONCE I HAVE A ROUGH IDEA OF WHERE I WANT TO GO WITH THAT, I START JUST CUTTING PAPER AND APPLYING IT TO MY CARD.

IT'S ALMOST LIKE SKETCHING IN THREE DIMENSIONAL, SO YOU JUST KEEP BUILDING AND BUILDING UNTIL THINGS ARE WORKING THE WAY YOU WANT. ONCE YOU HAVE THAT, I TEAR IT APART, REFINE ALL MY LINES, REBUILD IT. IF IT'S WORKING, GREAT, THEN I CAN MOVE ON. IF IT'S NOT, THEN I FIX THINGS, TEAR IT APART, REBUILD, AND IT'S KIND OF THAT PROCESS OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN 'TILL YOU GET SOMETHING THAT'S WORKING REALLY NICE.

MARGARET: WHILE HE MAY NOT BE USING A PENCIL, KEITH CAN STILL RUN INTO WRITER'S BLOCK.

KEITH: SOMETIMES, IT'LL COME TOGETHER IMMEDIATELY, AND IT'S EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANTED, AND YOU'RE LIKE, ALL RIGHT, WELL THAT WAS SIMPLE, AND I'M DONE, AND THAT'S GREAT. OTHER TIMES, IT'LL JUST DRIVE YOU MAD.

I HAVE ONE PAGE IN MY FIRST BOOK, I SPENT WEEKS ON IT, AND I TRIED THIS VERSION, A MILLION DIFFERENT VERSIONS, AND IT WAS CRAZY. IT SOUNDS NUTS, BUT, I HAD A DREAM. I WENT TO BED THAT NIGHT FRUSTRATED, AND I HAD A DREAM ON HOW TO SOLVE IT. THEN, WHEN I WOKE UP, I SKETCHED IT DOWN AND THEN USED THAT MECHANIC, WHICH SOUNDS CRAZY, BUT, YEAH.

MARGARET: BUT IT WORKED.

KEITH: IT WORKED, YEAH.

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