A cut above. The title page for the Signature Shakespeare edition of Romeo and Juliet, illustrated with hand-cut paper artwork by Kevin Stanton.
Kevin Stanton remembers the first time he picked up an X-Acto knife. “In an introductory Chinese class I once took, I obsessively chose the hardest pattern for a cut-paper project we did out of construction paper,” he says. “I was struck by how detailed I could be with that knife.” He ended up with a fish that shimmered with painstakingly cut scales and a taste for slicing paper, a technique he returned to during his freshman year at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. “I’d done a portrait in small strips of color-aid for my LCD class that was ridiculously meticulous, and I’m convinced the only reason I passed my drawing class was because my drawing professor liked it so much.”
Now a few years out of Pratt (he graduated in 2010 with a BFA in communications design), Stanton has honed his knife skills to the point that Sterling Publishing enlisted him to illustrate several volumes of its Signature Shakespeare series with his hand-cut paper artwork, which is reproduced in all its multi-dimensional glory in laser-cut tip-ins and scans. On Saturday, Stanton will be among the mix of established and emerging artists and designers participating in Pratt’s annual Alumni Art and Design Fair, where books, accessories, jewelry, paintings, and photography by more than 40 Pratt alumni will be up for sale. We asked Stanton to tell us about the process of taking a blade to the Bard, his experience at Pratt, and what he’ll turn his sharp eye (and sharp edges) to next.
What was your process like for illustrating new editions of the Shakespeare classics?
The process for the Shakespeare classics started with large lists of ideas for spot illustrations that were put together by Sterling’s Shakespeare expert (a Columbia professor, I believe). Then a ton of thumbnails and discussions about colors and sketches and ideas and revisions. Then better sketches and revisions. And basically by the end, I had two weeks to finish both pairs of books! It was crazy, but amazing.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project?
The sheer quantity of illustrations with the time, I think. But working with a group of people brings its own challenges too, but I think we cobbled something special together so it was worth it!