Shawn Sheehy’s Pop Up Botanicals
Pop-up artist extraordinaire Shawn Sheehy is starting a busy summer of touring around the country sharing his excitement for the pop-up book form with students in a variety of venues. Happily his visit will bring him to Denver for both a beginner April 16–17 and an advanced workshop April 19–21, both at the Botanic Gardens next month. Click here for workshop information .
By all accounts Shawn is a wonderful teacher, breaking down the complexities of pop-up construction into a step by step process without oversimplifying the power of complex paper engineering. His excitement is tangible and contagious; his students leave with new skill, pride in creation and their own excitement about all things pop-up. My introduction to Shawn was, as it often is in my world, through his work.
His over the top popup books, painstaking produced in limited editions, are conceptually sophisticated in a form that is often happily relegated to nifty packaging or children’s story narrative. Pop-ups have wide-spread commercial presence but Shawn’s work is individually and meticulously crafted. He controls most aspects of the production process. He makes the paper, writes the text, illustrates the images, engineers the structures, binds the folios and integrates the design.
He uses this captivating form to good effect, recognizing that pop-up images
facilitate the delivery of a potentially distasteful message with their attractive packaging. Making pop-up books for adults permits playing in the borderlands between ‘youth culture’ and ‘adult culture’ and thus striking out into new territory.
Shawn’s limited edition artists’ books don’t stay in print long, although they come with a high price tag. His most recent project A Pop-Up Field Guide to North American Wildflowers is more affordable than some of his previous projects; in part because he used commercially produced papers rather than his own handmade papers. This book is on view at Abecedarian Gallery; also available are individual cards of each of the flowers included in the book. These items are also for sale via Abecedarian’s online store.
Shawn’s studio assistant Sarah Vogel, who also worked on this project, is a wonderful book and print artist in her own right. She was featured in an exhibit at Abecedarian last year (she was recipient of the Gallery Director’s Artists Book Cornucopia Exhibition Award) Her work is also for sale via the online shop.