Paper toys: Custom Paper Toys

Missouri-based artist Matt Hawkins of Custom Paper Toys has been making paper toys since 2007. He features in our paper toy feature in the December issue of CR but here is a selection of his paper creations plus a short Q&A with the artist…

Missouri-based artist Matt Hawkins of Custom Paper Toys has been making paper toys since 2007. He features in our paper toy feature in the December issue of CR but here is a selection of his paper creations (which include this banjo-playing robot, above) plus a short Q&A with the artist…

Creative Review: What do you love about working with paper in this way?

Matt Hawkins: You can take the most 2-D thing in the world, a piece of paper and transform it into a 3D object – that’s the basic magic of the thing that pulled me in. Add to that the internet and you can send a 3D object anywhere all over the world. Like a low rent teleporter!

Another thing I love is that it takes out alot of the hurdles you face when making a traditional toy, no factories, no shipping, no commerce. Just sharing things I like to make with those who want to participate. Plus paper is abundant, versatile, instant and humble.

CR: Is this something that you will always do – or do you think it will lead to another way of working?

MH: What I love most is a good technical challenge in a the pursuit of a creative goal. So as long as I can continue to push myself and my art, like making moving parts, automata or most recently large scale gallery pieces, I think I’ll still be drawn into this artform. It may fade from the “trend reports” but the things that called me to it will always be there.

CR: Do you think that, in some ways, the economic climate is helping the popularity of paper toys?

MH: I think the economic climate has certainly increased the popularity of papertoys and really brought in a lot of “commercial work” for me. I also think as we move forward into a digital age and books and information go from paper to digital downloads on a mobile devices the popularity of paper toys and pop-up books will continue to rise, there will be more value in these things that are real and physical and hands-on – this is what paper can do that a digital screen can not.

See more of Hawkin’s work at


Stay tuned for more paper toy art on the blog this week – and look out for the new December issue of CR in the shops which will feature a bound-in 170gsm blank custom Tougui toy template (in association with Arojowiggins Creative Papers) so you can make your own (blank version shown above). The best customised toy will win prizes! Full details can be found here.



CR in Print

If you enjoy reading the Creative Review website, we think you’ll enjoy reading the magazine even more. The December issue of CR includes a profile piece on the independent creative scene in Liverpool, a major interview with Dutch book designer Irma Boom and a great piece on ‘Poster King’ Edward McKnight Kauffer. You’ll also find articles on Dentsu London, a review of the Walker Art Center’s Graphic Design: Now in Production show and a fascinating debate on the clash between design and advertising betwen Wally Olins and CHI’s Dan Beckett.

And if that wasn’t enough, the issue also includes a FREE paper toy for readers to cut out and customise.

If you would like to buy this issue and are based in the UK, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Based outside the UK? Simply call +44(0)207 292 3703 to find your nearest stockist. Better yet, subscribe to CR for a year here and save yourself almost 30% on the printed magazine.

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