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Vincent Tomczyk: Paper Manipulator

When one thinks of a paper artist visions of origami come to mind or 2D ‘paintings’ depicting scenery, but with the work that Vincent Tomczyk  (pronounced Tom-check) makes just blows the mind.  Looking at one of his pieces is like being tricked for a moment where one needs to walk up to it and examine it to understand that what they are seeing is all paper. 

What is even more amazing is that he taught himself, because there really isn’t a class or program or workshop that can teach you how to make realistic looking objects out of paper.  Tomczyk’s father, who was also self taught, was always making things when the family needed them like a bookshelf and a coffee table, he lived by the motto ‘build it instead of buy it.’  And as we can all attest to the influence of our early years having relevance in our art practice, so too did Tomczyk’s have on his.  His previous job as a Project Manager for a company that produced packaging seems to have been the second inspiration to set his art practice in motion.  Tomczyk learned the materials of wood, plastic, paper, cardboard and more as a liaison for structural engineers.  In fact it is as if Tomczyk is now the engineer “The most challenging aspect of constructing with paper is trying to engineer it properly. Its like prototyping, except the experiment becomes the final artwork.” Said Tomczyk.

            Tomczyk doesn’t just create these hyper realistic sculptures, he has backstories for all of them. Detailed descriptions of specific stories that guides his creative process “It’s the story that makes the work relevant for me” Said Tomczyk.  For example the Boxing Mask he made was inspired by the story of boxer Emile Alphonse Griffith who was teased by his opponent with a gay slur at a weigh in, Griffith won the match but his opponent never recovered and died 10 days later.  Tomczyk created the mask with a floral wallpaper interior to represent the story and Griffith. So one can see that just looking at Tomczyk’s pieces there is so much more than just the sculpture, he feels he is “Giving (the viewer) a chance to understand something new.” said Tomczyk.

            With Tomczyk’s latest piece a Banquet chair is being made at the Torrance Art Museum in the show 'Studio System' where, along with ten other artists who have brought their studios to the museum, you can see him create it from scratch.  And if you ask him he just might tell you the story that inspired it at the closing reception on August 29th 6-9pm.  Also he will be showing at the Millard Sheets Art Center in Pomona, CA for the Art Classic on September 4-27, 2015.  And to see more of his amazing work check out his website at

Tomczyk's finished Banquet Chair on display at the Torrance Art Museum. Photo courtesy of the artist

The beginning of a Barcelona Chair's frame lays on the kitchen counter where Tomczyk has made his home studio in his home in Pasadena, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Finished sheets of paper made to look like a white Barcelona Chair line up on the kitchen counter in Tomczyk's home in Pasadena, CA. Photo © Aimee Santos

Measure, measure and measure some more. Tomczyk measures paper 'bars' to decide where their distance should be. Photo © Aimee Santos

To create the cushions for the Barcelona chair Tomczyk pre-punctures holes so that he can hand sew the sheets together.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Americana'  2011, Paper, canvas, silk and nylon thread, 11" x 15" x 9".  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Inside Tomczyk's home studio is in his kitchen with his two year old Yorkie/Poodle mix named Rico by his side.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Wallet' 2011, Paper, nylon thread, 4"x 3"x 0.5" (folded.)  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Photo © Aimee Santos

Details are everything with Tomczyk's work, a small button cover device allows him to apply paper to the top of the button for 'cushioned chairs.'  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Lucian Freud' 2013, Paper & mixed media, 48" x 32" x 34"  and 'Leg Brace' 2011, Foam core, aluminum, chipboard, binder’s thread, 13" x 32" x 8".  Photos courtesy of the artist.

A close up of Tomczyk's 'Boxing Mask' shows the attention to detail with perforated holes both to sew through and for aesthetics.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Tomczyk takes notes and measurements when he has the access but most of his work is through experimentation and execution, he learns by doing.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Bergère' 2012, Various papers, 37.5" x 27" x 27".  Photo courtesy of the artist.