The Setup

Interview

What do people use to get stuff done?

Warren King

Warren King

Cardboard sculptor

Who are you, and what do you do?

I make a lot of things out of cardboard. In the past I've done all sorts of masks, helmets, furniture, costumes -- whatever projects happened to come my way. But a couple of years ago I started making a series of life-size figures, and this project has kind of taken over. I'm recreating the residents of a small village in China where my grandparents grew up, and I make them with only cardboard and glue. I originally planned to make only three, but I'm on number six now, and I'll probably keep going for a while.

What hardware do you use?

I use a MacBook Pro and my camera is a hand-me-down Canon 20D. Besides my iPhone 4, that's pretty much it for my technology.

For my sculpture work, I go through tons of corrugated cardboard. Old moving boxes are my staple - sturdy, smooth, and best of all free. I also use lighter-weight FedEx boxes for detailed work, furniture shipping boxes for large surfaces, and tough, rigid computer shipping boxes for structural components. Boxes come in a range different colors, textures and weights, and it even has a grain. It's like wood to a cabinetmaker, except that you find it in recycling bins

I use only a few tools to make my cardboard stuff. Four different scissors, ranging from small needle-nose shears for detailed trimming, to a heavy-duty pair for chomping through multiple layers of cardboard. And lots of razors. I only use cheap plastic ones with snap-off blades, which I buy in bulk because I like to have them scattered all over so that at any time, I can just reach down grab one without having to take my eyes off of what I'm doing. Also scattered all over my floor are binder clips and clothespins, which are fine for temporarily holding things together while I design or glue. And of course hot glue guns. Right now I only have cheap ones, so I usually have two of them plugged in at a time. Eventually, I'll spring for a professional-grade model, which runs hotter and maintains a more constant flow of glue.

And what software?

Right now I don't use any software to model or design my sculptures, but I do use Flickr quite a bit to post photos and as a source of reference material. It's amazing that when I want to study the particular look of people from some remote part of the world, I can find a talented photographer who has done a whole series on that exact thing. And as someone living abroad, I'm dependent on Netflix, Hulu, and a VPN service to stay plugged in. For each of my sculptures, I can tell you which TV series I binge watched while making it.

What would be your dream setup?

I'd have to say my current setup is pretty good. The things that I use for my work are easy to find, and for me, the more basic the setup the better. There's not much technology out there that I'm interested in, but if my wish list is really anything-goes, then I guess I'd ask for an extra set of hands, or prehensile feet. Especially with my larger projects, I typically need two or three hands to hold components in place, and another to work the glue gun. Anatomy, not technology, is my main frustration nowadays.

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