Pop-up book artist Matthew Reinhart to visit Toledo July 8Written by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
From Cinderella’s carriage and Captain Hook’s ship to Darth Vader’s helmet and the castles of Westeros, “paper engineer” Matthew Reinhart is a master craftsman of pop-up art, amazing children and adults alike with his intricate designs.
“It’s something I think I always did — making things and building things out of paper and cardboard and Styrofoam and all the weird things you find around the house,” the New York Times best-selling author said during a recent call from his New York City studio. “Somehow it turned into my job.”
Reinhart will be in Toledo on July 8 to help kick off “The Wizards of Pop: Sabuda and Reinhart,” a new exhibit at Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
The traveling exhibition, organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, features the work of Reinhart and his former work partner Robert Sabuda, a native of southeast Michigan.
“Wizards of Pop,” which opens July 7 and runs through Aug. 31, will be displayed at the Main Library during regular library hours.
Reinhart will be at the Main Library’s McMaster Center, 325 Michigan St., from 1:30-2:30 p.m. July 8. The presentation will be followed by a book signing, with books available for purchase. The presentation and exhibit is free and open to the public.
“This is an exhibit we’ve been wanting to bring for years,” said Youth Services Manager Nancy Eames. “The really interesting thing is you get to see all the stages of how a pop-up book is created. You get to see the process, not just the finished pop-up book.”
Eames described Reinhart and Sabuda as “stars” of the pop-up book world.
“Pop-up books have been around for a long time, but they really made them popular in the last couple of decades and kind of took them to new heights,” she said. “It’s not just the traditional lift-a-flap, but really elaborate paper engineering.”
Reinhart, 42, almost became a doctor instead of an author.
“There was never a real good, strong art program at my high school and I didn’t really know there was a lot of creative jobs out there,” he said.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and got into medical school, planning to continue his artwork on the side. But first he decided to take a year off and move to New York City. His work at an eye bank — removing eyeballs from cadavers for corneal transplants — helped him decide to change direction.
“This sounds gruesome, but it helped me realize that people die young,” he said. “I realized I didn’t want to waste my life doing something I wasn’t really passionate about.”
Another catalyst was meeting Sabuda, already a successful pop-up book author, who helped him realize he could make art a career.
Reinhart’s interest in biology comes through in some of his projects, including books about insects, dinosaurs and more.
“Learning can be magical,” he said. “I find science and the world around me very exciting and learning about it very exciting and I hope I can translate that experience for somebody else.”
A big part of creating pop-ups is problem-solving, Reinhart said.
“I was always fairly good at drawing and illustration. I really found it natural to cut and fold paper and figure out how things could work,” he said. “I love that part. Finding the answer to the problem, the solution to the problem.”
Producing a pop-up book can take up to eight months, with engineering the pop-ups the most time-consuming part.
“I sculpt out of paper by hand to figure out all the mechanics,” Reinhart said. “I don’t use a computer program because you wouldn’t feel how the paper moves, how it clicks, how gravity affects it.”
‘Game of Thrones’
Reinhart’s latest book, “Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros” with illustrator Michael Komarck, is based on the popular HBO series. The individual pop-up pages fold out to form a 3-D map of Westeros — one of his most ambitious and unique pop-up designs yet.
“I love the show. I think it’s brilliant. I’m really into it,” Reinhart said. “It’s fantasy, but it’s all about character. Character really drives everything that happens in that show. That’s what I really love about it. I get really obsessed about things. I wanted to learn everything there is to know about it.”
The book, which Reinhart describes as a primer for the various houses, castles and creatures of the series, was inspired by the show’s opening sequence. Many viewers fast-forward through the lengthy title sequence — but not Reinhart.
“I watch it every single time,” Reinhart said. “It’s so interesting how it’s translated.”
Another book, “Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy,” features a pop-up of Darth Vader’s helmet. Reinhart is proud of the detail involved, including a glimpse of Anakin Skywalker’s face as it opens.
“I grew up a huge fan of ‘Star Wars’ and watched the movies a million times. I read all the books and comics. I was immersed in it as a kid,” he said. “It was a dream come true to be able to make that book and work with Lucas Films. I love ‘Star Wars’ and I wanted to somehow make my mark or add my little bit to the ‘Star Wars’ universe.”
Reinhart’s tallest pop-up — more than 2 feet high — was created for “Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-up Universe,” released last fall. But he hinted he’s already thinking about a taller one for a future book.
“That book was innovative because each pop-up transforms, so pull a tab and a 3-D car will turn into a robot,” Reinhart said. “I’m an old-school ‘Transformers’ fan. I collected them as a kid and also as an adult. I have thousands.”
Reinhart worked with renowned children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak a few years before Sendak died in 2012 for the 2006 book “Mommy?”
“He was funny, warm, inspiring. It was very much give and take,” Reinhart said. “As a young artists to be able to work with someone like him was really one of the highlights of my career. I miss him. He was a good friend.”
Next up is a book about “My Little Pony,” set to release next spring.
“Wizards of Pop” was brought to Toledo to celebrate the 10th anniversary the Robert L. and Posy Huebner Collection, the library’s collection of more than 200 original children’s book artwork, Eames said.
For more information, visit www.matthewreinhart.com.
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