Paper magic

If you’ve been following TimeLine’s 15th Anniversary season at all — received our 2011-12 subscription brochure, gotten an email, attended a show — you’ve seen the four images we’re using to promote the four plays this season:


For several years now TimeLine has used photographs as the primary images each season. And this year was no exception — these are indeed photographs. But instead of photographing abstract scenes of people/objects, this year we tried something completely new. Something that could only have been accomplished with the time, talent and superhuman patience and attention to detail of one Ryan Robinson — photographer, artist and dear friend of TimeLine. And because it was such a crazy cool process and result, we thought we’d share the backstory with you!

Ryan wrote about how he approached the project on his blog:

I’ve been creating photography for TimeLine’s season brochures for a few years now. This year was a bit different compared to previous shoots. … I wanted the process of creating the images to be just as important as the final images. No gimmicks or Photoshop trickery needed. When we had our initial meeting to go through the four plays and talk about concepts, I approached TimeLine with a completely different idea. I wanted to create EVERYTHING out of cut paper — no actors, no real environments, no scheduling the team to meet in four various locations around Chicago. Just me, a million x-acto blades and stacks and stacks of paper.

It was a big change but with a desire to try something new in honor of our 15th Anniversary, we decided to take the plunge, trust in Ryan, and see what happened. A few weeks later, he had created four absolutely stunning models, made entirely of paper except for a few 3-dimensional central items. We scheduled a photo shoot (it’s amazing how many different ways you can photograph an inanimate object – especially one with movable parts!), picked the winners and the season was off and running.

Almost as incredible as the images themselves is this video that Ryan made of himself actually doing the work to create them. Hours and hours of work and creativity condensed into one whirlwind 3 1/2 minutes. He even did a special paper cut-out version of our logo, with a collage of posters from many of the 45+ plays we’ve produced peeking through. You have to check it out:

We hope to have the models themselves on display at TimeLine sometime soon, so you can admire them up close.

In the meantime, if you’re as impressed by Ryan’s work as we are, definitely check out his website to view his online portfolio. And TimeLine is thrilled to congratulate Ryan on his newest endeavor — co-founding Ink Factory Studio (their motto says it all: “You talk. We draw. It’s awesome.”). It’s all about the work of “graphic recording” — creating real-time, hand drawn visuals during discussions, brainstorms or keynote speeches. If you haven’t heard much about this before, we highly recommend you check it out! We wish Ryan all the best with his new company, and we can’t thank him enough for giving us these four stunning images — paper magic, indeed — to illustrate our milestone season.

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  1. Ariel

    SO incredible! Thank you for sharing!