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Pop-up Design Genius DAVID CARTER Joins Us and Answers a Few Important Questions

October 7, 2011

Today David Carter, pop-up paper engineering genius tells us about his work, inspiration and what’s next.

What book made the strongest impression on you as a child?

 About 10 years ago, on a visit to my mom’s home in Bountiful, Utah, she brought out a book she had found in an old box in the garage. The book didn’t have a cover and when she handed it to me I saw the illustrations of cowboys and Indians, which brought on a wave of wonderful childhood memories. As a child, I was fascinated with the stories and illustrations in this book of cowboys and Indians and I had a crush on the little pioneer girl with her pony. At that point in my career I had published many books and had studied illustration for many years but I did not remember this book about cowboys and Indians until my mom handed it to me. The title was a mystery because the cover was missing, and there was no information about the author, illustrator or publisher in the interior. I kept the book, I still have it today, and began the search for the title and illustrator. Years later, while visiting Books of Wonder in New York for a book signing, I told this story to a friend who is publisher’s sales rep. As I signed my books, she returned with the book I had described. It was Gustav Tengreen’s Cowboys and Indians, published by Golden Books, that had been my most beloved book as a child. I recall that I was also very fond of The Biggest Bear and of course, Green Eggs and Ham, which was the first book I read on my own.  

What is one thing about you that would surprise your readers?

 I think it might surprise people that I have double vision, I see two of everything. It may also surprise some that even though I am considered an author, I do not consider myself to be a writer and that I consider my books to be art books. 

Are you working on a new book?

 I usually work on about 3 to 5 projects at a time, all in various stages. I have just finished LOTS OF BOTS for Random House and we are now working on an app that is associated with the book called BOTS GARAGE. I have also just finished the paper engineering for THE LORAX POP-UP, also for Random House. I am working on a new book in my Pop Art series, tentatively titled HIDE & SEEK to be published in the fall of 2012 by the French Publisher Albin Michel and I am about to deliver a pop-up that will be used in the Pop-Up Album version of the British band Coldplay’s new album Mylo Xyloto. And I’m adding new titles to my Bugs in a Box series. On my drawing table are stacks of Moleskine notebooks full of ideas ready to hatch.

 What has your favorite event experience been so far? 

The last 25 years working in publishing has been one big incredible experience. I have met and worked with the nicest people you could imagine and I always enjoy the book signings where I have the opportunity to meet children and their parents. As for my work, the most fulfilling project so far has been my Pop-Art series, One Red Dot, Blue 2, 600 Black Spots, Yellow Square and White Noise. I consider these books to be my art.


What inspired you to create pop-ups?

 I had been in Los Angeles for about a year where I had a successful career as a starving artist and illustrator. I will never forget the night that I walked into the offices of the pop-up book packager Intervisual Communications on a freelance assignment and saw on the drawing table Jan Pienkowski’s original artwork for his pop-up book Robot. I had never seen anything like it, the art, the pop-ups, and I knew right there and then that this is something I needed to do.  

What is one piece of advice you would like to give to aspiring authors?

I suggest that aspiring authors and illustrators follow their heart and listen to their gut instincts. There will be times when you need to compromise, which is fine, but whenever possible do what you feel is right for the integrity of your work.


Do you ever experience writer’s block?

 Creativity is a mysterious power that I still do not completely understand and most likely never will. I very rarely experience complete bIocks but I do experience ebbs and flows. This is one of the reasons I work on multiple projects at the same time, if I am having trouble with one, I move to another. This change of scene usually clears my mind so that when I go back to a project I am looking at things from a different point of view. If I need to clear my head completely I do something physical, I go skiing, or in the summer, I dig holes in my garden or hike or put my kayak on a lake.


Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans? 

I hope my work tickles your mind and, please, touch the artwork.


Many thanks to David Carter for joining us today!

Please let us know what you think in our comments section.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2011 8:18 am

    Oh my gosh, I am a complete pop-up nerd! My son had How Many Bugs in a Box? and we spend countless hours with that book!

    Is he serious about double vision? How in the world does he draw – or drive?

  2. Judy permalink
    October 8, 2011 8:36 am

    I love Carter’s pop-ups and have bought his whole series of pop art books, not only for myself but as gifts for friends and my grandchildren! I’m thrilled to see new books being released. Looks like my Christmas shopping just got easier! Thanks for highlighting this delightful artist.

  3. October 9, 2011 8:51 am

    Pop ups make me happy. One Red Dot was a gift and I was hooked. Thanks for this article

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