Talking Paper Totem! Year One with Dolly Oblong

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May 1st, 2010
: "Today it's exactly one year since the launch of the Paper Totem! project, and it has been quite a year: with 99 unique designs, 36 brilliant artists from around the world and over 133729 downloads, the first totem year has gone far far beyond my greatest expectations. Thanks so much to all of you involved!" ~says Dolly Oblong [via Flickr].

CLICK on above image to view in full the Collector's Checklist for Year One, and CLICK THRU for a TOYSREVIL x Totem-Q&A with Dolly, and check out www.dollyoblong.com to download your free Paper Totem! to collect + build + stack!

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TOYSREVIL: First off ~Congrats on the anniversary! So how did the "Paper Totem!" concept come about? How long did it take from concept to final template?

DOLLY OBLONG: The concept of Paper Totem! kind of unfolded (excuse the pun… :) when I was taking some snapshots of a stack of paper toys I designed for the magazine Smash. This towering trio reminded me a bit of a totem pole, and I figured "hey it might be fun to use this shape as a blank canvas for a custom project…."

So I made some adjustments to the original model to keep the construction as basic as possible. This way the pieces are also easy to custom by artists unfamiliar with paper toys. From initial concept to submitting the first templates to some of the artists I admire, was only a matter of days! Thankfully quite a few accepted the invitation and started customizing totem pieces...

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TOYSREVIL: Why Artist Collaborations?

DOLLY OBLONG: Well traditionally, totems supported larger groups than the individual, and each animal / spirit carved on the pole represents a distinctive meaning or style. Together, the different elements strengthen each other and form a larger artwork.

For Paper Totem! I envisioned one GI-NOR-MOUS totem made from many many multi-coloured mascots in a wide variety of styles and designs. One has to dream big here… ;) so I asked the help of artists worldwide to each imprint a piece of totem with their own unique style and vision. For me this is the most fun part: getting in touch and collaborating with artists and designers from around the globe, who all do their own brilliant thing.

The collaborations also help to keep it fresh & interesting for people to collect + build + stack!

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TOYREVIL: Put you on the spot here: Which has been your Fav Collab Piece (so far)? And Why?

DOLLY OBLONG: Oohh that’s a tricky one… It’s like having to pick a favourite Treeson heh! I think my fav collab piece would be the one made with the guys (Nick Knite, Loulou, Sjors Trimbach, MCK and Marshall Alexander) at the opening of the Urban Paper NL show last year. They each hand drew on a blank with some markers, and it was absolutely priceless to see all the pieces coming together on the spot.

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TOYSREVIL: What’s up next for Paper Totems!? What's the next level of evolution going to be like?

DOLLY OBLONG: The project is ongoing, and the blank is still being sent to invited artists and designers. Ultimately, there is no real aim with the Paper Totem! project other than keeping the quality as high as possible and having a wide variety of styles incorporated in the totem. The next level would be to showcase these pieces at a cool venue, so if there’s anyone out there owning a gallery space…? :D

Somewhere in the future I also hope to create totem pieces out of other materials than paper… So onwards and upwards! :)

TOYSREVIL: Cheers for your time and trouble, D! In closing, please do share with us, Who Is Dolly Oblong?

DOLLY OBLONG: I’m a plush + paper toy designer, who loves making characters from wool, felt and paper ranging from cuddleable to cuttable ^__^ The overall style of my characters could be described as cute with a twist. I *heart* doodles, noodles and toys, toys, toys…

DOLLY OBLONG @ www / etsy / twitter

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