Pop-up book creator and author Chuck Fischer is our personal hero. He creates the most beautiful artwork and has been a pop-up book author for more than 15 years. Chuck has many books to his name including classic Christmas pop-up titles like Christmas Around the World, Christmas in New York, A Christmas Carol and his latest Christmas release The Gingerbread White House. He has collaborated with some of the best Paper Engineers like David Hawcock, Bruce Foster and recently with Robert Sabuda for their joint pop-up venture campaign at Indiegogo called LegacyPop. We’re honored that we had the opportunity to ask Chuck about his work and how his career as a pop-up book creator started.
BPUB – You make the most beautiful artwork for pop-up books but there’s so much more that you design. Can you tell us something about all the things you create as an artist?
CF – I started my career in New York City as a muralist and decorative painter, in the world of high-end interior design. I then started licensing my art and designs and created various products for the home. I continue to design wallpaper and fabric, and one of my china collections for the American brand, Lenox, has been in the marketplace for 15 years.
BPUB – What was your first introduction to the World of pop-ups and how did you get involved creating pop-up books?
CF – I had a few pop-up books as a child, but I became interested in them in the late 1990’s when I discovered Robert Sabuda’s all white paper pop-up books. Robert’s books were so sculptural and inspiring as design objects, but I didn’t think about creating one. I did have an idea for an illustrated book based on my decorative painting and architectural renderings. A friend of mine wanted to be a literary agent, and I needed one, so we started sending out my book proposal.
“Out of the blue he asked if I would consider creating a pop-up book”
I received many “complimentary” rejections, but the publisher at Rizzoli USA liked my artwork, just not my proposal. He visited me in my studio and saw some three dimensional pieces I was working on for one of my china collections and out of the blue he asked if I would consider creating a pop-up book. Of course I said yes, and he put me in touch with paper engineer David Hawcock and about a year and a half later my first pop-up book, Great American Houses and Gardens was published by Rizzoli/Universe.
Chuck Fisher posing in front of beautiful blow-ups of his Christmas in New York pop-up book for The East shopping mall’s holiday decorations in Hong Kong a few years ago.
BPUB – You have to love Christmas to create such beautiful Christmas artwork?
CF – I do love Christmas and I grew up in a family that celebrated Christmas in a very big and traditional way.
BPUB – Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from for your artwork?
CF – I like to travel and visit historic house museums, art museums, and libraries and I like to tailor my trips to have a general focus on some current project I’m working. For instance when I created Great American Houses and Gardens I visited all of the places in the book before I started any sketching, thanks to this I realized how important it is to design your outdoor living spaces to feel comfortable in your own space. I worked on the outline for my pop-up book Angels in Rome, and I did some research at the Charles Dickens museum in London before I started working on A Christmas Carol Pop-up book. I also do a lot of research at libraries and on the internet.
BPUB – Of all pop-up books you’ve created so far, what is your dearest and why?
CF – If I have to choose, I would say Christmas in New York, because I love Christmas, I love New York City especially a Christmastime and it reminds me of Christmas traditions from my childhood.
BPUB – Wouldn’t it be great to create a classic pop-up Christmas advent calendar?
CF – I would love to create a Christmas Advent calendar. I have an advent calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art that I put out in my living room every year.
BPUB – You and Bruce Foster have created many pop-up books together. Can you tell us how the cooperation between you and Bruce Foster started?
CF – I had a great time working with paper-engineer David Hawcock, who lives in Bath, England on my first three books, but my publisher, Little, Brown & Co. asked if I would look in to finding a paper engineer who lived in the US for my next book. I had recently received an pop-up invitation to an exhibit of Ellen Rubin, The Pop-Up Lady’s book collection and I really like the engineering. I asked Ellen who made it and she told me about Bruce so I called him. We hit it off and started our collaboration with Christmas Around The World, A Pop-Up Book published in 2006.
Chuck Fischer’s work represented in a Chinese item about pop-up books.
BPUB – When you design a pop-up spread, do you already consider the way the pop-up is constructed?
CF – I do consider construction when I’m designing a spread for a book. I sketch and paint a rendering of what the general shape, type and height of the pop-ups will look like before Bruce starts his paper engineering magic.
BPUB – How does this work? Do you design them flat or in the form of a three dimensional pop-up?
CF – I sketch a spread as I envision it will look in the finished book before doing any of the original art.
BPUB – We’re just curious, do you also create pop-ups yourself?
CF – I create simple pop-ups all of the time to send as cards and I have lectured and led workshops for adults and children about the history of pop-ups, etc.
BPUB – Do you have plans for a new pop-up book anytime soon? Or maybe any other plans or projects for 2018 that you would like to share with us?
CF – I’ve been working with Robert Sabuda on a pop-up stationery company, LegacyPop. I will continue to work on LegacyPop in 2018 as well as other movable book ideas I want to show my publisher when they are ready. (Click here for more info about the LegacyPop project.)
BPUB – What kind of Christmas card are you going to send this year?
CF – I am adapting some of the LegacyPop architectural pop-up cards with paper wreath and ribbon designs to make them more Christmasy.
BPUB – Thank you Chuck for this interview!
Coming up: Video review of Christmas in New York
We will publish a full video review of Chuck Fischer’s pop-up book Christmas in New York at the end of next week. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and be the first to see it. Stay tuned!
Image credits: Chuck Fischer