PSFK Talks To Mark Langan of Corrugated Art

PSFK Talks To Mark Langan of Corrugated Art

PSFK talks with artist Mark Langan to get insight on the future of art and technology.

Kyle Studstill
  • 8 december 2009

PSFK has been talking with artists and innovators that we’ve covered over the past year to get their insight on the future of art and technology.

Artist Mark Langan has figured out a beautiful way of reusing corrugated cardboard as a medium for his artworks. Using only found cardboard, non-toxic glue and cutting tools,Langan creates intricate three dimensional pieces that recontextualize the unique qualities of the different kinds of packing materials into new meanings.

Langan’s work has been commissioned for projects looking to draw upon the medium’s innovate and green-minded use of materials, including Ripley’s Entertainment, Mars M&M, (much of his artwork is comprised primarily from the use of M&M candy and kitchen cabinet boxes), and DavidArquette’s PROPR line of clothing.

What projects or ideas are currently inspiring your work?

A good number of my artistic creations have been for corrugated and related businesses for the obvious reasons being the connection to it. What a great thing to market as in having art created from exactly what you manufacture. Although many are logo renditions I place my unusual spin on things to create sculpture that it unique and intriguing.

I have used many different mediums throughout my life but I honestly have a passion with boxes. In order for people to see it respectively in a new life, I’ve been working on my personal ideas/concepts so that it is viewed one might say apart from a commercial aspect. That is, I’ve been making a number of pieces for my own enjoyment that I can bring to shows and events and place on exhibit more liken traditional art.

Lately my goals have been to fashion my art doing renditions of Great Master’s works so these iconic or familiar images are refashioned now into this “green” medium. I recently sold an artwork of mine to Ripley Entertainment in that of a sculptural version the old Army recruitment poster stating “I Want You…” whereas I changed the bottom script to read “To Recycle” and placed the recycling symbol of chasing arrows behind my version of Uncle Sam.

As of the past week I’ve been working on connections with the Campbell Soup Company and the Andy Warhol Museum as am doing my version of Andy Warhol’s “soup can” art. Mine of course three dimensionally but with another twist in being that I’m going to utilize Campbell’s Soup Can corrugated cartons to comprise the actual art. I’ve been working with my localBuehler’s grocery store in having the Manager save for me after stocking piles of the boxes. We’ve got a little ways to go but I’m getting ready to start. As you can another wonderful way my art can be marketed a number of ways just on one particular piece. This also would include any Warhol collectors as well as perhaps involvement from the Grocery chain as they have their own green initiatives too.

What has been the most interesting response or reaction to your project? Have there been any surprising uses of your cardboard art?

What surprises me most I guess is that I receive emails from all about the globe with people telling me how much inspiration my art brings them. A great many of these letters are from teachers who kindly ask if there is any way I would divulge “my secret” to creating this art. I am very flattered that my art has made an impression on them in some sort of way and I am happy to individually write back each and every one with answers to their questions. There’s really no secret to it but I must admit most would not bother to tackle it because you must have a lot of patience. I normally will log in a 100 plus hours for each artwork and I can safely say that the good majority of them entail 1000 or more individual pieces. It’s more of technique and practice to achieve good results.

As far as unusual uses for my art excluding the norm as in a boardroom or lobby adornment, it makes an awesome sound diffuser. I’ve had clients that have purchased my work on top of it’s aesthetics to place in a sound or music room for it wonderful diffusing properties.

What is something you look forward to being able to do in the future with emerging technologies?

I still do things the old fashioned way as far as building the art. My thoughts first, then concept drawings rendered simply onto paper on drafting table and then transferred over to the actual art in frame using carbon paper. I laugh…as I’m happy I saved those two large boxes I had of carbon paper from a prior employment years back after we discarded the old IBM Selectric.

The greater part of the technology I do most certainly use though is through the gathering of information perhaps of a client or reference, maintaining a web site presence on theinternet , sending digital imagery off to prospective clients. Things such as this blog here are an awesome way to gain exposure for my art and I am much appreciated thatPSFK found me. It truly makes it a very small world when it comes right down to it.

What do you see as the best and worst technology-driven trends emerging in art and design?

This is perhaps the toughest question to answer as all have pros and cons. My personal preference for my own art has been the “hands on” approach to things. I just love working and creating using nothing more than my hands and some rudimentary tools and materials. The satisfaction of making something from nothing (especially ones garbage) is a good feeling.

There is nothing wrong with using the “state of the art” technology such as CAD and photo programs to assist the Artist or for that matter even creating the art period. Things evolve, times change and even more so quicker each day. If it allows one to express oneself and makes people think it’s all a wonderful thing. Just a simple look back a decade into my life I was into photography. Back then there was the mega waste of equipment, ones time, paper, chemicals, storage space alone as in as in photo albums, etc. My gosh, the impact of this specific industry development alone is environmentally a huge positive.

What is your take on how people are using technology and art to better connect with either each other or their environments?

The success of any Artist I would gather is in promotion and exposure. In my younger years I would paint, sculpt or draw something incredible and keep it in my home. I was going no where with it for the obvious reasons (unbeknownst unfortunately to me at the time) as no one was seeing it. Today it’s not so much about the art but more of the privilege of being able to create it. The gift of your time, the donation of your art and talents, tithing of your profits in which you sell, they all become part of the larger picture from it.

Technology as simple as the internet and a home computer allow for a vast majority to easily see what you do. In a matter of an hour or less I can find thru search engines an unbelievable cache of information and potential businesses, organizations or individuals to target my work to. It has allowed me to also see and enjoy what many other environmentally friendly Artist’s are doing as well. My hopes are that my art has inspired people to take a look at their own personal consumption and to make some change no matter how small…period! In my own connections with “like minded” individuals it has inspired me to rethink the way I do things as well. Thank you so much.

Thanks Mark!

Mark Langan


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