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Artist Uses Cardboard Cutouts to Create Fantastical “Sunset Selfies”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“Some moments are beyond words.”

Watching the sunset helps you slow down and appreciate the small moments in life. But for writer and Emmy award-winning TV producer John Marshall, it’s also time to let his imagination run wild. While living alone in a small cabin on Frye Island in Maine, he watched the nightly sunsets and was inspired to start a new creative project. He challenged himself to create cut-out silhouette art that incorporates the colorful sky every day for 30 days. By the time the month was over, he was hooked; so he decided to continue his daily ritual. Today, Marshall’s series, titled Sunset Selfies, includes hundreds of playful silhouette artworks that each have a story to tell, featuring the artist himself as the main character.

Marshall uses simple cutting tools to cut out each silhouetted motif from cardboard. “As a writer and a filmmaker, I like to get away from the computer each day and make something with my hands,” he reveals. “So I get a big piece of cardboard, draw something, cut it out fast with a knife and scissors, then go pose with it at sunset.” As he sets up each image, Marshall always manages to incorporate his own silhouette into the scene.

The crafty artist creates his own worlds, where he appears to play and interact with his silhouette characters in the most charming—and often hilarious—ways. From warming his hands on dragon fire to freeing a mermaid from a plastic net, each image has its own fantastical narrative. Marshall calls his practice “cardboard magic” and believes his images are like single-panel cartoons. He even writes funny captions on each one to reveal the stories behind them.

Check out Marshall’s latest silhouette art below and follow him on Instagram for even more.

Using the sunset a a backdrop, artist John Marshall creates whimsical silhouette art from cardboard.

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“I'm not sure why you have to hold the tail of the guy in front of you. I'm just glad I'm last in line.”

His series, Sunset Selfies, features the artist himself playfully interacting with his handmade cardboard characters.

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“The plan was to attack at sunset and so I prepared for the battle ahead. Astride my armored Corgi, I felt oddly invincible, not worried in the least that her stubby yet powerful legs would keep me low to the ground and thus in the middle of the melee. No matter. In my experience, there was no more reliable steed than my beloved Annette, and I had no doubt she'd win the day again. And so after a steadying pat to her trembling flank, I raised my sword high, let out a triumphant yalp and charged headlong into the fray. OK, “charged” isn't really the right word. Annette did that funny little hop-run thing she does. But the point is…the battle began.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“My niece Emily is down visiting from Massachusetts, so I'm taking her on a few classic Florida adventures. First stop: Dolphin Riding! Anyone else want to come?”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“Hey! Who took a bite of my apple?” I asked the three Presidents. “I can not tell a lie,” George said. “I did not do it.” “They don’t call me ‘Honest Abe' for nothing,” Abraham said. “I didn’t do it either.” Then it was Donald’s turn. He swallowed what was in his mouth and simply said, “Obama!”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“I didn't ask how she got the plastic six-pack holder stuck around her neck. I was just happy to help.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“At a moment when violence and deep hatred is literally burning across our country, I offer this image as a call for peace and a prayer that one day every black boy and girl will be able to grow up in the United States with respect, opportunity and safety.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“It was a dark night; I didn't get out till well after sunset. And really, I couldn't see much. But on the bright side, I think I found the first firefly of the season.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“Okay, little guy. You can do it. Just one word and you get the treat. Can you say: John? Jaaawwwn.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“Are you ready to switch yet? I think I've had just about enough of the milk crate.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“I'd never really given it much thought… but tonight, as my brothers chirped on and on about their favorite kind of worm and my sisters pecked mites out of their feathers, the idea occurred to me that perhaps I'd been adopted.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“You know that expression: Look before you leap? Yeah, maybe a quick peek isn't a bad idea.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“When Impala Safari promises “Up Close Nature Tours,” they are not kidding.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“There's more racism over there,” I said.
“Hulk smash!” The Hulk replied.

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“When we really need one, there's nothing better than a strong friend to lean on. Someone who'll just stand there and listen. Like a giant robot.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“After the strict leash law went into effect, things got a little weird between Goofy and me.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“When I was asked to go duck hunting, this is not at all what I expected.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“True friends stay beside us when times get tough.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“Are you coming for me?” I asked Death. “Is it because of the virus?” “Oh, no,” Death replied. “I just thought I’d trim these bushes.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“Shadow thought she could jump across the canyon. I didn't think she could make it.
Then she tried.
Unfortunately, I was right.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“Of all the days to take my cow for a ride, I had to choose this one.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“It was such an honor to be in the field as the turtledoves were hatching.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“I almost never ask for directions. But when I finally admitted I was lost to a local down on the beach, he actually offered to give me a ride.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“You know when you imagine someone else's life is more comfortable than it actually is? Yeah, that's how I felt up there on that doghouse.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“Medical professionals think heat may weaken the virus, so I'm keeping my dragon close.”

Silhouette Art by John Marshall

“It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I'd ever seen, but the little penguin on my shoulder just kept talking about sardines, sardines, sardines.”

John Marshall / Sunset Selfies: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature images by John Marshall.

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Brilliant Photos Use Sunset Silhouettes to Tell Magical Visual Stories

Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
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