Art History Paper Dolls (they work as action figures too!)

My name is Kyle Hilton. I’ve been an freelance illustrator for the past 5 years, and now, somehow, an official Chronicle Books author!

And by “author” I mean I drew a bunch of pictures and wrote a total of one paragraph. So, as you you can imagine, I’m a natural candidate for a Chronicle Blog Guest Post. Let’s begin!

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This is my new book, Art History Paper Dolls, an interactive, and completely cuttable book featuring 16 giants of the world of art history. Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and…14, 13, 12 more. And we jammed as much fun and interesting info about them as we could to make these dolls an educational experience.

With the help of editor wiz Christina Amini, we came up with a special format for presenting these historical figures in a fun new way. Each artist comes with one of their most famous works, accessories from their various, eccentric lives, and all kinds of fun facts scattered throughout. Developing a fun-looking format for the book was the most challenging and fun part.  I took a lot of cues from toy packaging, the kind of action figures I collected as a kid, with all the tiny floating pieces and graphic call-outs. A format that I always felt screamed “this is the most official toy of this character ever.” So that was the goal for the format of this book. Sadly, Art History Paper ACTION FIGURES is a misleading title…


We decided it would make for more dynamic pages and a more authentic learning experience if we depicted the sizes of their paintings, sculptures, and what-have-you relative to their actual real-life size. And some of these guys worked big, so we had to find some creative solutions. Cramming all 17 feet of the David in a 32 page book is trickier than you think…


Using the power of The Internet and a nice stack of books, I tracked down the easels and materials used by each artist. I didn’t want to get laughed out of another art history class (hey Mrs. Goggins!), so these had to be as authentic as possible. Or, as authentic as my limited, cartoony drawing skills could muster.


And a paper doll book lends itself to some fun, scissor-friendly moments in art history, from Matisse’s own famous cut-outs to cutting off Van Gogh’s ear!


So after several months of sketching, researching and editing, Art History Paper Dolls was born! With the incredible direction of Chronicle Books, this ended up being more than just a set of dress-able dolls, but what I hope is a really fun way to learn about the work and lives of these weird and wonderful giants of art history.

Hope you enjoy!


There were a few “artists” that didn’t quite make the cut.  Two in particular I wanted to include, but the editors-at-be felt were a little too modern-day for the book. But I was allowed to share them here!

A Chronicle Blog exclusive, here are two “Art History Outtakes.”



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