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Downtime doodling creates a #corrugatedartist, cardboard classics

What started as downtime doodling has earned Jordan Fretz of Simpsonville finalist honors in the prestigious international Communication Arts Magazine competition.

Known by the hashtag #corrugatedartist on Instagram, Fretz began drawing on salvaged cardboard to unwind from hours of digital illustrating as associate creative director at Jackson Marketing, Motorsports & Events in Greenville. Armed with black and white charcoal pencils, a kneaded eraser and a Q-tip, he began creating cardboard portraits of people and animals.

The portraits led to local exhibitions, commissioned works and art auctions where a framed Fretz “Panda on Cardboard” sold for $800 to benefit Greenville’s Triune Mercy Center. And along with the awareness of his corrugated creations came lots and lots of cardboard.

“I started getting emails and calls from friends who had bought a new sofa or a new refrigerator, asking if I wanted the cardboard,” says Fretz. “It escalated pretty quickly. I don’t have to dumpster dive for cardboard anymore.”

With all that cardboard, you’d think Fretz would be discerning – looking for that perfect piece. But integrating spots, tears, holes, shipping tape and labels into the illustration is part of the fun. At some point, he even began cutting back the smooth surface of the cardboard in places to reveal the corrugated layer for a three-dimensional look. That’s what led to the “everyday worker” campaign that he submitted to Communication Arts.

One campaign illustration features a brick mason at work. The smooth surface of the cardboard is cut away to reveal the look of brick. In the second illustration, the corrugated layer resembles fresh mown grass, and in the third, a painted wall.

“Getting into the Communication Arts Magazine with some cardboard Illustrations is a goal, for sure,” Fretz said. “It’s a big pub for designers to gain inspiration and see some amazing agency work.”

So big, in fact, that more than 3,800 entries were submitted for the 2020 Communications Arts Annuals. Fretz’s cardboard campaign made the shortlist, representing about 30 percent of the total submissions. But only about 10 percent from the shortlist makes it into the magazine.

“Next year, game on,” Fretz vows.

Meanwhile, #corrugatedartist is continuing with commissioned works and experimenting with new ideas like custom coffee sleeves. He’s even looking for a nonprofit organization that can benefit from a cardboard illustration campaign.

“For me, it’s about getting off the computer and being creative,” Fretz says. “If people want to buy it, that’s cool, for sure.”

See more from Jordan Fretz on Instagram @jordanfretzart.

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