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Novel Meanings: Art by Emma Lehto

A cut paper artwork made from an issue of Newton's IllustratedCollage 1: Helmut Newton's Illustrated: No. 1, cut paper (collage)

Emma Lehto is a typographical artist based in Vancouver, BC. Emma often creates her works using a reductive process, cutting away portions of ubiquitous found texts to create images with novel meanings.

A detail of a cut paper work made from an issue of a magazineRejected: Playgirl Magazine #2 (detail), cut paper, paper sculpture

I’m enjoying Emma’s works in which her exacto-knife cuts are guided by the shapes of human figures, on the covers and pages of magazines and art books. Removing material by following the outline of the original image creates a cut piece that suggests the original figure, while forming a totally new object. By altering the pattern and direction of her cuts within the shapes, Emma creates interesting patterns that speak to an entirely new image, becoming a sort of concrete poetry.

The front page of Emma Lehto's art websiteThe front page of Emma's art website,


In her Positive Space series Emma cuts entire figures – and only figures – out of photographic spreads in fashion magazines. The resulting images are an interesting exercise in negative space. Though the figures have been removed from the photo frame, the colorful, contoured voids that they leave behind seem packed with even more visual information.

A copy of Fruits magazine with figures cut out of the cover pagePositive Space: Fuits Cover, cut paper

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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