The Ghostly Mark Series by Matthew Shlian

A couple of years ago we took a look at Matthew Shlian’s project with his wife, Thea Augustina Eck, but we barely scratched the surface as to what this master of paper can do. The way he works the material and brings engineering into it is pretty impressive. He’s collaborated with Ghostly before on several different series’ and the art company continues their partnership by having Shlian contribute his skills to their The Ghostly Mark Series. The series is an evolving collection of various artists who interpret the Ghostly logo in their own way as part of their 15th anniversary. Doing what he does, Shlian masterfully executes a completely new version of the iconic logo by rotating the shape into a spiraling vortex out of paper. Take a look at how he made it happen, in this month’s Deconstruction.


Top view model
The first step in designing the piece is messing around with 3d modeling in Rhino. I’m pretty terrible at modeling and it usually takes a few tries to get it to do what I want to do.


Top view close up
This is working but I need to lose the eyes. They would be floating islands, plus they look a bit goofy here.


Model ¾ view
This is the stuff no one sees. Most of the layers will be discarded but look at that form.


CAD import
My next step is importing the file to CAD, which I am much more fluent in working. I use a Jurassic version of CAD (from 1993). It interfaces with the plotter cutters I use to cut so I’m happy to work with its limitations. The model comes in like this and I need to sort through the mass of lines in order to keep the ones I want and eliminate the extras.


After deleting a few extra bits I get a better idea of what this will ultimately look like. Using colored layers helps me see what I’m trying to do.


Here I’m separating the layers out to individual plot files. Each group of squares will fit on an 18 x 24 in page. This is my test piece to make sure it works. It works out okay but has too many layers – I cut them down to something more manageable.


Once the paper model works out ok and I’ve got Ghostly’s approval I make it to scale on larger sheets of paper.


Each file is cut out via a flatbed plotter cutter. The sheets are stacked, registered and glued.

The final design in white (limited edition of 100)
We wanted the piece to be the same scale as a 12 x 12 vinyl sleeve. The circle in the center is the same size as an LP label.



Final design in black (limited edition of 25)


Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.