Who's the Che to Your Miranda?

Who's the Che to Your Miranda?

Story by Justin Moran / Photography by Rudy Willingham

You've definitely seen Rudy Willingham's art go viral across your feeds. He cut outs familiar faces in pop culture, from Mariah Carey to Beyoncé and BLACKPINK's Lisa, and sets them against bright, colorful backgrounds on the street to create stop motion clips for his millions of followers to enjoy (4M on TikTok, alone). Most recently, he collaborated with Lil Nas X on TikTok's first-ever foray into NFTs.

"I've always been obsessed with street art," says Willingham, who never uses green screens for his work."I love how it transforms everyday objects: you can turn a pipe into an elephant trunk, taillights into robot eyes or flowers into someone’s hairdo. It makes you realize that everything is art. You just have to look at it in the right way."

The Seattle artist, who's temporarily living in the Palm Springs area, has honed his process so that it has a "handmade quality" and "blends aspects of photography, design and internet culture in a way that connects with a wide range of people," he says. Having worked at advertising agencies for nearly 10 years, Willingham has become an expert in mass communication.

For Willingham's stop motions, he exports around 150 frames of video into still photos, before isolating the subject, turning the background white and making the clothes transparent in Photoshop. "Next, we print every frame and send it through a cutting machine," he explains, and then finally shoots each cutout over different backgrounds and stitches it all together. "It's a very tedious process that has caused a lot of sleepless nights."

To celebrate Valentine's Day, PAPER teamed up with Willingham on a collection of special V-Day cards, featuring our favorite relationships — real, fake and speculative — to send out to your friends and lovers. Do you connect most with Rihanna and A$AP Rocky, who just recently announced their pregnancy? Or are you more of a Che and Miranda, from And Just Like That, whose love affair is wild and... tumultuous?

Scroll and save the photos, below, or download all our cards, here!

Tom Holland and Zendaya

Rihanna and A$AP Rocky

Che and Miranda (From "And Just Like That")

Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian

Edward and Bella (From "Twilight")

Cassie, Nate and Maddy (From "Euphoria")

Photography: Rudy Willingham