Bending The Rules – an interview with Terry Border



Terry Border – “arteest”



Meet Terry Border – sculptor, photographer, and wizard with wire. With a pair of pliers and bit of sixteen gauge, Border masterfully reveals scenes from the inner lives of everyday household items and food stuffs you or I might otherwise overlook. From pill bottles to playing cards, pastries to peanuts, he has personified it all with visual puns and unique perspectives.


“Zombies are Nuts about Brains”- photo courtesy of Terry Border


On his blog, Bent Objects, Border has been sharing his (slightly bent) sense of humor ever since 2006. Prior to anthropomorphizing everything from peanuts to cheese doodles, he was a commercial photographer. Clearly the biz didn’t meet his creative needs, though, because before long he was sculpting with wires – first as a hobby, but soon as much, much more.



“At The Party” – photo courtesy of Terry Border

Becoming iconic wasn’t the plan, Border laughs when I suggest such a thing, but becoming something interesting to myself was.

After just three years of blogging, Border released his first book, Bent Objects: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things.

The book is filled with incredibly detailed, and sometimes twisted, scenes… each offering a glimpse into the mind that created them.



“Where There’s Pork, There’s Beans” – photo courtesy of Terry Border


Now that’s what I call a food artist.

When I see the image in my mind, the final photograph is usually very much like it. Border explains, when I ask him about his process. I have a good idea right away what it’s going to look like – I just find the objects, make some wire appendages or whatever, and then ‘sculpt’ it, for lack of a better term. There’s lots of fussing around with the lighting, and many photos before the final.

As an added bonus to working from home, Border says that after setting up a scene he often gets to eat his work. As a food photographer, I can relate!

I still remember when I first discovered Terry’s book, surfing the web and hoping to be entertained (little did I know what awaited me!). The name caught my attention first, then the cover was enough to push me over the edge – I was so eager, I believe I paid full shipping from Amazon for it. *Gasp!*

Now, a couple years later, my copy is worn – the dust jacket bent and the pages falling open to all my favorites – because nary is the occasion when this book doesn’t find its way to the table, to be shown off to family, friends, and anyone else who cares to take a gander.

Some of you may remember my Leprechaun deviled eggs, or “Drunken” Snowmen awhile back – clearly there is no secret where my inspiration came from.

Seeing first-hand how difficult it is to make wire arms and legs express a scene, I asked Terry what the most challenging part of his job was. As I should’ve known, he had the same answer I, or anyone else working for themselves, might give:
The most challenging thing is to motivate myself, sometimes. It can be easy to just ‘coast’ along and not actually do anything some days.

Falling into the creative slump, so to speak, is yet another thing I’m familiar with. As Border points out, though – his eye for creativity is always on the lookout for blog fodder. The most rewarding thing, he says, is hearing from people who enjoy my work.

Well, fortunately for us (those who enjoy his work, that is), Border has recently published a new book – Bent Objects of My Affection: the twists and turns of love.

Featuring page after page of romance-themed vignettes, this book is something to fall in love with. Plus, it not only makes for a good coffee-table conversation starter, but is a great gift for that special someone.

“Bananas At Bedtime” – photo courtesy of Terry Border

From his home town in Indiana, to traveling abroad; from art museums to cartoons, from restaurants to famous artists… Border says his inspiration comes from most anywhere. And it seems there’s hardly anywhere he isn’t willing to go.
In addition to his books and blogging, Border has a second website – the aptly titled ‘Really Bent Objects‘ – for his more graphic, or risqué, pieces. I couldn’t help but wonder if this garnered any harsh critics from his fans or the media, but Border says fortunately, very few.
I thought about combining the two [sites] last year, but my wife talked me out of it because of kids checking out Bent Objects. She’s right.

Whichever aspect of his art you lean towards most, it’s hard not to like Terry’s keen sense of humor and eye for storytelling. And, with such a range and repertoire, it’s no wonder there are rumors of an animation project in the works. It seems there are just no bounds to Border’s bendable abilities.

Like pulling out his books to show my friends and dinner guests, I hope not merely to entertain you with all this banter but to convert you to a Bent Objects lover like myself. To read the book and preach its goodness unto others… well, so to speak.
If you like what you’ve read so far, I do encourage you to check out Terry’s blog and books.

And, for your further reading pleasure:

The Blog: http://bentobjects.blogspot.com/
The Dirty Blog (enter at your own discretion): http://reallybent.blogspot.com/
Wired.com interview
Smithsonian interview
Owni interview

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14 Responses to Bending The Rules – an interview with Terry Border

  1. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes March 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    This was so great to read- nice job Willow. I am heading over to Amazon to get myself one of these books!

    What did Terry think of your own little foodie scenes – cause’ I think they are pretty wonderful :)

    • Willow March 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

      Yay – I think you’ll enjoy the books, they’re so much fun to have around. As soon as the new one came in the mail The Boyfriend and I tore off the packaging and read through it together. :)

      I’m not sure he’s seen them, actually – though I sent him the link to this post, if he’s interested in checking it out. I know he’s a busy guy, and I’m so lucky to have had a chance to chat with him. :)

    • Heidi O'Hanley June 10, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

      Terry just posted this blog in his facebook page, so from what I saw, he loved them!!! Thank you for interviewing a good friend and artist, and great work!!!

    • Willow Arlen June 10, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

      Wow, that’s wonderful! Thanks so much for telling me. It was a pleasure to have the chance to talk with him.

  2. Kavey March 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Lovely interview! I’ve been enjoying Terry’s work for a while now. Nice to see it highlighted like this.

    • Willow March 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

      Thanks – I was so excited to share this… too few people know about him. :)

  3. Kat March 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    I was wondering about what you were alluding to in a comment to the Leprechaun eggs post! These are so fascinating. It took me a few seconds to realize what was going on in the burger walking the hotdog picture (still laughing!!) Thanks for sharing about this amazing arteest!

    • Willow March 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

      Yep – this is what I was talking about! And a lot of his pictures are like that, where you have to look for a second before you get it but once you do you’re bowled over by the brilliance of it. :D

  4. Cara March 21, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    I was wondering when you were going to address the leprechaun eggs. Now it all comes together–I am so in awe of Terry! He is now one of my most favorites artists. Those bananas in bed are THE funniest things ever!! Thanks for the interview and exposing us to his work. Love.

    • Willow March 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

      My pleasure! I thought you might like him. :)

  5. From Valeries Kitchen March 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Oh wow!!! I had wondered where you got the inspiration for those posts! I loved those little snowmen so much Willow. You really did a great job on styling those photos.

    • Willow March 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

      Thank you! I certainly tried, but Terry Border really has mastered the art. I have a long ways to go. :)

  6. Jen @ Juanita's Cocina March 23, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    This is SO amazing. I don’t know why, but I can’t comment at work. So, I sent myself a link at home so I could come here tonight and comment.

    I’m partial to the slippery bananas…

    That is all…

    • Willow March 23, 2012 at 2:52 am #

      Thanks, Jen! Sorry to hear the comments aren’t working right… I’ve gotten a few complaints, and back at the beginning of this blog my dad said he couldn’t comment at all. He solved the problem by telling his computer to allow cookies from both Blogger and Blogspot. I wonder if that might be the same problem others are having, because I’ve heard it for other google blogs as well. Sadly, I don’t see there’s much I can do about it…

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