Positive Connections: Kansas teen wows internet with tape art

Kansas

SALINE COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas teen is wowing the world with his unique take on tape.

“I never expected it to get big at all,” said Luke Van Tassel.

Van Tassel, 19, is in his freshman year of college at Pacific Lutheran University in Washington State. When the coronavirus hit the United States in late March and early April, the Saline County native found himself spending a lot of time in his dorm room. He turned to the internet, specifically TikTok, for some entertainment.

“I was looking for some content. It was the beginning of quarantine, so I posted the piece I made back when I was a sophomore and it did pretty well and I was like, ‘you know what I should get back into this,’ so I started making more,” Van Tassel explained.

More included tape portraits of President-Elect Joe Biden, actor Chadwick Boseman, and Supreme Court Justine Ruth Bader Ginsburg to name a few.

He posted his final products on TikTok. Within in a few hours, he had racked up hundreds of thousands of views and likes.

“It’s a bizarre app in the way that it is able to make certain videos go viral so easily,” he said.

Many viewers asked Van Tassel how he was able to transform a few pieces of tape into a work of art.

He said it all starts with a sketch.

“I will draw a picture on a piece of paper. Then, I layer all of the tape on that piece of paper. From there, I start with the darks usually and I will layer a bunch of pieces together before I even cut it out. Once they are layered, I will cut it out from there,” he said.

Van Tassel shows a finished art piece before holding it up to a light.

Van Tassel said the more tape, the darker the shade. However, the image does not come to life until he puts it in front of a light source.

“It’s interesting because it looks like nothing. I mean you can kind of tell it’s something, but then once you do hold it up to that light and that’s when it really does shine through,” he said.

That shine does come with some obstacles. Van Tassel, who is skilled in oils, pen and ink, woodworking and watercolor, said tape is not the easiest medium to work with.

“Tape is so sticky,” he laughed. “Sometimes you put tape over tape and you realize you need to take some of the stuff underneath out once you have already put more on top and you can’t do that.”

Even then Van Tassel’s followers don’t seem to mind. Many of them have inquired about purchasing a piece. Van Tassel said he has sold a few, but school remains his first priority.

“It’s not really about the money for me. I don’t want it to become a chore, so I mostly just do it for myself,” Van Tassel explained.

Of the dozens of inquiries, Van Tassel said he was most excited when the Baltimore Ravens asked him to make their logo out of tape. He gladly did.

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