What is a Cardboard Cut out?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
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  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2020
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While certain celebrities still remain officially dead, this minor technicality has not prevented many tourists from having a picture or two made with them. Whether it is Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe or the president of the United States, a life size cardboard cut out often serves as a place holder for the real thing. The real Elvis Presley may be too occupied to accommodate visitors to Graceland, but there is a cardboard cut out available for photo opportunities.

A cardboard cut out begins as a photographic image blown up to real life proportions, then printed on heavy paper stock. The print is then transferred to a sheet of corrugated cardboard or plastic to make it even sturdier. The excess cardboard is carefully trimmed around the image to make it even more realistic. The owner of the cardboard cut out can then mount it on a stand and place it in a public area for photographs or promotions.

Some cardboard cut outs serve as promotional material, featuring life-sized images of professional models or sports figures or famous celebrities. The cardboard cutouts are often placed near the products they promote, which has the effect of a professional endorsement or a favorable connection with a recognizable public figure. Such promotional items using a life-sized cardboard cut out usually become highly collectible, although many are destroyed after the promotional campaign ends.


There are a number of tourist destinations in which visitors can pay a nominal fee to pose with a cardboard cut out of a historical figure or a current celebrity. Cardboard cut outs of former and current world leaders are especially popular in capital cities around the world. Visitors to Hollywood, California can also pose with many of their favorite celebrities in the form of cardboard cut outs.

Few cardboard cut outs ever completely fool the viewer, however. A two-dimensional image will almost always look unnatural whenever three-dimensional people pose around it in a photograph. The pose and expression of a cardboard cut out never changes, which becomes obvious if several pictures are shot in a row. For a number of people, simply posing with a reasonable facsimile of a celebrity is quite sufficient.


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Post 2

@alex94- I have a friend that lives in Daytona and he actually bought a lifesize cardboard cut out of Dale Jr. from the gas station close to his house. He paid a whopping $300.00 for it! I told him that he was out of his mind!

You can look on Ebay and find hundreds of these cardboard cut out figures of famous people selling for hundreds of dollars.

Post 1

I live in Talladega, Alabama. If it weren't for Nascar, I am pretty sure nobody would even know where Talladega is. Twice a year, you can go into just about any gas station or convenience store and find cardboard figures of all the different drivers.

After the race is over, many of the store managers will sell the cardboard figures. They probably make pretty good money doing that because they are very much sought after!

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