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What a Mess! A Pop-up Book by Keith Allen

What a Mess! A Pop-up Book by Keith Allen

For many kids out there, the hardest thing in the world is cleaning their room. I remember myself as a kid. I could make thousands of excuses, why I shouldn’t clean my room: “I like it this way”, “I don’t have time for it”, and my favorite one, “this way I know exactly where everything is” (which I constantly proved true to my mom :)).

To make the chore easier and more fun for his kids, Keith Allen decided to create his amazing pop-up book: What a Mess! A pop-up misadventure.

I first stumbled upon Keith project a few months ago. Back then the project did not have a final name yet. Keith called it “the 5am pop-up book”. And what an appropriate name it was.

Keith, like most of us, did not have a lot of time on his hands. So he had to make time. He woke up every morning at 5am and spent a few hours on his pet project. Hence the name. Since then the name has changed of course to What a Mess!.

What a Mess pop-up book page 4

Not a lot of people know the amount of work that goes into creating a pop-up book. It is an extremely time consuming process. Much more than the usual children’s book. You need nerves of steel to pull it through. It took Keith more than a year and a half to bring this book to life. Constantly repeating the same design until it is just right.

It was a real pleasure to follow Keith’s progress over time, on the Facebook page he created for the book.

I was eager to know how this amazing project is created, so Keith was kind enough to share his work process:

My pop-up development process works like this:

  1. Quickly sketch up ideas on paper to get a fast grasp of possible composition. Rough sketches. No need to invest in the details here.
  2. Build a rough pop-up concept to test the composition and folds. A lot of cutting and gluing in this stage. You need to figure out if the folds are working and fix all your mistakes. Some mistakes give creation to some amazing new concepts.
  3. When the rough mockup is working, it’s time to perfect it. You repeat it over and over again, until everything works perfectly without clashing or hanging on the page.
  4. Once everything looks good, you tear it apart, but gently. You scan everything and create the final dielines pieces you will work on. I use illustrator as my preferred tool of choice.
  5. Illustrate the final drawing onto the dielines for the finished piece.
  6. Print and cut everything up. Glue it, to make sure all is working. You now have a finished spread of the pop-up book.


What a Mess pop-up book page 5 closeup

I fell in love with Keith’s project at first sight. Keith designs and illustration are amazing. But more so, the amount of dedication that Keith poured into this project, made it even more appealing to me. I just had to pitch in, and help as much as I can.

Another reason I like this project so much, is because Keith is creating something that I dreamt of doing for a few years now. I also hope, one day, to create a pop-up book. In fact, maybe I could turn it into a profession. But for now, I am happy to live through Keith’s experience of creating his.

What a Mess pop-up book cover

After getting a lot of support and great feedback online, he decided to self-publish What a Mess! A pop-up misadventure. Keith decided to run a Kickstarter campaign to raise the needed funds, and make his dream a reality.

Check out his project, and if you find it irresistible, just like me, help make this pop-up book a reality. Head over to the campaign page, or to Keith’s site to see more materials and information about the book.

what a mess page6 closeup

what a mess page3 closeup  what a mess page2

What-a-mess-standing What-a-mess-vortex




what a mess page5 sketch

Keith Allen Working



  1. itai


    Wher could i find and buy this book? And how much its cost?


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