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Project 1: 'Celebrity Box' | Che Guevara

Brief Our first project for this module required us to design and create a box that represented the celebrity/historical figure we were randomly given. The cube could be as bizarre as we wanted as long as it communicated a reasonable about of information about the person, didnt break out of the dimensions (200x200x200mm) and didn't include the persons face.

Research To begin we had to thoroughly investigate the person we were given. I was given the historical figure Che Guevara, who I had practically zero knowledge of, so after very thorough research online I manage to get my head around who he was and why he was an important person in our history. Ernesto "Che" Guevara was a Marxist revolutionary leader, particularly during the Cuban Revolution. He was born in Argentina into a middle class family and studied medicine at the University of Buenos Aires​. During his travels across South America he witnessed the extremely poor living conditions, leading him to believe only revolution could bring them justice. During the late 1950s, he aided Fidel Castro in overturning the Batista government. He was later captured in Bolivia where he was executed in 1967. I then took my visual research and created a mood board/collage. I include images of Cuban symbols such as their national bird and flower, as well as symbols related to revolution.

Initial Ideas

After researching I began to get some initial ideas down on paper; ways I could represent Guevara without using his face or name in my finished piece.

​One of the ideas that stuck was to represent him using an animal that I thought could match his personality and the way he looked. He seemed to be a very strong minded person with lots of leadership-like qualities. A raven is a very intelligent and cunning bird, and due to them having black feathers I thought it was a good match.

​I did also think about using the Cuban national bird, but seeing as he wasn't born in Cuba and the bird itself was very colourful I didn't think it would match his persona as well so I stuck with the raven.

I then started to think more about how to design the box itself. I decided I would make my box inspired by a peep show box theatre, adding dimension using layers of different images related to Guevara.

Some of my ideas involved making it look like a sort of 'box of curiosities', inspired by the work of Joseph Cornell, filling it with little trinkets related to the figure such as maps, bullets, flags, cigars and propaganda posters.

I also started to think about how I wanted the outside of the box to look. At least three sides had to be decorated with nothing going outside the dimensions so I thought I would just paint the outside using colours inspired by the Cuban flag.

Mock Ups

​Here I was experimenting a little with how exactly I wanted the outside of the box to look as I wasn't sure whether to do it exactly like the flag with the stars or just inspired by it. I leaned more towards the latter as I thought too many stars would be overpowering and I preferred using the big star on the top by itself instead.


I needed to create a box that had an open front to it, but so I could also lift the top off in order to insert the inside layers properly. Using scrap MDF and some help from a technician, I created a very sturdy, well constructed cube with a slide out top so I could accomplish this. After being painted and all elements put inside the top would no longer need to be removed and would be more of a seamless cube, apart from the open front.

After the cube as finished, I started working on the inside elements. Taking an image of a raven, I used Procreate to edit a beret onto its head similar to the one Guevara was often seen wearing, as well as his iconic cigar. I also tried to make its face look more stern and determined.

Final Piece

It then came to adding all the elements together. I started with painting the outside and areas of the inside using acrylic paint and sandpaper to make it look more old and worn away, like a gun crate from the war.

I then pasted images of maps related to Cuba and his travels around South America at the back, representing that being the beginning of his motivations. The next layer I pasted onto some thick foam board to give it more sturdiness and a 3D-effect. I used an image of a Cuban street for this. The bottom I used an image of some gravel to give the impression of destruction and war. The layers in the foreground included the image I create of Guevara as a raven as well as a flag and some bullets to further indicate the revolution.

Overall, I am happy with the outcome considering it was so much out of my comfort zone; researching a historical figure I had no idea about in addition to creating a physical 3D object. The only thing I would seek to improve on in the future is the materials I used to create the inside elements as they didn't look as clean and sharp as I would of liked, mainly due to cutting skills and printer quality.

However, I love how the layers give the piece dimension and encourage the viewer to look deeper, much like Guevara himself.


Images used in final project (all found using Google Images):



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