10 inspirational examples of kirigami

These amazing sculptures are created from a single sheet of paper using only folds and cuts.

Over the past couple of years, the paper craft of kirigami has seen a huge surge in popularity, In two principal forms – two-dimensional cut paper art from the likes of Rob Ryan, and three-dimensional sculptures that project different planes above the background – kirigami has gained an enormous amount of popularity, making some artists rightly famous.

You can get started with 3D kirigami by reading our tutorial on the subject, but in the meantime check out our hand-picked selection of 10 amazing kirigami artworks and sculptures that will leave you feeling inspired and in awe.

When something is so good that you struggle to understand the mechanics of how it works or how it was created, it feels a little bit like magic. Some of the examples below certainly fall into this category. So, without further ado, let's get onto our 10 most inspiring examples of Kirigami paper art!

01. Cut Scene by Marc Hagan-Guirey

'War on Hoth', 2015, part of Marc's star wars inspired exhibition. Image courtesy of Marc Hagan-Guirey

Marc Hagan-Guirey is well known for his intricate Kirigami sculptures, and for this exhibition he crafted a series of Star Wars-inspired "cut scenes" representing key moments in the movies including the cryogenic freezing of Han Solo, the Cloud City Reactor Core confrontation between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, and the bunker on Endor (complete with Death Star sitting in the sky above!).

This set of Kirigami sculptures is inspiring for its ability to connect with a commonly understood set of visual references, while being incredibly detailed and creative in the use of the medium. Each scene is cut from 210gsm A4 paper.

02. Escher series by Ingrid Siliakus

This sculpture in a series of four plays with the art and ideas of MC Escher. Image copyright Ingrid Siliakus

Dutch paper artist Ingrid Siliakus crafted this MC Escher-inspired artwork as part of a series of four for a personal project in 1999. This series is just one example of many waiting to be found on his website, where you can lose yourself for hours in the intricate details of his work. It's well worth a visit to get ideas and inspiration for your own work.

03. Kirigami Works by Kanako Yaguchi

Details from intricate paper cuts by Kanako Yaguchi. Image courtesy of Kanako Yaguchi

Japanese artist Kanako Yaguchi produces intricate, pure Kirigami works that capture the essence of the medium and use it to help convey feeling and movement. These works are typically symmetrical and appear simple at first sight, but further exploration reveals a hidden complexity and detail.

04. My Heart, My Love by Rob Ryan

'My Heart, My Love', 2015, by Rob Ryan. Image courtesy of Rob Ryan

Rob Ryan is well known for his paper-cut artwork, working on commissions for the likes of Vogue, Elle and Stylist, as well as for his own growing army of fans through the sale of calendars and other licensed goods. As well as cutting, Rob is known for his spray painting and screen-printing techniques, which add further dimension and depth to the art he's producing.

05. Intricate cuts by Hina Aoyama

Hina produces unbelievably finely cut kirigami artworks. Image courtesy of Hina Aoyama

The over-arching first impression on seeing work produced by Hina Aoyama is that it just shouldn't be possible to create such delicate, finely cut art from paper alone. Showing incredible skill and patience, Hina creates intricate, detailed and lace-like pieces that show jaw-dropping skill and vision.

06. Cut, Fold & Highscore by Marc Hagan-Guirey

This piece pays homage to Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi who died in 2013. Image courtesy of Marc Hagan-Guirey

Another example of Marc Hagan-Guirey work, this personal project reflects on the impact Hiroshi Yamauchi made to the world of consoles and home computing. The former-Nintendo president was the driving force behind such platforms as the Gameboy, N64, and games including Super Mario Bros and Zelda. Marc created an in-homage piece that also references machines from Sega, Atari and Sony while celebrating the man.

07. Paperplants by Yuko Yamamoto

Yuko creates intricate hand-cut paper flowers and foliage. Image courtesy of Yuko Yamamoto

Yoko Yamamoto produces contemporary-feeling, intricate paper kirigami sculptures around a theme of plants. Drawing inspiration from flowers and foliage, the completed works are wonderfully three-dimensional and substantial, while retaining the delicate lines of the subject matter and the medium. Visit her website for much more inspirational material!

08. Ribbon Dancer by Bovey Lee

Detail from Ribbon Dancer by Bovey Lee. Image courtesy of Bovey Lee

Bovey Lee produces amazingly detailed works from rice paper. Working from her studio in Los Angeles, Bovey has exhibited in galleries and museums across the states, and has work features in over a dozen books. We love this piece which is representative of the finely detailed and intricate, beautiful work she produces using rice paper.

09. Papercuts by Beatrice Coron

Detail from Lumières, On Tourne! by Beatrice Coron, 2015. Image courtesy of Beatrice Coron

Beatrice Coron is an internationally renowned artist and, more recently, TED speaker who has had commissions from the likes of Hugo Boss and the New York Times. Her work centres around the art of story-telling, and she doesn't limit herself to paper as a medium; some of her public art works are forged from metal sheets or cut glass, but follow the same principles of removing the parts of a story's that don't apply to reveal the underlying narrative within the medium.

10. Saxophone by Akira Nagaya

Nagaya's paper cuts are incredibly detailed to the extent that they appear to be pencil sketches in many cases. Image courtesy of Akira Nagaya

Although most paper sculptures take on three dimensions, these sublime cuts made by Japanese artist Akira Nagaya definitely fit into the kirigami sculpture category. So intricate they often look like pencil sketches, Nagoya's work is equally baffling and awe-inspiring!

Have you found some inspiring examples of Kirigami and paper cutting that we've missed? Post links to your favourites, and let us know what you think of our selection in the comments below, on Twitter or via Facebook.

Words: Sam Hampton-Smith

Sam Hampton-Smith is a freelance author and front-end designer/developer based in Scotland.

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