Innovative use of paper art can bring a contemporary design to life. Here are 38 brilliantly crafted examples to inspire.
We may live in a digital world, but our love affair with paper has by no means diminished. Here are some great of examples of paper art being used imaginatively within contemporary design, bringing paper out of its comfort zone and being used as a creative outlet rather than just a means of delivery...
This beautiful, underwater paper world was created graphic design and illustration studio Zim & Zou back in 2013. The project was commissioned by French luxury brand Hermès, who hired the team to design the windows for the re-opening of its store located in Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills.
02. Fiat Dobló
Brazil-based illustration agency D'Avila Studio created this vibrant paper art piece as part of Fiat Motors campaign to promote its new SUV, the Dobló Adventure. The team created two prints, both of which placed the paper overlapping on layers to create an impressive depth effect.
03. Paper Dragon
The amount of detail in this paper dragon blows our minds. A collaborative effort, this intricate piece took the steady hands of a number of Belgium creatives at INK studio. As the majestical creature overhangs the castle, we can't even begin to imagine how long this delicate project took to complete.
04. Day of the Dead
This incredible paper art series from Bulgarian based designer Tsvetislava Koleva, celebrates the Day of the Dead with intricate and colourful masks that quite frankly, took our breath away. Using a different colour palette for each offering, the series seamlessly comes together. Koleva specialises in paper art creations that have included sculptures, typography and more but it seems the Day of the Dead is her biggest inspiration to date.
05. 360° Book
Japanese artist and designer Yusuke Oono creates books that open up to tell their stories as a multi-layered 3D scene. Each page is a separate laser cut plane, and together they make up deep and gorgeous 3D images that reveal the story as you make your way from the front to the back of the book.
Helen Friel is a freelance paper engineer and illustrator, living and working in London, with clients including Vogue, The Telegraph and Ryan Air. This animation was almost a year in the making, winning a PDN Photo Annual Award and selected for the Fantoche International Animation Film Festival.
07. Eternal Sunshine
Emma Jackson is a freelance illustrator living and working in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Mainly working with papercuts, her work is a bold and beautiful execution in the art of paper. We instantly fell in love with this illustrated quote from the movie 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'.
08. Eaters 7
Designer Ira Carella Wijaya says, "Eaters is the biggest, the pioneer and the tastiest food festival in Universitas Katolik Parahyangan. This year, they took "Zakura no Shiizun" theme from Japanese which means sakura flower season. Based on the Japanese theme, I choosed origami and papercraft as the main concept."
Created by Korean based designer Goeun Lee, she explains that "by using the theme of amusement park and paper cutting art, it will encourage people who appreciate Ghana chocolate to have the most precious time at the promotion event party of Ghana".
10. Habitat Patch
This stop motion paper art animation was created by Italian designer and motion graphic artist Mauro Lovadina. The bold cuts and bright colours really make this one stand out and you can also see some behind-the-scenes pictures over on his Behance page.
11. Malmö Festival
This identity for Malmö Festival was created by Swedish design agency Snask and features some wonderfully colourful paper art creations. Used for print advertisment as well as huge promotional art installations, this is an impeccable example of what can be achieved with patience and creativity.
12. Spiral art
This latest creation from Charles Clary is as mesmerising as it gets. Using layer upon layer of colourful paper, Clary hand-cuts each piece to form an array of geometric shapes, sound waves or cell structures. Often taking months to create, each piece can have as many as 4,000 individual cut sheets of paper, up to 30 panels, and over 14,000 spacers. That's patience right there!
13. Geek heroes
Meghan Stratman originally started Nerd Love with the intention of creating a new piece of nerdy fan art every Monday for a year. But time constraints turned it into an ongoing project, that she continues to develop now.
"I like to include bright colours and a sense of humor in my art," explains Stratman, "and enjoy combining elements to humorous effect, such as badgers sporting fezzes or weasels wearing rocket packs."
14. Decorex expo
We're big fans of Marc Hagan-Guirey's wonderful paper creations here at Creative Bloq - you recall our article on his Horrorgami exhibition last autumn. His latest commission is this kirigami design for Decorex International, a company that puts on big interior design expos in the UK. It's being used as the main creative for Decorex's 2013 campaign, which is rolling out right now across magazines such as Elle Decor, Living Etc and World of Interior.
The artist Rogan Brown is inspired in part by the tradition of scientific drawing and model making, and particularly the work of artist-scientists such as Ernst Haeckel. He explains: "My work is an exploration and re-presentation of natural organic forms both mineral and vegetal.
"Each sculpture is hugely time consuming and labour-intensive and this work is an essential element not only in the construction but also in the meaning of each piece. I have chosen paper as a medium because it captures perfectly that mixture of delicacy and durability that for me characterizes the natural world".
16. Movie Scenes
Artist Brittany Lee combines some of her favourite pasttimes - design, animation and movies - to create these vibrant paper art movie scenes. Now a freelance artist, Lee worked as a visual developer for Disney previously, so you can see where the inspiration for many of her pieces comes from.
17. Book sculptures
These paper sculptures by Pam Langdon shows there's much more that can be done with a book besides reading it. Inspired by marine environments and patterns within nature, Langdon meticulously folds pages of old books, transforming them into eye-catching pieces of art.
18. Origami animals
Vietnamese artist Nguyen Hung Curong proves the worth of origami when creating this detailed, lifelike set of paper art sculptures. A hobby that started when he was just five, Curong created his first original design when he was just 10 years old in 1999.
He's continued to practise the art of origami and now, 14 years on, is able to create amazingly detailed and lifelike models, usually from just one square of Vietnamese handmade paper called Dó.
Crafting scultpures from a single sheet of paper, artist Nahoko Kojima has created something truly original and awe-inspiring. These large-scale works are each hand-cut from a single sheet, exploring themes of human existence, animals and the forces of nature.
20. Historic Cities
Our minds are a little blown by these paper map sculptures by UK-based artist Matthew Picton. Based on past events, the maps depict various cities in the midst of historical events, including fires, war and disease.
And, if the craftsmanship of these pieces wasn't impressive enough, Picton took the project one step further, using paper connected with each event to construct the sculptures.
21. Happy Meal
Helen Musselwhite is an illustrator based in the UK. A creative with a particular knack for paper art, she's previously worked with The National Theatre, Nokia and Stella McCartney. So, it comes as no surprise that fast food chain McDonald's snapped her up for their this brilliant print campaign. We're in love with the quiet intricacy of these designs.
22. Oprah Magazine
Graphic designer Mr. Yen is known for his delicate paper art - crafted from hand with a scalpel and cut from one single sheet of paper with all materials being sourced from the UK. It comes as no surprise that the art team of Oprah magazine 'O' commissioned a series of delicate hand-cut design for the Valentine's edition of this award winning publication. We're not sure we'd have the patience to create these!
With offices in both London and Croatia, design studio Bunch was perfectly placed to create the branding for Ogopogo - a start-up that aims to bring the ‘gift experience’ concept to Croatia for the first time. Each gift box contains a brochure and a voucher to redeem the experience, which at the moment consists mostly of sporting days out. This paper art certainly gives this gift a whole new experience.
'Vertical Landscape' was created digitally but without the aid of 3D software. Illustrator Eiko Ojala draws everything by hand to create the landscapes, figures and portraits that look as if they’ve been cut from paper. Having already been nominated for the Young IIllustrator Award at Berlin's Illustrative festival, we have a feeling that this is only the beginning of a flourishing career for Eiko.
'GEO' by Spanish graphic designer and art director Noelia Lozano, a project completed at Madrid-based imagemakers Serial Cut, is a great example of the paper art technique being put to inspiring use. The paper has been specially cut to be portrayed as various marble textures, which give the lettering an ususual and arresting quality.
26. Paper sculptures
Malaysian designer and paper sculpture James Seet drew on his love for detailed paper art in this beautiful print advertising campaign for Celcom Broadband. The bold use of a simple colour scheme brings out the complex layers in his work perfectly, and creates an original and captivating atmosphere that brings what might be considered a dry, technical subject to life.
27. Spray can
Canadian designer Julien Vallee produced this original piece of paper art for the Zurich Illustrative festival. Using paper as his only material, he creates a sense of movement and narrative within a static installation and pushes the boundaries of papercraft, both in technique and scale.
French-based design collective Zim and Zou drew on an almost obsessive attention to detail and a buketload of patience to come up with this paper art burger for Icon Magazine. And the results are striking; they've managed to combine all the elements in a way that is recognisably a burger, but with a glorious sense of festivity.
29. Pattern Matters
Siang Ching had the brilliant idea of combining paper art with infographics for this project. The design showcases how effectively a simple yet effective use of colour and shape can help to communicate information.
30. Weave Type
Another great example of paper art produced by Zim and Zou, combining weaving techniques and energetic colour to create a typographic concept that's reminiscent of the weaving process central to paper manufacturing.
Design student Jonathan Shackleton has created a really challenging piece of paper art here to promote Fedregoni, a named luxury paper supplier. His inspired idea to link its collections with those of the fashion world is executed in a simple yet highly effective way.
32. This is Me
Aron Filkey has combined design photography and creative paper manipulation to produce this impressive piece of paper art. The handmade typography poster aims to introduce himself and his design direction as well as his interests. The use of colour and combination of 2D and 3D elements work hand in hand to result in a highly effective design.
33. Dragon Card
Dragon Card is a New Year greeting card from Ukranian graphic designer Yurko Gutsulyak to his clients, partners and friends.
With this bold piece of paper art, Yurko Gutsulyak has created a visually appealing design that can be enjoyed and appreciated from multiple angles. The monochrome approach works well to emphasise the cut outs and different angled positions of the individual elements.
34. Yulia Brodskaya
Yulia Brodskaya is one of the most well-known of the contemporary designers working with paper art. She combines classic design principles to create beautiful and thought-provoking visual fusions.
'Orishiki' is a hybrid word combining 'Ori', taken from Origami, the traditional art of Japanese paper folding, and 'Shiki' taken from Furoshiki, Japanese traditional wrapping cloth which is large enough to wrap and transport goods and gifts. Here, Naoki Kawamoto uses Orishiki to create this beautiful and original clutch bag made with paper and fabric. Watch how Kawamoto creates his art in this video:
36. Sam Pierpoint
Inspired by nature and its never-ending beauty, Sam Pierpoint has constructed a range of colourful, 3D creations that transport you to an entirely different world. "Most of my work is built up out of patterned/textured card and paper," she explains. "I then photograph, edit and arrange the work in Photoshop to create the finished piece."
37. Boeing 777
Luca Iaconi-Stewart never grew out of making paper planes and has created one of the most detailed ones we've ever seen. The Boeing 777 took Iaconi-Stewart about five years to complete with everything from the seats to the windows completed with the utmost attention to detail. The 1:60-scale jetliner was crafted out of manila folders and dabs of glue.
Here, the intricate method of producing a paper art masterpiece has been used to promote recycling in Paris. The French NGO Ecofolio approached design agency June21 to promote the benefits of paper recycling in a national print campaign and they roped in paper art extraordinaires Zim And Zou to create this amazing design.
Meryem Meg is a Leeds-based graphic designer and illustrator whose inspiration lies in melodic word play and typographic experimentation. This is an updated and extended version of an article that previously appeared on Creative Bloq.