Paper Art

Being married to a craft enthusiast, my home environment is often a scene of scattered paint brushes, wooden plaques, pieces of felt, and more recently paper cuts. While it would be easy to disassociate the two worlds of craft and graphic design, we shouldn’t underestimate the visual results that can be achieved through some of these more traditional graphic mediums. Despite the fact that we now live in a predominantly digital world, our love affair with paper art, in particular, has by no means diminished.

I recently came across the incredible work of Calvin Nicholls, a 3D modeller who creates unbelievable paper sculptures that challenge your perception of what is possible with the medium. He takes origami and kirigami to a new level, creating stunning scenes, and highly detailed finishes.


A lot of his work is focused on animals and he begins the design process with a quick line drawing, mapping out the topography of the piece to determine the layering or flow of the fur. He uses heavy paper weights for structure and lighter weights for fur and finer detail.


Calvin’s work is just one of a number of great examples of paper art being used imaginatively within contemporary design. They all help to give new life to one of the most ancient arts, and show the levels of detail and finish that can be achieved.

South African agency TBWA Hunt Lascaris created a novel way of getting a client’s attention. They transformed actual paper briefs into eye-catching paper art, incorporating concepts relevant to the specific brand message. They then sent the briefs back to the client, and as a result saw new work come into the building within 5 days.


Spanish designer Malena Valcárcel crafted a magical Christmas wonderland, and even managed to make the buildings look like they’ve been lit up.


Brazilian 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 the impression of depth.


This final piece is an identity for Malmö Festival, created by Swedish design agency Snask. It features some wonderfully colourful paper art creations and was used in print as well as huge art installation.


Hopefully these examples inspire you to explore some of the more traditional graphic mediums when tasked with a new brief.

  • Glynn Seeds, Senior Designer
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