An Exploration into the Contemporary World of Papercraft Art and Illustration
By Owen Gildersleeve
Hardcover, £20.00 UK, $30.00 US, $33.00 CAN
Star rating: ****
This big, beautiful book goes exciting places. It examines the working lives of 25 of the world’s top papercraft artists, whose work is at the interface of papercraft, paper engineering, and digital technology. (Appropriately, the cover art is a papercut design that has been obviously Photoshopped.) The author, Owen Gildersleeve, is a well-known graphic designer himself. He is our tour guide around an exciting creative wonderland.
The book begins with a capsule history of papercutting. Although concise, it yields many treasures. (Full marks for citing Hans Christian Andersen and his performance papercutting that accompanied his storytelling to great effect.)
Fast-forward to now. “ Unlike paper-cutting of the past, a new wave of designers are emerging whose skills have developed in tandem with digital media, and so the two are strongly interlinked. ... Some artists use digital devices to cut out their artwork, and some rely on digital manipulation after the image has been photographed. Some artists use... digital methods to create artworks that appear to be handmade.”
Many of the showcased artists are set designers who create fantastic papercraft worlds to photograph in the studio. Others have honed identifiable styles of working – like Yulia Brodskaya, who has re-invented quilling with her on-edge typographic compositions.
There’s an in-depth interview with internationally-acclaimed papercut artist Rob Ryan, who divulges his studio practices and generously shares some very handy papercutting tips.
Other designers include Andersen M studio, two brothers who craft papery stop-motion animations, and Bianca Chang, whose intriguing layered sculptural pieces are constructed by a method that is more or less the papercraft equivalent of 3-D printing.
The featured artists are an international bunch, although the selection is slightly London-centric. Fair enough, as London is a creative hub and that’s where the author is based. He does a pretty good job of casting his net far afield hunting for papercraft talent.