Paper Inspiration

It’s a known fact: I love paper.

Stemming from my experience as a print designer, my love of paper has only grown over the years. I have developed a passion for creating artifacts and I am intrigued by the experience that someone can have with a physical object. My husband, who is a fine art painter and gallery director, used to work in a print shop. He loves paper too.

Handmade long stitch books by The Butler Studios (aka Brad and Sarah Butler)

Handmade long stitch books by The Butler Studios (aka Brad and Sarah Butler)

A few years ago we started an endeavor to make handmade books. Although this adventure has been put on hold for many reasons (like buying a house, day jobs, etc.) we hope to resurrect it soon.Typically, when we take a road trip or go on vacation somewhere we seek out paper shops and our souvenirs consist of various sheets of paper, posters and cards. We’ve visited paper/stationary shops from Portland, ME to Portland, OR; our favorite being Kate’s Paperie in NYC.

As part of my daily routine, I visit a handful of websites to get inspiration. One of the sites I go to (multiple times a day) is According to the “about” page on the site, Colossal is:

“…a blog that explores art and other aspects of visual culture… Each week you’ll find 15-25 posts on photography, design, animation, painting, installation art, architecture, drawing, and street art. Colossal is also a great place to learn about the intersection of art and science as well as the beauty of the natural world. There are frequently posts about things far out in left field, but generally Colossal is a reminder that in this digital age there are still countless people making incredible work with their bare hands.”

This site is an awesome resource for inspiration where you can view work by artists working in various media. Paper art is featured often on the site and I have sat for hours looking through past entries which include manipulated books, quilling and sculpture. One day I came across a post on Colossal that featured an illustrator working with paper: I was instantly drawn to this work due to its beauty and I couldn’t believe it was crafted of paper. I shared it with my husband, along with a few of the many other paper artists featured on the site that I have gone back to for inspiration. One piece that I viewed recently was a stop animation movie featuring cut paper highlighting the systems of the human body:

Display from AIGA's "Head, Heart, Hand" conference in October.

Display from AIGA’s “Head, Heart, Hand” conference in October.

About a month ago I attended the AIGA conference “Head, Heart, Hand” in Minneapolis, MN. In the month or so leading up the conference, I would go online and browse through the session descriptions to see what I wanted to attend while I was there. I made a note of a session that featured paper artists called “Paper Art: A Modern Take on a Traditional Medium.” It was one of the only sessions that 100% knew I wanted to attend prior to stepping foot inside the convention center. I’ll post more on the entire AIGA conference on a different day.

I decided to choose the sessions I attended based solely on the description of what would be discussed rather than who the presenters were. As I was sitting in room waiting for the the paper art session to begin, I overheard the woman next to me ask someone if they had seen one of the speakers’ record player project. This triggered a memory of me sitting at my desk, watching a video I stumbled upon of this wedding invitation that contained a paper record player. I want to say that I saw it on Colossal, but when I try to search for it there now I cannot find it. This added to my excitement because: 1. this session was about paper (so exciting!); and 2. I was going to hear someone speak about work that I had randomly come across a while back… Awesome!

As the session began, the first presenter got up and introduced himself. The name didn’t ring a bell but when he showed his first slide, I instantly knew who this was. The presenter was Eiko Ojala and the first slide he put up was none other than the one I had seen earlier in the year on Colossal: I was so pumped! It was interesting to hear him talk about his process and various clients he has worked for. The next speaker stood up and she began going through her slides. The first set of slides went through a recent project she had worked on which was an installation of paper airplanes at an event (how do I go about getting a dream job like this?). As she introduced the next project, again, I was taken by surprise to find out that I had seen this person’s work before. It was none other than the stop animation movie featuring cut paper highlighting the systems of the human body. The speaker was Kelli Anderson. I highly recommend checking out her work; it is seriously amazing. She was also the artist that produced the paper record player I mentioned above (view it here) and this past summer she worked on an installation at the New York Public Library (view it here). Amazing and inspiring stuff.

What a wonderful coincidence that the speakers at this session turned out to be artists whose work I came to appreciate well in advance of the conference. It was inspiring to see the range of their work and hear them speak about their craft. I continue to check multiple times a day to see what other artists are up to and to get a little creative inspiration. Today another paper artist, Elsa Mora, was featured. I briefly went to her site and was instantly inspired by her story… and ultimately that’s the goal of this daily habit I have developed.

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