Paper Fiend: Inspirations, Obsessions, and Curiosities from the Web to Nourish the Soul of a Paper-Lover

comments (10) April 27th, 2009     

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Jeff_Rudell Jeffery Rudell, contributor
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Michael Velliquettes exuberant cut paper works; its a beautiful marriage of art and craft. 
Mark Wagner uses U.S. currency, skillfully cut and repurposed as a medium all its own. I cant help thinking he has the soul of a quilter.
Mein Inspiration features many artists from all over the world. The collection of images will thrill, delight, and amaze you.
Michael Velliquettes exuberant cut paper works; its a beautiful marriage of art and craft. 

Michael Velliquette's exuberant cut paper works; it's a beautiful marriage of art and craft. 

Pablo Picasso once said, "Bad artists copy. Good artists steal." I interpret that his line of demarcation ran between those who imitate the work of others and those who are inspired by the work of others to create new work of their own. Imitators often produce derivative works that are a diminishment of the original, whereas those who are inspired often create work that is inventive in nature and actually an enhancement of what came before. In music one often finds this in the many "variations on a theme," which far exceed in beauty the original tune upon which they were based: good composers providing the seed of inspiration for greater composers to expand upon and develop.

In the craft world, the same lessons apply. Don't get me wrong; I copy plenty. Copying helps me learn technique and practice precision. Copying (disclaimer: within legal limits, of course) is not a crime, and one of the underlying reasons for this blog and the craft projects I post here is to create an opportunity for others to learn, based, in part, on the idea that they will attempt to copy what I've done.

However, once you have a set of skills, and are familiar with your materials, how do you incorporate all of that accumulated knowledge into something original? For me (and for millions like me, I suspect), the kernel of inspiration comes from looking at the works of others. That moment, when I see something beautiful and think, "I love that, but I wonder what would happen if I just tweaked it a bit and did this...," well...that moment is miraculous!

So this week, having already offered months' worth of projects for readers to copy on their own, I thought I'd take a moment to show you another part of my creative process, and share with you some of my favorite sources of inspiration. Many readers have generously left comments on my posts, praising my work, and I thank them for that. But, such praise belongs only partially to me because some of it must be shared with the many other artists and crafters and makers out there who are busy creating absolutely mind-boggling work that inspires me.

So, in keeping with the spirit of to share and share alike, I wanted to give you a glimpse of some of my paper heroes; people whose work in paper (or just love of paper) feed and nourish my own infatuation with the medium. 

Below I feature five Websites/artists who I feel definitely deserve your attention. I encourage anyone with a favorite you feel equally strong about supporting to take a moment and tell us about them in the comment section below. With a little participation, I feel confident we could amass a rather spectacular catalog of paper resources for others to browse, marvel at, and be inspired by. The goal is to begin opening up more of a dialogue on this page where information comes not only from me to readers but from readers back to me and, best of all, from readers to readers. 

Please visit these sites and explore the works featured there (a tiny sample of which I offer below). I can't wait to hear what you think and to see what new sites and artists you may wish to share with us all. Thanks for opening up and sharing your favorite bookmarks with the CraftStylish community. I'm looking forward to many, many hours of online discoveries to come.

Mein Inspiration is, quite possibly, my favorite Website ever. The site's author, Elaine Lee, is a lecturer, writer, and designer/maker living in Singapore, and her site is a vast collection of things she's found inspiring. That she has assembled such an expansive and diverse selection of works by an equally varied number of artists and makers working with paper attests to her drive. That each piece she features is likely to look like nothing you've ever seen before attests to her exacting eye in curating works on the site. I visit at least once a week (and often far more frequently) to remind myself to have big ideas, to be unafraid of paper challenges, and to revel in the beauty of the exquisitely made object.

Tara Donovan is a New York-born artist living in Brooklyn. Her work is shown at the Ace Gallery and is featured on their site. Beyond the sheer beauty of her pieces lies the fact that she is a genius at elevating the mundane and quotidian to the level of fine art. There is a great lesson for me in her work; whenever I feel the seductive pull of expensive papers or the need for some new specialized tool, I visit this site to remind myself what utterly fantastic things can be accomplished with Scotch tape (first two pictures, above) and plastic cups (second set of photos, above). Check out what she is capable of creating when given pencils, fishing line, or straws (well...10,000 straws, but still...).

Michael Velliquette is an artist living and working in Madison, Wisconsin. There is no denying his work is art (and clearly, his many awards, grants, and solo and group shows at galleries support that notion), but what draws me to his work is its foundation in, and utter reliance upon, craft; chiefly, cutting and gluing paper. The palette he employs will look familiar to anyone who has sought out colorful paper at their local craft stores. One of the frustrations of mass-market paper is its very limited (and at times, garish) color palette, but this artist turns that liability into an asset and the results never fail to fill me with joy just looking at them.

There's not much I can say about Mark Wagner and his art that the work itself cannot convey more powerfully and succinctly. His unparalleled skill in the production of his work and his love of U.S. currency compels me to say, "Go, browse, enjoy."

Elsa Mora's work is not easily categorized. Much of the work on display at her site employs traditional paper silhouette techniques, but her choice of subject matter, and her surrealist's take on it, puts her in a category far outside the tradition. By turns sweet and charming and disturbing and grotesque, her pictures seem to gently invite you to come closer and take a good look before her subject matter jumps out and punches you in the face. I think the results are gorgeous.

A Note about Twitter

If you enjoyed this post and are not currently a member of Twitter (, you may wish to consider signing up. I make a regular habit of sharing these sorts of resources (great sites, interesting artists, and unexpected techniques) in my Tweets. You can find me @jeffrudell. Come on over and say hi.


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Comments (10)

Blakeney writes: Thank you for sharing these artists and websites with us – seeing what others are doing is a great way to start thinking about new techniques, or even new materials. Here are 3 of my favorites:

Hina Aoyama creates elegant, intricate images out of cut paper that I find amazing, particularly her script texts. Her flickr set can be found at[email protected]/

Julene Harrison is a commercial artist who works with cut paper. She creates hand cut typography reminiscent of subway art, elevated by wonderful illustrations and ornate borders. Her website is here:

The amazing Hannah Nunn started out making cut paper greeting cards, and then began using her skills to make lamps. She now sells her lamps both online and at her brick and mortar store in the UK, Radiance. (Store site Radiance also promotes the work of other wonderful designers as well.) Both sites are fabulous sources of inspiration.

Posted: 4:01 am on December 2nd
PetrinaCase writes: Jeffrey,

Your articles are super as is your Art.

Keep up the great works.

Cannot wait to see more,
Posted: 8:19 am on July 18th
eveh writes: These are amazing! I love it all and stand in awe at how they manipulate paper to do their will. I would love to see a Museum set up just for paper artists. My first love was a Japanese artist from Memphis Tenn. that worked only in white and shadow. I was fasinated with her work.

I wonder if these artist felt that same kinship I felt with paper, the first time I made something from it. I have never looked at a piece of paper in the same way since. I even have my DH looking at paper in a different way. He is always bringing me home bags and flyers. Junk mail is a joy to look through now. LOL But I am not always cheap. : ) I love buying various types of paper too.
Posted: 12:23 am on June 5th
annquill writes: So many awesome artists listed here - it's taken me a while to plow through the list, but I'm certainly not complaining - it was great fun! Thanks for sharing your inspiring thoughts and finds with us.
Posted: 5:53 pm on April 29th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Wowza, J, I've spent the last few days visiting the sites here and what I had imagined to be a kind of drive through turned into several hours of wonder. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible work.
Posted: 9:24 pm on April 28th
5andDime writes: Obviously, Matthew Sporzynski, whom you've already mentioned and who does the paper sculptures at Real Simple magazine. Also Robert. J. Lang and Michael LaFosse, who do origami.
Posted: 2:36 pm on April 27th
VINTAGE2GLAM writes: Thanks again for opening up my world to the many crafters and artists out there. I feel like I went on an Art Gallery tour, and all before getting off to work. Every Monday morning I rush to my computer to check out your posts. I
missed you last week. Well this week you made up for it. It must have taken you at least a week to prepare for this one. So many images, can't wait to sit and explore all this interesting information when I have a little more time. My students will also find this way cool. Thanks again Jeff for sharing all this informative info.
Posted: 6:30 am on April 27th
Classyass writes: beautiful!

Posted: 1:51 am on April 27th
DeslynnW writes: Whoa these are incredible works of art. Who would have known what one can do with paper. Makes you think. Think bigger and out of the box. Thanks for sharing.
Posted: 12:58 am on April 27th
KBQ writes: So much of this freaks me out, but the detail is amazing.
Posted: 12:44 am on April 27th
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