I always start September thinking about going back-to-school. Whether you are heading back to school or sending a loved one in that direction, the feeling of starting fresh is everywhere. For me, September makes me want to learn something new or rethink how I will attack upcoming projects. Sometimes, back-to-school reminds me of my own path into the paper industry—and what it was that drove me in this direction.
I have been obsessed with paper--and books--since childhood. My obsession began in grade school where I worked on paper-craft projects. It was fueled at my father’s ad agency where I fooled around with paper swatch books. And, it peaked even further when I was introduced to origami and extraordinary Japanese papers. Running parallel to my love of paper has been a long love of books--especially since these two things traveled hand in glove back in the day. I am an unabashed bibliophile—the old school kind who relishes books printed on paper. I guess it’s no surprise that when my dream job came to fruition it meant working and interacting with designers and printers--and paper.
I pay attention to paper. So, I always notice when print or film or even television advertising use paper to convey ideas. I love the whole generation of stop-action video producers who are using paper sculpture to convey movement and form and I’m amazed by computer generated animation where paper is the material used to set the tone for the output. When I see paper being used in these mediums so differently, it renews my interest in paper as an art form and encourages me to explore how artists are using paper to convey their ideas.
I travel 200 days a year and one small benefit of my time on the road is having access to interesting book stores in a range of cities large and small. As such, I’ve amassed a collection of books that feature artists who work with paper. So, in my best back-to-school, thought-provoking mindset, I thought I’d share some of these gems with you. If you’re interested in tracking some of these down, most are available through your favorite booksellers. For those titles that are harder to find, I’d recommend checking the craft and design shelves of used bookstores or searching antiquarian bookstores and resale shops. My favorites—and the most inspiring for me—are, in no particular order:
Paper Cutting/ Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft, compiled by Laura Heyenga, San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 2011 – some of the best artists working in paper
Paper Play, Sandu Publising, Ltd. sponsored by Design 360˚, Hong Kong, Gingko Press, 2014 – extraordinary array of artists creating some of the most beautiful paper art
Paper Works, Sandu Publishing, Ltd. sponsored by Design 360˚, Hong Kong, Gingko Press, 2012 – the artists featured in this book will take your breath away with what they do with paper
PUSH Paper/ 30 Artists Explore the Boundaries of Paper Art, Curated by Jaime Zollars, New York, Lark Crafts, 2011 – from fine art to fantastic to fun in paper
500 Paper Objects/New Directions in Paper Art, Gene McHugh /Juror, New York, Larks Craft, 2013 – boundless collection of paper art that must be seen
Paper Sculpture/Step-by-Step Guide, Kathleen Ziegler and Nick Greco, Massachusetts, Rockport Publishers, Inc., 1994 – a great place to start if you are a DIYer
Irving Harper/Works in Paper, edited by Michael Maharam, New York, Rizzoli International Publications, 2013 – one of the masters of paper craft as well as a design deity
Book Art/Iconic Sculptures and Installations Made from Books, edited by Paul Sloman, Berlin, Gestalten, 2011 – a superb introduction to the use of books as the base material in artwork
Book Art/Creative Ideas to Transform Your Books, Decorations, Stationary, Display Screens and More, Clare Youngs, London/New York, CICO Books, 2012 – transforming books into art and crafts
Art Made From Books/ Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed, Compiled by Laura Heyenga, San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 2013 – extraordinary use of book as base material transformed into brilliant art
And for the young or young at heart, books that are more craft orientated and may appeal to your inner DIYer.
New Dimensions in Paper Craft, Sadami Yamada and Kiyotada Ito, Tokyo, Japan Publishing Trading Co., 1966 – my first book of the kind when I was a child. You may have to go to eBay or online possibly a used bookstore to find it but so worth it…
Paper Sculpture, George Borchard, London, B T Batsford Ltd, 1973 – still available, great technique instruction, fun projects
Creative Paper Cuttings/ Fifteen Paper Sculptures to Inspire and Delight, Cheong-Ah Hwang, East Sussex, Guild of Master Craftsman Publications, Ltd., 2013- – very informative and challenging projects with beautiful results. Great skills to learn for future projects.
Playing with Pop-Ups/ The Art of Dimensional, Moving Paper Designs, Helen Hiebert, Massachusetts, Quarry Books, 2014 – excellent book as an introduction on creating pop-up paper art including pop-up greeting cards.
The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers/ A Guide to Making Unbelievably Realistic Paper Blooms, Livia Cetti, New York, Stewart, Tabori & Chang/Abrams, 2014 – great skill building, gorgeous paper flower results, way fun for all ages.
If you have a favorite book or two on any of these subjects, by all means share that information with us and we’ll add it to the list.