At first glance, the illustrative artwork of Japan-born, San Francisco-based artist Kanako Abe looks like it was rendered with a black fine liner, but each intricate piece is actually cut from paper. Abe has been practicing the delicate art of paper cutting (Kiri-e in Japanese) since 2012, and it’s clear to see she’s now perfected her craft.
From floral motifs to figurative paper illustrations, Abe’s thoughtful work illustrates the beauty found in fragility. Each piece is impressively hand-cut from a single sheet of black paper using an X-Acto knife, resulting in incredibly delicate silhouettes. Abe often holds up each finished piece when photographing it, revealing just how intricate the paper lines really are. While most people wouldn’t have the patience to cut these thin lines and complex shapes by hand, for Abe, creating Kiri-e art is a way of “meditating on everyday thoughts, emotions and interconnectivity of the nature and universe.”
Check out some of Abe’s pretty paper-cut art below and find more from her portfolio on Instagram.