Paper is one of the great artistic chameleons. This easily accessible material that’s used in crafting incredible, gallery-worthy works of art is the same that contains crude sketchbook doodles never meant to see the light of day. It’s this fascinating dichotomy that entices creatives to experiment and use paper art as the centerpiece of their work.
Depending on technique, paper can look wildly different. Chinese artist Li Hongbo is enthralled by “the endless possibilities of paper” and transforms the everyday material into something truly astonishing—stone sculptures that stretch in front of our very eyes. Moving from rock to rope, Gunjan Aylawdi seemingly weaves intricate tapestries. But, they’re not tapestries at all—they’re tiny pieces of rolled paper that look like string.
Of course, some artists choose to celebrate paper art for what it is, and therefore don’t try to hide its origins. One way this is done is through books. Both Isobelle Ouzman and Guy Laramee use discarded books as the starting point for their creations. Ouzman opens the book and extracts pieces of paper while Laramee transforms a novel’s edges into sprawling mountainscapes.
See how 31 artists, illustrators, and animators turn humble sheet of paper into stunning works of art.