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30 January 2010

Book Review - Papercraft: Design and Art with Paper

Papercraft: Design and Art With Paper
Robert Klanten, Sven Ehmann, and Birga Meyer

When I first saw the cover, I immediately placed it on order before it was released. I incorrectly assumed that it would be a how-to book on paper art & crafts. After I got the book, I quickly skimmed through the book, and much to my great delight, it was not a how-to book, but a well-curated “exhibition” on the art and craft of paper as executed by the designers and artists. I later discovered that the cover photo is a paper illustration of all the ingredients for its creator’s chili recipe.

As I went past the title page, I expected to find a table of contents, but it was not included – instead, a preface appeared. As I was reading it, I was relieved to find that it was not an “academic treatise”, but an entertaining, insightful, and beautifully written introduction (authored by Robert Klanten) to the use of paper as a physical and tangible medium for use in fine arts, fashion, illustration, animation, objects and graphic design.

Due to the lack of the table of contents, I had to skim through the whole book to count the number of chapters. I have found that it was grouped into five “chapters” which looked more like categories. Each “chapter” starts with the text written by Sonja Commentz, and her writings were just as creative as many of the paper works shown in the book.

The book itself is truly mind-boggling especially when all of the works are either done in two-dimensional or three-dimensional with nothing but paper. One could say that it’s sheer paper madness – murals, display, poster, collage, typography, objects, characters, toys, shoes, costume, trains, villages, repurposed/altered books, life-sized dioramas, installation sites and many more.

From examining the colorful and good sized photographs, I saw that many different paper craft techniques were employed in various projects: folding, kirigami, cutouts, silhouettes, sculpting, scoring, and embossing, to name a few. The coffee table size of the book allows many of the photographs to be large enough for me to be able to look at some of the works in detail so that the paper techniques can be figured out.

At the end of the book is an index where the first letters of the company names and even the artists’/designers’ names are sorted. The strange thing is that there is a table of contents included - not for the book itself but for the CD which is attached to the inside back cover. The included CD contains both the videos (DVD) and the templates (ROM) for 18 “urban paper” artists’ models. The video portion contains interviews, animation and demonstration. One of my favorite paper animation videos, This is Where We Live, done by Apt & Asylum Films is included and I was absolutely delighted to have it in my possession.

In summary, this book is the most inspiring book on paper creativity I have ever come across. I wish that it would be given a better title to do it much greater justice. Anyway, I love and am grateful for the fact that I have many of the great paper work in one bound physical copy instead of an electronic list of various paper artists’/designers’ websites. I highly recommended this book for anyone who loves the look and feel of paper anywhere and everywhere.

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