In our increasingly digital world, it can sometimes feel like physical books and paper products are going the way of the dodo. That is, of course, good news for the environment, but a real loss in other ways. After all, so many people rely on the enduring versatility and comforting physicality of paper to express themselves.
One of the most common examples of this is through daily journaling, but many others take it a step further by creating fantastical works of visual art using paper or sometimes entire books. Continue below to explore the work of 10 artists who are reimagining this classic medium.
1. Jodi Harvey-Brown
Characters and scenes from beloved works of literature (like the Harry Potter series, above) spring from the pages of hardcovers in Jodi Harvey-Brown's whimsical book sculptures.
"Books pull you into a new world, while art lets you see it," Harvey-Brown explains. "It made sense to me that these two mediums should come together."
2. Maude White
Armed with an X-Acto knife and a lot of patience, Buffalo-based artist Maude White creates highly detailed paper art that is meant to express what words cannot.
"Paper is everywhere and it has been telling stories for centuries," White explains. "By respecting and honoring paper for what it is, and not considering it a stepping-stone to something greater, I feel like I am communicating some of the pleasure it brings to me."
3. Alexis Arnold
In her "Crystallized Books" series, San Francisco-based artist Alexis Arnold transforms old, neglected tomes into petrified masterpieces. She achieves this surreal look by dipping each book into a borax solution, which is capable of generating crystals on exposed surfaces if left to sit long enough.
4. Yulia Brodskaya
Yulia Brodskaya is one of the world's foremost artists specializing in quilling, also known as paper filigree. Using strips of paper, Brodskaya shapes, rolls and glues the pieces together to form intricate and colorful decorative designs, like the peacock seen above.
5. Charles Young
In his whimsical 365-day "Paperholm" project, artist Charles Young brings a tiny paper town to life using the power of animated GIFs.
It should come as no surprise to know that such tiny, delicate creations require the utmost precision and patience. As Young explains, "I use a surgical scalpel to cut, a needle to position the glue and watchmaking tweezers to hold and place some of the parts."
6. Cristian Marianciuc
Origami is widely touted as a stress-relieving activity, but artist Cristian Marianciuc has taken this a step further by using this delicate paper craft to chronicle his life in an imaginative 365-day origami crane project.
"Every day, I fold an origami crane, using it as a blank canvas," Marianciuc writes. "I describe my day through colors, shadows and everything that surrounds me. It has helped my creativity a great deal, and it has also become somewhat of a daily ritual."
7. Guy Laramée
It is often said that literature can transport us to new, exciting worlds. One artist who takes this sentiment quite literally is Guy Laramée, who carves astoundingly intricate 3D landscapes from old books.
8. Li Hongbo
At first glance, the classical bust sculptures of Li Hongbo might appear to be made of marble, but when you get your hands on them, you quickly realize they are the work of much simpler materials: Paper and glue.
As MNN's own Melissa Breyer explains, Hongbo "spends months on each creation, painstakingly gluing many thousands of pieces of paper together before carving the blocks into forms. After the pieces are polished, they are nearly indistinguishable from classical busts."
9. Isabelle Ouzman
In Isabelle Ouzman's enchanting "Altered Books" series, the Seattle-based artist uses an X-Acto knife, Micron pens, glue and watercolor paints to create exquisitely dreamy scenes within otherwise neglected books.
"Every book that I alter [is] found by a dumpster in Seattle, a recycling bin, a thrift store or was given to me by someone who no longer wants it," Ouzman writes.
10. Wolfram Kampffmeyer
Looking for a whimsical touch to your interior decor? Try these 3D paper animal sculptures by German artist Wolfram Kampffmeyer. In addition to the cruelty-free wall-mounted busts (like the fox above), Kampffmeyer also makes free-standing 3D paper sculptures of animals ranging from aardvarks to flamingos.