The art of recycling

Paper art originated in Japan over 2,000 years ago – it’s an incredibly complex craft that is still practised today, yet most people assume ‘paper art’ refers simply to origami shapes and animals. There are artists all over the world who are creating work that demonstrates just how incredible paper art can be, as well as doing their bit for the environment. Many artists have begun to use old books in their paper art, which is a great way to recycle but also makes striking works of art.

American artist Shawn Agosta uses recycled newspaper to create sculptures that look as if they’re made of metal or stone. He grinds the newspaper into a powder and mixes it with glue to create a clay-like material.

Parisian Anastassia Elias uses recycled paper in her art too – she turns finished toilet rolls into minute sculptures. You’ll never look at an empty loo roll in the same way again after you’ve seen her teeny tiny toilet roll worlds.


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Jolis Paons from the United States, doesn’t just make art from old paper; she proves that rubbish can be re-purposed, even if her objects are meant to be works of art rather than practical items. Paons uses discarded paper to create all sorts of incredible things, from a dress made of old phonebooks to seats made from newspapers.

Brian Dettmer carves into old books and maps to reveal the images and words within. Looking at his sculptures, it’s difficult to comprehend the huge amount of skill, effort and time that has gone into creating it. You can read more about Dettmer’s working process on this Instant Print blog post.

Jen Stark’s pieces are rainbow-bright and inspired by nature, but if you’re thinking flowers and trees – think again. Stark bases her designs on microscopic patterns and wormholes, which create intricate and hypnotising works of paper art. Click here to see some of her bright, 3D sculptures.

Artists can do amazing things with paper – and the artists mentioned here prove paper art can be good for environment too. Next time you think of paper art, think bigger than paper planes and folded birds – paper art is an incredibly innovative and exciting craft, with new techniques being tried and tested all the time, by artists from around the world.

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