The Process of Bringing 'PAPER' to Life as a 3D Sculpture Illustration

As a self-employed illustrator, I have to continually market my work. One of the ways I do that is to come up with creative ways to show people my paper sculptures, which is a medium and style that is a little unconventional. I want to convey to people quickly that it is something different and exciting and explain to someone in a visual way what my illustrations are. I also want to demonstrate to a potential client how I can solve a project and what medium I use to illustrate it.

This whole process of coming up with marketing materials is similar to being in college, and being assigned your next project by an art teacher. Except now, you come up with your own assignments for your marketing and advertising needs and figure out the goal, the problem that needs solving and the parameters you have to stay within.

So, with this marketing assignment, I want to use the final image on all of my social media sites and also on a postcard to market my paper sculpture illustration business to art directors. The problem is, how can I quickly portray my paper sculpture medium and my process to someone unfamiliar with my work? How can I demonstrate that I can help solve a publication's needs?

My concept was to create a one-word sign appropriately titled PAPER. I could show a progression beginning with a simple, plain white piece of paper and end up with a fully illustrated 3D paper sculptured letter. Using just one word will quickly explain my process visually and I will also be able to show different ways of visually and graphically communicating a solution to a publication's message using my medium, paper sculpture.

Here is my thought process for each of my paper sculpture letters:

Just like the way I work in paper sculpture, the first letter of the sign ‘P’ is just a plain white piece of paper — nothing fancy, just a basic letter cut out of a flat sheet of paper.

For the letter ‘A,’ I wanted to show the beginnings of a transition to manipulating the medium, using a small scissors to cut out the plain paper to make a box letter ‘A,’ cutting, bending and shaping the paper to transform it from a flat sheet of paper to a simple 3D form — just the basics.

This is where the real fun begins — the second letter ‘P.’ I wanted to highlight the transition from materials into a project. You see the little scissors in the previous step. But now, as things start to get more complicated, I need my pencils to sketch with, my paper, paint brushes, a paint tray, and paint. I also like that each one of these items begins with the letter ‘P,’ which was a fun added bonus. This is the first letter of the sign where each of the objects are a more advanced 3D paper sculpture, all made out of paper. The shapes all work together to form the letter ‘P.’

Next up, the transition from white paper to the painted paper. For the letter ‘E,’ I started with the stark white paper sculpture flowers, which can be very beautiful all on their own in white. But, I wanted to show that these flowers transition into realistic full-color flowers.

Lastly, my favorite, a completely painted 3D paper sculpture letter that completes my PAPER sign. The heron, turtle and little red birds (all words that have the letter ‘R’ in them) all surround this tree and create the letter ‘R.’ It was a challenge to figure out how to create the letter ‘R’ using those critters, and I think I successfully solved that tricky situation. The letter comes across as an ‘R’ and is clearly legible, which is so important when creating decorative lettering.

“The letter comes across as an ‘R’ and is clearly legible, which is so important when creating decorative lettering.”

I feel that my paper sculpture sign has successfully fulfilled the requirements of my assignment and I accomplished all of my goals that I originally set forth — to visually explain what it is I do and demonstrate that I can help communicate any message for a publication's needs.