Recycling Is Art

There is much more to paper art than origami. The art form originated more than 2,000 years ago in Japan and the craft has been much developed since then. Now there are artists all over the world who have found unique new ways to work with paper that are exciting and innovative, as well as being great for the environment.

There are some artists who have found a way of making paper art from discarded materials like books and newspapers, which is beneficial for planet earth and also breathes new life into this ancient art form.

Brian Dettmer from the USA, for example, shows us how old books can be transformed into beautiful and intricate pieces of paper art. The artist uses a scalpel to cut away pages of old books, to expose illustrations and words from deep within. His work is a critique of our wasteful society – the shows us how something beautiful can be salvaged from ‘rubbish’ we would normally throw away. For more on Dettmer’s work, take a look at this Instant Print blog post.


Donna Ruff from Chicago is another artist who, like Dettmer, uses old books to create art. She comes from a family of book-binders and so understands the skills and methods that books are made with. Ruff has created all kinds of interesting new paper art that celebrate books: she uses intricate cut-outs to create mosaic-style patterns; tiny specks of gold leaf to make glittering friezes and relief work to free strips of paper from pages, letting them spill out in a jumble of entangled sentences.

Another artists showing us how to recycle beautifully is Paris-based Anastassia Elias. The French artist has found a unique use for finished rolls of toilet paper – she takes the cardboard rolls that are left and carefully sculpts the inside of them to create people, animals and nature scenes. Although the Paris-based artist works with other material, it is her loo roll pieces that have captured the imagination of the world. See more of her work here.


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. His strikingly realistic pieces cover a wide range of emotions and settings.

It’s artists like these who can are reinventing paper and showing us how recycling can be art.

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