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Monday, April 16, 2007

Designer Paper Craft

As a person who views Kidrobot as her own personal paradise, you can be sure that I've followed the development of the designer toy and vinyl art scene for a while now. I'm continually inspired by the wealth of amazing designs and whimsical, anthropomorphized characters which have transitioned from an urban medium and embraced this amazingly flexible new format.

With the market for such inventive, highly-collectible designer toys burgeoning it's not difficult to see why this design sensibility now encompasses vinyl figurines, plush toys, collectible capsule trinkets, and all manner of accessories. By targeting an older, design-saavy, yet inherently 'hip' demographic (who are at their core nostalgic for their old toys) these limited-release creations have claimed a sizable following. Online stores and boutiques in major cosmopolitan centers have begun to tailor to this growing trend and the prevalence of this design is consistently growing.

Yet the collectors are only one part of this subculture. Toy and figurine creation is proving to be an outlet for designers of all kinds, from those with a reputation in street art to seasoned artists like Gary Baseman (an illustrator you're probably familiar with). The general ease with which vinyl can be transformed into a limited edition creation, combined with the amazing response that it engenders has drawn in a wide gamut of designers who constantly push the boundaries of design.

In the spirit of the vinyl toy then, it is not surprising to see designers taking their creations into other mediums. Recently, I've begun to notice more and more instances of paper art around the web. With the ability to be freely distributed and very easily produced this newest wave of design is definitely gaining ground. What's more, this new format is helping to introduce even more individuals to this creative design realm.

Being one to adorn my desk and shelf space with all sorts of knick-knacks, this consistent introduction of great new paper creations is something I'm really excited about. What better than a completely unique and free paper kraft could there be to make one excited about design and its creation.

While websites and blogs like Paperkraft and Paper Forest have sprung up to document the newest introductions to this field, I figured I would include some of my favorites below.

Toypaper.co.uk is a recent website with a sleek Flash interface. As you parouse the various design categories you'll find a wide variety of fun pre-made and customizable paper monsters and series. With a photo, description, difficulty level and link to pdf download - it couldn't be easier to print and create your own desk buddy.

Readymech.com is a side project of Fwis, a graphic design group in Portland, Denver, Cupertino and Brooklyn. With an ever growing number of design series, Fwis enlists the help of various designers to create the sundry creatures that make up the readymech family. Again, the presentation remains very straightforward and you'll be sure to find a paper creature to suit your tastes. I for one love the four-armed Tenaclopse!

Loulou Illustrations features a number of really fun and colorful images, yet the shop transforms them into a selection of paper figures that are worth your time. While the badminton enthusiast (below) was the one that really caught my eye, there are a couple of other amusing designs including robots and a surfer - good times.

I knew I couldn't get anywhere without including this most amazing paper tribute to one of the best games of all time, Katamari Damacy. So while I have no idea how to even begin to decipher the Japanese characters all over this page -- that is indeed where you can find your very own Katamari prince paper figurine! As quite possibly the best paper kraft toy here, why not make your own to enlighten you in the ways of the katamari?

Found on Flickr, where it was created by the user buding, this is definitely a very close follow up to the Katamari prince. With a similar style and innate quirkiness, the Rabbit-man can easily become the stalwart defender of cool wherever you place him.

And finally, because Flickr really is the perfect resource for this sort of thing - groups like Paper Designer Toy and photo sets like PAPER TOY show off some of the best designs out there. The two of these are rather closely associated with Paper Possible and 100% Loading, which appears to be one of the larger groups through which designers have showcased their paper art. Check these out if you're interested in seeing some of the best custom paper designs out there - though, they unforunatley don't offer too much with regard to reproductions.

So with all of this inspiration I know I'll probably spend way more time than I should trying to put together paper creatures instead of writing my essays ... but who could resist? I'll definitely try to document their creation if I do or, if you feel inclined to make your own - let me know about it in the comments.

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