Calvin Nicholls’ paper animals are nothing short of incredible. Using sheets of white, plain, A4 paper, he manages to bring to life animals like owls, lions, and bears, all looking amazingly realistic and highly detailed. Most all of Nicholls work is white on white, which allows the viewer to better appreciate the fur and feathers he recreates, using lighting and shadows to create the feeling of depth.
Each of his pieces begins with a drawn pattern, which he traces and transfers to sculpture paper. He then cuts each one with a scalpel or X-acto knife on a cutting mat, using very small amounts of glue to assemble the figure piece by piece. “The cuts and texture are often tiny and very delicate but due to the numerous glue joints for every piece, the overall strength is substantial,” he writes on his website, assuring that the finished product isn’t as fragile as it seems. “Tests of the bond between glue and paper reveal that when deliberately forced, the paper tears while the glue seam remains intact.”
His journey to paper art began while taking graphic design classes in college, where he studied paper as a medium. Several years later, in 1983, while designing a menu for a client, he discovered a paper sculpture artist in Toronto and approached him about collaborating. “His work and the art form really appealed to me and I immediately began my experiments with various papers that I had become familiar with through the graphics trade,” he recalled.
“I developed my art to the point where I blended many of my passions-wildlife, the natural world, photography, design, model making, sculpture, light and shadow and have managed to indulge all of them,” Nicholls shared in an interview with the Daily Mail. “When I started out in the early 1980’s I didn’t see this being my job nearly 30 years later,” he admitted.