It’s Not Just Paper Cranes Anymore..

Traditionally when I think of “toys”, the word evokes images of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures, My Little Pony, and that wire contraption in your pediatricians office with sliding wooden pieces covered in disease and plague.. which you happily played with anyway.  In recent years, a market for big-kid “toys” has emerged in the form of vinyl figures most notably pioneered by Kidrobot.  The company started off with a few small physical storefronts in 2002 and has since boomed into a multi-million dollar enterprise and a highly trafficked website.

During these tough economic times that make me want to switch off the news and switch on “Pet Star”(FYI..Animal Planet..M-F 5pm EST) with Mario Lopez, I have been starting to see shifts in how companies/individuals/artists market themselves and gain attention despite tightening wallets.  One interesting concept exploding onto the internet scene takes the form of Paper Craft.  A few steps above chainlinked children and a distant cousin to origami cranes, paper has been transformed into customizable figures and even innovative product templates for today’s biggest companies across industries.

I recently read an article about Shin Tanaka, a paper toy creator from Japan.  When he began his work in paper, Shin was inspired to make models and templates of all his favorite sneakers he could not afford as a student.  People were amazed by his intricate works of art and were eventually picked up by the NIKE design library.  Since then, Shin has worked with over 80 brands(Adidas, Ark United, etc) and has also expanded his work to include the exceedingly popular “T-Boy” model.  Stemming from experimentation with alternative surfaces for his graffiti pieces, Shin created a template for a small hooded creature, easily downloadable from his website.

Why do I like this?  Creating paper art is an accessible, affordable, and effective(free advertsing!) way of getting your name out there as an artist.  I wonder if Shin knows that his constructed designs are on the desk of a newly inspired twenty-something in Boston?

Word to the wise: for someone who thinks the knee bone connects to the skull bone, you may have difficulty with all the tabs and folds in keeping your figures together.  You can always use the ol’ scotch tape/staple/Elmer’s glue method, but I would keep that a secret.  Just, allow people to believe you are more skilled in paper craft than you actually are….like pronouncing Target “Tar-jay” or that irritating Glade commercial with those cackling cougars.

You know the one:

Stay sweet!

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