Paper toys: Shin Tanaka

Japanese graffiti artist Shin Tanaka sees his paper toy creations as canvases for his art. He’s one of several artists whose work features in a piece on paper toys in the new December issue of CR…

Japanese graffiti artist Shin Tanaka sees his paper toy creations as canvases for his art, and regularly encourages fellow artists to collaborate with him by customising blank templates of some of his character designs…

Creative Review: How long have you been creating paper toys?

Shin Tanaka: Since 2005. I’m a graffiti artist but once I created a paper object as my new canvas I couldn’t stop.

CR: What do you enjoy about working with paper in this way?

ST: Paper is very familiar material to us. It is easier assembling, building it up and customizing. If we use the internet, the template is sent via E-mail or downloaded from all over the world. This is new medium of art. As a material, paper has very elegant surface and curves. And because folded paper also has a very sharp edge, artists can express many imaginations with it.

CR: Is this something that you will always do – or do you think it’s a fad or a phase you’re going through that will lead to another way of working?

ST: I love collaborating and, by now, many artists and people have downloaded my blank templates and have enjoyed customising them. So many imaginations and inspirations are born from it. Also many paper toy artists are born. This is a positive chain reaction, and it adds a new dimension to today’s art scene.


CR: Do you think that paper toy culture is close to tipping into the mainstream?

ST: I have been working on creating paper artworks, but I think there is new interest from people who want to discover something fresh and to create something new – which is helping the popularity of paper toys. My paper toy templates are used for art education in schools, universities and academies in many countries. I hope the students continue to create fresh art and new ways of working in the future.

See more of Tanaka’s work at

Stay tuned for more paper toy art on the blog this week – and look out for the new December issue of CR in the shops which will feature a bound-in 170gsm blank custom Tougui toy template (in association with Arojowiggins Creative Papers) so you can make your own (blank version shown above). The best customised toy will win prizes! Full details to follow later in the week.

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