“Meet Me in the Woods”
Julia Kuo’s Paper Sculptures
Celebrate Our National Parks
on Neenah ENVIRONMENT®
Julia Kuo is a terrific illustrator based in Chicago. Her work has graced everything from concert posters and books, to illustrating national parks across the country. “I am on a quest to visit as many national parks as possible, and actually at this moment I’m writing this from the back of a van driving to Yosemite,” she notes. “It’s just so amazing when I think about what these parks preserve.”
In addition to painting and drawing, Kuo loves to make 3D art with paper. Working with Neenah ENVIRONMENT®, she constructed an elaborate bison. She was inspired after visiting Yellowstone National Park a month ago, where she witnessed many of them roaming in their natural environment. “The bison is the biggest land mammal any of us will ever see freely wandering around on this continent! I always feel so much awe and wonder at seeing their massive, hulking frame up close.” Below, she walks us through the steps of building this bison that stands at just over a foot tall, and 1½ feet long.
1. “I often jump right into making the finish on 2D and 3D pieces, because I enjoy figuring things out as I go. I never know quite how these structures will turn out, but that’s part of the fun of the construction! However, I thought it would be a good idea to make a model for at least the first animal on this project.”
2. The paper model was alright but needed work, so I’m glad I took the precaution of doing it. I kept adding onto the head to get it the size I wanted, and I knew that I’d want to give the face some better angles in the finish. However, it was helpful to get some proportions down and to be able to scale directly up (I went 3x this model for the finish).
3. After completing the model, I picked out some paper and paint for the final bison. I went with Neenah ENVIRONMENT® Raw 80# paper in Honeycomb and Wrought Iron. I also planned to add on details with gold paint. Depending on the lighting, I thought the gold paint would be subtle on the Honeycomb and distinct on the Wrought Iron.
4. This is how I deal with curves on flat surfaces, although I am sure there are better ways to do it! I use masking tape for everything, so most of the inside of the bison is pieced together with masking tape. Everything outside is also held together with masking tape until it’s time for glue. A little bit of math was helpful for angles and shapes.
5. I always work in my studio with something playing in the background. In this instance, the recent World Cup Bouldering Championships in Toronto! The bison’s head was too narrow on the first try. I had to take out the middle panel and replace it with a wider strip.
6. The bison was also a little top heavy! This little paper rock is now taped inside his back to keep him on all fours. Gluing a few pieces down here and there. I try not to use too much glue if I can help it – just personal preference.
7. Above, deciding on eye styles and a pattern for the bison body.
8. Someday, I’d like to make a collection of animals that the National Parks preserve! It would be great to sell them and donate the proceeds to an organization that helps with conservation.
Julia Kuo knows paper can be used in many different ways. Color, texture, weight, and finishes are used to add nuance and definition. We invite you to explore the many ways Neenah’s fine lines can add luster and dimension to your fine design and printing projects. For more information go see: Color & Texture: Where Old School Meets New School: Color & Texture in High Value Print Applications.