From an Artist's Mind Springs a Paper Town

The final product of Charles Young's 365-day project is a fanciful city full of fascinating details. (Photo: Charles Young/Paperholm)

While most artists use paper as a base for splashes of color and sketches of graphite, Scotland-based artist Charles Young sees paper in a different way. To him, it's a world of endless possibilities, a way to construct a world of whimsy, one structure at a time.

Challenging himself to create a paper sculpture every day for a year has opened Young's mind and boosted his creativity. Young's paper sculpture portfolio is quite the collection — delicate details and surreal concepts, all brought to life with stop-motion animation.

We talked with Young about his inspiration and aspirations.

MNN: Why did you decide to start this project?

Charles Young: Having completed my masters degree at Edinburgh College of Art last summer, I was looking for a project that would keep me making, and exploring architecture every day. I found some little paper models that I’d made a couple of years ago and thought that this was something I could reasonably expect to make every morning. To start with, I wasn't really sure how long I would continue the project but it ended up, for now, as a year.

Can you explain how you create these structures?

The models are all made from 220gsm watercolor paper and glue. Having decided what I'm going to make, I draw the design straight onto the paper. I use a surgical scalpel to cut, a needle to position the glue and watchmaking tweezers to hold and place some of the parts.

Having completed the project, how would you say it has affected you as an artist? What lessons have you learned?

Making something every day in this kind of project forces you to think creatively even when you don't necessarily want to. I know that my skills as an artist have improved from the regular daily practice, and looking back through the archive I can really see the progression of increasing complexity and ambition in the structures.

Do you have any favorites?

My favorite is the giraffe house, it was just a strange idea that came into my head and is always the one that I think of first. The other piece is the first carousel that I made. I think that that was the point at which I first saw the potential of using the .gif format to animate some of the images.

Now that you have wrapped it up, what’s next?

After a brief break, I'm hoping to start up the daily models again. I'm also looking at making some much larger scale paper cabins and other architectural works in paper and plaster.

We could spend hours on end sifting through Young's collection of clever, detailed sculptures. Take a look for yourself at You can buy more paper sculptures from Young on his Etsy page.