Remember the time you successfully finished your first origami crane or a paper airplane as a child? The first time you manage to accomplish something like that is when you feel like a real artist.

That’s because the intricate work involved in order to create art out of paper is so challenging. Even the most experienced artists have a difficult time creating stunning works with the material.

That’s not the case for one artist, however. Calvin Nicholls has been working with paper as his primary medium for 25 years. In that time, he’s elevated any paper art you’ve seen to a level that’s hard to imagine. Prepare to be blown away…

Calvin Nicholls is an artist who’s worked for 25 years to perfect his medium of choice: paper. That’s right! What you’re looking at here isn’t a photograph of a sleeping bear; it’s a 3-D sculpture of one made entirely out of paper.


Calvin doesn’t just draw on the paper that finds its way into his studio. Rather, he shapes it to create intricate works of staggering detail and beauty. It is meticulous and delicate work, and every piece is truly more breathtaking than the one before it.


This particular series is appropriately titled “Paper Zoo.” While Calvin creates all sorts of projects out of paper, “Paper Zoo” features animals that you would most likely find at the zoo. Do you recognize this one yet?


To make pieces like this noble owl, Calvin starts by observing real-life animals and their movements. That’s a critical step in his artistic process. He could work from his imagination alone, but the real thing truly helps bring his work to life.


He’s sure to create numerous sketches that he can later use as reference for his paper art. These sketches, along with the photographs he takes as he works, are integral to the fabulous finished products he dreams up!


Calvin then cuts up thousands of tiny pieces of paper and pastes them together to form each animal. Can you imagine the amount of time it must take him to complete even just that step in the process? 


The texture he’s able to achieve with this technique is astounding. Even just looking at it from your computer screen you can tell that it seems as if it feels like real fur if you were to run your hands across it.


Given that he’s only working with white paper, Calvin’s details must be exactly right in order to create the appropriate depth and shadowing. Even the tiniest mistake can throw off the finished look he’s going for.


Each small piece can take many weeks to complete. That’s not difficult at all to believe when you look at one of Calvin’s finished works. In order for something to be so lifelike, it’s got to take a lot of time for him to perfect!


Calvin’s work has been featured in National Geographic as well as numerous galleries and art shows all over the world. He uses X-ACTO knives, scalpels, and scissors in the construction of his critters. They really help him capture the finest details of his work!


The commitment these amazing pieces of art require is just mind-blowing. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be if you messed up just one little detail? Talent like this just doesn’t come around that often!

Share these incredible paper artworks with your friends below!