3.7 Paper toys

The purpose of this research task was to find some specific artists who design paper toys and document examples of their work in your log so that I can take any learnings into my own practice.


This was a area I had no experience or understanding. I was surprised to find a whole genre of paper craft work that is a thriving, particularly in East Asia.

Shin Tanakar

Shin Tanaka is a Japanese street artist whose work is a fusion between urban culture and origami.

On his website he describes how he started his career as a graffiti artist and discovered paper toys when looking for a new ‘canvas’ to work on. He had an idea to draw graffiti on a toy but didn’t have a suitable toy to work on. Drawing on his experience of origami, which he practiced as a child, he started to create paper models.

His first paper models were replicas of popular trainer designs.

Now his portfolio is extensive and many of his paper templates are free to download from his website.

Shin Tanaka - 5_paper_CHIBBY
Fig 1 – Chibby – showing a clear connection with street art and graffiti

His resume consists of a long list of well known brands with whom he has either collaborated or produced work for.


Tougui is a French graphic designer, illustrator and paper toy maker. He started his design career working for street wear companies and communications agencies.

He has a broad portfolio of work covering branding, packaging and exhibition design. His paper toys are either a medium to deliver his other work, or an end in themselves.

Fig 2 – EVOLI – pokemon paper toy and packaging (2019)


What is the purpose of paper toys?

Paper is a very accessible medium. In an interview for formatmag.com he says: “paper is a very familiar material for me, and I thought it’s very easy for everyone to build it up by themselves and to customize it” (Sison, 2008).

For someone making the toy, it’s also the joy and satisfaction of following instructions and making a model.

Who is their target audience?

The models are aimed at a young audience and are a combination of cartoon characters, and street fashion.

Shin Tanaka describes his trainer project: “The sneakers were an instant hit. People didn’t criticize. They loved the concept I started. They can customize and make their own colored sneakers” (Sison, 2008).

What is the draw to making paper toys as opposed to buying pre-made toys?

There is a degree of skill required in building the model and I imagine they become collectable. There are paper toy exhibitions which indicate enough interest for there to be motivated followers/customers.

They can combine street art and graffiti in quite a unique way, and perhaps the target age group are slightly old to buy pre-made toys but who still want to have toys, and this is a way in which that need can be fulfilled.


Sison, K. (s.d.) Shin Tanaka. At: http://formatmag.com/art/shin-tanaka/ (Accessed 24/07/2020)

List of illustrations

Figure 1 – Tanaka, Shin Cibby [Paper toy] At: http://shintanaka.web.fc2.com/ (Accessed: 23/07/20)

Figure 2 – Tougi (2019) Evoli – pokemon paper toy and packaging [Paper toy] At: http://www.tougui.fr/portfolio-item/evoli-pokemon/ (Accessed: 23/07/20)



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