Japanese papercutting artist goes viral for her paper cut art in nature


Kirie (切り絵) is the Japanese term for paper cut art made by cutting out designs on paper using a craft knife. It has been around for more than 1,000 years but was traditionally used only in religious ceremonies. Now, paper cut art has evolved to include intricate lace patterns, 3D elements, and special backgrounds in the design.

Erica, a Japanese papercutting artist, has made use of these modern paper cut elements to elevate her art. She also takes photos of her paper cut art outdoors, letting glimpses of nature peek through the cutouts in her design and creating something truly beautiful.


Paper cut art contrasted against scenery


japanese papercutting - paper cut art against greens
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

Erica, a mother of 2, enjoys drawing and papercutting. She started papercutting in 2018, but only set up her Twitter account, @Erica__kirie, in November 2019. Her account is dedicated to documenting her paper cut art, photographed outdoors.

japanese papercutting - paper cut art in autumn
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

In conventional Japanese papercutting, negative space is cut out from a sheet of white paper. The resulting paper cut art is then contrasted against a dark background to make the design pop. But for Erica, she uses nature and scenery as the background for her paper cut art instead.

japanese papercutting - paper cut art in spring
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

japanese papercutting - paper cut art in autumn
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

Erica jumps on every opportunity to take photos of her paper cut art in nature, whether it’s on the way home from work or when she notices a particularly beautiful background. She snaps more photos than usual during spring, when cherry blossoms bloom, and in the autumn, when fall foliage abounds. 

japanese papercutting - collaboration with photographers
Collaboration with @usalica
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

japanese papercutting - collaboration with photographers
Collaboration with @wabema24
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

Erica also collaborates with other photographers and illustrators, combining her kirie art with their photos. 


Designs of her paper cut art


japanese papercutting - julia from manga the skinny girl and the chubby boy
Julia from The Skinny Girl And The Chubby Boy
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

Erica’s first paper cut art on Twitter was inspired by a manga illustrated by manga artist, Mayumi Kato. She based it on Julia from The Skinny Girl And The Chubby Boy (やせっぽちとふとっちょ).

japanese papercutting - paper cut art inuyasha
Inuyasha
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

japanese papercutting - shippo inuyasha
Shippo from Inuyasha
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

She has also done paper cut art of characters from Inuyasha. To fill up some of the negative space, she uses fabric of different colours and patterns to dress the characters.

japanese papercutting - marriage paper cut art
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

Besides manga characters, Erica also did a paper cut art of a bride and groom as well. According to Erica, her followers modelled for her and she completed the cut art based on them.

japanese papercutting - paper cut art girl in kimono
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

japanese papercutting - paper cut art against greens
Image credit: @Erica__kirie

The rest of Erica’s paper cut art is based on original characters that she’d conceptualised and illustrated on her own. Most of them are females in kimonos because she enjoys drawing and cutting them.


Erica’s online store


japanese papercutting - online store
Image adapted from: Erica Kirie and Erica Kirie

In addition to sharing her photos on Twitter, Erica runs an online store selling tote bags, calendars, puzzles, t-shirts, acrylic blocks, and phone cases. Her items only ship within Japan so if you’d like to buy her items, you’d have to use a parcel forwarding service.


Photos of Japanese papercutting artist’s kirie art in nature 


Erica hopes that her photos have a “healing” effect and can help to lift the mood of others. It’s also a good reminder for us to take a break and appreciate the nature around us. Follow Erica’s Twitter for more therapeutic and beautiful photos.

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Cover image adapted from: @Erica__kirie and @Erica__kirie