Jeff Nishinaka

Paper Art by Jeff Nishinaka

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Paper Art by Jeff Nishinaka

Sculpting Dreams: The Mesmeric Artistry of Jeff Nishinaka’s Paper Creations

Jeff Nishinaka’s art style transcends the constraints of its chosen medium, ushering viewers into a realm where paper becomes a vessel for dreams and nature comes alive in delicate folds.

Paper Art by Jeff Nishinaka
Paper Art by Jeff Nishinaka

As we navigate the enchanting landscapes of Nishinaka’s imagination, we find ourselves in the presence of an artist who has not only mastered the craft but has also elevated it to a poetic expression of beauty. His sculptures beckon us to witness the magic that unfolds when creativity meets craftsmanship, leaving an indelible mark on the canvas of contemporary sculpture.

In the realm where art converges with craftsmanship, Jeff Nishinaka stands as a modern-day alchemist, transforming ordinary sheets of paper into ethereal sculptures. This article embarks on an exploration of Nishinaka’s distinctive art style, a symphony of delicate forms that transcends the limitations of the medium.

Paper Art by Jeff Nishinaka
Paper Art by Jeff Nishinaka

The Poetic World of Jeff Nishinaka:

  • Origins in Illustration: Nishinaka’s journey into the world of paper sculpting had humble beginnings in illustration. His transition from two-dimensional drawings to three-dimensional sculptures marked the inception of a unique artistic odyssey.
  • Paper as a Medium: Unlike traditional sculptors who wield marble or clay, Nishinaka’s chosen medium is paper. His preference for this seemingly fragile material is a testament to his mastery, as he coaxes strength and grace from each meticulously chosen sheet.
  • A Fusion of Art and Craft: Nishinaka’s art blurs the lines between fine art and craft. His creations, though sculptural masterpieces, retain an inherent craftiness that evokes a sense of wonder—a harmony of skill and imagination.

Sculptural Symphony in Paper:

  1. Layered Complexity: Nishinaka’s sculptures achieve remarkable depth through the layering of paper. Each sheet contributes to a complex tapestry of forms, allowing viewers to explore the intricacies of his creations from various angles.
  2. Dynamic Movement: Despite the static nature of sculptures, Nishinaka’s works exude a sense of dynamic movement. The way light plays on the surfaces and shadows carve through the layers imparts a kinetic energy, as if the sculptures are caught in a perpetual dance.
  3. Floral and Faunal Inspirations: Nature serves as a profound muse for Nishinaka. His sculptures often emulate the delicate beauty of flowers and the grace of animals, capturing the ephemeral essence of life in the enduring medium of paper.


  • Paper as a Versatile Canvas: Nishinaka’s art style elevates paper beyond its conventional role. Each sculpture is a testament to the versatility of this humble material, showcasing its capacity to embody grace, strength, and intricate detail.
  • A Fusion of Artistic Disciplines: Nishinaka’s work blurs the boundaries between traditional art and craft. The fusion of artistic sensibility and technical skill results in sculptures that are not just visually captivating but also imbued with a tactile appeal.
  • Nature’s Beauty in Every Fold: The artist’s deep connection with nature breathes life into his sculptures. Viewers are invited to witness the beauty of flowers unfurling and animals caught in mid-motion, all expertly captured in the delicate folds of paper.
  • Timeless Elegance in Layers: Nishinaka’s layering technique imparts a timeless elegance to his sculptures. Each layer adds a new dimension, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the ever-expanding depth of his creations.

Jeff Nishinaka is a paper sculptor from Los Angeles whose handcrafted work is commissioned around the globe by private and public companies and celebrities. From ethereal lines in a mythical creature to geometric shapes in a cityscape, Nishinaka draws from fantasy and reality to create monochromatic objects in relief. His fascination with art started at a young age, as a fan of Norman Rockwell, 1960s cartoons, Marvel comic books and the Japanese comic book “Astro Boy.” After attending University of California, Los Angeles, he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration from the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Paper became Nishinaka’s medium of choice as an art student. Instead of choosing matchsticks, nails or clay for a class project, he challenged himself by using paper to create a multidimensional fish sculpture. During this creative process, he felt compelled to discover new ways to shape, bend and round edges on different types of paper. He felt destined to be a paper artist.

Nishinaka’s work has been featured in numerous galleries, public art displays, retail displays and ad campaigns for clients such as Microsoft, Starbucks, Ralph Lauren, United Airlines, Clinique, MGM Studios, Lexus, Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Qualcomm and Iggesund Paperboard. He has created more than 40 custom sculptures for martial arts expert and actor Jackie Chan. Art publications from around the world and media outlets such as USA Today, The New York Times, V Magazine and The Atlantic have touted his work.

The artist attributes his successful 30-year career to the special relationship he has with paper. He feels that the medium has an energy and life of its own and that it is his part to release or reveal what is already there. Trying not to overwork or force paper into submission, he lets the beauty of paper speak for itself. Each sculpture begins with an idea, a rough sketch and research. When ready to construct, Nishinaka uses simple tools: a pencil, X-Acto knife, wood dowel, tweezers, glue and an eraser. Above all, his most treasured tools are his hands. To him, the human touch lends a textural quality that cannot be achieved digitally. Adhering to the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship, Nishinaka meticulously creates each element of a structure with great precision, patience and passion.

To Nishinaka, creating art for clients is just as fun as it is teaching it. He serves as an instructor at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where he says “fresh young minds” inspire and motivate him to continually refine his skills. Along with teaching, Nishinaka enjoys traveling, playing the drums, building model airplanes and sharing tips about his craft with social media followers.

Jeff Nishinaka website