Colombian artist Diana Beltrán Herrera has been passionate about birds since she was just a child. However, around seven years ago, this passion grew into marvelous paper sculptures that both enchant and amaze. Now her paper bird collection consists of more than 100 sculptures. Scroll down for Bored Panda’s interview with the artist!
Her incredibly detailed birds are made entirely out of cut paper. The artist carefully attaches together little pieces of colored paper which slowly form marvelous 3D bird sculptures. They imitate a variety of bird species that can be found all over the world, ranging from exotic hummingbirds to the humble sparrow. In this way, the artist shows the incredible biodiversity and richness of our planet.
“I started making structures in the paper that somehow started to look like animals and one of the best results that I had was making birds. I used to live in Helsinki and there, I connected with nature, especially with birds. I started to notice how they lived within the urban city and the interaction between humans and nature was very respectful. When I started working with paper, I found that it was a great material as it could be transformed into organic shapes—for example, if you cut it into small pieces, you can create intricate subjects. To me, paper has great potential and can transform into almost anything. I have been working with paper over the last 7 years and my work is often jumping into different categories that all relate to nature: It could be sculptures of animals, fruits, book covers, advertising, or visual images,” explains the artist.
“I feel inspired by art, design, and nature, but almost anything, really. The best I try to do is to allow ideas to come from everywhere, and I really like looking at everyday things. Also, I enjoy looking at botanical illustration books, online documents, and other things people have made. If I’m making flowers, I’ll go get flowers and press them. If I am making fruit, I will go to the market and find a few real ones that I will study in front of my workspace. It’s all about collecting images, collecting thoughts, collecting ideas,” tells the artist about her inspirations.
When asked about her creative process—from the idea to the finished sculpture, she said: “In the beginning, my work always starts with references from things I have to do. I have to research and collect a good amount of images. After that, I do a lot of digital sketches that I create in Illustrator. I print my drawings and use them as a reference. I then choose the type of paper I need. Sometimes I paint the paper if the tones I need are very specific. After that, it’s cutting, painting, putting it all together, and finally, the photos. I like to take the photos of the process to keep as documentation, it allows me to see how things start and then turn into a sculpture. A bird often takes from a week up to a month depending on the size and detail. But nowadays I do more than birds so it always varies from one subject to the other.”
“I enjoy everything from my creative process. I like transforming paper and the many different things you can do with it. An important part of being creative is about being curious and learning. You can create beauty from the most simple, mundane, and ordinary things. Paper is an ordinary material, but it can become something beautiful. I want to push the presence of paper as a material because it has so many capabilities. It often gets dismissed and perceived just as a material for crafts, but I feel it is much more than that. With my work, I just want to help people to notice the things I’ve noticed that I feel are important to pay attention to. Doing that helps people find things they see everyday more interesting than what they’ve seen before. I believe my work interacts with people easily because it’s very visual and playful. Very often, my works allow them to engage with the real subject. I’ve had people tell me they notice birds in the park more after looking at my work featuring birds. I feel if you want to make an impact in the world, it is important to focus on things that are common to us all and that we should care more for.”
“I studied industrial design and then studied a Master in fine arts. Both careers have helped me so much. On one side, I have critical thinking and can understand ideas in a deeper way. On the other hand, the design allows me to have a good understanding of the material and with that knowledge, I am able to propose a range of results. I can think about form and structure, which are very important components for the construction of objects. I like to make with what I have, so I am often collecting materials from different sources and keeping them around—l like playing with them and seeing what kind of results come out of them. With paper, I feel really free and it allows me to try different ideas. It is a relatively inexpensive material, easy to find and to transform. If you try a little bit harder, you can create great things with it. I really like materials that don’t cost me anything. I like to recycle a lot. I’m interested in something that is so ordinary and not worth any money and making it into something else. I like the challenge of rescuing things that are discarded and finding the potential in the everyday.”
Herrera’s passion for birds goes beyond aesthetics as the artist is concerned about the ethical treatment of animals. One of her major concerns is the illegal wildlife trade of birds, which can be found in her country and abroad. She inspires us to protect nature and its magnificent creatures so that we can show real-life birds crossing the skies to future generations instead of their paper sculptures.
Note: this post originally had 50 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.