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From A Lifelong Passion To A Career!

Local origami artist Joseph Wu has been commissioned to decorate different projects with his paper creations. From installations and advertisement campaigns, Wu is also known on the international origami scene. The Vancouver-based artist initially made origami when he was three years old, and continued his passion even while completing his studies at the University of British Columbia. When he lost his job during the early 2000s, he turned to his lifelong passion as the new source of income: 

His original designs vary from quaint and seemingly simplistic objects, like a feather or a ball, to the incredibly complex—a white rhinoceros, a life-sized tree, or the 44-foot-long Japanese dragon he created for a theatre project last year. To explain his creative process, Wu references Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink which delves into the idea of subconscious cognition. “Gladwell explains how we can very, very quickly process things that might take a long time if we were to sit down and think about it,” Wu says. It is in this way he processes his origami. “I do the research I need, come up with the parameters I want for my design, and then in the span of about a minute, the design just appears in my head.” At that point, he knows that he can take a flat piece of paper sitting in front of him and form it into the finished object. Typically, it takes between 10 and 20 revisions before he’s fully happy with the piece.
These days, commissioned work such as installations and advertisement campaigns keep him busy. A recurring job with Canadian Business magazine has him creating origami out of money for each issue (“When I’m done a piece, I just unfold it and spend it,” he says). Thus far, his favourite ad campaign was for Stolichnaya vodka, for which he made a series of origami animals and butterflies. When he travelled to New York one summer to attend an origami convention, the ads were all over the city. “Telephone booths, billboards, subway entrances, all with my origami on it—it was totally unexpected.”

Image credit: Joseph Wu.

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