Thinking out of the box: Japanese artist makes life-like cardboard sculptures

Thinking out of the box: Japanese artist makes life-like cardboard sculptures

Artist Monami Ohno poses with several of her cardboard sculptures at a gallery event in Tokyo, Japan July 23, 2016. Picture taken July 23, 2016.

Monami Ohno/Handout via REUTERS

Artist Monami Ohno uses cardboard to create intricate artwork exhibited in galleries – from anime robots to fighter jets, guns, and McDonald's meals

Using a long pair of tweezers, Monami Ohno delicately places tiny cardboard “scales” on the legs of her sculpture of Godzilla, the giant reptile from the classic Japanese movie.

Over the past decade, the Japanese artist has used the unlikely medium of cardboard to create artwork inspired by popular culture, from anime robots to models of tanks and fighter jets, a life-sized gun to a full McDonald’s meal.

A McDonald’s meal made out of cardboard by artist Monami Ohno is pictured in Tokyo, Japan August 11, 2017. Picture taken August 11, 2017.
Monami Ohno/Handout via REUTERS

It all started when the 29-year-old made a “bike-like thing” out of cardboard for a college assignment ten years ago.

“When I first tried folding the paper, gluing and putting them together, the people around me praised me, saying things like ‘Wow, you can make this,’,” she said. “That made me so happy that I have continued doing this until now.”

Ohno’s intricate sculptures have since gained popularity, with her work exhibited in galleries in Japan and overseas.

29-year-old artist Monami Ohno glues cardboard “scales” onto a sculpture of Godzilla in Tokyo, Japan August 25, 2021. Picture taken August 25, 2021. REUTERS/Joseph Campbell

Rather than relying on a precise blueprint, Ohno simply draws a rough sketch on the cardboard to get an idea of the measurements before cutting out the design and molding it, using glue and sometimes a little water.

“I make the things I would really like to decorate my house with,” she said in her studio filled with her creations, including a child-sized Lego Batman sculpture.

Ohno’s commissioned pieces have sold for 100,000 yen ($909.42) to 1,500,000 Japanese yen, according to her press officer.

Although her art is entirely made from used cardboard boxes, Ohno said her work has no underlying environmental message.

“Eventually if it makes that point, it would be nice if people can see my work, which is made out of cardboard and recycled materials rather than plastics, and realize that there are these kinds of people who are involved in recycling,” she said. –

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