A self-taught artist has designed a colorful menagerie of whimsical and realistic origami creatures. Some are palm-sized, others life-size, and all represent the artist’s personal philosophy: “If it makes you happy, go for it!”
Romanian artist Patrick Alberto Vraja, 25, grew up in the town of Sighetu Marmației and remembers being fascinated by paper art as a child. His early designs included “cute dinosaurs”, animals and everyday objects. Today, he creates animals, human figures and mythical creatures with breathtaking attention to detail.
“I recently started going for more realistic origami because I feel like real life is as beautiful, if not more, than fiction,” Vraja told The Epoch Times. “I feel like realism in art can be harder to achieve, so I took it as a challenge for me and my growth.
“Growth is in simple things: shaped feathers, different wings, different pose. Not everything has to be flashy, or so I think.
Vraja shares her creations on instagram and ICT Tacand says his vision of a design by artist Katsuta Kyohei titled “Blakiston’s Owl Fishis by far his best trick to date. It is also his greatest work to date.
He said he wanted his creation to be “closer to an actual owl”. His first challenge in completing the amazing owl origami was “to try to fold all that paper,” he said. Vraja completed the owl on January 18, after almost 25 hours of work spread over several days.
“Then I took the initiative to look at the anatomy of the owl so I could achieve realism. There was a lot of back and forth with the folding…I just went into ‘freestyle’ mode,” said he declared.
While each of Vraja’s creatures is made by scoring and folding a single sheet of paper up to 5 feet in length, these sheets can be made from two layers of thin, malleable 25gsm paper, glued together with a cellulose-based glue to make the paper resilient and “better suited” for carving.
Vraja alternates between fabrics and Wenzhou rice papers, saying the fabrics are “very accessible” and the rice paper is “better quality but more expensive”.
At the age of 7, in the absence of the internet, Vraja was introduced to origami by his mother, to whom he is still grateful today.
“I think my very first origami was a jumping frog or a beaked plane that does tricks as it flies,” he recalls. “I didn’t do much the first years; I just bent and bent, until it became a habit.
Everything has changed with the Internet. Vraja found a website with simple to intermediate origami tutorials and created replicas using inexpensive A4 printer paper.
“For what I was working on, that was enough,” he said. “We all start somewhere, and I’m proud of those moments.”
After folding everything the website had to offer, Vraja moved on to YouTube for more inspirational content. He remains in contact with some of those same content creators today.
Upon entering school, Vraja’s creations went from simple to complex. He discovered a love for dragons, bending over 100 dragons during his high school years during lunch breaks, or whenever he was anxious or bored.
Vraja has slowly refined his technique and believes there is still room for improvement in every detail. “There is no ‘perfect’, but overall I’m very happy,” he said.
The artist, who moved from his hometown to Cluj Napoca to complete his studies in public administration and works in retail, isn’t sure how many paper artworks he has folded, but says the number is “three-digit”. Describing himself as a calm and patient person, he considers origami a “training for my mind”.
He advises others: “Be original, be yourself! Nothing bad will ever come of it. If you have something you love to do, no matter how big or small, do it. Don’t focus on people’s negative opinions…I’m living proof that if you keep doing something you love, if you give it anytime during your day, you’ll come to a point where you’ll be satisfied and happy.
“It has been 18 wonderful years so far. Some filled with constant work, some with breaks for different reasons, but I always come back to it, with enthusiasm, no matter what! I consider origami my place where I can relax and find myself.
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