Brain Pickings

20 of Today’s Most Exciting Artists and Illustrators Reimagine the Paper Plane

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What the quintessential childhood staple teaches us about the bounds of the imagination.

The paper airplane is among the most beloved of childhood toys — and for good reason: It seems to embody just the right balance of function and fantasy, of hands-on practicality and make-believability. In Little Paper Planes, 20 of today’s most exciting artists and illustrators — including Brain Pickings favorites Julia Rothman ( ), Lisa Congdon ( ), and Gemma Correll () — reimagine the childhood staple. From the literal yet expressive to the wildly abstract yet playable with, the designs range from a meticulously engineered plane mobile to a paper doll to a crumbled up piece of paper to a handful of shreds, and just about every imaginative in-between shape.

Kelly Lynn Jones, founder of pioneering artist community Little Paper Planes, writes in the introduction:

While working on this book, it became clear that the concept of the paper plane represented more than just a flying object, but brought up moments of nostalgia for childhood, varying perceptions on the act of making and creativity, and notions around authorship and the collaboration between artist and reader.”

Each paper plane design is prefaced by a short introduction to and single-question interview with the artist, contextualizing his or her work, background, and approach to art.

Julia Rothman

Gemma Correll

Lisa Congdon

Michael C. Hsiung

A refreshing treat for that timeless inner child, or the creatively-minded real child, Little Paper Planes reminds you that the limits of even the most seemingly formulaic and constrained of concepts are set only by the bounds and boundaries of the imagination.

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