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Interview with Juho Konkkola



Juho Konkkola is an origami artist from Finland who uses only a square sheet of paper as his artistic medium. Even though it involves using paper a lot he tries to reuse most of them for other purposes



Career, Life, and Inspiration


In around 2020 I got a lot of attention for my work on social media and in the art exhibitions in my country, so I figured I could try to see if it would work to do this for a living. It is still quite experimental, although there are a lot more commitments now and I steadily get more opportunities for working and displaying my art.

My parents have always been very supportive of my career choices, and I haven’t faced that much criticism towards it in recent years. I think my story has been more of a source of inspiration in the origami communities and for people who want to become artists.


Patience and Commitment


I have to put my distractions aside and just focus on my work, it also helps me schedule a certain amount of time to work on the piece and after that, I can focus on other things. I also cycle between the projects to keep myself interested and focused on the projects. I do sometimes get distracted though, so I am not free from that either.

Question of Sustainability


I don’t use that much paper for my work, most of it is used to do the actual artworks, test folds, and other origami models I might fold. All those test folds, attempts, and other models I have stored in boxes, so pretty much the only paper waste are the paper scraps that come from cutting the paper into squares, and sometimes from failed attempts in developing the paper.


However, I don’t know the origins of most of my papers, since they have very little information in art stores, to begin with, but the majority of it is handmade paper, so I would guess it is more ecological than what the paper industry produces. I also reuse materials for transporting and storing them, so a very small amount of material is used and wasted in the entire art process. I would think the art process is more sustainable for the environment than for example the traveling needed to do those exhibitions.





Representation through pieces of paper


It has been mathematically proven that we can in theory fold an infinite number of appendages from a single square sheet of paper (more like a plane that has 0 thickness), so that brings up the question what can we fold in practice? I am mostly interested in human figures, so have had the interest to search for what kind of human figures I could create from a sheet of paper. I thought for years that it wasn’t possible to do 2 figures fighting each other to the extent I made the Dueling Knights piece. That piece has proved my assumption wrong and has opened up my eyes to a whole new world of what could be done.

Certain things like spheres and very long and thin appendages can’t be done very well because of the constraints of origami, but other than that I am currently quite clueless about where the true limits lie. Only our creativity is the limitation on what we can make from a piece of paper.



            Complexities to favorites


The Samurai is probably the most well-known piece of mine, it has been in the news in numerous media outlets around the world. It was a very unique experience to see it quickly spread around places. It was amazing to see that much appreciation for my work. The Dueling knights were also very successful in regards to popularity, and it also is my favourite piece due to its complexity and the world it has opened to me.


Hurdles and the way to success


There is a long list of challenges that come with working in this field. On top of what you would face as being a painter or a sculptor, origami brings many new problems to the table. I have had to figure out what materials work best, how to create the paper myself, develop my folding techniques, and create a whole new approach to designing origami models, as well as displaying, transporting, and storing them safely. There are very few sources or even people who do these kinds of things, so for the most part I must invent the solutions on my own.


I am also trying to find ways to make the creation process faster and more consistent while not affecting the quality of work, but that is probably one of the biggest challenges so far for me.


But there have also been some things that have been easier for me, such as gaining a larger audience and getting the opportunities to exhibit my works, as well as being able to put more time into working on my art. Many other artists, especially those who come from a similar place to mine, have had to put a lot more effort to get their names out there. I don’t want to give up yet, there are many things to explore, and I have many open paths to choose from where I want to go with my origami.


Preserving artworks


I store them in a plastic box in a closet away from moisture and sunlight, so they will preserve their shape and color better over the years. I have one origami that is over 15 years old and still almost in original condition, even though that particular piece has seen some stories and the world quite a bit.


       Small is Beautiful: Miniature artwork

The Small is Beautiful exhibition had probably one of the best-looking displays my works have been in so far, and it was very pleasant to work with them to set it up. It is quite difficult to find distinctive features from one particular exhibition, since I have had exhibitions in very fancy places, such as Venice, and I have had very positive experiences in them all, so the “competition” is quite fierce in that regard.

Each of the exhibitions is a unique experience on its own, The Small is Beautiful had the smallest artworks of them all.



Your future projects and hopes?

My next project will be another winged character that is the continuation of my exploration of creating origami figures with wings, and after that, I am planning to create a few figures that should step up one level above in terms of how much detail my usual works have.


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