The Paper Trade Market

Papercraft communities on DeviantART consist of groups of users who are actively trading, circulating, and contributing to series by constructing their favourite characters from anime, video games and other Asian media. These groups, like Anime-Papercraft, are divided into series, either by the content or the model design, and each product is available for download as a template (most of the time). Except I don’t like many of these designs. Most of them are just characters stuck onto a Cubeecraft model. They’re often detailed but uninspired. As much as I admire the spirit of the collaborations involved in these groups, the products they’re designing I have no interest in putting them on my shelf. My only interest is discovering who that character is.

I love to find intricate, detailed and thoughtfully constructed models. It has to convey and represent the spirit of whatever media I enjoy. I don’t want Naruto’s head stuck on a square. I want him to be in a striking pose. These are toys I want to display. But for some, people like to have entire sets.

Smilerobinson's room with her 5cm models displayed in glass cases.

Smilerobinson’s room with her 5cm models displayed in glass cases.

Papercraft images on DeviantART are visual portals to Asian media. Models are representations of an Artist’s passion and interest in an anime or a video game. Smilerobinson is an artist on DeviantART that creates 5cm models and circulates them on popular groups. As I click through each of her collections, more suggestions from Smilerobinson pop up on the side, and I continue clicking. Some characters I recognise, some I don’t. But on each image there is a description of the show the characters are from, and below there are users thanking and making her designs. Smilerobinson is going beyond just viewing Asian media, she’s appropriating her favourite characters into her papercraft designs and making it available to download. She’s also sometimes borrowing from other artists and linking their work too. Her work is inspired by Nibi‘s Hetalia Kakukaku papercraft, found on Pivix, a Japanese art board. Pivix was fascinating to explore in, a mixture between instagram and Deviant art, and mostly dominated by Japanese artists.

There’s so much content on DeviantART and Pivix. These platforms are providing a voice for small Papercraft communities. Groups are centralised fandoms; designers sharing and presenting models on their favourite shows. These models are small mementos of the anime they enjoy, and it’s a way to display it in your room, or to the world in a creative way. Plus, you’re making it yourself. For me, the idea of being able to recreate designs on DeviantART is what engages me in the community. I can build a model of an anime I love, tweak it, share it, and then place it on my desk.



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