Noli Umahag: Paper Toy Artist
The birth of a new generation of artists is nonetheless contemporary yet fascinatingly unique. They are making their own names by introducing new forms of art that captivate the eye of the community.
Noli Umahag or he prefers more to be called “Nollzz” is an illustrator, graphic designer, and the founder of PIOD paper crew, a local group that has gained massive recognition for its intricate production of paper toys. He was inspired by the Japanese form of paper folding and developed this modern-day paper art with a touch of digital art that creates a collection of astounding paper toys.
This paper toy artist of ours said that he began creating paper toys out of boredom. Like some of us, he grew up with paper toys, ones which can be bought just outside the school, a popular toy with children way back during the ’80s and the ’90s. His inspirations in paper toy making were Ryosuke Yazaki, Da Vinci and the people he gets to meet. He describes his personal style as “writing his own diary”.
He has collaborated with several schools and organizations to do workshops and seminars. He is most excited when it comes to introducing this kind of art to the younger generations,
“Now, where kids are more absorbed with gadgets and have no time to create crafts like this anymore, which is actually a way of entertainment…”, he said.
Three Years ago, Nollz came up with his brand name, ‘PIOD’. It is an Ilonggo term that means “to fold”, which he chose to localize in order to promote the Ilonggo people’s craftsmanship.
‘Piod Paper Toys’ first started as a hobby for Nollz. Expecting something out of it wasn’t really part of the plan, nor did he set goals for it. Not until a random mall in the province discovered him and his paper toys did he realize that he could get this somewhere. Right then, he considered a few opportunities for his crafts like art installations, building collaboration with other artists,and marketing purposes. His goal from then on was to “work-and-pay and pay-and-work…”, as well as to produce an actual product which he can sell in the market.
“…it’s more on introducing this lost novelty of paper folding to them… to the millennials.”
On our interview with him, he shared to us that his purpose in creating this art was to bring back, more of reminiscing, the past. Where children doesn’t need to have expensive things just to be happy or to learn something. Though, he plans to do more.
” . . . Especially in Iloilo, we need more toy designer that will remind us of our childhood.”
He started from scratch, as he tells us. He didn’t have any experiences with any 3D or 4D programs. He started the hard and the long way, from folding the paper toys one by one on both sides, then he illustrates it on the computer.
One of his paper toy which took him 8 days to finish. He perfected the structure in 4 days, and the illustration for another 4 days.
He admitted that he had a hard time over making these complex type of toys, so later on, he settled in creating simpler toys, which are the ones he’s making nowadays. It was the simplest and easiest’ toy he can create for now, but he dreams of someday improving his designs, hoping to bring more surprises to his audience.
“Actually for now this is the simplest and the easiest toy but tani gani may stickers, or glitters . . .”
Some of Noli Umahag's first paper toys, which later on became his own personal collection.
He takes pride in his paper toys. Even though it was rejected several times, he took it positively, putting it into his mind that rejection is only part of the process, still believed that someday, his paper toys would have a place in the hearts of every Ilonggo’s and soon of every Filipinos. He took every criticism positively to improve himself and took the chance to innovate. He then produced his new collection of paper caps, which was later on discovered by a Manila-based cap brand and soon collaborated with him.
From another rejection, his paper caps were discovered, which brought him a lot of opportunities later on.
He wanted his crafts to make a huge impact, especially on the millennials. His dedication and perseverance fueled his desire to work hard and continue even after going thru a lot of rejections.
“It’s really nice and daw mapabugal mo bala everywhere you go. It’s Piod it’s Ilonggo. I got the chance to represent Iloilo with this kind of paper craft.”- Noli Umahag
Photo courtesy of Noli Umahag, Kurit Team
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