Mar Delmar, a world of paper in the palm of your hand

Mar Delmar, a world of paper in the palm of your hand

Anabel Herrera Published on 5/29/2023

As a child, she enjoyed building cabins and decorating them with scrap materials she found in her father’s workshop. Mar Delmar would use any object she found to create unique scenes, in which even the smallest piece could take on a life of their own and fulfil a specific function. This fascination with spaces and sets would lead her years later to study Cinematography at the Cinema and Audiovisual School of Catalonia (ESCAC).

‘Lost’, part of the series ‘Home. Lost & Found’. Image courtesy of Mar Delmar.

It was there that the paths of Cinema and Illustration crossed the artist’s life, becoming forever intertwined. The writer Mireia Canals – Mar’s professor at the time – suggested that she illustrate a collection of children’s stories which she was putting together, which ended up being published by Salvatella as ‘The Stories of Marcos and Maria’. In this first commission, Mar made up for her lack of technique and drawing skills with imagination instead, applying film theory to illustration: she created her drawings as if they were for a film, thinking about the casting, lighting and staging.

Mendl’s Bakery, inspired by the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel, for a private collector. Image courtesy of Mar Delmar.

Intuitive approach to technique

The technique of cutting out then reconstructing the figures, which early on helped her to cover up her beginner’s mistakes, would end up becoming the most personal and characteristic hallmark of Mar Delmar’s work. The Barcelona-based illustrator draws the various miniature elements of a composition on white paper, carefully cuts out them out with a scalpel, then paints them with watercolours and reassembles them once more. This original technique was one that the artist developed intuitively, bringing a an air of freshness and vitality to her work.

Paper illustration created for The New York Times. Image courtesy of Mar Delmar.

Although she initially balanced her work in the audiovisual field with her illustration, she soon realised that her true passion lay in the art of scissorwork. She completed her education, largely self-taught, with a course in Illustration at the Escola de la Dona in Barcelona, allowing her to immerse herself in her own creative environment.

Interiors of old houses decorated in minute detail with ceramics and paintings, landscaped courtyards, monuments and balconies of the city of Barcelona reproduced in tin cans, greenhouses dotted with tiny delicate plants… Mar Delmar’s creations transport us to a magical miniature world where the everyday becomes extraordinary thanks to the incredible level of detail in the figures and the harmony of the scene.

Part of the series ‘Barcelona in a can’, in 10-14 cm tin cans. Image courtesy of Mar Delmar.

Movie scenes in paper dioramas

The originality and exquisite charm of the illustrator’s work attracted the attention of the prestigious Spoke Art gallery in San Francisco. They invited her to participate in an exhibition dedicated to film director Wes Anderson, for which she made dioramas based on the movie ‘The Darjeeling Limited.’

This first international commission would lead to work for galleries all around the world, particularly in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Romania. This work has fascinated artists and movie lovers alike with her faithful paper reproductions of iconic movie scenes from ‘La La Land’, ‘The Shining’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, among others.

Recreation of a scene from ‘La La Land’ for Entertainment Weekly. Image courtesy of Mar Delmar.

Her illustrations have been published in newspapers such as The New York Times, The Guardian and Il Corriere Della Sera; and in numerous fashion, art, architecture and decoration magazines, such as Entertainment Weekly, Elle and Architectural Digest, among others. Her clients include firms such as Christian Louboutin, Deloitte and the publishing houses Planeta, Comanegra and Mediterrània, for which she has illustrated more than twenty books and children’s stories.

A new look at the creative process

Mar Delmar’s career took an unexpected turn a few years ago, as a result of the death of her mother. This loss lead to a new direction in her work, one that is more symbolic and profound.

‘We are broken birds’. Image courtesy of Mar Delmar.

Broken hearts after the loss of a loved one, wounded birds instilled with wisdom and strength, constellations of stars that guide us through the path of life when we believe we are lost… The artist’s more recent works explore a complex world of emotions, in a creative moment of introspection, catharsis and rebirth.

Hearts in 10cm diameter tin cans, part of the series ‘Grieving Hearts’. Image courtesy of Mar Delmar.

If there is one project that best characterises this new stage in Mar Delmar’s work, it is DoShit! This game features 84 illustrated cards with different scenes in which the protagonist is an octopus in space. A crazy theme for a crazy world, these cards aim to be a source of inspiration for anyone experiencing a creative block in their work.

Two cards from the DoShit! project. Image courtesy of Mar Delmar.

DoShit! has been conceived as a kind of tarot in which you draw your own cards to explore your fears and limitations, and to bring out you inner strength and motivations to help drive them forward in spite of adversity.

Two cards from the DoShit! project. Image courtesy of Mar Delmar.

Mar Delmar continues to delight us with her imaginary mini-worlds, in which we contemplate, like mini-gods, the essence of human nature represented in small paper figures.