Oliver Bieräugel, AKA Ollanski, is a paper engineer and illustrator who creates genuine sculptures using nothing but paper, mostly for advertising campaigns, installations for commercial projects, magazines and private companies.
The technique he uses is highly original and different from other paper artists like Felix Samper: his sculptures, which are often ultra-realistic (giving the impression that you are looking at a photograph), require preliminary stages involving clay and Photoshop post-production.
He has worked for some of the biggest brands in the world over the course of his career, including Ferrero, PlayStation and Pepsi. But his studies seemed set to take him in a completely different direction – he graduated in biomolecular medicine in Stockholm.
However, in 2008 he decided to abandon a PhD in molecular neurobiology at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin to follow his passion: ” I was always super interested in science, but I never gave up painting and drawing on the side […] I maxed it out and used all the materials in kindergarten […] My mom jokes that she should have married a paper manufacturer“, he once said in an interview.
Background and early work
Ollanski grew up in the former East Germany during the 1990s, and references to pop culture became an essential part of his work. The artist absorbed and was influenced by everything he saw, from MTV and Star Trek to science fiction,.
After quitting his PhD in 2008, he created a portfolio and sent it to 250 magazines across Europe, hoping that at least one would reply. At this early stage in his career, most of his work was illustration. However, when a potential client asked him for a large-format illustration, he decided to create it using paper.
From that moment on, Ollanski started to opt for paper to create his sculptures and illustrations. As time passed, he managed to secure work with some extremely prestigious clients, including magazines like Asphaltgold, for which in 2014 he created a set for Manuel Mittelpunkt’s photographs made of paper and mirror film.
That same year he produced a paper illustration for Eyewear magazine.
In 2015, he started to attract more major clients, including Ferrero (through the agency M&C Saatchi), creating a paper sculpture for a promotional HR campaign for the firm.
Ollanski’s name came from an idea his best friend had: a sort of nickname that over time became his personal brand. After just a few years of work, the artist began to receive awards, including at the Hiii Brand Illustration Awards 2016.
Combining style and technique: how to create a paper sculpture
There are lots of paper artists around, including the incredible Yulia Brodskaya, who literally “draws” with paper. Ollanski stand out from the crowd, however, due to his completely unique technique.
His incredibly realistic paper sculptures start life as tiny models. The first stage is entirely done by hand: once he receives the commission – i.e. the subject he has to create – he creates as detailed a mould as possible using plasticine or modelling clay.
He then covers the entire structure with strips of sticky tape, before removing the tape to create a two-dimensional surface. He takes a photo of this 2D surface and cleans it up using Photoshop. Then he creates the sculpture’s inner structure, based on this printed surface.
The job involves completely deconstructing and reassembling the various parts: an almost mathematical or scientific approach to work, which undoubtedly stems from his past studies. Ollanski is an entirely self-taught paper engineer, who over time has developed his own original techniques for this art form.
Many of his works focus on food, and this can be extremely challenging. While some dishes have solid structures, others are more creamy or even liquid, as with this hot dog that Ollanski recreated – made entirely of paper, of course.
The power of paper
Ollanski works in the world of commercial art, where special effects, 3D and computer graphics rule the roost, but he uses the “innocence” and versatility of paper to make his clients stand out.
His finest works include a tribute to a radio station featuring a space station made entirely from paper, plasticine asteroids and other elements like lights and stars added later using the well-known digital drawing app Procreate.
And this exceptional paper sculpture, which depicts the Earth and various buildings in three dimensions.
We’ve reached the end of our journey into the art of Ollanski: a true paper engineer whose technique that combines creativity and scientific precision clearly sets him apart from all other paper artists.
His dedication to perfection and his unique approach make his creations not only visually satisfying, but also proof of the infinite potential of paper as an artistic medium.
As Ollanski continues to fold and shape paper using his own personal technique, he will surely inspire many other budding artists to try to push the boundaries of this versatile material. His art reminds us that sometimes even the “simplest” materials, like paper, can produce the most fascinating and surprising works.