Artist Spotlight: Tirri
Tirri Mayin is a Venezuelan paper artist, student, and Twitch Creative streamer passionate about family, traveling, and animals. Tirri has been living in Japan since 2012 and has adopted a hobby making crafts and assemblage in Japanese-themed paper, specifically “Shikishi Paper Art (色紙・紙アート.)” She mostly uses Japanese Washi, allowing it to express her mind and represent the culture she’s immersed herself within.
Still new to art of all kinds, Tirri has only been practicing her paper sculpting skills for a couple of months and is still in the process of learning. “It all started about two months ago with some simple origami and an instructional manual on how to decorate a cardboard box,” she reminisces. Once, when visiting a quaint stationary shop to purchase some school supplies, Tirri came across a ready-to-build box kit that included cardboard and traditional Japanese paper. “It seemed easy enough, so I bought it and made it at home,” she reflects. Pleased with the results of the kit, she returned to the shop for another and instead found a kit instructing how to create paper sushi from corrugated paper. Suddenly, Tirri discovered the possibilities that paper can provide and instantly fell in love with paper-crafting. Filled with inspiration, she began searching for places to purchase different kinds of Japanese paper in order to construct her own original concepts and ideas.
Tirri’s interest in traditional Japanese paper artwork stems from her frustrations with traditional drawing media. Without experience in realism and proper drawing techniques, she found herself frustrated with her drawing abilities and felt as if she could never draw what she envisioned in her mind. “I had come to the conclusion that I just didn't have the talent or skill for art,” she laments. Tirri felt limited in her creative expression until she came across the freedoms offered by paper sculpting. She began to create simple things from paper and livestream her discoveries on Twitch. Eventually, a viewer expressed that she was drawing, but with paper rather than lead. “That made me incredibly happy and encouraged me to continue improving,” boasts Tirri with a smile on her face. “I love the fact that, even though I never received any training or education in art, paper and assemblage gave me the opportunity to express my mind.”
Although Tirri has no formal art training and has not had much experience with art until recently, she allows her cultural experiences to fuel her creative journey. Tirri has lived in different parts of the world throughout her entire life and has learned from her cultural diversity experiences. Although native in Spanish, Tirri mastered English at the age of 11, became fluent in Japanese by 17, and learned German by the time she was 22. At the age of 25, she was awarded a full scholarship for graduate school at a top-tier university in Japan where she earned a Master of Arts degree in International Social Development and Culture. She is currently in her 3rd year of her Doctoral Course and is working towards a PhD.
Constantly seeking new ways to express her creativity, Tirri has tapped into her cultural experiences for inspiration and motivation. “I enjoy the freedom I have to create different designs, incorporating aspects from all the cultures I've been exposed to throughout my life,” she explains. After witnessing the distinct style and personal signature of other artists, Tirri began to embrace the Japanese aesthetic surrounding her and incorporating it with elements from foreign cultures to create her own, unique style. “I try to incorporate a bit of my Caribbean and Latin American roots, among other cultural features,” she remarks. “I no longer use Washi or Chiyo paper exclusively, but also combine it with imports.” With so many worldly experiences to draw from and with multitudes of different kinds of paper available to her, Tirri never finds herself restricted in creative expression. “It has expanded into a passion for paper-crafting, paper art, and paper assemblage.”
Today, Tirri is still learning from trial-and-error and welcomes opinions and advice from others. She especially appreciates tutorials found on YouTube that allow her to learn new techniques. “Thank goodness for YouTube!” she exclaims. Without any professional training in paper-work, Tirri finds herself without skilled techniques and, instead, relies on her instincts as she reflects on her own mistakes. “I can be an extreme perfectionist sometimes,” she concludes. “I have wasted a lot of paper and supplies because I'm just not satisfied with the result of my piece, so I tear it all apart and re-do it, sometimes even from scratch.” Excited about her craft, though, she welcomes new opportunities that allow her to continue growing and urges others to follow their passions, as well.
“It is easy to get discouraged when you see creations from other artists and think your work will never be as good as theirs,” Tirri advises. Eternally grateful for the welcoming art communities she has found herself a part of recently, Tirri recommends surrounding yourself with other driven artists and allowing them to boost your confidence and encourage you to become better at your craft. She encourages each aspiring artist to listen to the advice of others and keep a positive outlook. “Don't feel discouraged when your creations don't come out as you expected or as you had initially pictured them,” she directs. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Art is subjective. Don't be too hard on yourself.”
COLOR ME KURT: How did you first become interested in your craft, and how long have you been creating?
TIRRI: I was buying some school supplies at a small stationary shop and saw a ready-to-build kit to make a cardboard box decorated with traditional Japanese paper. It seemed easy enough, so I bought it and made it at home. I liked it so much that I went back to that shop, (it's very near my apartment,) to get another and saw some corrugated paper with instructions on how to make paper sushi, so I bought that instead. Next thing I know, I started Googling for places where I could buy different kinds of Japanese paper to make my own designs from scratch without any instructions or manual. And here I am, still learning by trial-and-error, and watching tutorials about different techniques on Youtube; (thank goodness for Youtube!).
CMK: What is your favorite part of your line of work?
T: I always felt frustrated when I tried to draw something and it didn't come out as I had pictured it my mind. So I had come to the conclusion that I just didn't have the talent or skill for art. When I started making simple things out of paper, one of my Twitch viewers told me that I was actually drawing with paper. That made me incredibly happy, and encouraged me to continue improving. I love the fact that, even though I never received any training or education in art, paper and assemblage give me the opportunity to express my mind.
Moreover, I enjoy the freedom I have to create different designs, incorporating aspects from all the cultures I've been exposed to throughout my life. After seeing so many artists and noticing that most of them have a specific style or signature patterns/designs, I started to wonder if I too should stick to only Japanese style since I live in Japan. But I realized there was no reason for me to restrict myself. So now I try to incorporate a bit of my Caribbean and Latin American roots, among other cultural features. I no longer use Washi or Chiyo paper exclusively, but also combine it with imports.
Also... the paper! Every time I walk into the paper store, it's like an ASMR experience (hehe).
CMK: What creation of yours is your favorite, and why?
T: I don't have many creations yet, but I would have to say my favorite piece, so far, is one called "Wa".
It's a small Shikishi, (a completely white stiff cardboard square,) which I decorated with textured Washi as the background, a crane and a Japanese fan I made from Chiyo paper, a pair of traditional Japanese sandals I made from Washi, and the Japanese character 和 "Wa" on the center made from 3 different kinds of paper. It's a simple piece, but it screams "Japan" from every angle.
CMK: Do you have any advice for those wishing to pursue a similar interest or career?
T: I can be an extreme perfectionist sometimes. I have wasted a lot of paper and supplies because I'm just not satisfied with the result of my piece, so I tear it all apart and re-do it, sometimes even from scratch. I have started to realize that, even when I find my "art" horrendous for my personal standards, there will always be someone who will absolutely love it. Sometimes the things you hate about your finished piece are the same things some people love about them. So my advice is: don't feel discouraged when your creations don't come out as you expected or as you had initially pictured them. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Art is subjective. Don't be too hard on yourself.
CMK: Lastly, your favorite colour?
T: Forest green (all dark shades of green)
If you'd like to stay up to date with Tirri's creations, she can be found through her social media:
Author: Noelle M. B.