To say that Capetown native Ross Symons likes folding paper is the understatement of the century. But it’s completely true; he’s a master of origami.
Give him a stack of sheets and he’s on it like white on rice.
It may sound unremarkable — after all, most kids grow up folding paper (or at least throwing angled-paper projectiles at their siblings’ heads). An airplane here, a fortune teller game there. But, over the years, this creator found a way to bring slips of paper to life with the crimp of a corner, a calculated tweeze, and a careful tuck.
This wasn’t always the case, though. For a younger Ross, flat, white paper held less appeal than the gloss and glow of his computer screen — the tunes he could command from playing musical instruments and making digital mixes were far more exciting than the crisp crackle of folding sheets.
The digital world occupied much more of his time as an adolescent, and it wasn’t until Ross’ university-aged brother was tasked with collecting objects that represented each of his family members that things began to change.
In response, Ross folded a simple paper crane, not remembering how he’d learned or who’d showed him the art of making something so distinct out of practically nothing.
But it didn’t matter who’d taught him; the lesson remained in his muscle memory. As he began a career in web developing, he delved deeper into the world that had fascinated him as a child, his occasionally idle fingers crafting spiky paper animals.
Soon, he had an entire arc of them framing his computer monitor.
In 2014, Ross challenged himself to a 365-day project — making one origami creature a day. 120 paper animals later, he cleared his desk at work, vowing to take freelance web design projects that would allow him the creative freedom to continue folding paper.
But with the quick success of his Instagram account, he decided to make origami his full-time pursuit instead — and he never looked back.
Two hundred and fifty colorful geometric shapes hanging from the ceiling of an Adidas store in Johannesburg. A bull crafted from cherry-red paper for a Red Bull campaign. These are his victories, and some of his favorite projects. Others include personal arrangements for his own Instagram: itty paper jets encircling a pencil and a tiny, folded kangaroo next to a spring for scale.
He’s even found a way to mesh his folding techniques with his affinity for computers. Bringing the creatures to life through stop-motion animation is his newest undertaking. It’s one step toward an incredible goal — interactive origami exhibitions.
And while plain paper and the digital world seem like opposing elements, they’re two that Ross believes have always been intrinsically linked in his imagination. Fans of his work will agree; the two make for a winning combination.
He hopes that his work will inspire other creators to take the first step — or fold.