Frequently Asked Questions

Ronni Jolles’ unique paper art form raises many questions from her clients and other artists. The most frequently asked questions are:

Q: How long does it take you to complete one of your pieces?

A: That is a hard question to answer, because I work on a number of pieces at once. I don’t like to work on one-at-a-time, so I’ll spend several hours working on one, and then when I hit a point where I’m frustrated with it or not making progress, I’ll move to another piece. I work on 8 to 10 pieces – in various stages of completion – at once. I find that it gives me a fresh look at each piece that way – I can often see what the problems are if I haven’t worked on it for a few days.

Q: Where do you get your papers?

A: I gather my papers from various sources all over the world.  I have several friends who live overseas, and they are my best contacts for good paper.  My friend who lives in Bangkok,Thailand, will go to the little villages and buy the papers right from the native people who created them. The same is true for Nepal and the Philippines. My friends will send me boxes full of the kinds of papers I’ve asked for – I’ll usually request certain colors and textures. I have a few stores in New York City where I can find interesting papers, but again, I can’t ever assume that they’ll have a paper I loved at my last visit.   When I go to a new part of the country or the world, I will look for the local paper places; when I was last in Taos, New Mexico, I found someone who makes the Mexican Bark papers.

One of the challenges I face is that papers are discontinued all the time.  When I fall in love with a certain paper, I will just enjoy it but I know that I may not be able to get it six months from now. I’ve grown to realize that it keeps me on my toes and I’m not able to get lazy with my art form. There is always a new paper I see, and I have to roll with the punches, so to speak.

Q: Where does your inspiration come from?

A: I find inspiration in almost anything ;  I love old broken down barns and houses, and I like the European buildings with the clotheslines hanging out and the flower boxes in the windows.  I LOVE trees – especially in the winter, when you can see the beautiful designs with the branches. I love Aspen trees and Birch trees – the white bark is a beautiful contrast to the darker leaves or hills. I like reflections in the water, and gardens. I like to see markets, and beautiful textiles, and mothers with their children. I love dance classes. I think I like the moments when someone is just doing a mundane job but somehow it is a beautiful scene. I like cities with the fire escapes and the angular buildings.  As you might imagine, I have many many files of photographs of all kinds of different subjects.

Q: How did you learn to do this?

A: I created this art form myself, through years of trial and error.  I’ve made many many mistakes as I’ve figured out the processes I use.


The following  excerpt from an article by Victoria Weseley addresses more of the most common questions about Ronni Jolles and her art:

Q: When did you begin to incorporate paper into your work?

A:  I always loved collage…I chose it almost through process of elimination. My mother was a watercolor artist and a sculptor… I have a sister who did painting…I was trying to find my own voice. I did some photography in high school and college…I loved it all…I loved printmaking…But I needed to find something that rings true, and because I’m tactile… and was looking for texture, I started with paper…and I discovered papers from all over the world.

Q: How do you acquire your paper?

A: Sometimes I go to the country…It’s amazing what papers are in the world, especially the Far East…I have friends who send it to me…a friend in Thailand…or I get some in New York…the paper is usually made by the indigenous people of the country…it’s made by recycled things that are chopped up and let out to dry…not usually trees…plants.

Q: Do you use the paper for inspiration for your pieces or do you come up with ideas first?

A: I have lots of ideas. I look for the papers I want, but then they can guide me in a different direction.

Q: Your pictures are of many different places. Do you travel, look at pictures, use your imagination?

A: Usually I have to be somewhere to be inspired. I’ve been to Europe a fair amount…I draw and take pictures, and sometimes I’ll set up a little place in my hotel room.

Q: Do you ever do commission work?

A: I was commissioned to do a very large piece for the Marriott Resort and Spa in Aspen, Colorado… the cover piece for a huge Book Fair sponsored by Borders… a commission for the children’s section of our local public library, called “Fairy Tales on the Bookshelf.”

Q: Can you share your process of creating your pieces?

A: I have created a new art form in which I use hundreds of papers as my primary medium.  It could be called collage or mixed media, but in fact, it is something quite different.  My work is almost three-dimensional.  I cut, fold, crinkle, and rip the papers as I glue them on to the stretched canvas. Each piece is one-of-a-kind.