More About Me

HI. I’m Paul, the creative behind The Snowback Press and CutItOut! Cards. I was born and raised in Toronto, but am now living in Tokyo with my wife and 5-year old daughter. Design (in all its vastitude) has fascinated me as long as I can remember. The interplay and tension between crisp design and natural or handmade elements is perhaps the focal point that excites me most, but paper, in one form or another, has also been a crucial part of my exploration for 30 years or more. Letterforms and pattern-like designs are also long-running themes. I’ve been doing a lot of different things over the years, such that I’m not sure what to call myself, but I suppose I am most well-known as an authority on the process of Japanese hand papermaking.

My latest passion project is CutItOut!, a line of (real paper!) cards, made with careful attention to materials, palette, and pattern-like design.

While paper products may not have the power to change the world, I do believe that they can and most surely do enrich lives.

Past & current gigs include:
– Managing at a busy paper emporium in Soho, NYC.
– Teaching Art&Art History (in Japanese!) in Tokyo.
– Working as a hand-papermaker in Nagaoka.
– Studying papermaking and book arts with Tim Barrett in Iowa City.
– Surveying hand papermaking in Japan on a Monbusho scholarship for two years (and ever since!) and writing a series of articles on the topic, as well as speaking/lecturing/teaching in Japan, Canada, and the USA.
– Producing and collaborating on limited edition artists’ books, some of which now reside in permanent collections such as the National Archives of Canada, Long Island University, and the Boston Anthenæum (as well as my Mom’s basement).
– Leading (and translating for) a group of papermakers from Japan during the week-long World Washi Summit in Toronto.
– Working for a major international exporter of Japanese papers in Tokyo.
– Delivering newspapers early Sunday mornings while half-asleep.
– Over-meticulously busing tables at a steak restaurant in Toronto.

I guess some people would call me methodical. I like to think things through, iterate, backtrack, look deeply and carefully, step back, and refocus, all with the ultimate aim of getting things right.

On very rare occasions, I am compelled to wear a tie, but generally you will find me in jeans and a no-logo t-shirt, maybe with a plaid shirt (always button-down collar). A good day is one where I haven’t had to wear socks.

OAQ (Occasionally Asked Questions)

Why Snowback?   The term seems to have lost favour (or at least its specificity has loosened?), but about the time I was working in NYC, I heard this term a lot. It is (was?) vaguely derogatory (almost in a sarcastic way, I believe), and a play on wetback, but I embraced it.

Why Tokyo?   Good question! I never really planned it, it just happened. No place is perfect, but Tokyo is pretty great (as long as you don’t think too much about the once-in-a-millennium super-earthquake that everyone says is imminent).

How do you pronounce Denhoed?   I used to always joke that I wanted to name my child “First he raked”.

Why Japanese paper?   It’s hard to put into words, but it’s something about the dynamic or tension mentioned above between approaching perfection in the midst of maintaining handmade traditions, and the honest processing of natural materials into something of such beauty and utility.