Unconventional Materials

What’s That Made Of?!

Zhuang Hong Yi, Fine rice paper with acrylic on canvas

Contemporary artists are constantly pushing limits, particularly in the often unconventional ways they employ their creative mediums and materials. Traditional mediums such as graphite, oil, and acrylic paints are still commonly used, however, artists all over the world have found new and innovative ways to express themselves through art in different forms.

There exists an endless array of out-of-the-box materials in the artworld, including neon lights, rice paper, steel-pins, compact discs, thread, smoke, felt, beads, glass, cans and even garbage.

Check out some of our favourite pieces made using unconventional materials below. If you are interested in any of these artists, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Jacob Hashimoto, Wood, acrylic, bamboo, paper and dacron

Dennis Lee Mitchell, Smoke on paper

Sheila Hicks, Linen, silk, cotton, wool 

Lucy Sparrow, Felt, acrylic and thread

Tara Donovan, Gatorboard, paint, and nickel-plated steel pins, and Jean-Michel Othoniel, Mirrored glass and stainless steel. Photo by William Waldron. 

Tara Donovan, Gatorboard, paint and nickel-plated steel pins (detail)

Liza Lou, Papier-mâché and glass beads

Douglas Scholes, Wood, glass tubes, metal, isopropanol 99%, natural dye

Brian Wills, Single-strand rayon thread and oil on oak 


Paul Villinski, Aluminum (found cans), stainless steel wire

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