Shiho Masuda is one of the world’s leading gift wrapping experts and her imaginative tutorials inspire hundreds of thousands.
With more than 132,000 subscribers on her popular YouTube channel Paper Guru and a partnership with Ferrero Rocher under her belt, viewers in Australia and around the world can't seem to get enough of Shiho's creative and joyful way with wrapping paper.
With only a week left to wrap our Christmas presents, Japan-based Shiho is in Australia to give us some gift wrapping inspiration, her top tips for wrapping presents in a hurry and to teach us why first impressions are so important when it comes to gifting.
When did you discover your gift wrapping talents?
When I was studying graphic design in New York City, I was a gift wrapper at a store. I was surrounded by people from all over the world and they let us practice as many designs as we wanted. I would tie a hundred bows a day, and could eventually close my eyes and still make beautiful bows! I would time myself and see how many creative designs I could come up with. Because I did it so often, naturally I improved my skills. That’s how I got into the gift wrapping world and since then I have been following my passion.
Who taught you to gift wrap?
I had a teacher when I was working at the store who taught me the basic skills of wrapping presents and techniques to create beautiful designs.
When I studied design I learned about the style of origami and found it fascinating. I could alter the design in so many ways; by changing the direction of the fold or numbers of the fold you can create a completely different look. I bought some origami books, went to Japan to learn more techniques and little by little, I studied and improved my skills.
When did you turn your passion into a blog and YouTube channel?
I used to provide my gift wrapping services to individuals and corporations in New York, and eventually, people started asking me to teach them the techniques. I loved doing that so much that I started thinking, “what if I can teach a global audience, not just the people of New York City?” That’s when I learned about YouTube, which was just starting to become popular at that time.
I uploaded my first video, but no one was watching, and for a couple of years I thought, “Oh, there’s no audience!” But I continued to put up videos and slowly people started watching and reacting. I realised YouTube was a really good tool to demonstrate my techniques so other people could learn how to create beautiful wrapping by themselves.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Incorporating the principles of origami is central to my designs and I always get inspiration from this. I also use a lot of symbols from nature and daily life; I have a lot of designs using flowers, butterflies, birds – every day I get inspiration from something and a lot of the time it’s from nature.
My biggest influence on social media right now is obento art. People create all kinds of art with just food and a bento box. It’s completely different from my job but it’s so fascinating – I’ve seen obento art with Santa Clause, deer and Christmas presents made out of rice, ham and omelette! This gives me a lot of creative inspiration and I made this tutorial after being inspired by the work of these artists.
For our time-poor readers, can you share a few top tips for wrapping Christmas presents?
I have put together some tutorials for gift wrapping for busy people. You can create really easy gift bags that you can probably make in less than five minutes. Then you can just throw the present into your gift bag and it looks really handmade and nicely presented.
Another quick wrapping tip is to use tissue paper and washi tape, which comes in lots of decorative patterns and colours.
Do you have any thrifty tips for cutting costs on wrapping paper and accessories?
To keep costs down, I make my own paper a lot. I’ll buy plain paper and use washi tape, packing tape or rubber stamps and decorate the paper myself, which makes it much cheaper.
What should you spend more time on: choosing the present or wrapping it?
I don’t think you should spend too much time when it comes to wrapping because if you spend too much time on wrapping you might feel frustrated. The art of wrapping is based on the Japanese concept of omoiyari, so you should think about other people and just enjoy the process!
What’s the strangest item you’ve ever wrapped?
I have actually wrapped a person! This lady came in and said she wanted to wrap herself and asked how she could become a present. I created a dress with the paper and topped her with ribbon!
What’s your current favourite gift wrapping tutorial on your YouTube channel?
My favourite video is the shirt tutorial and it's been really popular in Australia, too. By changing the pattern of the paper and colour of the ribbon you can create so many different designs for holidays and birthdays.