Akira Yoshizawa (March 14, 1911 - March 14, 2005) is credited with the founding of the modern origami movement, and for that reason it is important to take a glance at his life and works.
What makes Yoshizawa so influential is that he changed origami on several levels throughout his life. He developed a method of diagramming the folding process which made it possible for folders to share models across language barriers. He invented wet-folding which softened the harsh geometric lines and allowed for more life-like models. His art was recognized by the Japanese government which awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun, and used him as a cultural ambassador all across the globe.
He was born into a humble farming family, where he was introduced to origami. Then he spent time as a factory worker beginning at the age of 13. Eventually he became a draftsman for the same company and was responsible for teaching geometry to apprentices. He used origami to demonstrate various concepts. He left the factory at 26 to devote himself full-time to origami, making some money doing odd-jobs. He studied to be a Buddhist priest for two years, but never joined a monastery. When war broke out, he joined the Japanese medical corps and worked in Hong Kong where he made origami for the patients there. When he became ill, he returned to Japan. His first great work was a set of zodiac symbols which brought him fame. He started the International Origami Center in Tokyo in 1955 and spent time traveling, teaching and folding.