The passion of miniaturists seemingly knows no bounds. This is an art form dedicated to replicating real-world objects, from animals to fully furnished living quarters, as realistically as possible. And it’s not merely enough of a challenge for these artists to see how small they can make their sculptures: they also push the thresholds of their perceptual range and engage their resourcefulness to make their work appear as genuine, credible, and real as possible.
What drives them? Many, many things: the desire to explore artistic creation within a defined stricture; developing their fine-motor skills and refining their perception of color, shade, and textures; a burning curiosity to explore their own limits. In this latter motivation, these talented artists seek out greater challenges, explore ever-more daring ideas to venture further and further down this rarefied path.
I talked with a couple miniaturist artists to learn a little about their history and interests. The conversations are short, but they nonetheless reveal how deep the rabbit-hole goes, with international societies and art exhibits, to begin with.
Fanni: I’m 36 years old. I have a six-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. I’m a biologist. Besides making miniatures, I love to take trips in the nature, cooking, painting, drawing and sculpting.
Aborigen: First of all, I have to ask how you got started with creating miniatures. What gave you the idea to try this? Who were your influences or inspiration?
Fanni: I crazy-love miniature things, ever since my childhood! I made my first dollhouse out of a shoe box when I was seven years old. I saw professional 1:12 scale miniatures ten years ago on the internet, and it was love at the first sight.
In my country this art form was totally unknown. So after that I started to try to make my own miniatures, and after a few years I become a professional miniaturist. Nowadays I mostly make birds, insects, and small mammals, but I used to make accessories and art dolls. With my dolls I won second prize, three times, in an international doll exhibition and doll-making competition in Hungary.
Aborigen: Also, I note that many people choose to create food and meals or furniture and small room settings. You’re the only miniaturist I’ve seen that creates realistic animals! What made you want to go in this direction?
Fanni: My first exhibited 1:12 scale miniature work was a shadowbox called “Queen Elizabeth’s kitchen.” It was the beginning of my professional miniaturist life. In this kitchen there were foods, vegetables, fruits, and pheasants and deer trophies. Making the pheasants and the trophies was the most enjoyable, so after that I wanted to make more and more animals. It’s not a surprise, because I’m a biologist, so nature-based subjects inspire me principally.
All of my works are hand sculpted from polymer clay without the use of any mould. Each piece of my work is one of a kind.
In 2014, I received the IGMA Artisan title in Animal Figures category, and 2016 I was awarded IGMA Fellow status. It was my greatest honor.
Aborigen: What gave you the inspiration to begin with this style of sculpture?
Qixuan: I am mostly driven by the need to make something with my own hands. I work professionally as a graphic designer, and I spend long hours in front of the computer, so it is always compelling to touch materials and make something tangible. I usually get inspired from everyday objects around me. I look at things and wonder if they can be made more interesting, which explains why a lot of my works fuse ready-made objects with my sculpted creations. When I feel stuck, I usually watch fantasy or sci-fi movies to inspire myself.
Aborigen: How long have you been working in sculpture/miniatures?
Qixuan: About four years since I started doing it seriously!
Aborigen: Who have been your influences, and whose work do you admire?
Qixuan: I do admire the works of hyper-realist sculptors such as Ron Mueck, Patricia Paccinini, and Sam Jinks as their sculptures, although static, breathe life and project imaginary worlds. I have also been a long-time fan of pop-surrealist painter, Mark Ryden.
Aborigen: Of your own projects, what are you proudest of or feel the best about?
Qixuan: I think it will be my latest exposition, SweetTooth. I have always been sculpting on the side of my professional career as a graphic designer, so my works are never quite as complete. But recently, my solo show in the Netherlands allowed me to explored my interests more deeply, and I am happy with its outcome.
Aborigen: Are there any especially ambitious projects you would like to attempt in the future?
Qixuan: I would like to make an artwork installation that takes place in an entire house, which one has to walk through.