Salavat Fidai used to be the manager of a big company in Ufa, Russia, but last year lost his job because of the economic crisis in the country.
But rather that looking for another office job, he decided to dedicate himself to art instead.
Well, he certainly doesn’t lack artistic ability.
“I used to paint a lot during my school years,” he told Epoch Times in an email interview. Also, both of his parents are professional artists and art school teachers. “They taught me everything I know,” he said.
But Fidai had one very specific talent of his own. When he was around seven or eight years old, he picked up some chalk at school and began to chisel it into tiny sculptures. Apparently, it was something he had a knack for.
And so, many years later and freshly unemployed, he gave his childhood hobby another shot. This time, he started to experiment with the graphite cores of pencils.
While his family sleeps, he picks up a craft knife and—under a single light and a 4x magnifying glass—transforms the plain material with precise strokes into works of art.
“I’m a total night owl,” he said. “I find myself more productive and it’s much easier to focus at night.”
His sculptures are so tiny and detailed, that their full beauty is hard to appreciate with a naked eye. And that’s where photography steps in. Thanks to macro lenses, the photos can reveal the miniature grooves and crevices forming wrinkly faces, hands, bodies, works of architecture, and popular culture.
“Now making sculptures is my main occupation, my way of earning a living,” Fidai said.
That’s not to say his work is easier now. It’s actually just the opposite.
An average statue takes 6-12 hours to complete. Complicated ones can take two to three days. “At the office, I worked only six hours [a day]. And now I work for 12 hours, seven days a week,” he said. “But I’m very happy now.”
“I think now is the moment when I have something to tell other people and know how to do it,” Fidai said.
Aside from pencil sculptures, he also paints on pumpkin seeds and experiments with other materials and art forms.
“The concept for my paintings or sculptures starts to take form while I’m asleep. The next day, I look for photos and video material, and then I make sketches or layouts,” he said. “When I work with oil on canvas, it’s more emotional and expressive. If I paint acrylic on seeds, it’s hard work and more detail oriented. When I carve sculptures from pencils, it’s much more meditative.”
For inspiration Fidai looks to his dreams, other artists, and music.
“My children will be artists, too,” he said. “My son learned pencil carving and recently sold his first carved pencil.”