We catch up with Nikolai Tolstyh who is a Russian artist and craftsman who is re-defining the art of the stencil. Nikolai uses photography to capture detailed paper silhouettes within nature. His work often depicts animals in their natural environments. I spoke to Nikolai about his work and influences.
KaleidoScot: What inspires your work?
I am always looking for inspiration in nature. The colours, unusual textures and beautiful places. I would like to travel more and gain more creative experience.
KaleidoScot: What techniques / skills do you use in your work?
It’s simple: I take watercolour paper, draw a contour cut. Then spend a long time searching for the perfect background. That is the most difficult and interesting part of the job.
KaleidoScot: Where did the stencil idea come from?
The idea is as old as paper. It occurred to me, just as it occurred to many generations of people who lived before me. I try to pay great attention to good implementation when creating the stencils.
KaleidoScot: Have you always been interested in nature?
I have always considered myself a man of the city but lately, I’m drawn to be closer to nature, to be in it. I think this is a global trend. Young people today are leaving the cities in a new kind of protest. Against the dictatorship of glamor, against consumerist values. I think it is the reincarnation of the hippie generation. I want it to be so.
KaleidoScot: Why do animals inspire you?
Simply because they are cute.
KaleidoScot: You mix photography, art, craft and nature – when were you introduced to all these subjects?
Those subjects have always interested me, it has always been a hobby. Craft is a form of knowledge in the world. Trying out the role of a creator God. Photography is a way to capture a moment in time. When you mix photography and craft, the work turns into something unusual and beautiful.
KaleidoScot: What artists or people influence you?
My favourite artists are Van Gogh and Chagall. My favourite musician Tom Waits. My favourite poet Joseph Brodsky, writer Anton Chekhov. Their combined creativity is my eternal love. There are many other people who inspire me, but I will not go through them all, it will take a very long time.
KaleidoScot: Do your surroundings inspire you to be creative?
I live in an industrial city. Like all industrial cities it is grey and heavily concreted but there are great forests outside the city. I spend a lot of time in these forests, I take regular walks there. It definitely invigorates my creative brain.
KaleidoScot: What do you want people to take away from your work – what message do you convey?
Peace, love and compassion. We are all part of nature, we must understand this! The evolution of non-living things seems to have altered our minds into not caring enough about the world. We do not have to fight, we should not destroy the environment and each other. We must learn to see beauty in very simple things.
KaleidoScot: How would you describe your work in three words? Imaginative, simple and beautiful.
You can see more Nikolai Tolstyh artwork on INSTAGRAM.