8 Miniature Artists Who Shrink the World onto our Palms
Haven't we all seen a forest of trees in broccoli and parsley? Haven't we all wondered if our surroundings could shrink to a palm size so that we could get a better look? When we express these thoughts as art, it becomes miniature art. Miniature art includes all things art but scaled-down versions.
What Is Miniature Art?
Miniature art could be paintings, prints, engravings, sculptures, and more and are very small. It simply refers to any artwork much smaller than its usual size. Miniature art can be traced all the way back to 250 A.D to the works of an unknown artist and Lala of Cyzicus in Rome, in the 4th century, who created portraits on top of ivory. However, it was only in 1586 that "miniature" was first used to describe an art form seen in the writings of Sir Philip Sidney.
Today, miniature art is created in multiple forms using a wide range of materials and art supplies and is patronised by art societies globally. Often, miniature art is executed with extreme detail and can take days to complete. There are several acclaimed artists who create miniature sculptures around the world. From gardens in potholes to nature in test tubes to hyper-realistic streetscapes and animal sculptures, here are eight miniature artists and their stylised approaches:
1. Thomas Doyle
Thomas Doyle has always been fascinated with scale models as a child. He renders sculptures in 1:43 scale and smaller, often depicting human figures amidst calamities. The sculptures are often sealed under glass and portray remnants of things past. His work has been shown at museums and galleries across the US, Europe, and Asia and has appeared in several publications like The New York Times Magazine and in the opening credits for the HBO series Murder on Middle Beach.
2. Lucy T Francis
Lucy Francis creates miniature dog sculptures as one-of-a-kind dog portraits. She uses the finest alpaca, cashmere, silk, and leather to construct her realistic miniature animal sculptures. These sculptures that do not use pastels or paints are 100% natural fibre. The german glass eyes combined with the moderate flexibility of the sculptures make them ready for any pose with realistic expressions. She makes custom animal sculptures for clients to keep the spirit of their pets alive in sculpture.
3. Steve Wheen
Steve Wheen is a "Pothole gardener" from East London. Wheen fills potholes in footpaths with soil and living plants creating tiny worlds with miniature props. He launched "The Pothole Gardener" project with the motive to put a smile on Londoners' faces and to make a respite from the greyness of London. He also has a book published by Dokument Press in 2012, ‘The Little Book of Little Gardens.’ He receives submissions from around the world of pothole gardens created by others which he features on his blog.
4. Omkar Ghate
Omkar Umesh Ghate is a Mumbai-based miniature artist and display designer who creates miniatures of all kinds with varying architectural styles. As a child, Ghate would create small worlds from paper. Today, he uses paper, M-Seal, ice cream sticks, rubber, MDF sheets, sunboard sheets, and paint to create miniature sets for movies, web series and commercials. You will find familiar streetscapes in his miniatures, such as buildings, structures, bylanes and other usual roadside sights.
5. Tatsuya Tanaka
Tatsuya Tanaka is a Japanese miniature photographer and mitate artist. His art projects include reimagining everyday objects from the miniature perspective to create miniature worlds. He started the project "Miniature Calendar," in 2011 and has been presenting his creations on the internet since then. He has authored “Miniature Life,” “Small Wonders,” “Miniature Trip in Japan,” and the picture book “Assemble and Resemble (KuMitate’).” He currently holds exhibitions in Japan and abroad, including “MINIATURE LIFE: Tatsuya Tanaka’s World of Miniatures.”
Slinkachu, who started working with miniatures in 2006. "abandons" his miniature people on the streets of cities around the world, thus embodying elements of street art, sculpture, installation art and photography. The 'street miniaturist' remodels and paints miniature model train set characters and places and leaves them on the streets to reflect the loneliness and melancholy of living in a big city. Collections of his images have been published in three art books; Little People in the City, Big Bad City and Global Model Village.
7. Jon Almeda
Jon Almeda is a Hawaiian artist who creates miniature ceramics. He practices plein air pottery, which is the term used to describe the art of creating pieces outside in the open air. He finds inspiration for his work in the cloud formations in the sky and the movement of the tides in the places he grew up in. He created a portable pottery wheel for making his miniature pottery which he carries with him to locations. In the 17 years of creating miniatures, he has tested different clay bodies, made his own tools and experimented with techniques to improve his pieces.
8. Rosa de Jong
Rosa De Jong is a designer based in Amsterdam who creates intricate miniature worlds that can fit inside small glass test tubes. She uses paper, cardboard, tree branches and moss, sand and rocks from all over the world to create her miniature world with trees, buildings and other structures. Numerous galleries and museums as the Beinart Gallery have featured Rosa de Jong's work in the past. In her series “Micro Matter,” she creates miniatures which appear to be ripped from the earth.
Miniature art is not easy to do. It requires efficient attention to detail, and patience and can take several years to master. But don't let that discourage you. If you are somebody fascinated with the miniature perspective, there are several ways you can experiment. It could be photography, painting, or sculpting. Look for inspiration around you; the world is your oyster.