Salavat Fidai was born in a small rural village in Bashkortostan, Russia. After years in an office working as a lawyer, he decided to drastically change his life and find his purpose in life. Art was the answer: at first, he entered this world through digital still-life photography and painting. But it was only when he started to create miniatures on small objects that he found what he describes as his “vocation”: micro sculpture out of pencil graphite.
Hi Salavat! Let’s start from the beginning. You were born in a rural locality in the Republic of Bashkortostan: did the local culture influence the way in which you perceive and create art? If yes, how? Would you describe Bashkortostan as a stimulating environment where to grow artistically?
Bashkiria is the place from which I take my strength, there is a special energy in this land that helps creative people. Besides that, my parents are artists and art teachers. They influenced my artistic perception and became an example to be followed.
I know that you spent more than 25 years working in a completely different field as a lawyer. Tell me something about the moment when you realized you wanted to devote yourself to art: where did your inspiration come from? Choose one adjective to describe your past life.
I just got tired of working in an office. It was a midlife crisis. Many different books and motivational videos inspired me to take action. If I had to choose a single word to describe my past life I would say “exhaustion”.
Thanks to your talent, you have now reached the international public. I know you have spent some years living outside of your home country, Russia. Was this decision determined by professional reasons? You now live in Ufa: do you prefer living in your home country?
My family and I wanted to emigrate to the United States. Anyway, after spending six months there we realized that that wasn’t the right country for us, we did not like living there. Now, I live and work in Ufa: we are happier than ever! It turned out that I feel more comfortable living and working in my homeland, but in order to understand it, I had to move and then come back.
“It became my path, my vocation, it is both a challenge and a temptation...”
I think you do something unique in its genre. Can you tell me something about the moment when you came up with the idea of creating sculptures out of pencil graphite, working on such a fragile material? You must be very perseverant. Which was the sculpture that took you the longest to realize?
I have been experimenting with different materials for a long time. I liked miniatures. During my experiments, I created different kinds of miniature paintings, such as paintings on matchboxes and miniatures on plant seeds. And then, finally, I found micro sculpture out of graphite. It became my path, my vocation, it is both a challenge and a temptation for me. The sculpture which took me the longest to realize was the Iron Throne from the Game of Thrones series - four weeks.
“When I’m creating a sculpture it’s like meditation for me...”
How does creating art make you feel? Is there one of your pieces you are most fond of? If yes, which one?
I love all my pieces. When I’m creating a sculpture it’s like meditation for me, I enjoy the process. I’m relaxed and focused at the same time. I often compare this moment to a microcosm or to some kind of different reality.
I know that you collaborated with HBO and created the collection dedicated to the Game of Thrones series. What memories do you have of this collaboration?
It was a very interesting project and after that, I became a big fan of the show. The exhibition in collaboration with HBO that I liked the most was the one held in Singapore.
Which is the best piece of advice you have received in your life?
The best advice I have ever received is: “you should either do something that no one else does or do it in a way in which no one else does it!”.
What advice would you give to young people who are about to start their career in the artistic field?
Experiment, look for new things, try new things. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and start again.