While many artists go big in terms of canvas size, one multimedia sculptor has reached international success on a small scale. He’s gained a loyal social media following for transforming pencil lead into unbelievable sculptures, carving away precise details at a fraction of a millimeter. For the past four years, he has mastered his craft by replicating a number of recognizable symbols, images and themes found in modern popular culture. Take a look at how Salavat Fidai began his art career, his process for creating a sculpture, and which piece has been the most challenging so far.

When did you first develop a love for art?

I painted a lot in my childhood. Then there was a big break for 30 years. I returned to art at 40 years old.Do you have a formal art education or are you self-taught?

I am a self-taught sculptor and artist. But I did study at art school in my childhood and my parents are artists who taught me as well.

When did you begin creating sculptures using pencil lead?

I created my first sculptures on the tip of a pencil in early 2014.What gave you this idea in the first place? What was your first piece?

My first sculpture was of Batman. I then started creating characters in comics, films and pop culture.

Take me through the process of creating a piece.

First, I create the image of a sculpture in my head. Then I sketch. Sometimes I make a prototype in clay. All artists use pencils to create pieces of art, but I create art from the pencil.What tools do you use to create each piece?

I use different pencils: jumbo size (with a diameter of 5mm), regular/normal size (2mm), and mechanical pencils (0.5mm). The pencils have a hardness of graphite HB, 2H or 3H. I use two brands, Koh-I-Noor and Faber-Castell. And for my tools, I use a craft knife, No.11 blades, an 8X magnifying glass, and a binocular stereo microscope.

How long does each piece take to create?

I usually create a sculpture from lead in 8-12 hours, which is one or two days of work. It depends on the complexity of the sculpture. Sometimes I work on the sculpture for a week or more. For example, the Iron Throne took me two weeks.What has been the most challenging piece to create so far?

The Titan of Braavos and the Iron Throne.

What other art styles do you work in?

I also do impressionism and expressionism with oil paints.How does social media impact your work?

Instagram is the best assistant, of course. Viral videos on YouTube and Facebook also have an impact on my art.

What are some projects you hope to create in the future?

I have many projects planned for the next three years. They will be a new collection of sculptures based on famous towers and landmarks. I also plan to create a collection of cars and motorcycles. And I plan to have more art shows in the U.S. and Europe.What advice would you give to other artists creating these kinds of sculptures?Start with crayons and large pencils (jumbo size) with a hardness 2B or HB. It’s hard work. Do not be afraid of mistakes and to start over (and over again).