Nikolai Tolstyh: “Life is Too Short to Do Things You Do Not Like”

Artist name: Nikolai Tolstyh

Featured Work 1:


Nikolai Tolstyh is a self-proclaimed “natural craftsman” who combines natural shapes, textures, and basic materials in new and thoughtful ways. By cutting our silhouettes and holding them against natural backgrounds, and relying on paper, leaves, matches, water, sky, and string, to speak for him, he reintroduces us to our surroundings with a more appreciative and curious eye.

Featured Work Slideshow:

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5 Questions for the Artist:

(translated from Russian)

1. What is art to you?

Art – is an attempt of the artist to try on the role of the Creator (God). Every artist creates his own world, using their experience. In this separate world, he puts his ideas about good and evil, beautiful and ugly, moral and immoral. What is this for? It’s so interesting … you have everything to create his special world–why not take advantage of it?

2. What did you make in the past, and why?

I worked as a journalist and led a boring life that does not suit me. I have always been interested in creativity, but I came to it too critically. It seemed to me that in order to start creating you needed a large amount of education and skills. But then I pushed those thoughts out and began to make art projects for themselves. First, it turned out badly, then it started to turn out better. Then I came up with a series of #mylightweightworld–I started to spread it in Instagram, photos with a hand holding a stencil with the silhouette of an animal. The background was a variety of natural textures. When my work was published with the Telegraph, Independent, Spiegel, and Huffington Post, I realized that doing the right thing.

3. What are you making now, and why?

I continue to take photos with silhouettes. I am trying to simultaneously develop several other projects. I would like to increase the complexity and the quality of my work and do something new.

4. What are your hopes for the future?

I really hope that inspiration does not go away from me. This is the main fear of any artist, any creative person. Without inspiration you’re nobody. Inspiration gives us strength to try new things and have fun in the process. Creativity is like a drug; it’s addictive.

5. What else would you like to say?

There is a famous Russian song: “Hope – my compass, and good luck – a reward for courage.” I want to say to everyone who reads this – do not be afraid to do what you like, be bold. You may be able to achieve great results. In an extreme case, you lose, but it will be a fair fight. Life is too short to do things you do not like.

Artist Supplied Background:

Nikolai Tolstyh, from Russia, cuts out intricate paper silhouettes of animals and then chooses scenes from nature to color the images. He describes himself as a “natural craftsman.” Nature inspires him and is his coauthor. All that is necessary for it to work – the white paper, knife and natural background.

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5 Questions for the Artist, © Julia Travers


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