(Michael, on the right and in the front is pictured with Vasillis, my wife in the very back, Andreas Barz, Greg DiFranco and Sue.)
The second night of the show in Kulmbach a dozen or so of us went to dinner. Joining our party were several people from Greece—three sculptors. Among them was Michael Kontraros. I could hardly believe I was having dinner with Michael Kontraros. I have been familiar with his work for a couple of years. His name and work began appearing on blogs and other sites as “Best of Show.” The work that grabbed my attention first, almost two years ago, is pictured below. I think these three got my attention because I have been a “sleight of hand”junky for over 40 years.
I know I am not alone when I say that these exhibit a genius mind and amazing talent. He has won “Best of Show” all over the world.
The following piece won “Best of Show” at Kulmbach for round figures (as opposed to flat tin figures).
How did you get involved in sculpting?
The first figure fell into my hands when I was 16. I loved it so much that I painted it in 2 days. A year and half a dozen figures later, an encounter changed everything; a rude employee at a store said asked me: “still buying figures? I make my own”. He also showed me a bust he had made by himself. So, instead of buying another figure I decided to get some milliput clay and give it a go.
Due to lack of knowledge of sculpting techniques, things were difficult at first; it was clear that I had no idea what I was getting into. After all, none of my friends were model builders and I wasn’t used to buying modeling magazines. I was forced to create and develop my own techniques and constantly experiment with a variety of materials.
How you conceptualize your pieces, blending fantasy with reality?
First there is an idea. Then I start thinking and researching. This usually takes 1-2 weeks. The question I always ask myself is: “what if it was real?” Even though it is a fantasy piece it doesn’t mean that it should be unreal.
(For photos of the details click http://www.puttyandpaint.com/projects/4688)
Can you give me an example of a piece you have already done, perhaps the Jules Vern piece, and tell us what thinking process you went through to create a realistic set for a fictional or fantasy figure?
I always believed that Jules Vern was a true fantasy artist – writer. He was writing stories that were fiction at his time, but then they were so realistic, like everything could happen…and most of them did
So I said to myself. What if Vern was living in a steampunk world and what if he was building his own motorcycle? What would it be like? Then piece by piece I start building the miniature
And, at what time did you move from amateur to professional full time sculptor?
I believe that this moment was the Best of Show – fantasy at SWISS WORLD EXPO 2011.
After that everything changed! It was my first show abroad, I was an unknown modeler and in a moment everything changed!
Do you have any advice for aspiring sculptors?
Hard work, originality and always be a strict judge on yourself
Do you paint your figures or do you have them painted?
As I always say to people who ask me, “I don’t paint”
I use to, but sculpting win me over.
I have worked with a lot of painters: Chris Panagiotou, Kiriakos Simos, Francesco Farabi, Denis Vanhingeland and of course with the Grand Masters Greg Difranco, Philippe Gengembre and Diego Ruina
What kind of clays and putties do you use?
I use a lot of materials
Epoxy putty: AB, DURO, AVES, milliput
Clay: super sculpey
I also use polyester putty, and a lot of other materials like plastic, wire, wood ech
Please list the Best of Shows you have received?
– BEST OF SHOW _ SWISS WORLD EXPO (fantasy) “Deck of cards” display (August 2011)
– BEST OF SHOW _ “IPMS Hellas”, Athens (October 2011)
– BEST OF FANTASY _ “Monte San Savino Show ” (November 2011)
– BEST OF SHOW _ “Athens Starclub Show”, Athens (October 2012)
– BEST OF SHOW _ “Montrouge Show”, Paris (April 2013)
– BEST OF SHOW (fantasy) _ “MFCA Show ” (May 2013)
– BEST OF SHOW _ “Montrouge Show”, Paris (April 2014)
– BEST OF SHOW (fantasy) _ “MFCA Show ” (May 2014)
– PLATINUM MEDAL_ Monte San Savino shoe 2014
– BEST OF SHOW _ “Montrouge Show”, Paris (April 2015)
– BEST OF SHOW (fantasy) _ “MFCA Show ” (May 2015)
– BEST OF SHOW_Round figure_ Kulmbach, Germany (August 2015)
(End of Interview)
I noticed on Facebook today that Michael has an Indiegogo project of Beauty and the Beast. You can see the project page here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/beauty-the-beast-miniature-michael-kontraros#/story
And if you would like to keep up with Michael’s work, you can follow him at the following web pages:
Or his home page: http://www.mkontraros.com