Sunday, March 09, 2008

Men With Metal - Part II...

The Mermale is a nude muscle hunk born on the shores of Mermalia. Unlike his kind, the Mermale is no ordinary merman. He's gay, he's out and he encapsulates the realm of gay art, gay sculpture, fashion and a lifestyle of hot leather! This is the figure of nude man whose confidence and pride shines poetically to romantic gay males.

PR8: How did you initially get involved in jewellery design? Have you always known that's what you wanted to do?
Nikias: Jewellery design came instinctively from creative influences in my childhood and family background. I was raised in a family of artists, musicians, jewellers and antique dealers and so there was creativity and art everywhere around me. As a teenager I remember locking myself up for hours on end in my uncle's jewellery workshop and forgetting the world outside. I then made the 'safe' decision of going on to a degree in Management at the University of London (not safe at all!). So it was after seeing all my friends get dull office jobs and becoming advertisers or consultants, that I realized the value of being able to do something you have a true passion for. I always knew that making jewellery was my own passion and so after this point the rest came naturally.

What does the name ESCULPTA mean?
I see jewellery as a purely sculptural art in which the body is the ultimate sculptural canvas. ESCULPTA is simply an onomatopoeia. I needed a word to describe this approach to jewellery.

What is your design philosophy?
I love the fluidity of natural forms and the solidity of precious metals. My belief is that a well designed piece is not usually one that is over-intricate or cluttered with detail, but on the contrary, a piece that blends naturally with the body, and takes human expression. It is not uncommon for me to begin with a very complex idea and to work backwards to reduce this form it to it's essential primal elements. The minimal approach affects many of my designs. From time to time, however I also enjoy extracting elements from familiar forms (such as ancient jewellery designs which I am an admirer of) and to build from them a new suggestion, often with an element of surprise.

Your jewellery is beautifully hand-crafted. How long does it take to make each piece?
Creating a new design can also be a slow process both creatively and technically. On the design side, I have often started a piece with inspiration and then had 'writers block' (and in this case the best thing to do is to leave it and come back to it later). I have worked on many pieces like this, on intervals, and it has been sometimes a year or more before they have been completed.

On the making side, I have adopted numerous techniques that were used by my grandfather (a silversmith of Byzantine heritage). Most of these production techniques are actually ancient (such as casting in natural earth), and these are much more time-consuming than contem- porary alternatives with machine streamlined processes. Although the primitive methods today are much more costly and time-consuming, they ensure a quality and feel which is very hard to find in mass- produced jewellery.

What challenges do you face with what you do?
I think that one of the main challenges of every designer these days is design theft. While copyright laws offer protection in most Western countries, it is very difficult to control and to penalize the unscrupulous flooding of copies made in sweat-shops in the far east. Entire factories are built just to copy western designs. If you’re a designer that has been nurturing an original idea and working on it for some time, it is very unnerving to see poorly copied replicas of your work appearing from nowhere. On the other hand, copied art always lack the touch of original art and usually won't get very far.

What plans do you have for the future? Do you have new designs or ideas you will be exploring soon?
For the foreseeable future I will be working on my newest jewellery range, ESCULPTA which has been very inspiring for me. I am thrilled that this effort has been embraced so warmly by a diverse crowd of enthusiasts from around the world. Among the new designs which I am currently developing are a few exciting, intimate and somewhat kinky (!) objects of desire. The first of these which I already launched is Le Cock Ring. This unusual high-end cock ring has been a phenomenon of a success and I am happy to say that this will soon have a few worthy 'brothers and sisters'.

Other main general plans for the future are business related. When you're a young designer its important that people notice your work on a wider scope. I'm presently investing lots of time building upon new partnerships and finding agents in other countries in order to make my work available in more cities and places of interest. I'm always looking for fashion venues worldwide that are playful, stylish and have interesting crowds. So to all the sexy (and evidently style-cultivated) readers of The Ministry of Pleasure. If there's a fashion boutique that you shop from that's hot, fun and saucy - support an artist, and by all means, tell them to visit my website!

If anyone (including myself) has a design for your jewellery, would you consider their idea?
I love receiving ideas and I believe that being open to creative dialogue is very important for every artist. Sometimes however, ideas come to me that are not feasible because there are complex technical- ities involved. Few people realize the amount of time and costs involv- ed in creating a good prototype, and also the technical limitations.

Additionally, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so designing and completing a piece to meet my own standards can take some time before I am content enough to sign it. From time to time I have received excellent ideas which I have come to completion and worked. So if you have any ideas by all means try me!

If you weren't designing jewellery, what would you be doing?

And last but not least... Madonna. Yay or Nay?
Madonna? LOL! Of course Yay!

So, the Mermale has spoken and all you need to do now is to visit him at ESCULPTA. Thanks for doing this interview with me Nikias and I wish you all the very best in your jewellery design!

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