Pioneers of the Kyrgyz String Art
By Aidai Chekirova, Tatiana Kim, Aizhan Amanova
String art has already existed in the Kyrgyz Republic for two years. One of its first practitioners, Tugolbai Sulaimanov or, as others call him, Tuga, studies in Kyrgyz-Turkish ‘Manas’ university. He makes portraits, decorations, sketchbooks and other wooden products using string art. Tugolbai has told us about this type of art sharing his works and experience.
String Art — What Is It?
String art is an art form, where you use thread and nail to create pictures and geometric patterns. According to Tugolbai, when he was starting his activity, he did not even know about this art: ‘I was looking at some pictures and suddenly I saw a picture in an art-geometry style (made from straight lines). I thought why not to make it with the help of thread because it would be cool. Then in comments someone wrote me that it was string art.’ This is how Tugolbay began his string art activity and now he is actively trying to master it.
It takes from 40 minutes to an hour to create one A4-size picture even for experienced Tugolbai. It can take up to four days of work to create a 2-meter picture. Tugolbai says that letters are the most frequently ordered product together with pictures and logotypes. The majority of his orders are mainly from people, who saw his works, or from his relatives and friends.
Usually working in his garage alone Tugolbai doesn’t need any assistants. However, he says there was a case when he needed a hand from a welder; the latter once helped him to work with metal.
String Art Trend and Competition
Tugolbai knows so many people, who are engaged in string art. Some of them are already known for their works. One artist has already gained attention from the media thanks to his portraits of Chingiz Aitmatov and Putin. Another one is based in Dubai and makes portraits for sheikhs. There are also young artists from PRO KG group who made a Kyrgyz flag.
Even ‘Mandarino’ creative presents shop makes the same wooden sketchbooks Tugolbai makes, only the shop sells theirs and accepts no orders. According to him, what makes him unique is that Tugolbai has a much wider range of forms while the others are usually focused on a single thing. Despite creating a picture is a very difficult and painful process, which often leads to finger injuries, there is nothing like the result. ‘When you finish and touch the picture, it is a real pleasure,’ says Tugolbai. It is also very pleasant for Tugolbai to see emotions of his сustomers, who receive their orders and thank him for his work.
Papers, Projects and Plans
Despite Tugolbai sells his works, he has no official permits yet. When customers ask for papers, Tugolbai asks his friends, who have a company. The latter help him with invoices and other papers. According to the Kyrgyz tax authorities, Tugolbai needs a voluntary license to continue his business.
Tugolbai is also a member of Enactus AUCA, a nonprofit developing entrepreneurship skills among students. One of Tugolbai’s projects was teaching children from Ak-Zhar making string-art-pictures and basics of business. His students have earned KGS 15,000 and continue practicing string art according to Tugolbai. ‘As far as I know they still do it. They were really interested in it. We’ve made orders for companies like Mozgami, ololo and some others,’ says Tugolbai.
Tugolbai wants to open his own workshop one day. ‘I want to open such a place, where every person can make something with own hands. Unfortunately, today most people cannot make anything. It is true,’ says Tugolbay. He has no doubt that string art has a future because people will be interested in size and visuality that attract everyone. Pictures of Tugolbai’s works are available on his Instagram page.