The Earth and Other Planets in the Miniatures by Adam Makarenko

Looking for something to do during the long Canadian winter, Adam Makarenko, a visual artist from Toronto, decided to make a small version of apiaries that he photographed in the summer. Since then he has been creating miniatures of everything, starting from boreal forests and ending with spaceships and planets.
Adam Makarenko

Canadian photographer, artist, filmmaker. Born and raised in Atikokan, lives in Toronto. For the past eight years, has been making documentaries and taking photographs of his own handcrafted miniatures. Winner of the American Photo of The Year in 2007 and Magenta Bright Spark Award in 2008. Published his work in The British Journal of Photography, The Walrus, Macleans, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, New Statesman.

Adam, tell us a little about yourself. You have a Ukrainian last name. Are your parents from Ukraine?

That’s an interesting question. My great-grandfather immigrated to Canada before the Russian Revolution, along with seven other brothers. I never got the chance to meet him, but I knew my grandfather. I know good perogies when I eat them, and I love egg painting. Unfortunately, I know very little about that part of my heritage, probably because my grandfather died when I was very young.

How did you get the idea to create miniature photography work?

I originally started making miniatures after a summer of taking pictures of bees and apiaries. I needed something to do during the long and cold Canadian winter. I decided to make miniature world apiaries.


Tell us about the technical moments. Are your ideas difficult to implement?

Miniatures are tricky. You have to think about how you are going to shrink everything down, and still make it look appealing. I don’t aim to be too realistic in my work, but there is a happy medium between realism and a painterly look in my mind. Aside from that, I feel like I have to experiment a lot. There are no how-to books on making miniatures. Everything I do is an experiment that might fail.

What do you usually depict?

I show a variety of subjects ranging from bees, boreal forests, animals that inhabit those forests, abandoned greenhouses, space probes, and planets. Basically, whatever I am interested in.

There is a happy medium between realism and a painterly look in my mind.

What do you want to show through these works?

I guess within the work I am always exploring something. Sometimes it might be as simple as a challenge — how do I shrink that thing down into miniature? What can I do to trick your eye? Then I attempt it. Aside from this I am also thematically exploring ideas of isolation, impermanence, and the environment. I have an affinity for nature, and topography.

Did you ever think of photographing the real world, not in miniature?

I do photograph the real world, and I am mixing miniatures with reality to tell stories.

What are you creating besides miniatures?

I am also a writer, and I am working on a few film projects at the moment. The main project outside of miniatures is the feature documentary about a mysterious industrial island, located on the Detroit River, called Zug Island: The Story of The Windsor Hum.

I ask myself -- how do I shrink that thing down into miniature? What can I do to trick your eye? Then I attempt it.

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