Michael Papadakis, sunlight artist from RSM, California, United States. Photography © Pablo Berenguer
1.Tell us what you do and your beginnings.
Since a young age I was an artist painting, drawing, sculpting, etc. In 2012 I wanted to take my artwork on my travels across Central Asia. Here I was met with ultimate sunshine, and one day it dawned on me that perhaps I could use the sun as my ultimate artist’s tool, replacing all my previous art materials.
So with a magnifying glass in one hand and a piece of wood in the other, I travelled on foot for 14 months across the Silk Road in Central Asia creating art. When I returned to the USA in 2013, I began experimenting with larger lenses and different materials. I discovered that sunlight had the power to melt solid stone into obsidian.
As my knowledge of this artform grew, I began to film my process and share it online. In 2017/2018, I went ultra-viral having my work shared with millions across the globe.
I even received opportunities to work with major brands and film companies to make “Heliography” a household name. Since then, I’ve thought of “Heliography” (the name that I’ve given to this art form) as a process that connects people to the greatest source we know, the sun.
2.What are your favorite museums in the world? Why?
The de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Louvre in Paris, France. I love these two museums because they create a nostalgia for me in my experience of art throughout the years.
Also, I have a deep connection with the de Young Museum in San Francisco because it was the first professional exhibition in which I was able to show my art back in 2007.
3.How important are social networks in your business? And which platform do you prefer and why.
Social media has been the greatest means to get my work seen to the world. It has not only brought me business but has connected me with thousands of upcoming artists who want to learn more about the craft.
I used to prefer Facebook and Instagram because I generated much response on these platforms, but have since favored youtube much more because I create wonderful videos that tell the story of the craft.
4.What are your future projects?
Since covid-19, I haven’t created much. But I plan on using my platforms to highlight world issues and current events in a modest but powerful way. I believe Art should reflect the times, and right now the times are dire. I will create for the people, elevating the voice of those from behind the masks.
5.To create greater engagement among museums, artists and professionals, do you have any advice for cultural projects such as #MuseumWeek?
I think that using a form of art that speaks to all people in this day is most important. People need a “wow” factor when it comes to new art, and if you have something new to show, you can create engagement that viewers are drawn to. In my case, my artform is as bright as the sun, nothing is brighter than the sun.
Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist
Michael Papadakis (RSM, 1990) aka Sunscribes is a sunlight artist and director who uses lenses and mirrors to collect the sun’s rays to be aimed at different media such as paper, stone and wood, to create his works: heliography.
This term was thought up in 1820 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce for the production of the first photographic images and Papadakis somehow repeats the same process through different forms of sunlight. His works represent portraits, animals, brand logos and objects. This art technique requires a lot of patience, it hopes to inspire the creativity not only of adults, but above all of the youngest in search of beauty in nature and art. Michael Papadakis lives and works in Colorado.