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Subsign Spotlight #028.

As you may already know, we like to get in touch with artists that express their creativity through their work. So, we come back to you with another interview. Hope you will enjoy it!

Subsign: Before we get things rolling, let’s get acquainted. Tell us a few things about yourself.

Name: David Gilliver.

Age: 37.

Job title: Professional Photographer / Artist.

Where you’re from: Glasgow, Scotland.

A little bit about yourself: I am obsessed with Formula 1 and love film. I recently went to the Silverstone Grand Prix (which was amazing) and the most recent movie that I watched was Alien Covenant (7/10).

Subsign Spotlight #028

Subsign: What was your childhood like? Do you think your experiences from childhood have influenced your present creative endeavors?

David: I had a very happy childhood and I was lucky enough to have a lot of toys when I was growing up. Toys from Star Wars, He-Man, Transformers. So yes, I can see how my childhood has influenced my work as I have always loved toys / figurines and creating dioramas.

Subsign Spotlight #028

Subsign: How would you describe your work style?

David: Playful.

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Subsign: How big are the figurines?

David: The figurines are HO scale, and stand at only around 2 centimetres tall. They really are pretty tiny, and so a lot of patience is required when setting up each miniature diorama. The Star Wars toys are a little larger which is why I mainly use doll’s house props in these scenes.

Subsign Spotlight #028

Subsign: What is your favourite subject matter and why?

David: I have always enjoyed using food products in my scenes partly because I enjoy creating amusing scenes using them, but also because they help lend a real sense of scale to the figures. Taking the figurines outside also helps show off just how tiny they are.

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Subsign: How do you get your ideas for the pictures?

David: My ideas are normally formed in one of two ways:

  • they will be inspired by looking at the figurines and working a scene around them
  • or a prop will inspire me to build a scene around it

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Subsign: Why do you like to take pictures of the small figurines?

David: The ‘little people’ fascinate me. I enjoy finding new figures frozen in a particular pose as I almost feel like I have to help them find a task to complete or be involved in, somehow helping them fulfil their purpose. Often, I place the figures in scenarios where they have a gargantuan task to complete which sometimes invokes a sense of sympathy inside of me for them. Or if I’m feeling a little more playful, I will simply aim to create a scene that makes me laugh.

The Star Wars figures are a little easier to work with: not only are they larger (mostly around 6” in size) but their joints are movable so I can bend them into different poses.

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Subsign: How long does it take to stage the pictures? What are the processes behind it?

David: The time taken to construct each scene will vary depending on the complexity of the diorama involved. Some will take as little as 20-30 minutes to prepare, and others may take hours to get just right before I start photographing the scene with my macro lens.

Once I have each scene set up just the way I want it, I will photograph it from a few different angles in order to ensure that I have managed to capture the diorama effectively. Once I’m happy with what I have captured, the editing process begins.

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Subsign: How long have you been doing it for?

David: I started creating miniature dioramas over 15 years ago during my Fine Art Photography degree at the Glasgow School of Art (1997 – 2001). Miniature figurines and toys have always fascinated me and I get a lot of enjoyment from thinking up new ideas, and how to inject humour into any particular scenario.

Subsign Spotlight #028

Subsign: Is there a message in any of the pictures?

David: Yes, sometimes a thought or feeling will help inspire a diorama and I will use the photograph to help convey a message.

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Subsign: If the little people could speak, what do you think they would say about the positions you put them in?

David: I wonder! Hopefully they would thank me for allowing them to fulfil their potential in the various scenarios they find themselves placed in. Or maybe they would tell me to stop being so silly…

Subsign: Where can we see more of your work?

David: If anyone out there is keen on viewing a more extensive collection of my work, you can do so by heading on over to my

Subsign: Did you come across any difficulties creating the works?

David: As always when shooting the ‘little people’ work with the tiny figurines, there were a few practical hurdles to overcome. Things like ensuring the figurines remained in place etc.

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Subsign: Who do you admire as a visionary?

David: David Levinthal – I studied his work during my degree at Art School.

Subsign: What advice could you give to someone starting out in the creative field of work?

David: Perseverance is key. Believe in yourself and just keep going. Things will start to happen eventually…you just have to make them happen.

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Subsign: If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

David: I have always wished that I had been better at painting. I would love to be able to paint amazing landscapes.

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Subsign: Can you recommend for our readers a book, a song and a movie?

David: Movies are my thing. 3 great films I would recommend are: The Game, The Fisher King and Vanilla Sky.

Subsign: If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be like and what would it be for?

David: It would involve sunshine, red wine and a swimming pool! What would it be for? Celebrating the ‘little’ things in life…

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Subsign: What did you want to be as a grown up?

David: A Naturalist, like David Attenborough.

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If you know a creative that should be in the spotlight feel free to contact us at .

For more of David’s work you can follow him on the links: David GilliverDavid Gilliver on Facebook


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"Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard."

Guy Kawasaki