A Montreal artist is starting to get big attention for her tiny creations. What began as a passion project is quickly becoming a full-time job.
Marina Totino spends days, weeks and months painstakingly creating incredibly detailed miniature art.
“When I first started, I got very frustrated, I didn’t have a lot of patience,” Totino told Global News. “The tiny pieces are so tedious to put together. I drop them. They go flying across the room.”
It’s hard to imagine being patient enough to create art so tiny yet so rich in detail. Among Totino’s creations are a vinyl record player barely as big as a loonie, and a quarter-sized Super Nintendo.
Totino is quickly making a name for herself with her surreal and spooky miniatures.
Her latest concoction, 20 tiny industrial washing machines that will be part of a creepy laundromat she plans to debut online in time for Halloween.
“Who would have thunk that people love little things?” she said with a smile.
In a tiny TV room she created, every minute detail is accounted for, with mini VHS tapes littering the floor and light leaking out of a tiny box in the corner.
A retro video store was the piece that started her turn from teeny to mighty.
“I skyrocketed through that. It’s been up and up ever since,” said the Dollard-des-Ormeaux native who studied film at Concordia University.
She hand-carved the outdoor brick texture of the store out of foam, crafted a mini ladder to the roof out of thin pieces of wood and decorated the front with miniature shrubs, cigarette butts and piece of litter.
The inside of the video store features 460 individually-made DVD cases no bigger than a fingernail, all adorned with covers from real movies. It took over a month of microscopic precision to create.
“Building miniatures has actually helped me be more calm on the road. It’s helped my road rage,” she joked of the calmness needed to do such work.
After quitting a job she didn’t like, an unemployed Totino decided to focus on miniature art. The video store came out of that time
She posted a video of it on TikTok, and to her surprise, it went viral, garnering over 6.9 million views and 1.8 million likes.
“I remember when the video went viral, I was kind of bedridden for a week. I didn’t post anything for a week. I didn’t know what to do because there’s so many eyes on you now,” she said of being overwhelmed by her sudden popularity.
She quickly came to terms with her newfound fame, and started getting asked to create minis for TV shows, video games and more.
“My goal in miniature-making right now is to actually make music videos and start getting into stop motion. That’s my long-term goal and to do maybe some advertisements with miniatures,” she explained.
Tiny art is letting this Montreal artist dream big.