A pencil is often seen as an instrument that can be put on paper to create art, but for 23-year-old Dheeraj Kolla from Hyderabad, a pencil is often his canvas.
"I was born and raised in Hyderabad and I always had a creative inclination from when I was young. I loved doing craft work with paper and other such material, so the interest was always there since Class 6 or Class 7," he says.
Dheeraj has awed many people alike with his art work, carving things from a tea cup and the Eiffel Tower to former President APJ Abdul Kalam's face on the tip of a pencil.
He also specialises in carving people's names on the lead.
A mechanical engineering graduate from AVN Institute of Engineering and Technology, Dheeraj works for Naavigo, an event management company, and began looking at pencil carvings around three to four years ago.
"Using a few tools like scalpel, blades and needles, I shave the wood and start carving on the lead from right to left," he explains.
Depends on the amount of detailing required for the sculpture, it could take anywhere from five minutes, to ten hours, Dheeraj says.
"Generally, I do it over a span of one to two weeks, but it requires a lot of patience and also breaks easily if anyone disturbs it. Then I have to start all over again," he says.
Dheeraj also explains that the cost of material required for the art form is cheap, but the manual labour that is put in, is a lot.
"Presently I take around four to five orders every month, charging between Rs 300 and Rs 10,000, depending on the detailing required. However, the market in India is yet to take off as there is a lack of awareness. In countries like Russia, good art work can even be sold for up to Rs 10 lakh online," he says.
Dheeraj also has a long list of records and achievements that he can boast of.
"I was given a world record by the Wonder Book of Records for carving a 19-letter name in 60 minutes, and another one by Vajra World Record for carving Lord Shiva's face," he says.
He even received appreciation from Telangana IT Minister KT Rama Rao and President Ram Nath Kovind himself.
"I was part of the Jagruti Yatra for the year 2017-18, and I was not allowed on stage to present my artwork of the President's face on a pencil. However, he was so impressed that he called me backstage and took a picture with me. It was a very proud moment," Dheeraj says.
"I even met Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan on Diwali and presented him with an art work of a diya (lamp)," he adds.
Another proud moment for Dheeraj, was when he was invited as a speaker for a Tedx event in Bengaluru.
For now, Dheeraj plans to continue working as he does and also plans to host an exhibition with his art work, in the future and is looking for support from private organisations or the government. Dheeraj's Facebook page can be found here.