Dirk Prautzsch is a bon vivant. The Northern German has been treasuring selected wine and good cigars for decades – privately as well as a member of a cigar lounge in the City of Bremen. His passion for and his profound knowledge of the world of cigars is expressed in the images Dirk Prautzsch produces out of cigar bands, vistas, tobacco leaves and cedarwood sheets.
Each picture starts with the idea for a theme to be highlighted. The history of a cigar country, the display of a brand, the transformation of a company logo. Then the material of which Dirk Prautzsch composes his cigar band art is added. Even this phase requires patience: It took seven years to collect the necessary cigar bands that now display the brand Opus X by Arturo Fuente. Dirk Prautzsch only uses bands of cigars that have actually been smoked. A network of private individuals and specialty retailers assists him with the provision. Once the material is at hand Dirk Prautzsch sketches the future picture, places stencils, composes the layout of historic vistas of gilded and embossed lithographs or modern cigar bands with holograms. If a client has specific ideas for “his” work, Dirk Prautzsch advises him on the selection and layout of motifs until a well balanced image emerges.
Dirk Prautzsch puts on white cotton gloves before placing a sheet of paperboard on his worktable. Sketches, stencils, knives, magnifying glass are laid out. Depending on the motif the actual handcraft on a single picture can last from a few weeks to several months. Up to three hundred working hours flow into a piece of art. Each hour demands constant concentration and utmost accuracy, as the material employed is extremely delicate and often irreplaceable.
This craftsmanship is built on years of experience – from selecting and composing the motifs, via using the right tools to applying the adequate glue. Essential ingredients for achieving this work are patience, aptitude and perfectionism. Characteristics Dirk Prautzsch has continuously refined over the last years along with his craftsmanship. Maybe the 1964-born has inherited his steady hand from his father who was a gifted retoucher and painter in oil.
It was Chateau Mouton Rothschild that inspired Dirk Prautzsch to his art with cigar bands. The renowned French estate regularly asks artists to design the labels of its premium wine bottles, thus promoting their brand while at the same time supporting fine arts. Dirk Prautzsch experimented with the miniature art works on cigar bands and vistas – and met enthusiastic acclaim. He doesn’t talk about his clients – as confidentiality commands. Yet, a couple of his works are displayed in the Havanna Lounge of the Hanseatic City of Bremen. One of his favourite pictures on the history of Cuban cigar manufacturers can be admired here, above the main fireside.