Well-renowned in his craft Percy is a self-taught, highly sought after ice sculptor who started his career in ice when he was a chef at the London Savoy hotel. He then moved on to work for a company specialising in ice cubes and sculptures where he was able to gain more commercial experience in his chosen trade.
Percy loves to experiment with different techniques and textures in ice and is always coming up with new ideas in which to carve or present the ice ensuring that PSD Ice Art are always at the forefront of the industry
He is also responsible for training many artists in ice carving all of whom in time have recognised and reached his own extremely high standards.
Percy, did you always want to be an ice sculptor?
I grew up in a place called Lonya Grande in Peru and have always considered myself to be an artist and sculptor, it’s just something that came naturally to me and has always been a part of who I am. I applied my sculpting skills in the hospitality industry when I moved to the UK carving vegetables, cheese, butter…even salt! Then I moved on to ice and snow. It’s an all-consuming passion.
What sculpture are you most proud of?
That’s a difficult question for me! I can’t pin it down to one sculpture. It’s like asking a painter what his favourite colour is..it’s impossible to define. Every sculpture I make is created with the same attention to detail and I’m proud of everything I’ve created.
What’s next on your agenda?
I would love to travel to the Arctic to create sculptures and experiment with snow and ice….just to see how the wind and weather conditions affect the natural material.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists and sculptors?
Always accept a challenge – it improves your creativity. Have fun (an ice luge helps!). Try things, gain new experiences and surround yourself with people that inspire you.
Nicky Salazar – also known as ‘The Ice Lady’ – is the driving force and heart of PSD Ice Art. Nicky over to you!
What do you love the most about the ice sculpting industry?
I love the variety, as we get asked to do all sorts of different things and I’m constantly surprised at the ideas people come up with for their events. It can be anything from the everyday to the completely outrageous and spectacular!
Have you ever been tempted (or had to) join Percy and the ice team in the freezer?
You’re joking! It’s generally -7 degrees in there. Far too cold for me! I’ve never spent time in the freezer other than to have a quick look at something but I’m always popping my head in to ask questions. Very occasionally on a hot day I’ll step in for a minute for a quick cool-down but that’s about it.
Which ice sculpting project have you been most proud of?
Probably the CVP job for the BVE exhibition at Excel. It lasted 3 days and we produced 3 life-size movie cameras, several ice sculptures and Percy was live carving at the event. It attracted huge social media attention and catapulted us into the finals for the Events Awards later that year.
You also have a very interesting and creative pastime and second business. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
I’ve been teaching Salsa on and off for 17 years. It keeps me fit, is great fun and it brings me into contact with all sorts of different people of all ages.
What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m reading ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck. It’s fascinating that a certain mindset can affect your whole life.
If you were an ice sculpture what would you be?
Tricky one that. I think I’d like to be something ‘frozen in’ so I can at least be released from the ice when it melts. Not sure I could cope with melting away slowly and then completely disappearing!
IONUT ‘Giovanni’ CHECHERITA
Giovanni started his career as a trainee chef at the Giovanni XXIII chef school in Caorle, near Venice in 2006.
He studied there for 4 years and during that time was introduced to fruit and vegetable carving by Italian chef Orlando Scaggiante known around the world as the chef-artist who creates works of art with watermelons, cantaloupe melons, pumpkins and other vegetables.
In 2008 he took part in the international culinary art exhibition IKA 2008 in Erfurt, Germany and 2010 he entered into the Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup competition. He won bronze medals for both. He spent another couple of years working in Michelin star restaurants in Italy and England before turning his talents towards ice carving.
Giovanni joined the PSD Ice Art team in 2012 as a trainee sculptor and under the watchful eye of Percy, our head sculptor has not only developed into a talented young ice artist but has become an invaluable part of our team. We’re proud to have him!
So Giovanni over to you….
If you could be an ice sculpture what would you be and if you could sculpt any ice sculpture what would you do?
I would definitely be an eagle if i were an Ice sculpture. My favourite ice sculpture So far is the spirit of ecstasy – it’s just beautiful. It’s a sculpture of the bonnet ornament on Rolls Royce cars.
Did you always know you wanted to be an ice sculptor and what did you do before you were ice sculpting?
My passion for sculpting actually started when i was working in the kitchen, as I went to a catering school and worked in the industry for 5 years. I started to excel at fruit and vegetable carving and also sugar and chocolate moulding. I always wanted to try sculpting with ice so it was a natural progression from there.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Dersca a small town in the north of Romania, right in the countryside. I had the best childhood ever. I then moved to Rome in Italy when I was 10 and then on to Venice from 14.
What’s the best thing about working at PSD Ice Art?
It’s being part of a family environment, the closeness that you get in a small family business that I love the most.
Who do you admire?
I admire all those people that are passionate out what they do – and never stop learning.
Andrew is the youngest member of the ice team and Percy’s eldest son. No surprise then that he demonstrated a strong artistic talent from an early age! Having completed his art GCSE one year early he was accepted into the City of Westminster college where he studied for a level 3 BTECH extended Diploma in Art and design.
When did you join PSD Ice Art?
I’ve been in the studio freezer since I was young. It’s fascinating seeing a sculpture being made and obviously I loved spending time with my dad, but I actually started learning to ice sculpt properly when I was in college, going into the freezer when I had spare time or when dad needed help. It’s -7 degrees in there, so you have to get used to working in the cold. We wrap up really warm and once you start becoming absorbed in ice sculpting you forget all about the temperature.
And more recently you’ve also started to help out in the office with sales and marketing. How are you finding that?
I’ve always been a social person and I do enjoy talking to people. It’s also important for me, being Percy’s son, that I understand all sides of the business.
What has been your favourite ice carving that you’ve done so far?
I sculpted a Disney castle and I was astonished at how much detail I got within a one-block sculpture (1m x 50cm x 25cm), and how amazing it looked and it really did give a magical feel. The client was extremely happy. She wasn’t expecting such a massive Disney castle.
You’ve also started to study design, what’s it called..Rhino?
The software is called Rhino, but the actual subject is called CAD…auto CAD (computer-aided design) which is how to design things in 3D.
What would you say are the basic skills needed for ice carving?
I’ve been ice sculpting full-time for 2 years now and before that I spent 2 years learning techniques and practising, getting experience. You really need to have a high level of creativity, as you are making a piece of art with each sculpture. You also always have to think ahead and plan because once you carve a piece of ice off, there’s no way of getting it back!
What would you say is the most difficult part of the job?
Well the most difficult side of the job would be the creative aspect when the client doesn’t always know specifically what they want. Then it’s my job to think about the best thing to do with their theme and help them to visualise the finished sculpture. I want to make it completely unique and something they haven’t seen or considered before.
Gillian, the newest member of the PSD Ice Art team, is our Office Administrator and all round miracle worker! You’ll probably speak to her first when you call the office. We asked Gillian a few questions so you can get to know her a little better….
What’s the best thing about working at PSD Ice Art?
I just love to see all the amazing ice sculptures that are made every day – it’s a complete joy.
Who do you admire?
Usually people expect you to say someone famous when you get asked this question, but I’d have to say the person I most admire has always been my lovely mum.
If you could be an ice sculpture what would you be?
I’d like to be a Dolphin I think! Graceful, inquisitive, friendly and fun (ha ha like me!)
Whats the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice is something you can actually put in to practice, so I always live by the rule of not doing anything to someone that you wouldn’t want done to you.
What will we most likely find you doing (and where?!) when you’re not at PSD Ice Art?
Definitely sitting in the sun, usually with friends and family in my garden, or on holiday somewhere sunny and relaxing.
A Career With PSD Ice Art
There are no open vacancies at present, but please feel free to send your CV to us for future consideration. All enquiries should be addressed to Nicky Salazar and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
107 MERIDIAN FM
Percy and Nicky were live on air recently and don’t they look fetching in their headphones(!)
They were guests on ‘The Real Business Show’ with Alan Wick on 107 Meridian FM.
It was an hour-long, in-depth interview and a great opportunity to share their life in, and out, of the freezer. They chatted about what they are most proud of, how they built their ice sculpting business and the future of ice sculpting.
Alan also asked them to share advice to new business owners thinking of going it alone, which they did gladly.
The podcast is coming soon if you’d like to listen in. More details to follow…