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 Post subject: Profile: Karl Thier
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:21 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 2:11 am
Posts: 6469
Location: Michigan USA
Profile: Karl Thier

Karl Thier

Karl Their was born in 1952 in Vienna, Austria, in the zodiac sign of the lion, and in the Chinese horoscope as a dragon. In the 'Druid tree horoscope' he would be a Cedrus.

His introduction to the art of bonsai occurred in1987 at a bonsai nursery in Vienna. Two years later he bought his first bonsai books, and in 1992 began his 'bonsai journey' with a few trees 'indoors' learning the proper care of the "little trees". He quite soon became disenchanted with the available 'imported' trees, and started to experiment with trees that were indigenous to the area where he lived.

Karl quickly realized that he needed to learn more about the 'physiology' of trees, and devoted much time to reading reference books and studying the trees in the mountains. He also attended workshops whenever possible. His work with bonsai gradually began to be noticed by others, and this led to the wonderful opportunity to care for and work on the 'Austrian Bonsai Collection' located at Castle Belvedere in Vienna for several years.

Karl studied and furthered his bonsai education with the Italian artist Othmar Auer, and one of the highlights of his bonsai career was with Mr. Masahiko Kimura and the demo in Arco Italy in 2005.

Karl enjoys very much sharing his knowledge about the care and styling of bonsai in seminars and workshops in many venues. His articles about bonsai styling have been published in both Germany and Switzerland, and one can find examples of his work, articles on his life, philosophy of bonsai, and techniques used in his work, on his website at .

In 2001 Karl along with his wife Silvia founded their company "Little Bonsaiworld". Collecting trees from the wild with Silvia has become such a commitment that it now consumes a major part of their leisure time, but this also provides a great amount of pleasure and some wonderful material to work with.

Karl has developed a preference for 'abstract' tree forms, and states "I collect this one again and again". According to Karl the styling of these forms brings out the "vague inner feelings of my soul". "These then don't become beautiful and happy designs".

One of his pleasures and 'sources of real fun' is working with the 'tanuki form'. He has stated 'this work is very often underestimated'. He is also well known in the 'internet bonsai forum community' for his superb work with 'virtuals', and some fine examples of both his 'tanuki' and 'virtual renditions' can be found on his website.

Karl has expressed his gratitude for his 'bonsai ability' to two individuals, his wife and his good friend Josef from Hungary. He receives a "good" feeling about his work when people view his trees, and go on their way "wearing a smile".

He likes to share his work and thoughts on bonsai on his website: a gallery of Karl's work can be seen at

The following is an on-line interview with Karl Thier

Mr Kimura and Karl Thier

AoB: You have a remarkable list of collected trees from the Alps. What motivates you to keep going out and looking for new material?

KT: The collect in the Alps or in the hills of Hungary is for me and my wife like on the hunts to go. It is how one adventures and exciting at the same time finding a tree this one is suitable for bonsai. We love nature and the countryside of the Alps and the steppe country in Hungary. It is a piece of liberty, enjoying nature and finding at the same time beautiful trees.

AoB: How is the supply of yamadori holding up in the Alps? Since such trees are obviously not a renewable resource, in our lifetimes anyway, would you say the demand is quickly outweighing the supply?

KT: Everything almost is in Austria under Nature protection. If we collect in the Alps, then with permission of the farmer, the also landowner is. Most trees are collected with arrangement of the owner, he checks these sometimes too.

For the personal use is that collect the trees none problem, it is only few pieces and also of different places. It gets more problematic if one makes with Alpenpflanzen business, the resources are limited there and not usually fulfilling.

Therefore there is our main emphasis at collected deciduous trees and not at conifers from the Alps.

It is alarming for us we hear how many trees if from our Austrian Alps, of German and Italian collectors are dug up, without an approval.

AoB: If you could pass on one piece of wisdom concerning collecting from the wild, what would it be?

KT: If this is a philosophical question, I then don't understand it!

Is it a moral question, so I would say, if one collects only good material in the Alps, so these will be only few trees. One collects with heeding for nature, these then still become less trees. Collecting conscientiously doesn't harm nature, collecting only irresponsibly.

AoB: When you create a bonsai, from collecting, and all the way to the final touches, which one is the most enjoyable part, for you personally?

KT: There are three parts for me these satisfying me very much. Firstly, if I find the tree, Secondly, if the tree has grown after some years and thirdly, if I can finally start with the styling. that's three exciting sections, of collecting up to the styling. All three together, pleasure and joy create for me.

AoB: You mentioned on a forum that you don't exhibit your trees. What is the main motive behind this decision?

KT: I think this is a misunderstanding, because I go my trees on exhibit, but mostly in Germany and few in Austria. The Austrian bonsai scene is very small and till now there was not any great exhibit, except for small Club exhibit.

The so far biggest exhibit takes place in Austria in 2008, the EBA. For all Austrians these collaborate at this Event, it becomes a thrilling thing , included for me.

AoB: How do you feel about the major European shows, what if anything would you change?

KT: About this I cannot say much. I have only twice a European bonsai exhibit visited, once in Germany and once in Italy. Both shows were OK for me. Perhaps I would at demos inviting only European bonsai artists?

AoB: If you look back to the way you saw bonsai at the beginning, and compare it to how you see bonsai today, what is the biggest change in your perception?

KT: I think, I felt there, how many. The fascination was due to the Begin in the radiation of the little trees. My whole claim was at the beginning, get the bonsai at the life. However, it didn't last for very long and I got a magazine about bonsai styling of gentleman Wolf D. Schudde "Bonsai practice workshop from indigenous trees" to reading. As of this moment I wanted to form bonsai and very much changed from there in the view way about bonsai.

I have learned very much over plants since and has my point of view over plants changed. For me is today a plant a living organism this with great respect to treat is. at the beginning bonsai was for me an ornamental plant it was to look beautiful it.

AoB: Do you consider Austria an ideal place for doing bonsai?

KT: Austria is a very blessed country with lovely nature and marvelous mountains, an ideal country around bonsai to make. However, Austria is a poor country to learn something about bonsai, we still are at the beginning there and there is still to learn much.

AoB: Your trees, carving, and Photoshop skills indicate a very well developed 'artistic vision'. Have you had formal art education, or is your abilities in artistic creation a 'self taught' development?

KT: As a child and as a teenager has me draw and paint very interested, I was very talented. My parents wanted to send me on an art school, unfortunately, the money was too scarce.

I already always had talent for the arts and crafts and for the music. in my youth until age of 28 years music was everything for me and I played also in music groups.

My learned profession also had to do with art, I learned the crafts art locksmith. It was a pleasure for me made of iron a small work art to forms.

At dealing with photoshop it is almost exactly so, I have a small talent for it, but no art education about this. I have learned much from Othmar Auer about bonsai, I have gone to the seminars for 5 years.

AoB: You are well recognized in the 'Internet forum community' for the virtual renditions you create, but there are some who downplay the role of virtuals in modern bonsai, what are your thoughts on these tools?

KT: At the beginning the Internet forum community was very enthusiastic of my virtualen Bonsai interpretations, there was one completely new medium. There are many people in the forums this one dealing so approximately with Virtuals, it is no longer new, it is therefore also no longer so interesting and no value is put on quality. However, there already were sceptics at first these met this medium with scepticism.

I think today still, that a good Virtual the look in the future of a bonsai styling much better represents, more really than with one a drawing ever could.

Karl and his wife, Silvia
Photograph by Walter Pall

AoB: The 'tanuki' form appears to be one of the 'bonsai techniques' you very much enjoy working with. This form certainly allows the artist's visions and dreams to be brought to life, but there is very little information available on the technique. Can you share methods of 'securing' the living tree to the deadwood you have tried, and which methods do you refer?

KT: Yes, I love it one good Tanuki to style. I am convinced of it that the representation of an excellent Tanukiis much heavier as the forming of a living plant. At this design of a Tanuki a good idea but also skillful skilled crafts is necessary.

An important share of the Tanuki is the deadwood. Only by the perfect choice of the deadwood, the processing the same in connection with the living plant, a work of art can arise from this. The possibilities a Tanuki are artistically very big, one can make a Tanuki theoretically from every plant. If one masters this technique, so really is capable, dream of making of really good bonsai. Is quite decisive, that one doesn't recognize an excellent Tanuki as Tanuki.

I have about the work of my Juniperus Tanuki one articles written, this one soon in the BCD magazine appears.

AoB: You are an active member of a few 'Internet forums', what do you think the strengths and weaknesses of such are, and what would you like to see more of on-line?

KT: A very big strength of the Internetforums is the inexhaustible knowledge one can learn very much from it. I wished, there would have been something like that to my beginning time.

The weaknesses are, in my opinion, the anonymity behind the self appointed bonsai professionals, hidden, wrong or half truths are often announced. The image from some overestimated users frightens me.

This Knowledge of Bonsai forum and this Art of Bonsai Project is on the better path. My english language isn't very good, therefore I have a problem writing in international forums. Unfortunately pointing few well-known European bonsai artist her work in international foren. Of self-appointed bonsai artists sometimes is too many to see.

Tanuki Juniperus

AoB: What do you see on the Internet that you feel is important to the art of bonsai, and what do you see that is detrimental?

KT: I think it would be interesting and important, to seeing how coming to their styling result the bonsai artists. I mean the design step by step explaining in pictures and in texts, similar as in the case of the styling contest in this knowledge of bonsai forum. Many styling with pictures of before and after, can not quite comprehend.

AoB: Over the course of history many great artists have used 'erotic connotations' in their art to a great advantage. In many cultures this is even considered 'prized art', and some of the most sought after 'viewing stones' in China and Japan have 'erotic overtones'. On your website your 'Bonsaierotik' is a very 'tasteful' use of 'erotica' in your virtual work. It also appears that you occasionally use this 'device' in your deadwood carving. Is this intentional, and do you find this is well accepted, or just not discussed?

KT: The bonsai eroticism was a virtual project for me. I imagined it can be very appealing two beautiful things, one woman and bonsai bringing together. The bonsai eroticism arose from it. When I had shown the first pictures on my web site, I often got bad e-mails, but also positive words of encouragement. I leave this topic in the meantime. For me at this project was important, that it is not sensed as vulgar, but one idea, two beautiful things uniting.

The thought on eroticism is difficult to understand for me, at my deadwood carving. I had neither intention one thought of eroticism wasting at work. I think that from one certain chevron perspective look the deadwood carving instinctively to sexiness thinks lets. If one is in real in front of the trees, would no-one come onto an erotic thought.

At that time in the BFF had one woman the similarity to the sexiness on mine carving work notices, I have been frightened first time, however, it was never an intention, representing something how that.

AoB: What do you feel have been the greatest innovations in bonsai over the last few years

KT: I think the greatest innovation is the search for own identity in Europe at bonsai, in forms of bonsai. One searches freely of compulsions and sets of rules, reducing the Japanese influence a little.
It works but at few European bonsai artist. Within the last few years there is a very large trend towards collected trees, this tree you must prepared to compromise to styling. It often happens that the rules you break and a bonsai looks like a tree and no Japanese copy is.

Over the Internet and the bonsai foren you can wide over the national boundary looks, today it is much faster possible, Recognizing trends and innovations, that great influence has.

Yamadori collecting

AoB: Your training with Othmar Auer would have been a very 'traditional based' education, yet your favorite tree forms seem to be the more 'abstract' trees. How do you feel about the many paths bonsai is now taking away from the traditional forms?

KT: As I already stated, is one trends to independence to recognizing. By collecting of grown abstractly trees, I have a little more liberty in the design and not so bound to the traditional styling.

By Othmar Auer I have much learned about the traditional bonsai styling, but it obligating me not, everyone my trees traditional to forms. I always like traditionally trees, but I have nevertheless a love to tree sculptures, this one could describe sooner than abstract trees.

Before however,the path of the traditional styling exits, should have one control of this tradition. later looking for his own way.

AoB: You mentioned the term abstract, among your favorite designs. Can you elaborate in a little more detail what do you mean by this, and how it differs from the more traditional forms?

KT: Abstakten trees I meant collected material, this not always on a traditional tree reminded. Of this material I have collected some and some are at present in the developmental stage. If I have accomplished my goal at these trees, so elements of the traditional styling will be recognizable however anyway. Because the abstractness can be found more in the growth of the trees than in the styling. Alone the choice of the material is the difference to the traditional form.

AoB: In your teaching, what is the most important thing that you pass on to your students.

KT: An important prerequisite for the hobby bonsai is the love to the trees. Forming the bonsai is in the foreground for many bonsai enthusiasts, for the care one wouldn't like to invest apprenticeship so much.

I always say in my seminars how important the care is. The best forming of Bonsai is unimportantly, if it is cared wrongly. The styling is the shortest part of bonsai at the long journey through life of him, the longer part is the care time. Without a good care the journey through life can the bonsai get very short, even if it is formed beautifully.

AoB: What is the most important thing your students have taught you?

KT: Often must repeat many things, till a pupil remembers something. Has learned for me as very impatient teacher the patience, I haven't often taken this one into account at my trees enough. The more oldly become I more important it gets to correct this virtue mistake for me, I also try for the pupils to teach this important virtue. Impatience is the worst virtue at bonsai certainly to come to the aim, not the aim is the way to but the patient way there.

AoB: What people do you think are leading bonsai into a new era?

KT: This isn't such an easy question, but I think from Germany go for some years a more and more lasting call after naturalism in the Bonsaistyl. There actually are some people, also beyond the limits of Germany It gets more and more this one following the reputation after the naturalism.

It is possible that something parts with the classically traditional styling there and a new era is born.

Although it wasn't invented newly, in China always gets naturalistically bonsai forms.

Karl Thier's Gardens

Destiny wanted that I come onto my journey through life with bonsais in contact. I led a rather insignificant life before, I was lucky in the spell of the fascination bonsai to coming. Everything became positives in my life as of this moment, today I can live bonsai. I may put my ideas and creations into bonsai.

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