Meet Ilyas Ahmed – The Art Junkie

Ilyas Ahmed is a Bangalore-based professional-welder-turned-artist who finds beauty in junk material and turns them into beautiful display pieces.

“Art is something that anyone should be able to relate to.” – Ilyas Ahmed

A pair of deer with huge antlers are stationed just outside an exit of a popular mall at Lower Parel, a piece of art by Ilyas Ahmed, made out of nuts, bolts, silencer pieces, gears, spark plugs, chains and other such discarded automobile parts.

Ilyas Ahmed is a Bangalore-based professional-welder-turned-artist who finds beauty in junk material and turns them into beautiful display pieces. Functionality and unique finishing are his USP.

“I have been in this work for over 20 years now. As a child too, I was interested in art and other creative pursuits. I used to love working with materials like spare wires.”

When I started working, it was for an oil rig. Onboard, I began collecting scrap metal and started working with them. At the time I used to make small sculptures like a miniature scooter or a bike. When we used to hit the shores abroad I used to sell what I made on the jetties. Now, a lot of my work is exported and I find buyers for them in India as well in places like Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai.

“ “The beauty of my work is that it’s easily portable. All my sculptures can be dismantled. You can pull out the head only by twisting it, the legs too, pack it all in a box and transport it. It’s very easy. And any lay person can fix them back.” – Ilyas Ahmed.


Not many people give a second look to metal spare parts lying around. Ilyas Ahmed on the other hand saw the artistic potential of the innocuous nuts and bolts and springs and began working with them in his teenage years.

“I was amazed to see two reindeer standing guard outside the entrance to the mall and wondered if I was seeing right. What were Santa’s reindeer doing here? Was I dreaming? It seems I was awake and one of the later visitors to the month long exhibition of Bengaluru based artist Ilyas Ahmed ‘s “scraptures” of animals as he calls his Metal Art inside the mall.” – Visitor to High Street Phoenix.

“High Street Phoenix has established itself as a house of art and entertainment for its customers. We are overwhelmed to bring the best and the most unconventional art forms in the country to our patrons.” – Mr. Rajendra Kalkar, President (West), The Phoenix Mills Ltd.

Ilyas Ahmed discovered his interest and talent during his tenure at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), where he joined as a welder. Later, while working for a Dutch oil exploration firm, he spent hours giving form to scrap he collected on the ship. He crafts sculptures as small as tabletop models to large ones about 10 feet high.

The deer are part of the Resurrection series currently on display along with other animals like horses, camels and an American Pitbull. When one sees the end product, it is difficult to believe it all started with material that the artist buys for Rs 22 a kilo from scrap dealers.

“The sculptures would take around three months before, but frequent practice has now brought that down to 15 days. There is no mould for my artwork. There are also no replicas. Once a piece is made, the second one cannot be the same. My concept is putting the right material at the right place.” – Ilyas Ahmed

Ilyas has made over 270 sculptures using such material, miniatures and life size, and a larger-than-lifesize superhero Hulk (compete with the face creases and angry expression) for a UK client. But the tallest of his creations is a 50-feet King Kong for display in Dubai.

“Close to 15 years ago, we had to spend large sums of money to display our work at a mall. It’s the opposite now, and we are paid to display our work. Earlier we used to struggle to show our work. Nowadays people are aware, they start liking your work and they promote it too. They push you to a platform where everybody can see it.”

And that’s why we were so keen to share the art of Ilyas Ahmed. If you like what you see, we urge you to do the same.

Did you know?

Ilyas Ahmed created the Make in India brand ambassador lion, using gears for the body and sheets of metal for the mane.

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.

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