Willard Wigan

Micro-sculptor
Willard Wigan sculpts figures small enough to fit on the head of a pin. To create these microscopic masterpieces, he works diligently through the stillest hours of the night, between his own heartbeats.

Why you should listen

Willard Wigan has immortalized the Obama family in the eye of a needle and Muhammad Ali on the head of a match. In producing sculptures so incredibly small, he works under a microscope and employs ingenious tools, such as a fly's hair or an ex-girlfriend's eyelash for paintbrushes.

This passion for the diminutive stems from feelings of insignificance in Wigan's childhood. He was severely dyslexic but undiagnosed, and his teachers' harsh words drove him to hide in a nearby shed where he made shoes and hats for his friends, the ants. Today, his art has earned him national honors and critical acclaim, proving that some treasures can't be seen with the naked eye.

What others say

"It was a fantasy world I escaped to where my dyslexia didn't hold me back and my teachers couldn't criticize me. That's how my career as a micro-sculptor began." — Willard Wigan

Willard Wigan’s TED talks

Willard Wigan on the TED Blog
See all
Science

New playlist: The world of tiny things

June 9, 2013

There’s a time and a place for the big picture; there’s a time and a place for the tiny one. This week, watch the playlist “The world of tiny things,” all about viewing the unseen and looking at the world on a very small scale. In this playlist, E.O. Wilson makes a plea for insects […]

Continue reading

The week in comments

August 8, 2009

The reception for this past wave of talks from TED Global 2009 centers around the theme of accountability. People seemed especially moved by Emmanuel Jal’s music on his life as a war child and Michael Pritchard’s revolutionary water filter. We even got a TEDGlobal speaker sparking a discussion on one of these highlighted talks (in […]

Continue reading
Art

Hold your breath for micro-sculpture: Willard Wigan on TED.com

August 3, 2009

Willard Wigan tells the story of how a difficult and lonely childhood drove him to discover his unique ability — to create art so tiny that it can’t be seen with the naked eye. His slideshow of figures, as seen through a microscope, can only be described as mind-boggling. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2009, July 2009 […]

Continue reading

Quotes from Willard Wigan

I work between my heartbeat. I have one-and-a-half seconds to actually move. And at the same time I have to watch I don’t inhale my own work.
Willard Wigan
TEDGlobal 2009 • 458K views Aug 2009
Jaw-dropping, Fascinating