Janio Núñez worked as a "torcedor" or cigar-roller in Cuba for many years until one day his craft became a little more than just a job.
"I saw my friends in tobacco, dressed in tobacco leaves. I dreamed of tobacco. I had to go to a psychologist," said Núñez according to Yahoo News.
Núñez, who comes from a long lineage of "torcedores," or cigar-rollers-- both of his grandparents used to be in the business -- became completely obsessed with tobacco. He kept having these visions for over four months until one day he decided to artistically channel his obsession with tobacco.
"So as a remedy, one night, I started rolling shapes, objects out of raw tobacco," he said Núñez to Yahoo News. "My first real piece was the Indian head on the Cohiba label."
The Cuban born sculptor uses locally-grown tobacco of the world-famous Cohiba cigars to create life-size and miniature sculptures. It can take Núñez anywhere between 20 to 70 days to create these figures depending on the size. He puts these pieces together in his studio in the coastal cita of Guanabo, half an hour away from La Havana.
Back in 1998 Núñez presented his sculptures to the director of Habanos SA, who invited him to present his work at the Havana Trade Fair that year. The sculptures were a sensation. The artist went on to show his work at the first Havana Festival the following year.
Afterwards he produced his most famous series "Celebrity Smokers," which includes sculptures of famous names like Charles Chaplin, Che Guevara and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In 2000 he captured the attention of international media when he built his first life-sized sculpture of British politician Winston Churchill who was known to have an inkling for Cuban cigars after his trip to Cuba in the late 1800s.
Other real life-size sculptures of Hollywood actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jack Nicholson. He's also created miniature sculptures of Fidel Castro, Groucho Marx and Cuban revolutionary José Martí.
Núñez At Work: