My name is Zoltán Koszta. I was born in Kisvárda, Hungary in 1980. It was here that I spent my childhood, and began to enjoy all forms of drawing and painting during this time. My father and his father (my grandfather) provided a lot of technical and intellectual help, and eventually my whole family supported that I should undertake an artistic career.
I went to high school in Nyíregyháza at the Arts High School; my major was Decoration and costume designer, and I was a pupil of Agnes Gyarmathy. After completing the fifth year I had been admitted to the Visual Designer programme of the Hungarian University of Fine Art, where Laszlo Szekely, Nelly Vago, and Marta Janoskuti were my mentors.
I got familiar with the characteristic costumes of the historical eras and the culture of various related people in the context of Costume History course. I am grateful to my master Laszlo Domonkos that I eventually started out in this line. Together we studied the roots of Hungarian costumes and ancient culture, which, unfortunately, today’s historians barely mention in their reports; or even worse, they obscure the truth and mislead readers.
Leather Craft: The Beginning
During this period, i.e. in 2001, I started my leather-related activities in connection with traditional archery in an experimenting form. This work was not easy. The initial difficulties certainly consumed a lot of time and energy, but eventually all of these were rewarded. I made my first leather armour, which was a great success among my acquaintances and archer friends, and slowly the news spread that I have a great hobby in my spare time. More and more people came to me with requests, and I increasingly enjoyed dealing with the challenges set before me. Meanwhile, I could also develop professionally. But soon I had to realise that unfortunately, this work is supported by surprisingly scarce authentic local resources, and the existing meagre sometimes heated discussions on the exact style, and even in determining the era.
I CONSIDER MYSELF AS SOMEONE WHO SEEKS INSPIRATION FROM WITHIN MY SOUL. THEREFORE, I NOT ONLY CREATE RECONSTRUCTIONS BUT REINVENT LEATHER COSTUMES BASED ON ANCIENT HUNGARIAN SHAPES AND ORNAMENTAL ART – EVEN IF IT IS A SIMPLE BAG, AN ACCESSORY, OR A COMPLETE LEATHER ARMOUR
First handcraft works and solo exhibition
In 2007, my first solo exhibition was organised within the framework of the Árpád Year in the Hungarian Culture Foundation building located in Buda Castle, where many of my drawings and paintings, in addition to nine full armours, had been presented. At the time I knew that this is my path to follow.
I am extremely grateful to Lajos Kassai horseback archery master. I actually helped him accomplish and old desire of him, with the help of Marton Szakacs. We created full horse armours made exclusively of leather for 12 beautiful Shagya Arabian horses, which was challenging and full of brainstorming and continuous trials on the horses. But it causes an even greater joy to see my work appear on horses during various events and hear or see people’s appreciative reactions. I truly feel honoured to be able to make at least a small contribution to our nation’s great equestrian reputation, and raise the standard of equestrian tradition.
Since I own a horse, I am dealing with it actively using non-violent training methods. I am riding frequently and I am doing everything to reach the level where our ancestors used to be. A level where there is a perfect balance and harmony between man and horse. This work is loaded with difficulties, patience, consistency, and learning; in particular, it is often we, humans, learn from the horse, a creature of pure cleanliness and altruism.
Museum interpreter traditionalist
In 2009, I started to work at the Szentendre Open Air Museum as interpreter-traditionalist. In addition to the craft demonstrations, I held leatherworker craft workshops for children’s groups, and I tried to give basic information about the farm and livestock management with lots of live experiences. I am grateful to the Museum and my colleagues for enabling me learning the small tricks of folk leather object making, tanner craft, folk architecture, and animal rearing.
I had worked there for three years in a very good atmosphere, but then I decided to engage myself entirely to the leatherwork profession. From then on, virtually all of my days are made up by creative work from morning till night. This has led to a lot of new professional friendships. My family, and especially my wife, Timi, to whom I am married since 2009, are a major help to me.
„REMEMBER THE BEGINNING OF YOUR PATH!” — Prince Álmos
Confessions of Craftsman
My goal is that other people could gain insight into the diversity of the thousand years old ancient Hungarian material culture and decorative arts through my works. I never make a copy, and I try to incorporate all my motifs stemming from my own soul into all pieces of craft. I believe that it is this that makes creative work truly alive and enables to pass the spiritual charge for which we are determined. Whoever is open to this, their spirits are guaranteed to accrue. It is for this reason that I work exclusively by hand, carving and sewing, and the raw materials are also assembled with great care. Because of my thoroughness, a number of arts and crafts received professional rating. I have been involved in a multitude of programmes, and I will also be happy to fulfil your request and invitations.
I believe that as a Hungarian, no matter how is the world that we live in, we have to stick to our roots; otherwise we put our future at risk. And as craftsman, besides passing on the traditions we inherited, equally important is that the leatherwork objects I make from the same source are available at the highest quality.