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Art

LEGO Letterpress: Bird Species from The Netherlands Are Printed with Everyone’s Favorite Toy Bricks

February 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

35 birds. All images © Roy Scholten, shared with permission

Back in 2017, designer Roy Scholten and collaborator Martijn van der Blom brought LEGO into their letterpress workshops for elementary school students. Small and accessible to most, the ubiquitous plastic bricks were easier and faster to use than traditional lead type and were familiar creative tools for many of the children. Around the same time, the pair also developed a series of LEGO dinosaur prints in subtle gradients, an early collection that inspired Scholten’s ongoing project using the unusual material.

From his studio in Hilversum, Scholten forms dozens of winged creatures found in The Netherlands as part of 50 Birds. The 6 x 6-inch designs adeptly arrange the rigid blocks into beaks and round bellies with small lines of white left between. He describes his process:

Creating a design starts with establishing the outline, the total shape, and posture of the bird in question. Once that puzzle is solved, that construction is then divided up again into three to six different “lego stamps”, one for each color. Each stamp gets printed in the right order so that the combination results in the finished design.

Scholten releases 20 editions of each work, and keep an eye on Instagram for his upcoming renditions of the kingfisher, jay, dunnock, blue-headed wagtail, and the odd duck. If you’re in the area, he also offers weekly letterpress and monoprinting workshops at Grafisch Atelier Hilversum. You also might enjoy these LEGO typeface studies. (via Present&Correct)

 

Finch

Goldfinch

Coot

Collared dove

Magpie

 

 



Design

Typeface Studies by Designer Craig Ward Recreate Fonts and Iconic Logos in LEGO

January 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Craig Ward, shared with permission

LEGO are the (literal) building blocks behind an array of creative endeavors—we’ve featured dozens on Colossal over the years from Ekow Nimako’s elaborate world-building series to Jumpei Mitsui’s sculptural recreation of Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”—and are put to another inventive use in Craig Ward’s ongoing Brik Font project.

While playing with his children last fall, the New York-based designer realized the plastic pieces could be an interesting analog complement to the brand identities he spends his days working on. “I’ve always enjoyed the restrictions of modular type design, and I’m surprised it took me this long to put the two things together,” he tells Colossal. He then began shaping the bricks into ubiquitous typefaces like Helvetica and Garamond and physical renditions of digital relics.

This sparked a full-scale project involving dozens of typographic studies: a scroll through the Brik Font Instagram reveals single letters, throwback video game logos, and references to anti-aliased words like the pixelated “ok” shown above. The project already has led to collaborations with Apple and a knitwear brand, and Ward is in the process of preparing a book on the idea. He’s also released printables on Etsy and prints on Society6. (via Kottke)

 

 

 



Design

Elaborate Designs by Mitsuru Nikaido Transform Animals and Insects into Complex LEGO Robots

December 28, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Mitsuru Nikaido, shared with permission

Kurashiki-based builder Mitsuru Nikaido reimagines marine life, insects, and land animals as mechanical, robot-like characters built entirely with LEGO. Using his signature palette of gray and white bricks and unique parts, Nikaido creates spring-loaded limbs for walruses, a gecko tail capable of swinging toward its body, and spiders that appear like they could scurry away on hinged legs. The semi-articulate specimens shown here are just a few of the designer’s elaborate mecha sculptures, more of which you can find on Flickr and Instagram. (via Steampunk Tendencies)

 

 

 



Art

Elaborately Constructed LEGO Universes by Artist Ekow Nimako Envision an Afrofuturistic World

April 20, 2021

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE” (2019). Photos by Samuel Engelking. All images © Ekow Nimako, shared with permission.

Hundreds of thousands of sleek, black LEGO structure the utopic universes by Toronto-based artist Ekow Nimako. Ranging from life-sized figurative sculptures with an eccentric twist to sprawling landscapes mimicking dense metropolises, Nimako’s artworks are rooted in the visionary realm of Afrofuturism, which “explores the intersection of technology and race to visualize a powerful future for the African diaspora” through a hearty dose of hope and strength.

His ongoing series, Building Black, is an expansive collection that encompasses fantastical masks inspired by West African tradition and mythological characters that draw on folklore and proverbs. Another facet includes a broad, architectural sculpture that expands 30-square-feet. The 2019 work is titled “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE,” a reference to the capital city of the ancient Ghana Empire that’s thought to have contained a mosque, a central square, and various circuit walls.

 

Left: “Simis” (2019). Right: “Esun” (2020)

Running through each of these artworks is a fluid understanding of time and space that blurs the distinction between generations, locations, and histories in order to imagine a new reality. “We are all living proof of our ancestors, all their joy, love, knowledge, and pain. They live in our DNA,” the Ghanaian-Canadian artist says. “Aesthetically, I enjoy taking elements from bygone eras and creating futuristic landscapes, particularly of African utopias to imagine a liberated existence for us all.”

That blurred temporality that foregrounds his sculptures and installations parallels his own trajectory, as well. “My art practice developed when I was four years old, as I constantly told myself I want to do this (play with LEGO) forever, and sometimes it feels as though my future self communicated with my past self, astrally perhaps, to ensure this very specific destiny manifested,” he says, noting that the plastic blocks have remained a fixture in both his personal and professional life since becoming a father.

 

“Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE” (2019)

Today, Nimako works solely with black LEGO, a choice designed to distinguish his practice from the iconic brand. “My distinction was that I wanted to make artwork for which the medium was secondary,” he shares. “The form and content, the embodiment of life, always comes first with my work.”

In 2017, Nimako published a guide to LEGO animals, Beasts from Bricks, and plans to continue teaching with a tutorial for building afrofuturistic worlds that’ll launch on his site this June. He’ll be included in a  group exhibition at Onsite Gallery starting in June 2022 and also has a solo show slated for October of next year at Dunlop Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan. In the meantime, explore a larger collection of his elaborately designed universes on Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)

 

Detail of “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE” (2019)

Detail of “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE” (2019)

“Kadeesa (Griffyx Cub)” (2020)

“Flower Girl” (2019)

Nimako working on a piece. Photo by Janick Laurent

 

 



Animation Food

A Soothing Stop-Motion Animation Bakes a Rich Chocolate Layer Cake Entirely from LEGO

March 30, 2021

Grace Ebert

When your next ambitious baking project doesn’t pan out, try your hand at a simpler recipe with just one ingredient. Follow Japan-based animator tomosteen through a stop-motion tutorial for a decadent cake layered with chocolate frosting that’s made entirely with LEGO. The ASMR-inducing animation chronicles the baking process from cracking an egg into a yolky block to watching the batter subtly change color to crumbling individual bricks of chocolate for the top. For similar pastry builds like French toast, churros, and a triple-layer cheesecake, head to tomosteen’s YouTube. (via The Kids Should See This)

 

 

 



Art

An Undulating Sculpture Recreates Hokusai's 'Great Wave' in 50,000 LEGO Pieces

December 14, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Jumpei Mitsui, shared with permission

Japan-based artist Jumpei Mitsui is one of just 21 LEGO Certified Professionals in the world—this means his full-time job is to create artworks with the plastic building blocks—and is the youngest of the renowned group. He’s fulfilled this title most recently with a sculptural recreation of Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” During the course of 400 hours, Mitsui snapped together 50,000 cobalt and white LEGO into an undulating wave that mimics the original woodblock print.

To recreate this iconic work in three-dimensions, Mitsui studied videos of waves crashing and pored over academic papers on the topic. He then sketched a detailed model before assembling the textured water, three boats, and Mount Fuji that span more than five feet.

If you’re in Osaka, Mitsui’s wave is on view permanently at the Hankyu Brick Museum. Otherwise, find a decade’s worth of the artist’s LEGO tutorials on YouTube, and follow his work on Twitter and Instagram. (via Spoon & Tamago)