Mike Doyle’s book Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark showcases the dark side of the world's favorite building blocks (PHOTOS).

These Lego Masterpieces Capture the Fear and Humor of the “Dark” Side

These Lego Masterpieces Capture the Fear and Humor of the “Dark” Side

The Eye
Slate’s design blog.
Oct. 1 2014 9:26 AM

These Lego Masterpieces Capture the Fear and Humor of the “Dark” Side

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Nerd Rage by Chris McVeigh, 2011.

Courtesy of No Starch Press

New York City–based graphic designer and Lego artist Mike Doyle’s Beautiful LEGO was the ultimate coffee table book for Lego nerds, with stunning photos of Lego-based creations by dozens of artists. The follow-up to that popular 2013 book is Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, out in November, that offers a look at what happens when artists from around the world let the dark side of their imaginations run wild while playing with the world’s favorite building blocks.

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Broken by Brian Kescenovitz, 2013.

Courtesy of No Starch Press

“I chose this theme because it seemed to represent a great number of works already coming out of the LEGO community,” Doyle writes in the book’s introduction. “You’ll see destructive objects, like warships and mecha, and dangerous and creepy animals; there is no shortage of material.”

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Stranger on the Road (from “Shadow Play”) by David Alexander Smith, 2013.

Courtesy of No Starch Press

He says, “The dark fantasies of dragons, zombies, and spooks have real-world counterparts: the unrestrained greed of bankers and financiers, the blind pollution of corporate zombies, and the fear and destruction spread by military spooks.”

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Lego portraits of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jong-il by Rickard and Helen Stensby, 2014.

Courtesy of No Starch Press

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The book includes work from Lego builders in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Eastern Europe, China, Japan, Korea, Russia, and elsewhere. It is split into dark-themed chapters with headings such as “Creepy Crawlers,” “Skin and Bones,” “Desolate,” “Shadow Play,” “Otherworldly,” and “The Birds.”  

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Black Banded Owl (foreground), Barn Owl (right), and Northern Saw-Whet Owl (left) by Ekow Nimako, 2012. These took 720 Lego pieces to build.

Courtesy of No Starch Press

Doyle included works that range from realistic to impressionistic. He looked for clever usage of Lego pieces, “overall beauty, thematic appropriateness, and interesting color combinations,” he wrote.

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The Factory by Kosmas Santosa, 2014.

Courtesy of No Starch Press

The dark theme is wide-ranging and refers as much to color palette and black humor in some instances as it does to more obviously dark subject matter.

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Abandoned Sea City by Jason Allemann, 2014. Created with 300 Lego pieces.

Courtesy of No Starch Press

To the certain horror of Lego purists, he also chose to include a selection of digitally rendered models.

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White Beetle by Lino Martins, 2010. It’s not a digital rendering—it’s made from 200 Lego pieces.

Courtesy of No Starch Press

“I have no doubt that this will be a controversial decision,” Doyle writes, “but some of these works were simply too compelling not to include. Building digitally broadens the playing field of creativity, letting those without access to expensive LEGO pieces build impressive works. On the other hand, digital models do not have to contend with gravity, which is a serious consideration when building with real bricks.”

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Sickening Sweet by Mike Doyle, 2014. Made with some 10,000 Lego pieces, Sickening Sweet is featured on the book’s cover.

Courtesy of No Starch Press

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.