Book Review: Beautiful Lego

Craft & Design
Book Review: Beautiful Lego


Talented New Jersey-based Lego artist Mike Doyle first appeared on our radar in 2011 with his phenomenal sculpture titled Victorian on Mud Heap (pictured below). Then, earlier this year, he upped his own ante and amazed us with his 200,000-piece sci-fi jaw dropper titled Contact 1, which appears on the cover a book he just released titled simply Beautiful Lego (No Starch Press). The book features a solid lineup of Lego artists and showcases their unique styles.


Doyle begins the book by saying: “This book is possible only through the amazing work created by the Lego building community. Their work — shared online and at events — brings endless inspiration.” He follows with his preface, succinctly explaining why he was inspired to make the book:

When I first discovered the kinds of Lego artwork that people were creating, I was astonished. I had no idea that a little toy could go so far. That was just three years ago. Since then, the level of craftsmanship in the Lego building community has only increased. Builders share their creations and techniques online, which inspires others and pushes them to do even more incredible things with Lego. This book is a small collection of some of the impressive models that I have come across in my time.

For practical reasons, I was unable to include every awesome build or artist whose work deserves to be showcased, but it’s my sincere hope that this book gives newcomers a representative sample of the work being done. For those in the hobby, I hope to offer a new perspective on familiar builds. Whether you’re seeing these models for the first time or the hundredth, I hope this book inspires you to new creativity.

Doyle does a great job of giving a panoramic window into the works of this community, with gorgeous full-color, full-page images interspersed with Q&A with a handful of the artists. The best part is that the book is compiled from within — Doyle is an active member of the community and this comes through in everything, from the way the book is laid out to the caliber of questions asked in the interviews.

Though there’s not a ton of text (I do appreciate how Doyle lets the pieces speak for themselves), the text that is included is all very interesting. For instance, in the artist profiles, the first question always asked is “Why Lego?” Brothers Ramon and Amador Alfaro Marcilla reply, “Lego is the only medium we know of that can be completely reused with no loss in function. This is a great advantage to us, and is of primary importance.” Meanwhile, Jordan Schwartz answers, “In all of my years of building, including the hazy years of my childhood and not-hazy-enough years of young adulthood, I am not sure that I have ever been asked this question. Lego has always been in my life. It is something of a given…” Doyle, in his own artist profile, responds, “Lego is a one-step process; there’s no gluey mess, sanding, painting to worry about. I just build.”

The variety of artists represented in this coffee table tome is impressive: ranging from those who have perfected Lego replication of the household mundane to those who create full-on mythical landscapes like Doyle himself. The one thing all these artists have in common is the keen ability to think outside the brick. If you’re feeling like you need some Lego inspiration to expand your horizons, this is definitely the book for you. Below is a small sampling of the artists and works Doyle showcases.

Doc Edgerton (2010) by Tom Simon:

Rotary Phone (2012) by Chris McVeigh:

Rearing Stallion (2011) by Tim Goddard:

Bradley the Blue Jay (2012) by Thomas Poulsom:

CubeDudes (2009–2010) by Angus MacLane:

All images reproduced from Beautiful Lego, with the permission of No Starch Press. © 2013 by Mike Doyle.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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