Biologist Creates Insane LEGO Steelhead Sculpture

LEGO Steelhead - Ryan Van Duzor
LEGO Wild Steelhead built by Ryan Van Duzor

While cruising the interwebs we stumbled across this insane LEGO Wild Steelhead build by Ryan Van Duzor (a.k.a. @the.bearded.pescador on Instagram) and it was too cool not to share. Ryan’s sculpture was displayed at Bricks Cascade 2020, a LEGO convention held in Portland, Oregon every winter, and won Best Sculpture at this year’s event. We got in touch with Ryan to learn what it’s like designing such an intricate work, check out our interview with him, below.

Flylords: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Ryan. What career field are you in and how does fly fishing fit into your lifestyle?

Ryan: After years working as a government entomologist and fly shop dude (shout out to my friends at the Gorge Fly Shop!), I am now a high school/college science instructor. This new gig not only allows me to continue to share my passion for the biological world but also gives me summers off to get outside and fish! My various careers have always had some connection to my passions, and being a science instructor gives me the chance to build that passion in my students. I have been fly fishing for 25 years now, and fishing is always on my mind. This steelhead build and many of my builds are crossovers from my love of fish and fishing. 

LEGO Wild Steelhead built by Ryan Van Duzor
LEGO Wild Steelhead built by Ryan Van Duzor

Flylords: What does it take to design and build such an intricate sculpture like this one?

Ryan: This build was always something I wanted to attempt. I had been thinking about the build for years before actually putting any pieces together. That is the heart of my process. I think about the design, research pieces, and conceptualize the piece. The actual building is usually the shortest portion of the work.

For this steelhead, I knew I wanted to use new pieces to show the curves, the fluidity, the scales and I wanted to try to show the chrome of wild steelhead. Lego doesn’t have a lot of chrome or shiny pieces, but I found that the flat silver color worked for the steelhead. The most difficult part of this design was to eliminate squared angles, I wanted it to look like it could swim and have plans to motorize the build at some point. The internal structure was built for this look and plan and is the key to more natural curves and shapes.

LEGO Wild Steelhead - Ryan Van Duzor
LEGO Steelhead built by Ryan Van Duzor

Flylords: How many pieces are involved? How long did it take you to build?

Ryan: This is a funny question that Lego artists/AFOLs (adult fans of Lego) get asked all the time.  Almost none of us keep track of the number of pieces we use. I literally have no idea but would guess many thousands. The design and build for this steelhead were around a year, but with many years of planning and research. The longest part of this build was the internal structure. I wanted to make sure the dimensions were accurate to a real steelhead and also displayed the fluid motion and curves of the real fish.  

To see the rest of Ryan’s creations and his living steelhead adventures, check out his Instagram page, here!

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