A talented artist from South Milford is looking to use his skills in Lego creation to benefit a company in Sherburn-in-Elmet - four years after doing commissions for the likes of Robert De Niro and Michael Bublé.
Shaun Collins, who is more well known as ‘The Brick Dude’ online, first found his surprising talent in 2015 after playing with his five-year-old daughter Lily and helping to design Lego artwork. After creating his first piece, which depicted Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, he made a follow-up piece of musician Jimi Hendrix, which helped raise £800 for charity at a friend’s auction event. What happened to Shaun next was like a plot from a Hollywood film and also involved one of the biggest names in the film industry over the last 35 years. Through a friend who helps run experience evenings for high-profile celebrities, Shaun was commissioned to do two pieces for actor Robert De Niro, which involved meeting the man himself and getting him to sign the artwork. From there, the Brick Dude’s career took off and ascended into a “meteoric rise”.
After the Robert De Nero commission, Shaun worked on pieces for Michael Bublé and was invited to go and see the singer perform live, as well as continuing to do his usual pieces - this time of Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. Shaun said: “I started The Brick Dude side project purely by accident and was only encouraged by family after they commented about how good they were. I was shocked to see how mad everything went. Usually, artists have a steady rise and get popular by steadily building. However, it seemed like things built fast for me, and I was in the right place at the right time. “Meeting Robert De Nero was a dream come true, and doing the commission for Michael Bublé was completely mad.” Now that the dust has settled and four years have passed, Shaun still has his feet firmly fixed to the ground and only uses his Lego projects as a side career after working full-time in IT.
As well as keeping it a part-time ‘hobby’, the South Milford resident is also keen to use his skills to benefit local organisations and groups, which is the motivation behind his latest piece. Earlier this year, Shaun began creating a Lego artwork piece of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. He then started thinking of groups and businesses he could donate it to near to him. After settling on Fields Garden Centre in Sherburn-in-Elmet, Shaun has started talks about where the artwork piece will be based within the village facility. He is also inspired to help more local groups to create them pieces, as well as working on his high-profile commissions.
Shaun has confirmed that he has held initial talks with Patrick Stewart’s representatives to make a Lego piece and admits that would be the “pinnacle” of The Lego Dude era. The impressive artist has also had word from The Beatles Story in Liverpool that they may want four commissions of John, Paul, George and Ringo doing soon. He added: “I’ve only ever wanted this Lego thing to be a side project - I think it would create too much pressure if I tried to do it as full-time work and would start to feel like a chore instead of a hobby. “It’s never been about the money and more about seeing how this kind of artwork unites people and how people react to it. I’m glad that I can help a local place in Sherburn-in-Elmet. I’ve known the owner of Fields Garden Centre for some time, and it feels great to be helping and playing my part. “Each piece takes me around 16 hours, and it’s more simple than traditional artwork because if you make a mistake, you can pull off the piece of Lego and start again.” In the future, the artist wants to move into making more diverse commissions, which includes working on female-orientated characters.
Shaun Collins with his commission for Robert De Niro. (22-07-109 SU)