NATHAN SAWAYA

THE LEGO ARTIST ON START­ING YOUNG AND CATCH­ING A SU­PER­HERO’S RUN­NING FORM

Runner's World (UK) - - I’M A RUNNER - I WAS RE­CRUITED by New York Univer­sity for ath­let­ics and went to

MY PAR­ENTS WERE run­ners, so I just as­sumed ev­ery­one ran. They had me on the track from a young age, prob­a­bly shortly after I got my first Lego set, when I was five. The fact that we lived just out­side Eu­gene, Ore­gon [ known as Track­town, USA], was a ma­jor bonus.

I RE­MEM­BER be­ing eight or nine years old and meet­ing Al­berto Salazar. It was right after one of his New York City Marathon wins in the early 1980s. I asked to take a pic­ture with him, and I got the photo blown up and framed to put on my bed­room wall.

IN HIGH SCHOOL I ran for the cross coun­try and ath­let­ics teams. I loved the 200m and 400m dis­tances. They were just long enough for me to stride out and take on the field. law school there, too. When I was still a lawyer I’d get boxes de­liv­ered to my apart­ment that were filled with Lego and I would take com­mis­sions to build things.

THERE IS NOTH­ING more ter­ri­fy­ing – but also ex­cit­ing – than telling your boss you are quit­ting your job to be­come a Lego artist.

BE­CAUSE OF A LACK OF TIME I wasn't run­ning when I was a lawyer. Now I run up to five miles daily.

WHEN I'M RUN­NING, my art might be just a lit­tle bit bet­ter. I use the time on the run to brain­storm.

ON ONE RUN I was think­ing about the en­gi­neer­ing chal­lenges of build­ing [DC comics su­per­hero] The Flash. It needed to look like it was run­ning but still stand on its own with­out top­pling over. After a few miles, I re­alised I could use streak lines com­ing off him for sup­port.

FOR AN­OTHER SCULP­TURE, I have The Flash as if you’ve caught him just as he’s put­ting his foot down – his foot is much flat­ter than a proper run­ner would have it, but his foot be­ing down helps sup­port him.

WHAT I’VE RE­ALISED WITH

BUILD­ING RUN­NERS out of Lego is that you can’t get the best form! You want your run­ner strid­ing out, to look like the run­ner is run­ning. But when you are work­ing with Lego, mak­ing sculp­tures us­ing it, you’re work­ing with a very heavy thing that has to be sup­ported – but there’s also a fragility to it.

YEARS AGO I made a piece called Red Reach­ing, and peo­ple say it looks like the mo­ment when you cross the fin­ish line, with your arms raised. I like to leave it up to the viewer to de­cide what they see.

THE CON­NEC­TION be­tween my life and the art I cre­ate is about push­ing through ob­sta­cles. I gave up a ca­reer in law to fol­low my dream. It's the same with run­ning and push­ing through the wall.

‘I’ve re­alised that when you build run­ners out of Lego, you can’t get the best form.’

The Flash, above, is part of Sawaya’s The Art of the Brick: DC Su­per Heroes ex­hi­bi­tion, on Lon­don’s South Bank un­til Septem­ber 3. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit aotbdc. co. uk

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