tom poulsom: LEGO bird man
tom poulsom: LEGO bird man tom poulsom: LEGO bird man
aug 24, 2012

tom poulsom: LEGO bird man

‘norman the northern cardinal’


bristol-based LEGO builder and artist, tom poulsom, has spoken with designboom regarding his ‘LEGO bird project’. having already built over 20 birds, poulsom plans to build a series of birds from each continent around the globe, as well as a few additional series including the flightless, endangered and tropical varieties. the sculptures began with one of his favorite birds, the robin red breast, and gathered momentum from that point on, with the venture aiming to make both children and adults aware of the importance of birds through a creative medium. designboom speaks with the artist further about his work.



‘tiago the toco toucan’


DB: please could you tell us briefly about your background and how you came to have your studio in its current format?


TP: my LEGO life started when I was very young. I have two older brothers whose LEGO I used to play with.  our mum then bought me my first big LEGO set. it was a castle. I was hooked and played with my growing LEGO collection throughout my childhood.  I ‘grew up’ and the LEGO was stored away in my friends loft. two years ago my friend retrieved his LEGO from the loft to show his two boys. I saw this and instantly wanted to rescue my LEGO from the ‘dark age’ and start building again.

I started to create cars and spaceships, mostly man made objects and one day decided I’d like to create something that I enjoyed about my job. I like a lot things about my job but the thing that I enjoy the most is the wildlife, especially the birds. I have frequent visits from friendly ‘robin red breasts’ while I am working and this breed of bird (my favorite) was the impetus for ‘the LEGO bird project’ on CUUSOO.  you can find out everything you need to know about my birds here with very good quality images to use in the individual links provided on the description page.



what’s a typical day at your studio?


I work full time as a self employed gardener and tree surgeon so spend evenings and weekends creating all sorts of things from LEGO.



could you tell us a bit about your design process?


I design my creations from scratch starting with one element then slowly finding the right elements to add to eventually result in the finished article. as an example. to create a bird I choose a predominant feature like their beak or eye to scale the rest of the bird around.  I try to build my LEGO bird creations as close to life size and lifelike as possible but sometimes I am limited by a lack of LEGO elements.



you work mostly with LEGO, what do you like most about this as a material?


LEGO is a limitless creative tool. I love the fact that anybody can pick up a few LEGO bricks and create something completely different to the next person. it appeals to both children and adults and is a great way to express yourself. I feel LEGO is not just a kids toy it is an art medium. some people like to paint or draw, I like to create with LEGO.



birds are the main focus of your projects, what is it that draws you to them as a subject?


I would eventually like to build all sorts of things from nature, I am very passionate about wildlife and feel that people need to focus more on this important subject and not be so involved with technology and man made things.  I think my fun natural creations would be a great educational tool for both adults and children and can raise awareness of how important nature is.



which artists or designers would you say have influenced you the most?


I wouldn’t say I am influenced by a particular artist or designer, my inspiration comes from nature and the things I enjoy building.



the artist has already built twenty different types of birds



‘stormy the snowy owl’



‘robin red breast’



‘kingsley kingfisher’






‘scotty the scarlet tanager’



‘marky the macaw’



‘woody escaped’

  • I love! Lego Cuusoo! I support =D

    Valentin says:
  • favorite? woodpecker.

    Annie B says:
  • Aren’t they brilliant?! Please help Tom reach 10,000 supporters on LEGO Cuusoo, so that hopefully LEGO wil decide to make actual sets of these birds! Well done, Tom! 🙂

    MichielsMum says:
  • hardly ecological. What about transportaion fuel costs? even if the plastic is made out of recycled milk cartons it still wouldn’t compensate for the released carcinogens in the ecosystem. For every “LEGO bird” a real bird dies. Ironic that it mimics birds.

    Rich says:
  • Yeah Rich I second that… These might as well be LEGO bird coffins

    Rick says:
  • So, Rich and Rick, we are putting the blame for all the ecological problems us humans have caused on Tom\’s LEGO birds?! Are you giving this comment to every type of article that is made out of plastic, or have you reserved it solely for this project? If you are really against the use of LEGO, make this known to LEGO rather than blaming someone who creates beautiful things using already existing LEGO bricks! Did you even bother to look up his CUUSOO page and read what Tom writes? He has got information on every bird he has created so far and his idea is to include such information with every official set that is made of these birds. So that people can learn about nature. What would you have children do: sit behind their computer, X-Box and other electronic devices (ever thought about all the materials used in these gadgets?!), rather than be creative with something like LEGO?! I think it is rather low to use this page for this type of comment.

    MichielsMum says:
  • I think Rich and Rick need to lighten up a bit. Have they thought about the materials used to create the computer they typed those negative comments on. At least Tom is creating something beautiful from the plastic bricks rather than guns, spaceships and cars etc. I think they are wonderful, well done Tom!

    Fantastico says:
  • The Lego system is one of the best models of reuse on the planet. Infinitely reconfigurable and never ages. I still have a set from when I was a kid and I’m now in my 30s. Look a bit harder at patterns of use/reuse before you launch into a diatribe about materials. Nice work Tom.

    Danish says:
  • I would say that looking at this and only seeing an environmental problem is just crazy. We need to reduce plastic, that’s true. But maybe on everyday packaging, short use products.

    LEGO is a long life toy. Mine came from my father. They have more than 30 years old. And still work well. Picking up MichielsMum, a laptop is used, at maximum, a third of the time….

    Let the poor guy be creative as he is. He’s a talent. And it proves the 3 to 90 years old users limit of LEGO users. Let’s not make this an environmental issue. I don’t believe that the tucan will not survive because of LEGO.

    Francisco Santos says:
  • I think Rich and Rick (or was it Dick?) are very short-sighted. My son has had his Lego for 35 years, an enduring toy, which doesn’t get thrown away but passed on to the next generation, in this case my grand-daughter. Lego is quite hard to find second-hand as it is handed down within families. It has quite a high 2nd-hand value because of this. If you ever see it in land-fill – RESCUE IT! It was the most important and enduring toy that my sons had, almost indestructable. An educational toy which teaches maths, physics, engineering and art. By all means be eco warriors but look to your own back yard first before you criticise someone who is trying to raise awareness of nature through using such a useful and enduring product. Give up your computer and mobile phone – that would help. Target the makers of cheap nick-nacks and toys, not Lego.

    Logolilac says:
  • Hear hear for Fantastico, Danish, Francisco Santos and Logolilac! My previous comment had only one error: I totally forgot to mention what the rest of you did: LEGO can be used over and over again. My sons and nephews play with LEGO at my Mum’s that used to belong to my brothers and me when we were young. My oldest brother was born in 1958, so do the maths! Here at home they also play with LEGO bricks that cannot be bought any more: they were my husband’s when he was young and he is from 1956. Unfortunately, I guess Rick and Rich (who are probably related or are friends) will never see any of these comments, because they strike me as the types who sit at their computers all day, trying to find new sites to leave their negative comments on, never to return to previously visited sites! Hurray for LEGO, its versatility and the longevity of its bricks!

    MichielsMum says:
  • Well said MichielsMum. They are probably just trolls. Such a shame that they visit design pages and knock hard work and skill. Tom is proactive in protecting birds and their habitat. As a family we’ve always fed birds and several nested in my garden this year. I put out nesting material each year and feed all year round. A very young robin came into my kitchen in June and we gently returned it its parents as it couldn’t fly properly! I also have 40-year old Lego. What about you Dick and Dick?

    logolilac says:
  • Well done, logolilac and family! And all praise to Tom, who continues to plod on, creating these wonderful birds, quite a few of which (at least of the English Series) he encounters almost daily in his job working outdoors! Yes, the two moaning R’s have nothing to be proud on as far as their comments on this page are concerned… Such a shame they’ll most likely never read these comments. If they do, they probably won’t have the courage to admit theirs comments were thoughtless and totally misplaced!

    MichielsMum says:
  • Really great birds! My son loves them and wants them to build himself. Can we find somewhere the buildingsinstructions?

    bianca albers says:

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