Rhode Island Toy Designer Captures Whimsical Photos of Nature and ‘Becorns’
David Bird of South Kingstown, Rhode Island got to live out a child’s dream by spending five years of his life designing and creating LEGO products. The experience taught Bird the power of storytelling and it ignited his passion for art, allowing Bird to leave the plastic pieces behind and trade them in for a more natural approach, giving birth to his own passion project called "Becorns."
Bird grew up in Pittsburgh and came to Rhode Island for school. He graduated from RISD in 2004 and has called the Ocean State home since 2010. Before he settled down in South Kingstown, he spent five years in Denmark working for LEGO.
“It was an amazing experience,” Bird said. “They hired tons of internationals from all over the world. I had a desk covered with plastic bricks and every day I figured out the best way to construct them.”
Bird worked as a designer for Technic and Bionical, bringing small, plastic pieces to life for millions of kids to enjoy around the world.
Nowadays, he freelances as a toy designer and pours his heart into his own project.
“When I quit (LEGO), I realized I could do anything that LEGO does, but with natural materials,” Bird said. He recognized that storytelling was crucial to any successful toy. The story was the foundation, and he decided to tell his own story with acorns, twigs, and other natural materials.
Bird creates the Becorns by gluing them together and staging them in different scenes, often involving animals in nature. He sells the playful images and keeps his Becorns for the next story he wants to tell.
“I’ll use birdseed or whatever it takes to entice an animal over,” he said. “I’ll set up my camera with a remote control, stand at a distance, and take pictures.”
Since 2008, Bird has been able to capture stunning images of animals interacting with his little creations, and he continues to work through the obstacles of being an independent artist.
“It’s such a different beast trying to be an artist verse working for a big company like LEGO,” Bird said. “Your design was automatically distributed to millions of people; this takes years to build an audience. The business side takes more time than the creative, so that’s something that’s been a learning curve.”
Bird stays diligent and continues to find success online, sharing whimsical photos of his figurines and nature coexisting.
Becorns will be on full display at the Barrington Library in Rhode Island for the month of November, giving fans a chance to see them up close.
While kickstarting a passion project can be tiring, Bird is confident in his work thanks to his incredible experience and his unique approach to artistic storytelling.