What do you see when looking at an unused fork, a screw, a car part, and other scraps? Most of us see something that belongs in a dump, except for Brian Mock, a sculptor and a metal revolutionist who is bringing reclaimed materials back to life in a form of spectacular sculpture art.
This utterly talented American artist based in Aloha, Oregon, has been exploring art by drawing, painting, and woodcarving from an early age, and developed his creative passion for upcycling back in the 1990s. After teaching himself how to weld, he gained incredible technical skills that in combination with imagination and experience turn discarded trash into the most beautiful sculptures of animals, people, robots, cars, and other figurative and custom objects that can be both decorative and functional. The artist often places himself or his dog in pictures for scale so we can truly appreciate the impressive size of his unique artworks.
When we tell you that Brian Mock takes repurposing reclaimed art materials to another level, you better believe it!
"My sculptures are made entirely from reclaimed items and repurposed materials (almost all metal but sometimes I’ll add bits of plastic for color). I like that people interact with them, they have fun looking for objects they can identify. It started as a hobby, but as I got better at sculpting, I turned it into a full-time profession,” the artist, whose cool sculptures are exhibited all across the country, told Bored Panda.
"I’ve always loved the simple concept of making something new from something old," Mock explained how he started his unusual art. "It’s a fun creative challenge, and the bonus is that using scrap materials keeps it out of landfills. I hope my art encourages people to take their own creative measures to generate less waste."
Mock has been collecting materials for his sculptures from local machine and auto shops where he is granted free access to dumpsters or people's basements and garages.
Mock says he draws inspiration from many places: "from the interesting materials that I find to the process of always trying to improve my sculpting to the reactions and feedback from viewers."
We asked the artist to walk us through the process of creating a life-sized sculpture.
"I usually start with a rough sketch to give me some direction on measurements, and then I really just let the pieces guide me. I have a large inventory to choose from, and keep lots of bins on hand to rummage through as I go, fitting pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle. I use MIG welding as my main method of fabrication, but other techniques, like metal cutting and grinding, are also an important part of the process. Most of my sculptures are commissions—so people come to me with a vision of what they want, and I do my best to create it for them. It can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months to finish a sculpture, depending on the size of the piece. A typical work week for me is 6-8 hours a day, 6 days a week."
"The biggest challenge of this type of work is that it limits me to using only what I have on hand. Sometimes I think about how much easier my job would be if I could go out and buy a specific piece I may need. Instead, if I can’t find that perfect piece in my piles, I have to make it myself. But the reward is that over the course of 20 years, I’ve probably kept about 20-30 tons of metal out of landfills."
Mock has 39.5k followers on Instagram and over 41k followers on Facebook who can't believe things they don't need can be turned into art.
"People are usually just blown away that so much scrap can turn into something they actually want to look at. I love watching people’s reactions when they start identifying pieces—it becomes like an I-Spy game of what they can find, and it’s really fun and rewarding to see people engage with the art."