Longtime Kiss fan Eli Echevarria made the best of his pandemic downtime by recreating the band's Dynasty album cover in Lego mosaic form.

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He says it took thousands of ordinary store-bought bricks and somewhere between "eight to 10 hours" to recreate the art from the divisive 1979 album in this format.

"There's no customization," Echevarria tells UCR. "It's just over 4,000 individual pieces to make the actual mosaic, plus the additional pieces to make the border and the four base plates that make up the background. Painting a Lego piece or anything like that is frowned upon in the community. You're supposed to 'use what you got.'"

COVID-19 put Echevarria's full-time job playing John Lennon in the Beatles tribute group BritBeat on hold. "This isn't a bar band, this is a real thing," he notes. "We'd play internationally at performance halls and theaters and cruise ships, and all that went away."

After collecting Lego sets for about eight years, Echevarria was finally ready to try making his own mosaic: "It's a passion for my son and I. We're very familiar with Lego. Any time we would go to a Lego exhibit or anything outside the house that was Lego-related, we always saw Lego mosaics, and we'd say, 'It would be cool to do one someday.'

"Then I found myself sitting at home, and I said, I've got to find another outlet for my creativity. So I started painting, and I started making Lego mosaics. First, I did a Charlie Chaplin and a couple of John Lennons."

Kiss were the next natural subject. "I've been a fan since 1976, when I was four years old," he says. "I have a very very good memory of watching them on the Paul Lynde Halloween special. I've been a die-hard fan my entire life. I've seen them in concert over 50 times. It was a given that I would do Kiss."

Although he cites 1976's Destroyer as his favorite Kiss album, Echevarria had a good reason for recreating the Dynasty cover instead. "I was just looking for what would be a good image that would translate well in mosaics," he points out. "The problem is that the more detail there is, the bigger the mosaic has to be. So, to do something like the Love Gun or Destroyer covers, it would have to be a really big mosaic, because the figures have full bodies and a lot of detail. So, Dynasty or the solo album covers, those would translate well. Not many other Kiss covers would at that size."

He says the process itself starts with a pixelated version of an image. "The challenge is you really have to stand back from a distance to see the image properly," he notes. "The closer you get to it, the more all you see are just colored squares. So when I'm doing these, I have to stand back and take a look at it and work that way. You start it on a computer - that's the smartest way to figure out the basics. You use Photoshop as the foundation and go from there."

Earlier this year, Lego released an official Beatles mosaic set, which retails for $125 and includes one member of the Fab Four. The look and price of that set is one of the reasons Echevarria wanted to create his own. "As much as I love Lego, I wasn't highly impressed with their Beatles set, mainly because I thought that John looked like an ugly woman, and the Paul [McCartney] isn't great," he notes. "As good as the George [Harrison] and Ringo [Starr] are, the other two aren't as great. That was actually the first thing that made me think, 'I can do better than this.'"

Echevarria is now putting his Lego mosaic creations up for sale. "I'm hoping that somebody will pick them up," he says. "Because of the cost associated with them, the plan is to sell, and then use part of that money to buy more bricks in order to make the next one. I don't have an endless inventory."

(Echevarria's Kiss Dynasty mosaic and other art are available for purchase. Contact him at elibuster72@yahoo.com. You can also visit the Brush Aside Paintings Etsy store.)

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