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This Artist Makes Animals From Sand, And You Just Have To See It

Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

True artists use any medium to accomplish their work. From plaster to paper, creative geniuses throughout history have stunned people with their ingenuity and innovation to produce stunning works of art.

Andoni Bastarrika fancies himself a normal guy until you get some sand in his hands. While most of us struggle to produce simple sandcastles on the beach, he brings depth and beauty to intricate sand sculptures, almost bringing them to life.  Take a look at some of these unbelievable creations…

German Shepherd

sand dog
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Andoni has been entertaining beach visitors in the Basque region of northern Spain for over ten years. This self-taught artist only began to gain recognition across the world once he transformed a sand dune into a life-sized bull. Since then, he has captured attention with dozens of fascinating sculptures. 

While he knows that his sculptures cannot stand the test of time, it doesn’t stop him from creating whatever he is inspired to make. This example of a life-like German Shepherd is proof positive that it’s difficult to distinguish his sculptures from live animals.

Octopus

sand octopus
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Bastarrika chooses animals as the primary subjects for his sculpture because they speak to him. “They are free spirits, unique and beautiful, and also bearers of great wisdom.” It is his hope that viewers can reflect and learn from them through by looking upon his sculptures.

This giant octopus did get some color enhancement along the way, but the detail alone is enough to put it in the sculpture hall of fame. Every detail is perfectly appointed, from the suction cups on the tentacles to the piercing stare of two well-placed eyes.

Hammerhead Shark

sand hammerhead
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Bastarrika piles up moist stand as he prepares for a sculpture session. He begins shaping it, letting the sand direct him as he uncovers its unique expression. Through sifting it with his fingers, he gets inspiration that will become a new creation.

“The time it takes to create one piece depends on its size,” he explains. Pieces such as this hammerhead shark can take up to two days to complete, depending on moisture levels and unique composition of each batch of sand he creates with.

Rhinoceros

sand rhino
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Whether crafting an animal straight out of the beach itself or using a cement platform on which to create his masterpieces, Bastarrika manages to make each piece look breathtakingly lifelike. His depiction of a rhinoceros has gained worldwide attention.

As you can see, onlookers are enthralled with the detail and artistry displayed in this stunning piece. Pristine enhancements such as shells for the hooves and horns complete this gentle giant well worth viewing.

Sheep Dog

sand dog
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Perhaps even more impressive than Bastarrika’s platform sculptures are the ones that he crafts that seem to come from the very beach itself. A number of these grace beaches across Spain, and vary greatly in size and subject.

This large and lovable sheepdog has been frolicking in the sea, and now it’s time for him to come up for some air. A wide tongue laps at disappearing waves as he pokes his expertly crafted head above water, delighting thousands of onlookers.

Crocodile

sand crocodile
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

When forming such lifelike structures, Bastarrika does most of the sculpting by hand. He does bring in other tools such as brushes, sticks and toothpicks to complete some of the finishing touches that make each piece so amazing.

Other trinkets and accessories come into play, such as horns and nails, to make the creatures come to life. This monstrous crocodile has many onlookers swinging wide, as its realistic detail and large size intimidate many.

Sea Turtle

sand turtle
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

To date, Bastarrika is one of only a few artists who use sand as their preferred medium in sculpture. He wants to bring his love of his unique art form to others, so he asks admiring crowds if anyone has a desire to learn to sculpt as well.

Upon finishing a project, Bastarrika stays on the beach and gives some sculpting tips to beginners who wish to refine their own artistic desires and talents. This stunning sea turtle is a favorite of many admirers who enjoy the added pops of color from beach and sea glass.

Dolphin

sand dolphin
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Some of Bastarrika’s sculptures are whimsical and fun, while others bring social awareness to issues like equity and the environment. He claims that his creative juices don’t start flowing until he sits down with a fresh dune to begin creating.

The poignant statement of the dolphin atop a pile of refuse sends a very clear message. Much thought went into the creation of this piece, and every addition to his perfectly-sculpted dolphin is purposefully pointed toward being environmentally-conscious.

Great White Shark

sand shark
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

When viewed from a distance, it seems as if these sculptures are made from stone. Majestic and downright intimidating at times, they bring to us the wonder of the human mind and the potential for creativity that exists within all of us.

Imagine yourself strolling along the beach at twilight and coming across an enormous rendition of a great white shark. You may know that it’s a sculpture, yet chills may still run along your spine as you behold the power of such a magnificent sea beast.

Cane Corso

sand dog
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

What is perhaps most impressive about Bastarrika’s sculptures is that he doesn’t start with a model from which to draw inspiration. The images burst forth from the expanse of his creative mind, producing stunning imagery for all to enjoy.

A passerby with his Cane Corso couldn’t resist stopping to take a picture with the talented artist. As you can see, the details on Bastarrika’s sculpture very closely match that of the real canines.

Alligator

sand alligator
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

If you were to step on a beach or boardwalk and see one of these realistic works of art out of the corner of your eye, you might do a double take or bolt in fear of this lifelike alligator.

This reptilian wonder is perfectly poised to bite your ankles on the boardwalk, courtesy of Bastarrika. We have to wonder if a dark sense of humor is at play here as well, as he presumably must love to see people’s reactions of dread to this piece. 

Mermaid

sand mermaid
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

If mermaids do exist, they may look a bit like the ones that Bastarrika expertly crafts by hand. Every curve of the tail is lovingly sculpted and shaped, paying homage to sea beauty that cannot be encapsulated any other way.

This mermaid seems to have a story to tell in itself. We’d love to know how she came to rest on the beach, what brought her here, and why she has chosen eternal rest in a place so far from her home.

Sea Turtle Atop A Pile Of Refuse

sand turtle
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Yet another in a series of sculptures where Bastarrika attempts to make a strong social statement, as an enormous sea turtle cries out to humanity. An onlooker can’t help but reflect on mankind’s clash with nature. 

Each year, thousands of sea animals are harmed or killed by floating debris that destroys their living environments. Bastarrika’s piece brings awareness to this issue, while at the same time demonstrating creativity and the strength of the human/animal connection.

Shark

sand shark
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Thanks to the advent of social media, Bastarrika can now bring his pieces to the rest of the world. He regularly posts his work on Instagram and Facebook, gaining a loyal following of fans across ages and countries. 

It’s hard to imagine this photo taking place with anything but an inanimate portrayal of a shark. Bastarikka cozies up to one of his favorite subjects, reminiscent of Steven Spielberg on the set of Jaws.

Gorilla

sand gorilla
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Just how does Andoni Bastarrika transform a mere pile of sand into a work of art that is capable of opening the heart, stirring the soul, and expanding the mind? Even a partial portrayal of an animal is enough to inspire audiences far and wide.

This young boy is smitten with Bastarrika’s portrayal of a gorilla. How he managed to capture so much emotion in the gorilla’s eyes, we may never know. The boy’s awe is palpable as he looks upon this masterpiece. 

Elephant

sand elephant
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Larger pieces are really Bastarrika’s crowning glory. Though no less detailed than some of his smaller sculptures, the commitment to such a large project is not something that any artist would take on, especially when working with an elemental product.

This majestic elephant lies peacefully along the shoreline near Bastarrika’s Basque home, and it took him nearly two days to complete. A joyful expression, as well as its rough, wrinkled skin are in keeping with the gigantic creatures we know and love.

Life-Sized Bull

sand bull
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

“Sand fascinates me. No matter how you look at it, it will always teach you things if you are willing to learn,” Bastarrika wrote on his Facebook page. An astonishing number of sand particles must participate and collaborate to become something magical. 

Ultra-realistic facial features, texture on the coat, and majestic horns comprise this most impressive sand bull. Beach patrons pass by in amazement, wondering how a talent like that is discovered and then developed.

Face In The Sand

face sand
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Although many of Bastarrika’s subjects are animals, he does deviate from his success formula from time to time when the mood strikes him. He also dabbles in the creation of human faces, stretching his capabilities even further.

Bastarrika works to capture definitive emotion on every face he sculpts. He considers it a win when onlookers can accurately guess what his art is “feeling.” This face seems sad and wistful, longing for younger days filled with youth and laughter.

Horse

sand horse
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

The Spanish artist claims that his journey from ordinary to extraordinary began in 2010, as he was playing on the beach with his daughters. He sculpted a sand mermaid for them at his request and discovered that his hands were working with “other-worldly” fluidity.

His daughters were so impressed with his work that they began asking for additional sculptures of favorite animals and mythical creatures. The attention to detail on Bastarrika’s horse is impeccable from the mane down to the tail.

Rufo The Dog

sand dog
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Bastarrika seems to have a particular affinity for canines. Man’s best friend might have been able to sit still for a sculpture setting, but he would prefer that his kindred spirit animal roam free on the beach while he captures the essence of each in sand and color.

Rufo the dog is a tribute to the famous statue of Rufo in Oviedo, Spain. Its presence on the beach and in Oviedo is meant to bring awareness to abandoned animals everywhere and inspire people to help in any way possible. 

Chinese Shar-pei Dogs

sand dog
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Again, Bastarrika’s fondness for dogs shines through as he creates a whimsical and wrinkly pair. Did you know that the Shar-pei’s loose skin was designed to protect the dog in fights? 

We get double the fun out of this particular sculpture, as Bastarrika crafts both mother and pup together enjoying a lazy day at the beach. They are so lifelike that onlookers are tempted to approach and give those signature wrinkles a pinch for good luck.

Lion

sand lion
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Any portrait or portrayal of a lion can give an aura of majesty and power. One only has to look at the grace and power of a lion to appreciate the balance of nature and all the diversity that is ours to enjoy.

Bastarrika’s lion may be resting gently on the beach, but its presence is no less powerful than that which we see in nature. The care and love that he crafts each detail on this magnificent animal is truly impressive.

Baby Elephant

sand baby elephant
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

People praise Bastarrika and his artwork not only for the incredible skill he displays, but the detail and integrity that he infuses into each piece. His chosen locations for artwork are equally impressive, as they are some of the most beautiful beaches on Earth.

This baby elephant slumbers peacefully, nestled among rocky cliffs and a quiet tide-pool that add to the tranquility of the piece. We hope that high tides don’t put this sweet creature into eternal rest too soon.

Sleeping Duo

sleeping duo
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Some regard this next sculpture by Bastarrika as a bit dark in nature, while others regard it as sweet an innocent. Artwork has the ability to have the same piece inspire such different perceptions of beauty and their meanings. This young girl and a lion cub slumber peacefully, but we don’t know what inspired it.

Some viewers think the piece has a bit of a back story to it, with the girl being the unfortunate lunch target of her companion. Knowing Bastarrika’s love of sculpture and his wish to bring beauty to humanity, we tend to think his motivations for creating were much less nefarious.

Bulldog

bulldog
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Bastarrika’s playful nature is captured in the whimsical portrayals of all his sculptures, but nowhere is it more prominent than with his depiction of various types of dog breeds. 

This photo captures the sheer joy and connection that exists between man and canine. Every detail of the bulldog is sculpted with care, and color variations with subtle lighting in the dog’s eyes bring the sculpture to life.

Beluga Whale

beluga whale
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

This beluga whale belongs in the deep blue sea, but Bastarrika’s depiction of the magnificent animal is so eye-catching. Its presence on land isn’t even an afterthought as viewers are drawn in by the art.

Again, Bastarrika’s skill with his chosen medium is displayed in the impeccable finish of this piece. It’s hard to find a single flaw, and every aspect of the whale is shaped to scale, making it hard to distinguish art from the real thing.

Giant Hand

sand giant hand
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

If this is a helping hand, then sign us up. Bastarrika  takes a step out of his comfort zone for a bit to craft an impeccable human hand. The Addams family would be over the moon to see this “thing” on their doorstep.

Long, slender fingers display exquisitely shaped fingernails and knuckles that tell their own story. This hand has seen a few places, and it’s finally come to rest on the beach where we can all enjoy a peek.

Great White Shark

sand shark
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Swing wide, art aficionados. Whether on the beach or in the water, these great whites are truly frightening. Bastarrika allows the animal to emerge, effortless, out of a sand dune, bringing landscape to life.

This formidable giant strikes fear in the heart of every avid surfer that passes by. We know he’s not going anywhere, but it’s still worth a second glance behind us to make sure he isn’t following us with something more than an intense stare.

Lion Cub

sand lion cub
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

As much as we’d like to believe that this cute creature can be cuddled with, it’s best that we take advantage of photo opportunities with this inanimate yet realistic lion cub.

An innocent stare and delightful pink tongue beckon us to pull out our phones for a family photo around the tiny king of the jungle. We can handle him at his current size, and we wonder what an adult depiction of this character would look like.

Leopard

sand leopard
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Bastarrika’s artistic process wasn’t all fun and games. After that initial mermaid, he knew the pressure was on, as his family was watching the story unfold. Through trial and error, he truly honed his talent into something unique and one of a kind.

When first viewing this cement-bound leopard, one can’t help but feel bad for the poor animal being devoured. Realistic markings on a pristine coat and quiet eyes are deceiving, as we know these cats are not to be reckoned with.

Python

sand python
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Anyone want a squeeze from this sneaky snake? It’s hard to conceive of such a massive reptile sneaking through the jungle undetected, but these silent and stealthy predators know just how to sneak up on their prey.

What’s particularly impressive about this sculpture is the detail that Bastarrika puts into every aspect of the animal. From correct size and proportions to the amazing icy stare of yellow reptilian eyes, onlookers shudder in terror.

Shark Mid-Bite

sand shark bite
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

This sand sculpture is certainly one of the darker pieces. The sheer power of a shark is displayed, mid-bite, as he munches on his latest conquest. The poor, unsuspecting victim didn’t even see it coming, and the struggle is immortalized for all to see.

Imagine coming out of one of these beach tents to behold this sight. It would certainly make someone unsure about going to the beach again.

Artistic Process Of Discovery

sand face
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

How does Bastarrika transform ordinary sand to magnificent works of art? After an initial mermaid he made to impress his daughters on the beach, he found that sculpting with sand was a nearly effortless process for him. 

A joyful process of trial and error transpired, with Bastarrika targeting northern beaches in his native region of Spain to begin experimenting with his newfound talent. 

Constructing And Creating

sand sea turtle
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Bastarrika finds the perfect spot for his creative inspiration to begin. Picturesque areas of beach, tide-pools, and cement platforms make the perfect backdrop as he begins gathering and moistening sand to begin sculpting.

Fluid hands effortlessly sculpt wet sand into magical creatures. Bastarrika gathers enhancements such as sticks, stones, beach glass, and natural paint to enhance the look of each piece he creates. 

The Finished Product

sand dog
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Bastarrika knows that his art sculptures aren’t as permanent as some that are comprised from other materials, but that doesn’t diminish his joy of creating one bit. He breathes new life into each sculpture regardless of its finite timeline.

Finished products are scattered in various places across the beaches of northern Spain. Thanks to location no longer being an obstacle with social media,  more and more people are discovering this unique artist and his sculptures. 

Inspiration For All

sand baby rhino
Photo: Instagram.com/@andoni_bastarrika_artista

Bastarrika’s story is an inspirational tale about unexpected opportunities that can take one’s life in a completely new direction. By remaining open and willing to shape his newfound talent, he discovered a true passion.

It serves us all well to take away that lesson and apply it to our own lives. We can all use our own unique talents to make the most of anything life throws your way.