This Nationally Known Ice Sculptor Works and Lives in Cincinnati

The president of Artic Diamond, Brady Lantz, on the Super Bowl, ideal ice sculpting conditions, and staying warm.
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With football season in full swing, it’s not too early to start thinking about the Super Bowl. If you’ve ever watched the football extravaganza on TV or attended in-person, chances are you’ve peeped the massive yet intricately detailed ice sculptures featured there. Believe it or not, they have a Cincinnati connection: Brady Lantz, president of Artic Diamond. With more than 21 years of professional ice sculpting experience, Lantz has become one of Cincinnati’s—and the nation’s—experts in the art of keeping things cool.

Photograph by Devyn Glista

Ice is a very strong and a very delicate medium. Our 300-pound blocks of ice are very strong and you couldn’t break one if you tried. But once you sculpt it, you weaken some of those points in the sculpture. You’re releasing stuff.

You have to exaggerate certain features of the sculpture, so you know that it will last throughout the melting process and still look like something five hours into the event. You don’t want it to look like a blob of ice.

We give our sculptures at least five to seven show hours. They last longer than that, but a lot of details will be melted off and a lot of the edges will be rounded out after that five to seven hours.

If we are doing an outdoor festival, you would like to have [conditions] anywhere between 12 and 23 degrees. Not only are we battling the temperature, but more so the UV rays and the elements that mother nature poses.

The Hamilton Ice Festival is always going to be one of my favorite events that I get to be a part of. That’s because the event challenges you to come up with designs that you normally wouldn’t cut for everyday business. We did giant Monopoly pieces and a four-block battleship that weighed 1,200 pounds. Your creativity and artistic ability gets challenged when you get asked to do something that you’re not necessarily familiar with.

Most of our stuff is ice fishing gear that we wear. It’s all very thick insulation, and waterproof. So we’d look kind of silly if you were to come up to the studio in the middle of the summer and I’m working in the freezer and I walk out and it looks like it is 10 degrees outside.

We have never had a sculpture collapse from designing it incorrectly or anything like that. But it is hard. You’re always asking yourself Did I do that right? We don’t cut one for practice in the studio and let it melt to see if it’s going to last the whole time. We have to trust that we’re designing this and that it is going to last the entire time.

I am a big football fan. The Super Bowl event is one that I’m really proud of and enjoy going to. If the Bengals ever decide to make it [into the Super Bowl], you can guarantee a few of us will be there.

We drove the ice from our studio in Cincinnati all the way to San Francisco for Super Bowl 50. You really can’t get much farther from our studio than San Francisco.

Ice is temporary. It’s here, and then once we start it up and it starts melting, by tomorrow, it’s gone. That piece of art can never be recreated. It’s the nature of the medium that is incredibly satisfying to me.

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