One of the great things about LEGO is that there are so many creative ways to build. Some people navigate towards spaceships or castles. Some gravitate towards trains or buildings. And some explore the more esoteric fringes of artistic creativity with sculpture. Or, in this case, mosaics.
Over on Instagram, there’s been a lot of great art showing up in the #MosaicsOnMonday tag. We recently had a chance to sit down (virtually) with the innovators behind this challenge, and learn a bit about where this tag came from, where it is, and where it’s headed.
There are four people behind the hashtag, and all were kind enough to share their thoughts with us. They are Elizabeth (@lego_goblin), Caroline (@stayhomeandlego), Dana (@Virginia_bricks), and John (@johnbtoys)
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Caroline: I’m a LEGO loving primary school teacher and mum from Australia. I’ve always loved patterns, colour and cute things like Studio Ghibli and more recently, minifigures in costumes or with molded heads.
Elizabeth: By day, I am a marketing specialist for an environmental non-profit here in Canada. In my free time, I like to get creative in lots of ways! Music and art are big passions of mine. I’ve dabbled in countless art forms over the years, but perhaps the medium I have connected with best has been LEGO.
John: I’m an IT developer in the US. I have been an AFOL for 23 years and have built so many things during that time. I’ve always had a creative side, but LEGO has let me express myself better than any other type of art ever could. I split my time between LEGO and photography for many years, but LEGO finally took over completely.
Dana: I am a design patent examiner. I’ve always enjoyed creative hobbies but hadn’t had an outlet for years when my oldest started collecting lego. I started building with him in early 2020 and now it’s mostly just me that builds.
Let’s talk about your creations!
Caroline: I have been building mosaics for about 10 months. When my husband brought home a dots bracelet and extra dots pack in April 2021 that were on clearance I asked why he bought them and I’d just take them to school for students…well, that didn’t happen and I found a beautiful way to create patterns. I’ve been obsessed ever since and now call myself an AFOL.
I suppose I’m not a traditional Lego mosaic builder. I like patterns more than images. I have never used any digital tools and build it all by the feel/spark/vibe I’m getting at the time. Sometimes it’s one piece that inspires a mosaic like a blue mudguard or minifigure that looks intriguing. Other times it’s an image from real life – a container of sprinkles or a character from Studio Ghibli. Mostly though it’s just sitting with a container of dots, looking at the colours and the patterns appear in my mind.
Elizabeth: As soon as I started building MOCs in early 2021, mosaics entered the mix organically. Colour and design are my strengths and mosaics are a way for me to shine. I quickly took inspiration from the amazing artists I’d met in the Instagram LEGO community and love trying new mosaic techniques and styles. My favorite way to start a mosaic is to pick a couple of key colours or an interesting piece/minifigure and then work out how to make a cohesive piece around that focal point. Lately, I’m enjoying playing around with depth – having parts of the mosaic raised or sunken-in.
John: I built my first mosaic in 2004 and a few others over the next several years. After not building any for quite a while I decided to try again in 2019. In 2020, like everyone else, I had more time, so I built quite a few (including starting my Avengers Assemble series). This continued in 2021 until I started participating in Mosaics on Monday. Since I had to come up with something every week, it just wasn’t feasible to always build what I envisioned, so I started building most of them digitally. This allowed me to design more of them and not worry about how big they were.
My inspiration comes from everywhere, but I do browse Pinterest a lot looking for ideas a lot. This is how I started doing the abstract mosaics. I have always been a fan of abstract art so this was a perfect way to create my own. Sometimes I’ll recreate a pattern I’ve seen depicted in a different art form or sometimes I see a design that just inspires me to do my own pattern.
I mostly use BrickLink Studio to design my mosaics. Sometimes I use the mosaic tool to convert an image and then tweak it until I’m happy or, like for the abstract ones, I’ll just create it from scratch. There are a couple of old mosaic programs I use occasionally if I’m not happy with what Studio gives me as a starting point. I’ve also used Photoshop to design them, but that is a lot more time-consuming.
Dana: I had only done a handful of things that might be considered LEGO mosaics when #mosaicsonmonday (MoM) started at the end of July 2021 and now it seems to be most of what I do. I rarely do an actual image – usually going for some sort of pattern but A few months ago I was finding it difficult to come up with ideas so I followed Caroline’s example of finding inspiration from minifigs and started incorporating them into my mosaics. Since they were so well received I’ve stuck with the minifig/mosaic combo style.
How did #MosaicsOnMonday come about?
Caroline: When I started my IG account in 2021 there weren’t a heap of smaller mosaics that I could find made with dots. I thought it would be nice to find some more and develop a mosaic community of friendly and encouraging builders. I reached out to a few people who I knew were super kind and encouraging people who had also posted mosaics – Dana, Elizabeth, and A (@dottie.lego),who hosted for a little while before life got busier for her. While I may have asked them about starting something on a Monday (since it started with m like mosaics), the rest of the idea grew from there as a team. Our first Monday was the 26th of July 2021. Little did we know, a mosaic master, John, became the ultimate MoM builder and sharer. He shared everyone’s work and joined in with amazing pieces every week so we asked him if he’d like to host alongside us.
Elizabeth: Caroline was the one who brought us together, which I am so thankful for! I’d been chatting with Caroline and Dana for a while, I loved their building style and their company. Caroline asked if I’d like to help out with a regular mosaics challenge, and to me, it sounded like the perfect way to spend more time with some cool people and encourage the community to explore mosaics more.
What’s the best thing about #MosaicsOnMonday?
Caroline: The best thing about #mosaicsonmonday is the people! It’s so nice seeing everyone’s name pop up with a beautiful, clever, unique, inspiring piece each week. Everyone comments and encourages each other. The whole point was to meet like-minded builders who like mosaics and having fun. I would never have made the connections I have on IG if it wasn’t for MoM. I’m so thankful for everyone who joins us each week.
Elizabeth: I absolutely LOVE seeing the innovative techniques and styles each week. Backward bricks, “illegal” LEGO techniques, monochrome mosaics, greebling – all of it is delightful to me, and keeps me inspired to build more. And, I’ve met so many awesome LEGO artists I never would have discovered otherwise.
John: Just seeing so much creativity every Monday is incredible and meeting and talking with so many incredible people. For the people that participate a lot it is so awesome to watch how they grow as builders and artists. It is also so great to see someone take a chance with a new technique or even just a style that is outside of their norm.
Dana: the best part of MoM for me is getting to see all the wonderful creations that come from it. I’ve learned so much from the participants and made so many connections all from this weekly event.
Any tips on getting started with mosaics in general?
Elizabeth: My advice would be to browse the hashtag for inspiration, and don’t let your piece collection or experience level hold you back from trying it out. All mosaics are beautiful, from cute little 6×6 patterns up to the awe-inspiring mega-mosaics we’ve seen. And the whole MoM community has been so fun and supportive, so you can guarantee your submission will be welcomed with open arms.
John: Elizabeth said it perfectly. You just need to find something that inspires you. It can be a particular piece of LEGO or a specific color or even another piece of art you’ve seen. Then just get some bricks and build and see what you come up with! And then share it on Monday with our hashtag!
Dana: All that’s needed to get involved is to post a mosaic (on Monday) and use the hashtag. To get started I’d suggest picking a color scheme and grabbing any pieces you have in those colors then start trying things out. There is NO size or shape requirement. We’ve had posts that are as small as 3×3 up to enormous sizes. I’d recommend a 6×6 or 8×8 plate and some dots if you’re unsure. When I struggle I turn to my minifigs for inspiration. It always helps.
What are some of your favorite submissions?
Personally, I think every creation in the tag has been great, but some questions just have to be asked. The group singled out two that they wanted to be sure got a spotlight here!
First up is Picking stars from the night sky by @i_lego_you.
And next is a brilliant recreation of Wassily Kandinsky’s ‘Color Study. Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913’ by @gilderoy_blockhart
Where would you like to see #MosaicsOnMonday go from here?
Elizabeth: That’s a great question – I never thought we’d get as far as we have! It’s great to be running this challenge for more than six months and still have lots of participation each week. I love the laid-back format, so I hope it continues to grow with new participants the way it has been. I suppose if we had a sponsor, we’d be able to give away some LEGO Dots in prize draws for participants ????.
Dana: I would just love for the participation numbers to rise. It makes my day to see another post pop up with our tag, then another and another. Week 1 we had 13 participants and that included 4 hosts. This past week we surpassed 50.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Dana: just to add to Caroline’s info, we always keep the themes optional so no one feels discouraged from participating. This is meant to be a low-pressure weekly event – so share whatever you got. But sometimes a theme is fun or helpful.
A big thank you to Elizabeth (@lego_goblin), Caroline (@stayhomeandlego), Dana (@Virginia_bricks), and John (@johnbtoys) for talking with us! Did this get you revved up to build your own submission for #MosaicsOnMonday? If so, we’ll see you there!
(If you need a little inspiration, why not cruise through our featured Art builds? There’s likely something there to tempt your muse!)