Continuing our series of behind-the-scenes articles about LEGO Masters, we chatted with Brick Artist Nathan Sawaya in his California studio about how he built all the props for the show, what kind of deadlines he faced, and working with LEGO as a creative medium.
The first half of our interview (conducted jointly with Brickset) focuses on his work with LEGO Masters and serving as their “brick artist in residence.” The second half discusses his personal views on LEGO as a whole, his traveling LEGO installation “Art of the Brick,” and how he went from an NYC lawyer to an LA artist.
Read our interview with LEGO Masters brick artist in residence Nathan Sawaya
A surprise announcement, a pop-up LEGO art gallery launch in London, and the start of a new line of LEGO products — 853967 Wooden Minifigure has had quite the introduction to the world. We’re not sure we’d call this a “set” as such, although it does feature a handful of regular LEGO bricks as well as the titular 20cm tall oak figurine. LEGO themselves describe the figurine as a “blank canvas” for personalisation and creative decoration. Whatever you want to call it, the wooden figure is available from Nov. 3, 2019, for VIP members, and Nov. 8 for everyone. It can be purchased from the LEGO Shop online for US $119.99 | CAN 154.99 | UK £109.99.
(EDIT: The wooden figure is also available from LEGO in bundles including a discount of up to $30 US when combined with various other LEGO products, including one 1,500-piece Classic set.)
Read our hands-on review of LEGO 853967 Wooden Minifigure
Seven Dials is a small area of London, squeezed in between the city’s theatre district and the nightlife of Soho. It’s one of the cool parts of town, narrow streets stuffed full of quirky shops and art galleries. One of these galleries is playing temporary host to a new LEGO launch — the Limited Edition large-scale wooden minifigure, the first release in the new LEGO Originals line, and we attended the gallery’s opening this morning. We also had a chance to sit down with the project’s design director for an interview.
Fans were invited to register for a timeslot to visit the gallery through the LEGO VIP loyalty programme, and the first session was booked up almost immediately. Although guaranteed admission, these first visitors still arrived early, and there was a good-sized queue well in advance of the official opening time. A further “standby queue” had also formed — people hoping some of those registered to attend might not show up. LEGO’s PR proved to be on-point, with the general air of excitement wafting off the line of adult fans and kids prompting photos and questions from passers-by.
Click to read more about the LEGO Originals gallery and read our interview with design director Sine Klitgaard Møller
It might be an accurate statement to say that Jason Allemann is having the best month ever. First he was our keynote speaker at BrickCon, where he also designed the commemorative model that we featured here. And now he…or rather JK Brickworks, has completed a series with this model. Why the distinction? Jason is merely the “J” half of JK Brickworks. “K” stands for Kristal and she is the driving force behind this model that is the final part of a trio of sculptures that explore the human mind. The first model, which can be seen at The LEGO House in Billund, explores the mind of an artist. The second sculpture explores the mind of an engineer. This third sculpture, however, might be the most therapeutic for a lot of us. It delves deep and gives us a peek inside a tortured mind.
Click here to delve deeper.
When building with LEGO bricks, most people opt for recreating something that mirrors our experiences. We draw inspiration from the real world — maybe we look to movies, literature, or some other media, but our creations look like things that exist…or could possibly exist…in our reality. What, then, should we make of the artistic abstractions of Crimso Giger? Even though they exist as physical models, these spaces are like nothing we’d expect to encounter. Crimso has combined geometric abstraction with sculpture, leading us into an unfamiliar world without giving us a roadmap.
Sure, you can try and make sense of these images by trying to force some sort of logic onto them. Take Abstract – Yellow Grey Black, for example. The choice of colors and shapes reminds me of the interior of a computer, or a cityscape that’s been bent like a scene from Inception or Doctor Strange. But that’s just my perspective – maybe this is something else entirely.
Abstract – White Black Red makes me think of gaming. The red and black tiles seem to form a checkerboard, and the black and white groupings remind me of backgammon boards and dice. But what is that construction in the center? Is the “x” shape in the 1x6x5 rectangular girder a call out to Tic-Tac-Toe? Have I completely missed the point? I just don’t know!
As usual, the good folks over at New Elementary are up to hijinks related to new and interesting LEGO pieces, with a stable of talented builders exploring some of the ways fans can use the parts. One such recent exploration was undertaken by Pistash and involved a variety of new coral-colored elements. He’s taken the color exploration quite literally, turning the bubblegum-colored bits into a squirt of paint, complete with a cool mosaic on the side of the container. Fittingly, the splash at the bottom is a large 14-tooth splat gear.
Who built this city? He built this city! He built this city of bricks and plaaaaaaaates! Pardon the parodied lyrics, but Paul Hetherington’s latest masterpiece makes me want to rock out. Like many of Paul’s previous works, this creation is pleasing both when viewed as a whole and when you zoom in to view the details.
Viewed from a distance, it really does look like a city being built by a giant robot. Look closely though, and you’ll see fun scenes playing out, along with Paul’s trademark checkerboard patterns, and a façade inspired by Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Red Blue and Yellow. The colour combinations are my favourite aspect here. While many LEGO cities and towns are rife with greys, browns, and tans, Paul ignores those and leans hard into bright colours in complementary shades, creating yet another beautiful work of art.
I’m always impressed when someone builds something with LEGO bricks that doesn’t have a strong tie to an established theme or building style. It takes a special kind of eye to look beyond the mundane, and builder why.not? has that vision. Or they had a vision. Or maybe just a very bad dream. Whatever the source, they have brought to us an unsettling image indeed.
The central eye is built from 1×2 and 1×4 plates, using subtle color variation in light blue, tan, and blue grey to create a convincing iris against a white brick background.
Eyelashes are constructed from minifigure hands clipped to the modified plates and tiles that create a smooth curve to the eyelid. There’s even a curved brick to represent the tear duct.
Additional creepy details include an abundance of Technic (eye)ball joints, a floating maw made of teeth and quarter-round tiles, and dangling red tentacles. The heart uses exotic elements like a sand blue dinosaur tail and medium lavender flexible hose. There’s even a dragon wing hidden in the blood(?) in the upper right.
I’m not sure what this piece says to me. But I’m kind of glad it can’t talk. I doubt I’d want to hear the messsage it brings.
As an avid builder and a contributor for The Brothers Brick, I have seen a lot of LEGO creations. I mean A LOT of LEGO creations. To put this in perspective as to what it is like to be an adult LEGO builder, I have a LEGO room in my home — most of us do, some more elaborate than others. Whether it be a corner of the laundry room, a repurposed bedroom, or an elaborate add-on suite built for this reason, we all have a dedicated space to build LEGO. A perusal of my phone contacts reveals that the vast majority of my friends are LEGO friends. We eat, sleep and breath this stuff daily. By now I’ve written a fair number of articles and am confident that I can at least amuse if not inspire or enlighten our readers. With all this in mind, you’d think there would be no one to baffle me and put me at a loss for words. But then along came Ekow Nimako.
See more of this amazing LEGO sculpture
Sometimes the best inspiration for a LEGO creation comes from someone else’s failure, or at least from their frustrated abandonment of a complex idea. Pau Padrós‘s brother attempted to build Raphael’s masterpiece “The School of Athens”, but was about to give up; Pau took the build, changed the scale, and ran with it to create this amazing digital model. The painting, and thus the plastic version, focuses on the two most important philosophers of the Greek world, and thus of Western civilization: Plato and Aristotle. Naturally, some details of the original painting have been lost—I don’t recall Euclid’s face being a hollow square in Raphael’s version—but it is still a masterwork in forms; Plato would be proud. (That’s a philosophy pun, if you missed it.) I love how Pau has kept the detail of the two philosophers’ hands, with Plato’s pointing to the sky (where the ideal forms of all things reside) and Aristotle’s flat over the ground (which is the natural world, the observation of which is the source of our knowledge).
Besides the philosophers shown, which is exciting enough, Pau has hidden all sorts of details in the build. Each of the figures of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are comprised of twenty-two pieces, which in numerology means that they are on the path to turn dreams to reality. Of the 41 solid colors of LEGO in production, 38 are used, which perhaps represents the broad range of ideas held by these different men (and woman). The sextant makes for an effective lyre in Apollo’s statue’s hand, and a droid body approximates Athena’s Aegis-shield well enough. Don’t miss the green barbed wire as Epicurus’ garland, either. With forty-seven philosophers here (everyone from Alexander to Zeno) there’s something for everyone to appreciate and emulate. Most importantly, perhaps, is the lost art of disagreeing amicably and discussing rationally.
Want to see more of the build? Check out the video here:
One of my favorite things is the intersection of LEGO and art. Brandon Griffith has similar feelings, as expressed in his description for his creation Coalesce, built for the LEGO booth at 2019’s Comic-Con. At first glance, I thought this was an 11×11 vignette of a gallery scene – the “exposed studs” along the top of the wall combined with the red, blue and purple “bricks” in perfect proportions. Looking closer, though, you recognize the minifigures and your sense of scale has a dramatic zoom out. Almost as an afterthought, you can spot a lime green “1×1 brick” oozing in the corner, and notice that the gaps in the wall look like brick cut-outs.
Complimenting the excellent craftsmanship is the inclusive theme of the piece as a whole. To coalesce is to “come together”; the combining of red and blue stripes into a new purple element invites the viewer to think about not only color theory and LEGO building but more complex issues in the unification of different ideas and concepts.
And how’s this for interactivity? Brandon invites anyone lucky enough to attend Comic-Con 2019 to stop by the LEGO booth and pose a figure on the model!
Here’s a little something different courtesy of aukbricks. This piece of art was created using just twenty elements, ten each in yellow and black. Compared to most LEGO models, there’s not much physical cohesion to this build. In fact, it looks like there are only two pieces actually connected to each other. The image of the bird comes from careful part placement and alignment.
This is a digital render, but it could be replicated in the real world as it uses only existing part/color combinations. I particularly like the use of tentacles for the tail feathers. The bananas that do double duty as claws and as detail in the head are a close second.