// How did you first start this, then getting into it full-time?
- J: Four years ago, when my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I started creating with this medium as I found comfort in it. A simple LEGO set was what my parents gave me when I was a child, as a reward for topping my school in Primary 1. Since I was working freelance from Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where my dad was warded, I started creating with the LEGO Digital Designer software on my laptop. People saw my creations and asked me, “how much is this?” and “can you teach me how to do this?” So it started from there – workshops, creating building kits, designing all kinds of creations big and small for various clients. As of last year, I turned into a full-time artist.
// Bring us through your creative process
- J: In addition to commissioned work for clients, I get ideas all the time on what to build and a story to tell. So I narrow these ideas down and decide the order that I want to do the design for. Then I sketch to get a sense of the proportion and colours, and I experiment building at different scales to see which suits the subject best. When I’m happy with the sketch, I transfer it into the design software. To me it is efficient because I can change colours and parts easily, and I can use it to generate a list of parts needed. Then I build it out. During this process I often need to improvise or adjust the design and use of parts as I go. So it’s quite a fluid process, and it can take as long or as short as is needed for it to be good enough. There are designs that took me an entire year to complete, from concept to final build.
// Do you have a hard time finding different bricks?
- J: For this medium, I get almost all my parts online. Different projects require different parts, and I need to purchase these parts from different stores around the world. So it can be quite a hassle. At the same time I maintain my own inventory so that I can produce a working prototype almost instantly. Right now I have around 250,000 LEGO parts, which are sorted mainly by part and then by colour. This is important because I need to be able to build quickly as a full-time artist.
// What are some works you’ve done?
Dragon + Retro Playground
J: I grew up in Toa Payoh and I played in many of the retro playgrounds, so this is a tribute to my childhood. The building brick is a great medium that we can use to preserve our memories!
// Retro Typewriter
- J: Small can be beautiful. This was my first creation that got featured in The Brothers Brick, the best LEGO blog on the web (my other creations featured include my Despicable Me Minion and R2-D2). I like to use this as an example of how we can use parts and techniques in unconventional ways to pack detail in a small build.
- J: I built this a few years ago after I landed in a wheelchair for the first time after an accident.
// Being a Brick Artist seems fun! What’s your daily routine like?
- J: Being a brick artist is rather cool, but not as glamorous as you might imagine. In the day I respond to emails and meet people, conduct workshops and come up with ideas for client projects. It is only at night, after I’m done with the housework and the kids are asleep, that I can focus on design and production work for the projects I’m working on. I have a long list of stories I want to tell with this medium, and it only gets longer by the day. In between I drink plenty of coffee to keep me going, even at night.
// What do you want readers to takeaway?
- J: Anyone can build with bricks. It’s not how many parts you have, it’s what you do with them. Use them to tell your own story. You just need to take the first step. Happy building!
Read on for some facts about Jeffrey the Brick Artist!
36 // Libra
Creative Approach // It’s all about the story
Fact // For every creation that I show you, there are many others that will probably never see light of day
Message // If my work puts a smile on your face, or make you think about what’s going on in the world, then I’ve done my job.
FUSSY // I am a purist when it comes to working with bricks. That means I don’t cut or paint bricks, and stickers and glue should never be used as a convenient substitute for technique. Building in this medium involves more problem solving than most people imagine.