This week Josh is joined by the new co-host of Beyond The Brick Matthew. Josh and Matthew interview Bill Ward and get his tips on the best way to start building amazing MOCs.
About Bill Ward
Bill is a software engineer/architect and President of Bricks by the Bay. You can find more information on his site at brickpile.com
News and Information
2. Bricks by the Bay just happened. Over 400 attendees and over 5300 public. Next one August 8-11, 2013
Interview with Bill Ward
When did you start building?
When I was a child I was always given LEGO for birthdays and Christmas as far back as I can remember. When the neighbor kids outgrew their LEGO they gave them to me. I always brought LEGO spaceships to school for show and tell in elementary school.
Did you have a dark age and, if so, when?
In junior high school I got more into computers (Commodore 64 forever!!) and gradually shifted my interest away from LEGO and toward computer programming
What got you into LEGO building?
In 1993 when I was a senior in college the Ice Planet 2002 line came out, and I saw them in a toy store and bought some of the sets. That sparked a renewed interest in LEGO and I got my old LEGO from my parents’ house and started building again, but since I was not aware of any other adult builders or online communities, I didn’t sustain the interest for long and went back into the dark ages.
Around 2000 Eric Harshbarger’s LEGO Desk was featured on Slashdot and my brother-in-law saw it there, knew I was into LEGO, and pointed it out to me. I looked around at Eric’s other creations and thought “I could do that,” bought a bunch of the 3033 blue tubs and started building Pokemon sculptures, since my wife at the time and I had been actively watching Pokemon cartoons a lot on TV during that period. Somehow I found out about LUGNET and BayLUG, and the community has always kept me going whenever my interest might start to flag.
I went to the BricksWest conventions in 2002 and 2003 and came away wanting to have something like that in the Bay Area. It took a few years but in 2009 I got together with fellow BayLUG members and formed a nonprofit corporation, Bricks by the Bay, Inc., and we held our first convention in April 2010. We just finished our third convention and our next one is in August 8-11, 2013 (one week after BrickFair).
Do you have any recent mocs to note? Yes, below are links to Rainbow Connection and Four Track Signal Gantry.
What projects are you planning for the future?
I’d like to build a log for Kermit to sit on. But generally I don’t like to talk about future projects, because I don’t always finish every project I start, and I wouldn’t want to feel obligated to work on something that wasn’t inspiring me any more.
Which conventions and shows we can find you at?
Bricks by the Bay, obviously, but the next one isn’t until summer of 2013. I’m registered for Bricks Cascade in Portland in June, and hoping to go to BrickCon in October.
What would you tell people who want to get into LEGO building?
For parents, I would point out that LEGO is an investment in a logical, scientific, and artistic mind for their kids. As a software engineer I feel that LEGO helped prepare me for my career: a subassembly in LEGO is like a subroutine in code, and each LEGO part fits together in only certain ways (syntax) and different parts do different specific tasks (a limited palette of commands, expressions, etc.)
For anyone, I would just say start by building LEGO sets and then try to build other models that go along with them. Try modifying stock sets to add features, add a back to the building if LEGO only provides the front, make it bigger but using the same style, etc.
For adults or people coming into the hobby later in life, remember that you have to start at the beginning. Don’t be afraid to build basic sets designed for little kids first. Let your inner child out to play.
Do you have any tips for people who are trying to transition from just building LEGO sets out of the box into creating original works of their own?
Start by following the instructions, but pay attention to the clever parts usages you see as you go, and try to think of creative ways that a part can be used.
As you go through the real world, watch science fiction movies, etc. try to visualize how you might achieve certain shapes with LEGO parts. How does the back of that garbage truck or the side of that building or the nose of that spaceship match to the LEGO parts in your collection? What angle of slopes or sideways building techniques would be needed?
What is your favorite Lego set ever produced? Is there a dream LEGO set?
I would have to say the 3033 tub is my favorite LEGO set, because it gave me the raw materials to become a LEGO sculptor, and provided a cheap way to get bulk bricks.
I don’t really have a dream LEGO set; all sets are just grist for the mill to me in terms of building techniques and parts, so I don’t really care too much about the subject matter. I would say that the quality of LEGO sets in general has been much higher in the past few years than it ever has been before.