Interview: Jonathan Lopes

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ArchBrick’s third interview features Jonathan Lopes, an amazing urban architecture builder. Many of his works focus on the gritty environments or urban centers, as evident by his purposeful building techniques. Be sure to check out all his works on Flickr and MOCpages.

Why do you enjoy building LEGO architecture?

“There is a strong sense of satisfaction and fulfillment when completing a replication of an existing structure. Comparing my LEGO version to the actual structure is gratifying. Additionally, brainstorming and determining solutions to recreating details and other aspects of the prototype is very rewarding. Particularly, I enjoy solving the aesthetic details with my own parts selection and build technique solutions as much as possible.”

What are some of the favorite architecture creations that you’ve modeled?

“I have many that are my favorites and over the course of time my building skills and techniques have developed, so I’ll focus on one that was a pivotal piece for me: The Pool Hall. Attaining the façade detail and the overall gritty urban aesthetic in this small-scaled piece truly reflected the vision I was striving for and suggested that I could indeed use LEGO as a medium to create gritty urban scenes. I had done extensive work in the urban-grit direction prior to this piece but this one elevated those efforts and results in my view.”

Describe the process of creating one of your latest buildings.

“A Vanishing Brooklyn: This piece was based on a concept and work by artist Dylan Goldberger. His piece depicted a window squeegie washing over a Brooklyn brownstone house resulting in a building of more contemporary style above it. I wanted to realize this concept in LEGO, so once I had Dylan’s blessing, I set out to do this. The first challenge was determining a workable alternative to the squeegie. I was concerned that a LEGO built squeegie included in this piece would not be understood and/or resonate with the audience. So I put a few days thought into an alternative and decided upon having the more contemporary building style crush the brownstone house.”

“These days I make an effort to ensure there are LEGO studs exposed in my work, so my solution to creating the ‘wave of debris’ from the crushing force of the new building worked out very well. Also, this ‘wave of debris’ elicits movement from the piece: action and force, which can be challenging to achieve in LEGO. Lastly, this is built at a much larger scale than my previous work, which was a deliberate decision in an effort to stretch myself out a bit and also achieve specific fine details.”

What do you find most challenging about building?

“The biggest challenge with building is finding time to do it. There is just not enough time in the day to satisfy my creative ideas and drive. Balancing with life, of course.  Often times I prioritize what commitments, distractions and general ’noise’ I choose to bring into my life based around my need for creative time. There are some tough sacrifices, but these are the choices I make in an effort to find a balance that fulfills everything I hope to achieve out of life at this time. I strive to live a very uncluttered lifestyle by reducing much of the non-value-added and unfulfilling busy-ness and drama that can be time consuming.”

Discuss how you started building LEGO creations (not limited to architecture).

“I had always been a creative and artistically minded. Starting from the time I was really young. I played with LEGO as a child, of course, by my artistic inclinations were much broader than just creating with LEGO. As I wandered through my teenage years, music was my creative mode of choice. This brought me to New York City, where I was a musician for a number of years before rediscovering LEGO as an adult. LEGO has since become my creative outlet starting with town and city related creations.”

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Discuss any other general hobbies and interesting information about yourself (e.g. job, upcoming projects).

“Being physically fit is important to me, so I allocate time for exercise and I play in a softball league. I could definitely aim a little higher with my fitness goals though. I have ambitious plans with LEGO for 2017. I am prepping and building for 2017 now. That said, I typically don’t disclose projects that I have in the pipeline until they’re completed. I’m a little superstitious in that regard, so we’ll have to wait and see what I come up with. I’ve been having a lot of fun and my work has been positively received at the many BrickUniverse conventions so far, so I’ll be continuing my partnership with them for 2017, which I am very excited about.”

Any closing thoughts or comments?

“Thank you for reading! I hope this provided an informative view into some of my creative approaches and philosophies. I regularly update my Instagram account: jonathanlopesofficial if anyone is interested.”

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Like what you see? Check out all Jonathan’s works on Flickr and MOCpages. Thanks again for the interview!

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