Some Assembly Required: An Interview with Brickwares

Dave Ware has been creating LEGO Mosaics since 2006. Dave is an avid LEGO fan, and part of the worldwide LEGO community, attending and displaying at various annual events. Dave’s award winning pieces have been on display in both Canada and the United States. His 2009 piece “To The Stars” won the Best Mosaic prize at BrickCon 2009 in Seattle Washington, and was later sold to a private collector. Recently, Dave’s work has been seen at two local LEGO events (Silver Springs and Odgen-Millican). His recent piece “Stampede (2010)” was on display at Calgary’s Chinook Centre, in preparation for the opening of Canada’s first LEGO brand store. More recently, “War of the Worlds (2010)” won Best Mosaic (large) at BrickCon2010, and was displayed at he 2011 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo.

Dave and his son in front of his Rocketeer piece.

I came across Dave by wandering the aisles of the Entertainment Expo and I was drawn to the tiny mosaics that he had made. Everything from Mega Man (see main graphic for this article) to Alex from A Clockwork Orange where displayed on his table and available for purchase. As someone who collects prints and original art of various comic book artists, I was intrigued by the use of the medium as art, so I approached him and asked if he’d like to speak to us.

Kim: So, Dave – you’re a local boy, so maybe you want to tell where you’re from and where you got the idea to do this awesome stuff?

Dave: I have been living in Calgary pretty much all my life and I got the idea to start doing the LEGO art when my son was about 2 (five years ago), we went to the Science Centre and they had a big Egyptian exhibit that LEGO had on and it had this awesome picture of the Nile River and hieroglyphics all around it and I’ve always sort of liked LEGO and I sort of just wondered if I could do something like that. I started really small doing little pictures and when that worked, I tried a bigger picture and just kept going and going. The biggest one that I have now is the one that I did for the opening of the LEGO store here in Calgary last year for the Stampede.. and it was a picture of the poster for the 2010 Stampede and that was 7ft tall by about 4ft wide.

Kim: And how many pieces of LEGO would you say were in that?

Dave: Oh man.. I’d say probably close to about a hundred thousand pieces. A lot.

Kim: Where do you get all of your LEGO pieces?

Dave: I have a couple of different sources. There’s some stuff online for people so we can go and by like a thousand of this one specific piece from other guys who buy LEGO sets and then break them up and sell the pieces. So yeah, there’s sort of a network of.. they call themselves ‘the Adult Fans of LEGO.’

Kim: You have your LEGO dealers, is what you’re telling me.

Dave: Yeah, yeah.

Kim: So, most of what you have with you here today are very pop culture related. We have some video game references, a lot of comic book characters, some Star Wars.. did you make all of these with the Expo in mind?

Dave: Yeah, this is the first year that I’ve actually had a table. The little mosaics were done for the Expo. They were a bit of a challenge, but at the same time really fun. It was nice being able to finish a piece in a single day. I mean most of my pieces, like the ‘War of the Worlds’ piece and the ‘Calgary Entertainment Expo’ logo and those take at least a week of night after night after night kind of thing. So it was nice to have something small that I could finish. It’s great to see that they’re popular, a lot of people seem to be wandering over to check things out.

Kim: So, you mentioned that this was your first time doing mosaics…Do you want to tell us a little bit about the process?

Dave: Well, the toughest part is the actual design. I do one of them to figure out what pieces I need and how it’s going to look.. so it usually takes about an hour for the first one and then I can make copies of that with different colors and it’s a little bit quicker.

Kim: So you don’t plan out the pattern?

Dave: Yeah, you get a picture and you look at it and try and figure out how it should be best represented. A lot of these are 8-Bit to start with, so like Mario is all made of blocks, so it’s a little easier to put him together. It’s just a matter of matching colors and deciding what goes where.

Kim: Which out of all of these would you say was your favorite to work on? Where in the nerd culture categories would you say you fit?

Yoshi!

Dave: Well, I’m a pretty big nerd. I like the comic books, the movies.. I’m into sci-fi books… so pretty much all of it. My favorite pieces to work on, are the bigger ones that I’ve done in the past like the one of The Rocketeer (shown above) I did a few years ago and that’s my favorite one that I’ve done. I did a portrait of my wife which turned out really nice and I’ve done one for each of my sons.. so each of them have different meanings. The nice thing about the ones that take so long to do is that you look back and think ‘Oh, that was the month that I worked on this one and this was the television series that I watched while I was doing it’ cause it takes so long to finish one that I get to watch a lot of TV.

I actually just started going to LEGO conventions now too, and it’s all just people displaying their LEGO pieces. Not everyone does mosaics, so it’s cool to see what everyone has been working on.

Kim: So, you mentioned The Rocketeer piece – was that a commission piece or was that just something you wanted to do?

Dave: It was just for me. I was basically just going through images on the web and was looking for some inspiration. I saw that one and I’m a fan, so I thought I’d see if I could do it.

Kim: You have your website (see below) and I’m wondering if you do commission pieces?

Dave: Yes, I do. I have done a few in the past. Generally, it’s a little more expensive than people figure it’s going to be. LEGO is pretty expensive to start with.. and then all the time and effort that goes into it, but it’s art essentially.

Kim: Would you do anything into LEGO? I mean if someone sent you a picture of their dog?

Dave: Yeah, that’s how it starts. Usually, I ask people to send me a picture of what they want and then I take the picture and run it through some software that I have that will pixelate it all and I can see what it looks like. Then I show them the various sizes and how much detail will come with the bigger sizes.

Kim: Is there anything big coming up that you’re working on?

8-Bit Cloud

Dave: This (the Calgary Entertainment Expo logo and the mosaic pieces) is what I’ve been spending all of my time on, but after this.. the next thing I’ll be getting ready for Brick-Con down in Seattle which happens in the beginning of October. I have an idea what I’m going to do for that, but I’m not going to give anything away.

Kim: Thanks very much for all your time, Dave.

Dave: Thank you, it was nice talking to you.

You can find out more about Dave and Brickwares, by visiting his website: http://www.brickwares.com/

or by following him on Twitter: @Brickwares

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