If you've spent any time viewing excellent LEGO creations you've probably seen some work by this artist. Bruce is an exceptionally talented builder and his creations are universally loved. With a whimsical and clean style Bruce fuses pop culture and iconic imagery with LEGO bricks, creating instantly recognizable models.
BrickNerd is proud to have Bruce as our very first Builder Showcase featured artist.
Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get involved in the hobby?
I was probably around three years old when a family friend gave me a huge tub of used bricks from her sons who had outgrown the hobby. I'm pretty sure that cemented my love for LEGO. I think a lot of the fun was in the endless possibilities it offered; you didn't need to buy a particular toy; you could just build it with LEGO! I collected a lot of themed sets, particularly Town, Divers and Adventurers, since they had specific parts and mini-figures that are hard for any child to resist. By 1998 LEGO was starting to take a bit of a backseat to other toys and hobbies until I saw the first advertisement for the LEGO Star Wars line that was to be introduced in May of 1999. From then on, I was officially hooked. I waited those five agonizing months to finally have a Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker mini-figure to call my own, plus the plethora of new parts and colors introduced for Star Wars. I collected the entire first wave of sets, and soon started making small improvements on their form, color schemes, etc.
Within a year I started designing MOCs, mostly from Star Wars but from other themes as well. I soon realized my passion was sculpting with LEGO; making round shapes using square bricks. This led me to create what has come to be popularly known as the Lowell Sphere in 2003. The original title (6.8 stud diameter sphere) is not as catchy in retrospect, but I tend to be blunt in naming things. In 2003 I also started attending LEGO conventions and becoming more active in the online LEGO community for about a year or so. From around 2005-2010 I virtually left the online community, focusing on school and other personal pursuits, but still building. I made an effort in 2010 to get back into the online community, attend conventions, and start posting more MOCs, and people really started to like my work. After getting a professional camera and honing my photo editing skills I began to get blogged on the big LEGO fan sites. In 2012 I started my own website BruceLowell.com as an online portfolio/archive of my work, and as an outlet for accepting commissioned work. I've also been involved in a few competitions, which are always a lot of fun and great for creative output. I very much enjoy the LEGO hobby, not just for the building, but for the great community that’s out there as well. Strangely enough, I also find enjoyment in one aspect of the hobby that a lot of people don't seem to; sorting and organizing. Sorting allows a lot of time for listening to music or audio books, or just plain old-fashioned thinking. I'm constantly trying to maintain and maximize my LEGO storage space, so every few years I have to remodel my work area. This summer (2013) is one of those years, and I'm excited about it in two respects. Not only am I working on a remodel that should carry me through the foreseeable future with a growing collection and new parts constantly being released, but I've realized there’s a lot of LEGO that I have too much of, and being able to part with those extra pieces has been extremely cathartic and has really reinvigorated my passion for the hobby.
What drives you to create?
I think all humans have an innate desire to create, and LEGO just happens to be my medium.
Would you call yourself a purist (no cutting, painting, knockoff)?
I definitely would consider myself a purist, although I’d avoid using “non-purist” in a pejorative sense. I think part of the fun of LEGO is that it’s restricted and limiting in its nature. In light of that I try and play by the rules as much as possible, but if I do bend them, it would be in the spirit of what LEGO would do. I prefer to use only LEGO bricks, without modifying or cutting. However, I do occasionally create my own stickers, I’m a fan of vacuum metalizing parts, and I’ve played around with re-coloring parts in Photoshop for fun.
Do you have any favorite parts?
4733 Brick 1x1 with Studs on Four Sides, 3794 Plate 1x2 with Center Stud, and any other plates or SNOT (Studs Not On Top) parts.
Do you have a wish list of parts?
Who doesn’t? Fortunately my list has become much smaller in the last few years thanks to some of the great new parts introduced by LEGO. I doubt they’d ever be produced, but I’m still waiting on a 1x2 Plate with One Stud on Side and a 1x1½ Plate/Tile.
Who's your favorite builder?
I can't say I have one, but I would be remiss if I did not include Tyler Clites (Legohaulic), Mike Nieves (Retinence), and Jason Allemann (True Dimensions).
Do you ever look back on old MOCs and say "if I only…"
Constantly, because new parts and colors are released that make old MOCs obsolete.
Do you listen to music while you build?
I try to make a habit of listening to music while building. While sorting I tend to listen to podcasts to keep my mind engaged, since sorting tends to be such a perfunctory task.
Do you keep all your MOCs? If so, do you display them?
I try to keep my MOCs together as long as possible, but after a while they take up valuable parts and real estate so I’ll have to take them apart. Lately I’ve tried to make a point of publicly displaying a MOC once before taking it apart, and when I do I’ll keep sections of it sorted together by part type or color.
What is your all time favorite LEGO set?
My favorite set is 6543 Sail N’ Fly Marina. I’d have to give an honorable mention to the entire first wave of Star Wars sets from 1999 for making two of my childhood passions into an enduring hobby into adulthood.
If you could pick a single creation of yours for permanent display somewhere notable, what would it be?
Wow, I've never really thought of that. I do have a few commissioned pieces that are on permanent display, but I'm sure those don't count. It'd be nice to see a permanent home for the Orthanc tower I helped build as part of OneLug.
Which of your creations would you say personifies you?
While it's not necessarily a MOC in itself, but rather more of a technique, the Lowell Sphere probably personifies me best. I love "sculpting" with plates and SNOT parts, making round shapes out of square bricks, and symmetry. The technique combines all of that and is applicable to just about any purpose with LEGO.