When I met Ed Diment back in 2010 it was immediately evident I was speaking to an AFOL of particular dedication. Of course I met him in the shadow of his phenomenal USS Intrepid, which at 22 feet long just stopped you in your tracks while you picked up your jaw. I soon after discovered he's also a very likable, funny guy with a love for life just as powerful as his passion for the bricks.
I'm happy to let you all get to know him a little better.
Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get started in the hobby?
I am 42 years old and I am a professional LEGO artist and company director living in Hampshire in the UK with my wife Annie.
I started building with LEGO when I was two years old and never really stopped. Around ten years ago I joined the UK LEGO User Group (LUG) The Brickish Association and this is where I met my business partner Duncan Titmarsh, who is the only LEGO Certified Professional in the UK. Around three years ago Duncan approached me about teaming up with him and within a year I’d become an equal partner in the business and quit my day job as a consultant to work full-time on LEGO building and developing our business Bright Bricks.
What is your earliest LEGO memory?
My earliest clear LEGO memory was getting the 480 LEGO helicopter set and building it. I still love that set.
What drives you to create?
Creating the next thing, that is to say the actual process of taking an idea working out what build method I am going to use, calculating any scale dimensions needed, then playing around with some LEGO bricks. I think I am just naturally creative and seldom ever need a driver to create something.
What made you decide to “go pro”?
I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Frankly I could quite happily spend all day every day sticking LEGO bricks together and sometimes do. There was clearly a financial risk in stepping away from a well paying consultancy job and for the first few months I was doing both jobs at once, until it became clear that there was enough work to jump ship and go full-time with the LEGO work. Now we have 8 full-time employees and typical 4 or more associates/interns working for us at any given time.
Would you call yourself a purist (no cutting, painting, knockoff)?
When it comes to my AFOL work I was. The furthest I’d go was the odd custom sticker and the inevitable ‘illegal moves’ – nothing that hurt the bricks, just techniques that would never make it into a set.
We still have to abide by the same principals at work, the only difference being that a lot of our models end-up glued as they are going to a customer as a permanent model and we will not get them back. Under those circumstances it is not practical to keep going back to fix things or leave large, unsafe structures, so gluing is the only solution, but we don’t use it to cheat!
Do you have any favorite builder(s)?
Inevitably I am going to say my good Dutch friend Ralph Savelsberg (Mad Physicist) and fellow Brit Peter Reid (LEGOLoverman). From the international community: The Arvo Brothers, Sean and Steph Mayo (SierconCoral) and Iain Heath (Ochre Jelly); but to be honest there are too many to mention. There is one final one, my colleague Kevin, who is an AFOL, but never posted his work on-line, so the only things of his you’ll see are works coming out of our studio. It makes me wonder how many awesome closet AFOLs are out there.
Do you ever look back on old pieces and say "if I only…"
I often look back at my Vulcan bomber and and say if only I hadn't dismantled it. At the time I needed the parts for another project, so it seemed logical, but I wish I'd spent a little longer before making that decision. I don't really look back on old pieces and think if only I'd done things differently as building is an evolution, you get more skills as time goes on, newer parts become available etc. I think it is good that people go back and visit old subject matter and build improved MOCs of things they have built before, but it is not something I really do - I guess there are just too many new things to enjoy building.
Tell us about your building area.
I no longer have a build area at home and if I do occasionally build it is sprawled out over a dining table in our conservatory.
The build area at work is a 3,000 square foot studio with nearly 9 million bricks in it and 8 workbenches each 4ft x 8ft (1.2m x 2.4m) each with a couple of office chairs. Our bricks are in draws that range from about 4 inches cubed (10cm) for things like minifigure binoculars up to crates that can hold about 40lbs (17kg) of brick for all the basic bricks. We have enough shelving and draw space that most stuff is sorted down to the level of individual elements, so about 3,000 drawers.
Do you ever build digitally? If so with what?
Yes, I use Mlcad and within the company we have 2D and 3D graphical designers who have used MLCad, LPud, LEGO digital designer, LSculpt and a number of non-LEGO packages. We also use the internal LEGO software brick-builder occasionally for large sculptures such as our full-sized Sabre Tooth tiger.
Do you listen to music while you build?
I didn’t tend to that often when building at home, but we have music on all the time in the studio and then it is a generational battle – me with my 80s synth pop and the young ones with what I like to call ‘beep-beep’ music.
Do you keep all your pieces? If so, do you display them?
I have kept very few of my pieces. The only ones that people will have seen are my LEGO Concorde, the Princess Leia bust and the USS Intrepid. I no longer own the Intrepid model as it is now owned by the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space museum in New York where it is on display. The also have a copy of the Space Shuttle orbiter, but theirs is modeled as Enterprise with the aft faring to match the shuttle they actually have.
Do you have an all time favorite LEGO set?
Hard to pick one as I am not much of a fan of sets and certainly not a collector of one, but since it was so influential in my childhood I’d have to say the classic space LL928 Galaxy Explorer has to be pretty high up there. The LEGO Car Chassis 8860 would also run it a hard race for first place in my affections.
What is your least liked aspect of the hobby?
Ill informed members of the public saying “of course in my day it was all basic bricks in basic colours”. I am invariably talking to someone younger than me and enjoy pointing out the LEGO made specialised ‘one-trick’ parts as early as the late 1960s; had grey, blue and transparent yellow space ships in the mid 1970s and still make boxes of basic brick that you can buy in most good toy retailers! As you can imagined I have had to counter this perception more times than you’ve had hot dinners.
If you could pick a single creation of yours for permanent display somewhere notable, what would it be?
I guess the USS Intrepid is a bit obvious as this is exactly what has happened to it. In my professional life I’d say the LEGO jet engine we built for Rolls-Royce, but this too is on permanent display at Rolls-Royce’s head-quarters in the UK.
Of the models that are long gone it would have been nice to keep the classic space Saphire Condor intact so that I could have had a squadron of Pete Reid’s Exo-suits come marching out of its cargo hold – that would have looked awesome.
Which of your pieces would you say personifies you?
An even tougher question as I have always steered away from working in any one genre so as not to be considered a space builder, military builder, town builder or whatever. Since I am probably best known for building large I guess the one that will personify me is the next personal project I am working on, which will be bigger than any I have done before and will be unveiled later this year, so watch out for that.