I was recently scrolling through all the previously featured builders and thought it was really about time I featured a female. I know the hobby is hugely gender-skewed to the dumber of the sexes (myself included guys) but there are some amazing lady builders out there and I'm past due featuring one. Coincidently about that same time I stumbled across Episode 108 of Beyond The Brick featuring Mel Finelli and I thought her story, her MOCs and her outlook on life were great. There's a sense of humor and wonder in her MOCs that I find very appealing, and she's just a very nice person. So without further ado, let's get to know Mel a little better.
Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get started in the hobby?
I'm 23 years old and currently work for Apple. Previously, I worked for The LEGO Group for 3 years. I started out with LEGO when I was a kid up to a young teen, collecting mainly Harry Potter. Went through a bit of a dark age in high school and university. When I started working for LEGO, I brought out my old collection and rediscovered my love for it. I didn't become an AFOL until a few months later when my colleague, Nick, wanted me to attend a LUG meeting. It was a pretty intimidating experience, but since I knew a lot of the members already as customers from the store, it was easy to get along with such an amazing group.
What is your earliest LEGO memory?
My earliest memory with LEGO is when I lived in Brazil, my dad would bring us toys from Canada and I would always go for the LEGO. I'd leave the barbies and dolls for my sister.
What drives you to create?
I get a lot of inspiration from things I see: movies, architecture and books I read. It comes at weird times, like right when Im about to go to sleep. Sometimes I'll even have a dream about something cool and I'll wake up and want to draw it out so that I can eventually build it.
Would you call yourself a purist (no cutting, painting, knockoff)?
For a long time I was a purist. I would cringe at alterations people would do to their pieces. I reached a moment when I was building my little summer scene, where I was really frustrated that there wasn't a piece that could make a micro palm tree. Finally I was looking through my brown parts and saw a mangled, old bow & arrow and decided that I would cut it and see if it could work for what I needed. It did, and I knew there would be a few people who wouldn't be very happy about it. I've come to a point where I am trying to express myself as an artist, and I've used various mediums to do so, and if I am limited by the parts LEGO provides me then I will try other solutions and eventually my own solution.
Do you have any favorite builder(s)?
Its kind of crazy that I've been able to meet and hang out with some of my favorite builders. I can now call alot of my favorite AFOLs 'friends' and met official LEGO builder, Jamie, this year at Brickfete! Some of my favorite builders also happen to be part of my LUG. I'm a lucky girl I guess! These people are amazing and I'm honored to have had the chance to get to know them. Some builders that I would still love to meet are: OliveSeon, 'Torgar, Mihai Marius Mihu, Kosmas Santosa, and Chris McVeigh. They've inspired a lot of my creativity.
Do you ever look back on old MOCs and say "if I only…"
Not yet. I'm still so new to the LEGO community and to being an AFOL. I haven't had a chance to look back at anything yet and re-evaluate it. There are a lot of times now when I say "if only I had (insert large quantities of a specific piece) so that I can build this idea I have." And thats the thing...I have these crazy ideas, I just need the brick. Anyone want to fund my hobby? Hahaa
Tell us about your building area.
Currently my building area is horrible. Its covered in the aftermath of BrickWorld and BrickFete and I'm still trying to recover. I had planned to do a lot of sorting over the summer but not as much as I had wanted, so my building area has a lot of piles of unopened sets and 3 large 100lb boxes of brick to be sorted. Once that's out of the way though, my building area will look like it normally does: drawers with brick sorted by color, further sorted by part; my computer with dual monitors (one for research, one for Netflix).
Do you ever build digitally? If so with what?
I have tried to build digitally and its never worked the way I've wanted to. I'm a trial-and-error builder, I'm learning new techniques and connections as I go along. Sometimes I believe in my mind that two pieces should connect together and I need to physically hold them to see whether or not they will do what I need them to do. Most of the time they don't work but I discover new connections in that process. I admire others who can build digitally and have a few friends who've become really good at it and the things they build are really impressive.
Do you have a time of day when you build most productively?
Not specifically. Whenever I have time to build I try to be as productive as possible. Its difficult, Im a person with many interests and hobbies and Im sure some out there can agree that LEGO is very time consuming. So whenever I can spare time to work on some of my MOCs I try to make the most of that time.
Do you listen to music while you build?
Oh yes! There are some builds that I associate with a specific album or artist because thats what I listened to on repeat. Each of my house from The Beaches was a different RedHotChilliPeppers album. I try to watch netflix when I sort and music when I build, gets me in the zone.
Do you keep all your MOCs? If so, do you display them?
I wish I could keep all of my MOCs, but sadly no. My collection is still fairly 'small', so alot of my MOCs get taken apart to build other things. Some of my creations people buy off me, which is great! Its always sad to say goodbye to a MOC but once its had its full year of touring it gets tiring having to keep taking them apart and relocating.
Do you have an all time favorite LEGO set?
Yes, I will always remember how much I loved the Shrieking Shack from the Harry Potter line. Some of my favorite characters in that set including Sirius Black. The little shack that allowed you to quickly change Professor Lupin back and forth between human and wolf. So much fun!
If you could pick a single creation of yours for permanent display somewhere notable, what and where would it be?
I've always thought how cool it would be for the creator of a subject matter I've built for had my creation in their home. Like George Lucas owning my Pink5 or Pete Docter owning my UP house .
Which of your MOCs would you say personifies you?
I think a lot of my friends would say my little Rage Kitty MOC personifies me. I try to stay positive and look at the greater side of things. I like to think that people are naturally kind and I like being happy all the time...but sometimes lame things happen and thats when rage kitty comes out. Just be nicer, guys!