Tom: Well first of all thanks for your time Nnenn, we're glad to have you here at Masoko Tanga. Browsing through your creations one of the things that strikes me is that you're not afraid to experiment with colour schemes. I can see bright blues and oranges, lime greens and even some neon parts amongst many others. Do you have a way of picking a colour scheme? Just a random selection from parts lying around or a process much more complex?
Nnenn: My colour choices are a mixture of randomness and some level of expertise. I've taught enough college art courses to know that red/yellow/blue aren't the primary colors, browns/tans are mostly dark and pale oranges (so blue/teal compliments work well with them), colors are most intense at completely different values, etc. etc. But I'm also old enough to have seen color trends in fashion, design, art, or wherever, swing all over and come full circle; so there is a lot of subjectivity involved, it's really nothing more than current opinion. I always chuckle when I see someone comment about how 'those colors don't work.' So mostly, randomness can be effective... heck, rainbow schemes work if there is some intelligent hierarchy involved.
Tom: Are there any colours in the Lego parts-spectrum that you detest?
Nnenn: No colour, and few schemes, are detestable... so I don't mind rare Lego colours popping up, unless it's at the expense of something that could otherwise round-out a regular colour's part palette.
Tom: How much planning would you put into an average Moc? Do you rely on scribbled notebook sketches and L-Draw designs to test the waters or do you prefer to start out with just an idea in your head and a few bricks in your hand?
Nnenn: I almost never plan a model beforehand, though on rare occasions I'll do a 10-second sketch of something that pops into my head so I don't forget the basic shape. Mostly, I start with no more of an idea than 'large spaceship, fighter, mech, tank,' or whatever. Sometimes I just play with a few pieces to see if they can be arranged together into some fluid but dynamic form; I'm often surprised with the results (seriously)... I often think: 'wow, I couldn't have thought of that in a million years.' When teaching creativity, I usually stress working in the moment and letting go of preconceived notions; results that happen spontaneously are usually far more interesting that those that stem from careful plodding. However, notice most of my builds are not overly large... something that does, in fact, take a good deal of planning due to engineering considerations, time, parts, etc.
Tom: You've got a fair bit of theme-variety in your galleries but you're of course best known for your Space creations. Are there any themes that you've never built for that you'd like to experiment with in the future?
Nnenn: Although I enjoy the tangible process of connecting bricks at my whimsical discretion (read: playing with Lego), I am really fascinated with space themes in general. The combination of these interests seems ideal right now as I view both with limitless creative possibilities. But no, if I was restricted to building only themes like town, castle, steampunk, etc. I would probably sell my collection.
Tom: You mentioned ideas popping into your head, what builders inspire you?
Nnenn: Unusually perhaps, but the better builders don't really inspire me per-se, I note their technique and finish but their models are done well enough that my imagination sees little room for improvement. What gives me an immense amount of inspiration (and motivation) is seeing really poor, amateurish creations on Brickshelf.com. Kids don't have the conventional constraints that adult minds feel necessary; hence, all the really wacky designs out there that we instinctively scoff at... but if George Lucas, for example, were to add some polish and fly it through the right setting, suddenly it's totally believable.
Tom: Now you've gained much notoriety for not being afraid to experiment with clone bricks and other Non Lego items. What's perhaps the strangest Non-Lego item you've ever incorporated into a Moc?
Nnenn: I've always felt that rubber bands are really odd things to include in creations: they're tactilely opposite of bricks. But actually, there hasn't been anything really too strange... that's yet to come. I plan on building a big wooden frame to hold a really large ship; it saves me from having to deal with substructure engineering, something which I could not care less about, and focus on the aesthetic design. Lego does this sort of thing all the time but I'm sure a few 'dedicated purists' will be snippy about it.
Tom: And lastly, out of all your creations do have a favorite and for what reason?
Nnenn: I'm notorious among those that know me for not having favorites... for anything. But I usually feel whatever I'm currently working on is the most amazing thing ever, then after a few days (and pictures) later I look at it and wonder what I could have possibly been thinking... so I start something new to compensate.
Many thanks to Nnenn for the great interview! Nnenn's work can be viewed at either Brickshelf or Flickr whatever your fancy.
Now be sure to join us at the same bat-place and same bat-time next week when I'll be back to the usual irrelevant ramblings and communist propaganda that you've grown to love/ resent.