Builder Spotlight – James Zhan

Time for another Builder Spotlight! The LEGO community is full of people doing incredible things with our favourite bits of plastic, and it’s hard to keep up with it all. The Builder Spotlight series aims to highlight not only some seriously amazing MOCs, but the builders themselves, and their inspirations! This time round, I had a chat with James Zhan. Just a note before we get stuck in – English isn’t James’ first language, so I’ve helped him out a bit.

Ninjago Sky Pirates Attack – James Zhan

Tell me a bit about yourself!
My name is James Zhan, and I’m from Taipei, Taiwan. I am a member of the Mocer League, a Facebook LEGO community.

How did your love of LEGO come about, and how long have you been a fan?
I played with LEGO with my cousin when I was a child, but I did not have a collection myself.
That is, until 2007 when I bought myself a copy of 8801: Knights’ Attack Barge from the Knights Kingdom theme. From that point, I continued to buy a lot of sets, such as Vikings, Castles, anything I could get as I needed a variety of parts for my MOCs. LEGO has since developed a lot of new themes which means production of a lot of new parts, so I can have more variety in my MOCs, which is very exciting.

Phonograph – James Zhan

Did you go through the dreaded Dark Ages, and if so, what brought you out?
I played a lot with LEGO as a kid, but I really started to MOC about 10 years ago.

Scuba Diving - James Zhan

Do you have a favourite LEGO theme or MOC subject matter?
I love any LEGO theme, but if I had to say something in particular, it would be food and marine animals. I took part in an exhibition in 2014, by the Japanese creator Sachiko Akinaga. She designed lots of houses out of LEGO, so people could walk in. The room I worked on was filled with cakes that I designed. I’ll be doing more marine animals slowly over time. I’m not very confident with mechs, but I do enjoy building them, so I’ll try to have another go.

Cakes - James Zhan

I’ve noticed you have created some beautiful Brickheadz MOCs – are you planning on creating more?
Thank you for seeing my work! I have now completed the Ghostbusters series. In addition to Venkman, Ray, Spengler and Zeddemore, I also produced Dana Barrett, The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and the funny Louis Tully.

Ghostbusters - James Zhan

Where does the inspiration for your MOCs come from?
My inspiration comes from life experience. I also have some good friends (Cid Hsiao and Hsinwei Chi) who I meet with to study creation. We will often meet up, brainstorm and decide what we want to build. We have recently finished the Beast Rock Band, using a part from one of the Nexo Knights sets, 70314: Beast Master’s Chaos Chariot.

LEGO Punk Beast Band - James Zhan

What’s your build process?
After determining the theme, I will continue to try all kinds of assembly until I’m satisfied with it. It doesn’t always come together straight away! On the design of the works, I like to create a scene to match the protagonist.

Do you have a favourite MOC?
Definitely. I’m a big fan of a wide range of MOCs, but my idol is Sean Kenney.

LEGO Times Square - Sean Kenney

What are you working on next?
I am collecting the information and parts of the next piece of work (this is the most difficult part). I will try to build a building, about Tao Zhu Yin Yuan Tower. I’m currently collecting a lot of information about the tower, including plenty of images, with the plan being that I start building in June. At the moment, I imagine the build will be over 40cm tall.

Happy Chinese New Year - James Zhan

How can we keep up to date with what you’re working on and what you’ve done?
You can follow my work on Flickr, or at my website.

Any advice for fellow LEGO fans?
Make your own life experiences abundant and exciting. If you do, creative inspiration will be infinite!

Thanks for making time for the interview, James! I’d definitely recommend going through James’ work on Flickr, and checking out his website. There are some excellent builds to see!

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