It’s been a while since I’ve interviewed a builder, so let’s get back into it. The LEGO community is full of people doing amazing things with LEGO, and it’s really hard to keep up with it all. The Builder Spotlight series aims to highlight not only some incredible MOCs, but the builders themselves, and their inspirations.
I’ve been a fan of W. Navarre for a very long time. He’s been highlighted a number of times on this site, so I was thrilled when he agreed to answer a few questions!
Tell me a bit about yourself!
Hello, I am Josiah, mostly know as William Navarre, and I am a little older than 17 (about a year older in fact). I’m a part of the online group called InnovaLUG, but not part of any LUG in my neighborhood (since i don’t know of one).
How did your love of LEGO come about, and how long have you been a fan?
It was a very gradual thing: since I was just a small kid I had LEGO and of course I liked it, and started building some very humble creations (but to me they were really awesome!). Eventually thanks to my liking of the Ninjago theme and thanks to my older sister, who is also into LEGO, I started posting some of the things I made on Flickr! Basically I’ve been a fan of LEGO for more than ten years, but I only started seriously MOCing since 2012.
Did you go through the dreaded Dark Ages, and if so, what brought you out?
No, I didn’t. If anything I am in my Dark Ages right now. So far I’ve always had time, and certainly I will always have interest in the art, although right now I am building more slowly than before I still make several MOCs a month more or less. I plan to maybe every once in a while be too busy to build, but don’t imagine I will ever sell my collection unless something very drastic happens and will come back to it whenever I get the opportunity! There’s so much potential, I don’t see why I should stop building 🙂 .
Do you have a favourite LEGO theme or MOC subject matter?
Yes and yes, but both are quite different. Ninjago has been my favorite theme ever since it came out (right after the Indiana Jones theme faded out) and while a lot of the sets are silly and not as good as I imagine they could be, the concept has a lot of merit and the series at the start was very inspirational!
I don’t know if I have a single favorite subject matter for building, unless I were to say history, because there is so much and I like to give a try to it all! Buildings from ancient cultures are exciting to make, and I especially like oriental concepts, which maybe ties in with my favorite theme Ninjago 😉 . The other thing I really like to do is build scenes with only LEGO, since that can take the art up another step from being just model making, in my mind, and can be truly amazing. I also like it when a movie, or painting or image inspires me to recreate it (with my own changes and additions of course)!
What is your design process? Do you just get stuck into the bricks, or do you build digitally first?
I don’t ever build digitally first, for me that would be very painstaking and difficult. Instead I always start with bricks in my hand and just use what works best. There will be some rebuilding and wrecking apart, but it is worth it for me! I do sometimes draw the idea first though, so that I have some plan for the layout. Also it’s great to have pictures of similar things before you start, like lots of cool ship pictures if you will build a ship, or inspiring temples if you build temples: I love to combine details I see from dozens of different pictures, things in real life, and from my mind in my MOCs!
Do you have a favourite MOC (of your own)?
It wouldn’t be easy to pick, but I think I like best The War Between Four Walls.
I recognize a few flaws in it, and yet altogether, it’s something I put together, with the layout, and the action, based of the medley of inspiration which the various movies and the book Les Miserables provided, and I was surprised by the effect, and the overall look of the image I was able to create. I am very fond of several others as well however, especially Decades Afterwards.
Any challenges in building it?
Certainly, as with all MOCs. The key was to create a realistic image, which is not easy when you want to drown the whole image in LEGO. You can’t let there be too much, or any parts that are unclear to the eye at first, also you need to deal with the height, and figure out what will make it into the image and what will not. The angle of the photo is even very important, although here it’s a basic front on view. The greatest challenge was coming up with a backdrop behind the barricade which would set the barricade off to advantage: I considered doing a vast forced perspective cityscape in micro, but I think that would have been a mistake, and fortunately I ended up making enough buildings to black off the view without looking wrong, and then the sky behind that in a spangled dark blue and transparent.
How long did it take to build?
This build was very quick, it took only seven days, but I was fully concentrated on it the whole time!
How many elements are there in that MOC?
As you may guess I have no idea, haha! I have never counted the amount of pieces in any of my larger MOCs, and even a rough guess could be well off the mark since I haven’t got experience with the numbers that normally might go into a build of this size.
I notice you’ve done a lot in post production for the image to make it pop. LEGO photography is such a crucial aspect of MOCs for many people, especially when they are shared online. Can you tell me what program you used, and what you did to it?
For that one, I did not do any of the heavy editing myself! Photography is very important though, you are right, and so is the image, so for that build I asked Agaethon to do some Photoshop for me and he did a great job, although I don’t know what he used. I personally just change the brightness, tones, and saturation of the build: he gave it all the flare and lighting in particular places, and the smoke.
Any favourites from other builders?
Yes a great deal! But to name any would be very difficult. Still, here are a couple that I really think are very good, pretty much chosen randomly from the hundreds that I like.
Extremely underated and stunning in it’s size, and in the poise and character portrayed (also a contrast to the first one I mentioned!).
What are you working on next?
I just finished a MOC for a project which is a revamp of a recent Ninjago set, and hopefully I’ll post it soon. Other than that, while I don’t know just what my next MOC might be I expect it may be for my new saga that I’m writing for GoH.
How can we keep up to date with what you’re working on and what you’ve done?
It is very easy generally, just follow my Flickr page! I appreciate everyone who supports me or comments on my builds, and thanks for reading this interview!
I second that! Any advice for fellow LEGO fans?
The most important one is keep going, even if you feel like you can never be as good as others (or even if you feel you’re already so good you don’t need to be better). Incredible things can be done with LEGO, as with all things. To God be the glory! Do it for him and He will help you 😉 .
Josiah, it’s been a pleasure! Thanks very much for your time. It’s been awesome looking into your process and your MOCs. All the best! It’ll be fun to watch what else comes from your desk.