So Lego is most commonly known as a toy, right? Everyone remembers building their multi-colored tie-die creations when they were kids, or "Rainbow Warriors" as we call them. However, Lego can also be used as a medium of art, just like paints, pastells, film, music, and writing. Lego is a unique outlet, but it is still a lot like the others I just mentioned. I built this Vignette on Christmas Eve as part of a Christmas project, and I would like to share with you exactly what goes into making a peice of art out of Lego.
About this creation
A Vignette is a small, Lego scene built on a small base; normally 8 by 8 studs. Vignettes are a still scene meant to tell a story, similar to a painting or a photograph. The theme of this Vignette is Christmas. Christmas and Lego go perfectly together. They both carry nostalgic memories of our childhoods, and those memories are what can make an art peice work for viewers. Christmas is also a time of charity and "good will to men", which is mainly what I'm trying to convey in this Vignette. First, lets take a look at the base. The base starts out perfectly rectangular, but then slopes off as we transition from the sidewalk to the snow. That is a very important point. The sidewalk is more uniform and solid, which is why it is completely rectangular. The snow however, needs to have for motion than the sidewalk. The angled shape makes it seem more active, and the different shape also adds some variety to the Vignette. The cheese slopes also give the snow a sense of motion. The chese slopes are all pointing in one direction, which is toward the bigger end of the Vignette. This gives the impretion that wind has blown this snow to it's new shape. Of course, wind dosn't really blow snow that much, but the "blowing-snow" gives the peice a more whimsical feel. Another important thing about these slopes is the lines. Each slope has a line that is pointing slightly toward the right. The angle on the base does this as well, when viewed from the front. The eye naturally follows any lines to where they end. It is a common trick that photographers use to make good pictues. With all these lines pointing in one direction, it help give the impressiion that there is a wind blowing in this scene. Wind is invisible. In a picture, you can only tell if there is wind seeing the wind moving things. The snow is what the wind is moving.
The minifigures are also a very important part of this Vignette, as they are the center of it. The middle of a picture is usually where the most important things happen. Minifigures are amazing. They carry a lot of character on those plastic faces, and character is essential to any person you want depicted in a Vignette. You can also miz and match clothes, pants and hair, and with over 25,000 seperate minifigs, there is plenty to choose from to get the perfect characters for your scenes. Lets start with the one in the middle. His hair and crooked muschtace make him look a little ruffled and unkept. If you saw the previous Vignettes in this series, you would know that he is homeless. However, you don't need to know that in order to understand what is happening. His eyes and frown give the impression that he is grumpy and a little hard-hearted. But he is also looking up at the star. We will talk more about the start later. The minifig to his left is very different. He is an average minifig with a average smile. This is the kind of minifig that most people remember playing with as kids, which triggeres nostalgic feelings. The fact that he looks more like a toy also gives him a sense of innocence. In the past Vignettes in this series, he has been helping the homless man out, but you didn't need to know that. His smile makes him look like the kind of person that everyone wants to be: a happy person. He is obviously in the Christmas spirit. Another thing important about these minifigs is the skin color. No, this isn't a matter of race. The homelss man is a flesh color, making him look more real and like an average person. The yellow skin of the other minifig makes him look more like a classic minifig, so again we get nostalgic feelings toward him. The yellow also makes him stand out and glow, which makes him look even more joyful. The point of this joyful minifig is that hopefully his glow will rub off on the more grumpy man.
The background is another thing that adds more feeling to the Vignette. When you interact with your world, you are using you five senses. When you are looking at a picture, you are only using one of those senses: sight. A good photograp makes you feel the picture, and appeals to your other senses. The dark sky in the background tells you that it is night time. There is also snow, and as we explained before, there is wind. Your brain should automatically connect the night, wind, and snow to come to the conclusion that is it cold in this scene. That is important and comes into play later.
Also notice the four white spots in the sky. Those can either be snow falling, or stars, whichever you choose. The important thing is that is puts contrast into the sky, so that it isn't all black and dull. If the spots are stars, then they help you conclude that its nighttime. If the spots are snowflakes, then it helps you conclude that there is snow. The dots also help outline, or draw attention, to the minifigs. They don't completely surround the minifigs, but there are enough to draw your eye toward them. Also, I just realized that I really need one of these in black! The big spot in the corner is almost certainly the moon, but could also be a cloud. The big spot also adds something to the corner. There is something pretty big on the other corner, so the big spot balances things out.
The star is the last element of this Vignette. It is large, gold, and on a post. The post part was to draw more attention to it, and make it stand out more. It also makes it look like the star it a sign on a post. Signs always have something to say, and this star has something really important to say. The star is gold, which automatically makes it valuable in our eyes. The homeless man is looking up at it, and you can imagine a look of wonder on his face. The star embodies that sense of Christmas spirit and "good will toward men" that we talked about earlier. The star was used in the very first Christmas to tell people that the savior of the world was being born. Stars also shine light in the darkness, which gives people confort. Darkness is confusing, and light helps make things clear. The world is dark in this scene, and the hard-hearted man is looking toward the light. This act of looking up at it gives the impression that he is making an effort to see the light. This means he might be changing from his old ways and becomeing a better person. You might also notice that the yellow minifig isn't looking at the star. That is because he already knows what the star has to say, and you can tell by his yellow hue that is is glowing just like that star.
So you probably wern't expecting all that to be in this one little Vignette, did you? All the effort that went into making this is what makes a Vignette worth looking at. Also, notice that I used the words "sense of" and "gives an impression of" a lot in the last few paragraphs. That is because that is all a Vignette is doing: giving an impression of something. We don't really know anything about these plastic people's feelings, but the whole Vignette is designed to make us assume what I, as the artist, want you to about them. Everytime we see a person, we make assumptions about them bassed on common stereotypes. This can often be bad because not everyone fits into a stereotype. However, in a picture or Vignette, we don't have time to get to know our subjects. We only have one, frozen moment. Therefore, we have to use stereotypes in order to tell you what these people are feeling.
Well that wraps up my lesson about Lego as art. Make sure to check out other Lego MOCs, and see what techniques they use to make their models work. Until next time,