Nathan Sawaii's Brick Heart: Dice Art

Nathan Sawaii's parents are people of rare patience. Giving him a set of LEGO color details at the age of three, they, as it turned out, doomed themselves to a sharp narrowing of living space. In the living room, a city grew that continuously expanded and developed for 12 years. Having lost their free room, their parents saved a lot on toys, because Nathan learned to make the whole boyish arsenal out of bumpy bricks. Tired of one machine - you can quickly turn it into another. The passion to constantly collect and build something did not leave the young man in college. While classmates crammed laws and studied textbooks, instead of a computer and papers, a model of his native Manhattan quarter flaunted on his desk. All the same, Nathan Savaya received the diploma, but rightly reasoned that there are enough lawyers in America, and that a person should do what brings him joy in life. Leaving a legal career, he became a freelance artist. To earn a living and purchase new parts, Nathan builds models for corporate events and presentations. Depending on the size and complexity, each figure costs from one hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. The high price justifies itself, because hard work requires a lot of time. It took seven months to assemble the figures, including a life-size tyrannosaurus, for Legoland in California.

Yellow February 2006

Work on a new work begins with a blank sheet of specially lined paper, on which Savaya draws the contours of the future sculpture. Then, guided by the filled blocks, row by row collects a figure from the bottom row to the top. If the sculpture is large, then to facilitate weight and save building material, the artist makes it hollow, providing the necessary strength with the help of an internal frame (assembled from the same parts). Tall figures have to be built from several separate parts, providing grooves and spikes in them for subsequent connection. But it’s much more difficult, according to Nathan, to assemble small models. In this case, you have to rack your brains pretty much how to create a lot of small parts using standard elements.

Revival of New Orleans December 2006

Circle squared

Commercial orders for small jobs are rare. Big business prefers large forms. When Capcom launched its new Lost Planet game for the Xbox 360, Nathan Savaye was asked to make a giant robot for presentation in San Francisco. Children are fascinated by robots. It is not clear why, but every child must collect robots. And the LEGO game is great for this. The designer consists of small rectangles, and what could be better for the robot than a large rectangular head and a large rectangular body. All robots are built for one purpose - to attack. Sometimes they attack LEGO cities, sometimes other robots. But it happens that the sister’s house of Barbie is smashed to smithereens. Of course, the 120-centimeter robot from Lost Planet turned out to be little similar to the children's version. Capcom wanted a robot with full equipment, and his body should have been rounded. Rounded “head”, rounded arms and legs. The robot had to be equipped with a huge jetpack, rocket accelerator and all kinds of weapons. So the artist had to sit down at a computer and become an expert in space gadgets. Nathan already had experience in building large round objects, but it took more than one day to make something round like a robot. In the end, the artist became so carried away that he even decided to imitate laser shots.

Heart March 2008

A reward masterpiece

Once the editors of PC Magazine decided that it would be great to photograph a toy computer assembled from LEGO for the cover and turned to Nathan Sawail. The employees of the magazine liked the result of his work so much that they wanted the same computer, but the real one, to hand it as a prize to the winner of one of the contests. Previously, the artist was already fulfilling orders for existing models. The exact-sized copy of the air conditioner had a filling of LEGO Mindstorms components and provided an easy cool breeze, but to make a full-featured computer out of standard designer elements is probably a more complicated task. One of the editors of the magazine undertook to help Nathan. After the external “walls” of the system unit and the monitor were assembled from ordinary parts, the newly-born computer engineers spent countless hours trying to install the necessary electronics there. Experimenting with different parts of the designer, they eventually managed to fix all the necessary boards and got a really working computer. And the winner of the competition, awarded this masterpiece, two weeks later sold it at an online auction. Fulfilling unusual orders, Nathan Savaya feels like a happy person. He found the work of his dreams, when all day you can sit on the floor among heaps of multi-colored bricks and collect what you want. Now in the New York studio of the artist more than one and a half million standard details, and of them Nathan Savaya is able to do anything. You can check it out. Offer him an idea for a new sculpture by sending a letter from the site.

Gray (fragment) March 2006

Overcoming limits

Like any artist, Nathan loves to communicate with the audience through metaphors. So walking around a big white contraption is also a metaphor. A metaphor of what? The big white block is the obstacles and difficulties that we encounter in our life's journey. And we must overcome them, and not shy away from solving problems. And even if you are walking along the street and a huge refrigerator thrown by someone is right in front of you, instead of going around this block, you need to drag the stairs and overcome the obstacle with its help. In a metaphorical sense, of course. You might think that a guy who plays children's toys all day is also a metaphor. A metaphor of a person who refuses to grow up and take responsibility for what is happening. But of course this is not so. Overcoming for Nathan Sawaii is a constant test of his own strength, an attempt to look beyond the limits of his capabilities. Each new model is a challenge. He never gives up on complex tasks and difficult orders, his favorite phrase: "Let's try and see what we are capable of."

Tyrannosaurus Skeleton May 2006

Visual aid for health

The artist is proud that he managed to make the childhood dream his work, because doing what you like is the most important thing in life. In his heart, Nathan still feels like a child. As children, from films he prefers horror films, and from books - stories about Harry Potter. Therefore, I took pleasure in creating an anatomically accurate model of the heart for the children's hospital in San Diego. It took 100 hours of painstaking work to assemble this nearly 16-pound visual aid. With it, doctors explain to small patients what happens to their own hearts. A familiar toy that is so easy to disassemble and reassemble helps children to believe in a speedy recovery.

Green June 2008

The future of the city is in your hands

The sculpture, installed in the main building of the New Orleans Public Library, is intended to symbolize the revival of this city, which was significantly destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. Children living in different states of the country were asked to draw and write what they thought should be in restored New Orleans. The thousands of drawings received endlessly repeated the same uncomplicated motifs: the main thing in the city was the fire station, hospital, school and park. It would also be nice to build hotels, houses and libraries. Looking at the motley naive drawings, Nathan decided to preserve their style in his sculpture. So on a huge palm grew bright multi-colored buildings. As in children, the rickety skyscraper of that look will be overwhelmed and the windows do not want to line up in even lines. But in the windows of the houses always light is kindly lit, and the park has many flowers. The sculpture consists of more than 120, 000 Lego elements; it took the artist six weeks to assemble it.

Brooklyn Bridge December 2004

Connecting the Times

This is one of the artist’s most favorite works. Living in New York, Nathan often drives across the Brooklyn Bridge and was therefore very pleased when the Long Island University proposed to assemble a plastic model of this building. The artist was happy to carefully study and reproduce the architectural features of the bridge. Built in 1875, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. It crosses the East River Strait and connects the Brooklyn and Manhattan areas. At the time of completion, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world and the first bridge in the construction of which steel bars were used. To show them, the artist used black wire. The length of the original is 1825 m, copies - a little more than 2 m. But even such "modest" sizes could create problems during transportation and storage, so the model was made in two parts. Now, not a single significant event organized by the university is complete without the creation of Nathan Sawaii.

Name: Nathan Savaya // Country: USA Education: lawyer // Occupation: sculptor and artist // Creative material: 1.5 million details of the LEGO constructor // Hobbies: horror films and books about Harry Potter // The most difficult thing to do is stop on time.

The article was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 10, October 2008).


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