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Getting interviewed by Creator magazine

by admin on June 20, 2016

in Community Articles

Towards the end of last year I was contacted by Dongwon Lee from the South Korean LEGO fan magazine simply titled CREATOR. They mostly cover the work of LEGO fans from Asia, but they wanted to do an interview with me, because apparently the LEGO Mini Taj Mahal I built a few years ago was popular in their country. While working on the interview with Dongwon, I also had a chance to learn more about the magazine and the team behind it. Dongwon even sent me some of the previous volumes of the magazine so I can check them out. The interview with me was published in Volume 5 of the magazine. Below I have included the original English version of the interview (the magazine is currently only available in Korean), as well as some more information about the magazine. 🙂

LEGO Magazine Creator Interview

CREATOR is the first premium LEGO fan magazine in Asia, with around 150 pages of high quality content per issue. It actually looks very similar to other LEGO fan publications like Blocks and Bricks Culture with sharp printing on high quality paper. The goal of CREATOR is to inspire LEGO fans with interesting articles, as well as to feature the work of LEGO fans through interviews. So far five volumes have been published with increasingly better quality. While CREATOR is currently only available in South Korea in Korean, they do have plans to translate the magazine to English and Chinese in the near future, and expand their circulation as well. If you are in Korea you can subscribe to the magazine at their website CreatorMg.com, or get it in major bookstores. If you are in other countries you can still get the magazine by emailing the CREATOR team. They already have enthusiastic subscribers from other countries, including the US. Subscription is $36 (including tax and shipping) for four volumes per year (spring, summer, fall and winter), which is a very reasonable price when it comes to niche, high quality magazines.

LEGO Magazine Creator Volumes

Although I can’t read the magazines as they are in Korean, just flipping through them is interesting. They feature prominent LEGO fans from Asia with some amazing LEGO creations, as well as articles on LEGO fan events, discussions on new LEGO sets, and even step-by-step instructions on some smaller LEGO fan created models. The incredible work of Asian LEGO fans always fascinated me. They build with the same bricks we do, but their creations are quite different. They are known for their amazing robots, brick-built characters, mechanical creations, and beautiful Asian style buildings. I felt quite humbled that they choose to interview me as the first non-Asian LEGO fan.

LEGO Magazine Creator 1

In volume 5 of CREATOR magazine they included two articles with my work. One is a step-by-step guide to a slightly modified version of my LEGO Mini Taj Mahal that won a micro-building contest at Toys-N-Bricks a few years ago. The contest limited the use of parts to 200, which was quite a challenge, and forced me to cut some corners. Later I made some slight adjustments to fill out the details, and even added a light-brick to illuminate the model from the inside. The instructions in CREATOR are somewhere in between the contest entry and my current version. In particular the four corner columns are built differently than how I designed it, but the end result looks pretty close. The second article is the interview, where CREATOR asked me a series of questions about my involvement in the LEGO hobby. It is pretty long, and takes up eight pages in the magazine, but I included the English version below in case you are interested to see what it was about (pictures are my creations from the interview).

LEGO Magazine Creator 6

Would you introduce yourself to our Korean fans (name, where do you like, what do you do, etc.)? My real name is Anna, but I go by Akunthita or Thita on most LEGO forums. I live in sunny Florida with my husband, Leonard. He is not a LEGO fan, and he finds the whole LEGO thing amusing, but he still supports my hobby, and shows my LEGO creations to everyone who visits our house. I study internet marketing, and practice what I learn by various internet related ventures, including running my own LEGO blog.

When did you become interested in the LEGO hobby? And when did you start to build your own creations?I have five brothers and three sisters, and LEGO was always part of our lives. Our parents valued creative toys, so we regularly got LEGO for Christmas and birthdays. LEGO was the most popular toy in our family and we often spent days – and even weeks – developing and playing out stories with LEGO bricks. In addition our Dad is an architect, and he has been using LEGO for modeling some of his work. By seeing his example while growing up, building our own thing was normal for us kids. We rarely built from instructions – only when we first got a new set. Then we took it apart and made it better in our own way.

Do you have other hobbies besides LEGO?Of course! Both me and my hubby very much like the outdoors, and we spend as much time as we can at the beach, or biking, or traveling to new and interesting places. I also practice martial arts (Cuong Nhu) and hope to reach black belt one day. I also love to do anything with my hands; arts, crafts, fixing things. The real world is very much like LEGO; made up of small pieces that need to be put together and can always be rearranged.

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What was your first LEGO creation?I wish I could answer that for you, but I just don’t remember. As I said, LEGO was always part of our lives. I do remember though that my siblings and I were either building spaceships or castles. I don’t remember ever building contemporary things like cities and cars. We were always in the fantasy world of either valiant knights fighting badguys, or brave space explorers fighting alien badguys. So the good vs. evil was always there…

Have you ever heard of CREATOR magazine? How did you learn about it? – I actually became aware of CREATOR magazine for this interview, and had a chance to review Volume 3. Of course I don’t read Korean, but I did look at the pictures carefully.

How do you like the content of CREATOR magazine?I think the magazine looks very professional. As far as content, I was especially impressed by the mechs featured in the magazine, and the images from the BRICKOREA Convention. It is always inspiring to see the creations of LEGO fans from around the world, and looks like South Korea has some very fine builders.

LEGO Magazine Creator 3

Would you tell us about your LEGO Mini Taj Mahal, and what was your motive to build it?The Mini Taj Mahal was built for the 2011 Toys-N-Bricks Micro-Build Tournament. The challenge was to pick an official LEGO set from a pre-determined list, and build a micro-version with no more than 200 pieces. Although I followed LEGO contests – like the LEGO Classic Castle Contest and various contest at Eurobricks – closely, and admired the amazing creations people came up with, I never entered a LEGO contest before. I wanted to gain some experience, and I thought that the Toys-N-Bricks Micro-Build Tournament was a good fit for a first-timer like me. Especially because it didn’t require a huge amount of time and LEGO bricks. As far as my entry, I choose the Taj Mahal for its incredible beauty (both the real and the LEGO version), and I felt it would make a pretty micro set. There were many wonderful and creative entries in the contest, and I really enjoyed being part of the whole experience. The Mini Taj Mahal won first place in the tournament, and I received the #10219 LEGO Creator Maersk Train as the prize.

Your LEGO Mini Taj Mahal is very popular in the Korean LEGO fan community, and some people even copied it and said it was their creation. What do you think of this issue?There is a saying that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, so from that perspective I’m happy that people like my Mini Taj Mahal design so much they even claim it for themselves. On the other hand, it is sad to see that some people have so little faith in their own abilities to create something nice, that they feel the need claim someone else’s work. Get inspiration from others, but believe in yourself and build your own thing. That’s where real satisfaction and happiness comes from, and you become a better builder too.

LEGO Magazine Creator 2

Do you have other creations like the Mini Taj Mahal? I build all the time. Sometimes just experimenting with techniques and ideas, and sometimes building more involved projects. Currently I’m working on a space station for the Orange Team from LEGO Galaxy Squad, and simultaneously also working on another space station for my all-time favorite set, the #21109 LEGO Ideas Exo Suit. And I have something called the 16×16 Project, where I build historical armies and mini structures on 16×16 stud baseplates. I really like history, and researching different cultures and trying to recreate their architecture and military is interesting and absorbing. A 16×16 baseplate is large enough to create a sample of each culture, while small enough to remain affordable. I’m not the best at photographing everything, but you can see some of my work in my flickr gallery.

Can we put the instruction for the LEGO Mini Taj Mahal in our magazine?Sure. It is actually a very simple build, because – as I have mentioned – contest entries were restricted to 200 pieces. I have pictures of all the pieces needed, and the building steps in my flickr gallery. Since the contest I built an updated version of the Mini Taj Mahal with a bit more pieces and more details.

LEGO Magazine Creator 10

Would you introduce our readers to theBrickBlogger.com?I left the LEGO hobby in my mid-teens and didn’t come back to it until I was an adult. In my teens I had the feeling it was not appropriate for a teenage girl to “still play with LEGO” (although occasionally I still did on the pretext of babysitting my younger siblings). As an adult I came to the realization that life is too short to worry about what other people thin of me. So I started to follow my passions and dreams, including getting back to the LEGO hobby. When I re-entered the world of LEGO, I had so much to learn and catch up with. Then I discovered that there are other people like me, who went through what LEGO fans call their “Dark Ages” – the time when they gave up the hobby for some years. TheBrickBlogger is my way of reaching out to these people and share with them information, inspiration and ideas to get back to the hobby and catch up. At least that’s how it all started. Since then theBrickBlogger got much larger, and I’m not the only contributor to it. While we cover everything from news, reviews, building techniques, great creations, videos, and more, the focus is always to share the passion of the LEGO hobby in a friendly and welcoming way.

LEGO Magazine Creator 7

What is your position at the Brick Blogger?TheBrickBlogger started out as my personal blog based on my study of internet marketing. Using LEGO as the topic was the suggestion of my husband. I guess he was tired of me always talking about LEGO, so he was hoping that if I write about it, I will leave him in peace. I’m still the owner of the website, although now I’m not the only contributor to it.

How can LEGO fans in Korea keep in touch and see your creation? Feel free to stop by at theBrickBlogger.com at any time. I’m always happy to answer questions, assist LEGO fans in any way I can, or just chat. My flickr album is at flickr.com/photos/akunthita/, where I share some of my creations (when I remember to take pictures of them – in general I rather build that photograph).

LEGO Magazine Creator 8

Do you have any last words for our readers?Building alone is an absorbing – almost meditative – process that result in great personal satisfaction. There is even a sense of magic and wonder as you solve problems, or when LEGO pieces click together just right to achieve what you want. Some people remain lone builders their whole life, and they feel completely fulfilled. I would say though, that by reaching out to other LEGO fans, the hobby can offer a whole other level of fulfillment. So even if you like to build alone, stretch yourself and make an effort to go to LEGO conventions, or see if there is a LEGO club near you. There is nothing like continuing to learn and grow in the company of others.

Any other last tips you would like to share?If you don’t have a large LEGO collection, use LEGO Digital Designer to create your models. It is a free software offered directly by LEGO. This way you don’t have to limit your imagination. I actually don’t have a huge collection myself. When I plan a larger project, and don’t have all the pieces, I work with LDD in combination of real LEGO bricks. Once I finalize the design, I use BrickLink.com to buy the pieces I’m missing. Be careful with BrickLink though; it is a LEGO fan’s heaven and can be very addictive. 😀

LEGO Magazine Creator Interview

Working with the CREATOR team for this interview has been fun and interesting. It is clear that they love what they are doing, and have the passion and vision to continue growing the magazine. If you are interested to learn more about it you can visit their website, or if you have any questions about the magazine and don’t speak Korean, feel free to ask in the comment section below. I will make sure that Dongwon answers them for you. 😉

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

brickmaster June 20, 2016 at 10:18 AM

Wow! This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing! I also saw your article mentioned on Brickset. Really like your mech modification. And it’s funny how they messed up on the Taj. Did you tell them?

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admin June 20, 2016 at 11:01 AM

Yeah, I did tell them about the towers on the Taj being in the wrong way. I think how they made it looks okay too, but I like my way better. 😀

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jabber-baby-wocky June 20, 2016 at 10:52 AM

Really interesting interview. I want to hear about that parade at the last picture though. What’s that about?

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admin June 20, 2016 at 11:11 AM

That is a replica of a cart from a very famous festival in India. This is actually another model of mine that regularly gets stolen. In fact just a week ago a Hungarian LEGO retail store, added my pictures to their Facebook page. They have done this without my knowledge and permission, and without linking back to my flickr gallery. This created a huge confusion because people thought it was an official LEGO set. A friend of mine alerted me about what was happening, and it took me two days to respond to all the inquiries by confused LEGO fans who wanted to get one. The store never apologized or updated their post with giving proper credit. They are known for stealing images on a regular basis to boost traffic to their FB page. BTW, this is not an official LEGO store, but a LEGO approved store – this is something LEGO allows in countries that don’t have an official LEGO store. Anyway, if you guys are interested I can put together a full post about that model. It has a pretty interesting history. 🙂

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Tito June 20, 2016 at 11:17 AM

I would like to hear more about the history of that carriage too and how you decided to make it. It looks really interesting. As far as that lego store in Hungary, I have heard about them before for stealing pictures and other shady practices like leaking stolen info from the lego’s factory. They really should be shut down or monitored by lego more closely.

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admin June 20, 2016 at 11:23 AM

Okay, I will put together an article about that Chariot. It was definitely an interesting project that took me quite a bit of research. As far as the Hungarian FB page, yeah, they are a bit shady, but I think they are the only LEGO store in that country, so they continue to remain popular even with their not so ethical activities.

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YarnJourney June 20, 2016 at 11:41 AM

Congrats on the interview. I loved reading about you and your creations this morning. Thanks for all the links too and I will follow you on Flickr.

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admin June 20, 2016 at 12:11 PM

I’m glad you had fun reading it! 😀

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rainey June 20, 2016 at 1:39 PM

Congrats on the well-deserved recognition!

Also seems like an excellent time to say that you are much appreciated here as well for your creativity, your very positive perspectives, your encouragement, and your amazing ability to come up with content every. single. day!!!

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rainey June 20, 2016 at 1:40 PM

PS Can’t read Korean but LOVE the text built from Legos!

People are so clever!

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admin June 20, 2016 at 1:42 PM

Flipping through the magazine I can tell you that Korean text is very beautiful. I don’t know anything about it, and for me it’s just tiny pictures, but I’m amazed that anybody can read – and much less write – such beautiful and complex text! 🙂

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Håkan June 20, 2016 at 3:45 PM

It’s less complicated than it looks, though… Each square is a syllable where each separate part of the square constitutes a single sound (consonant, vowel or diphtong).

(Each syllable consists of only three-four sounds, since the phonetic system is simpler than English, I think, with syllabic words such as strange or sprained…)

There might be occasional Chinese characters (“hanja”) included, I think, but nowhere near the amount as in Japanese…

(If you want to learn more, you can look up “hangul”.)

Apart from that, I like the American Beauty reference there…

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admin June 20, 2016 at 6:16 PM

Interesting. It’s so weird that there are writings that are so different. Like it’s easy to figure out most languages with the Latin alphabet. I can even figure out Russian, as most letters are pretty similar with a few additional ones. But these Asian languages just look like a bunch of pretty little pictures to me. I guess if you start analyzing it you can eventually wrap your brain around it. It could be a fun challenge. 😀

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Håkan June 20, 2016 at 6:29 PM

Yeah, Russian (Cyrillic) is fairly easy, as well as Greek… But the three alphabetical systems are very closely related…

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admin June 20, 2016 at 1:47 PM

Thank you! What I really like about blogging is the interaction with other creative people. It gives me ideas and inspiration for what to write about, and even what to build. So yeah, we are all in this together in this awesome soup of creative consciousness… speaking of soup, I think it’s time to stop for lunch! 😀

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Strider June 20, 2016 at 5:09 PM

Very interesting article, and it was neat to see your mini Taj Mahal again. I had forgotten how good it is, (when the pillars are done right…:P .) I had seen that festival cart before as well, it’s looks very accurate and I always appreciate when a Lego creation doesn’t look quite like any I’ve seen before. The colors give it a classic Lego vibe’ IMO.

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admin June 20, 2016 at 6:13 PM

Oh, I haven’t even thought of that! But yeah, the colors are definitely LEGO-ish. In India they actually have three carts; one is red with yellow stripes, the second is red with blue stripes, and the third is red with black stripes. I have considered building all three at some point. But yes, those are all basic LEGO colors. 😀

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Michelle June 20, 2016 at 5:59 PM

Very well put! I copied your directions and may try to build it. I go back and forth on my love of Lego. Should I spend the money or shouldn’t I? then I read your article and of other Lego fans and I hit the Lego shopping site! 😉 Thanks.

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admin June 20, 2016 at 6:01 PM

He-he… just don’t blame us if your valet gets very thin very fast. 😉

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Diamond655 June 20, 2016 at 9:21 PM

Hi again, BrickBlogger admin!

I’m just here to say that, through a combination of this blog and needing a thing to do for the summer, I am starting a LEGO blog! Thanks for inspiring me to take this step into the LEGO hobby! Have any tips for me?

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admin June 20, 2016 at 9:26 PM

Sweet! There are many blogging platforms that makes the process easy, so you can just focus on writing and sharing. Let us know what’s your blog’s URL when you have it set up. There are many ways to run a blog, so I don’t really have any generic tips, but once you are set up and have specific questions, feel free to ask. 🙂

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Diamond655 June 20, 2016 at 10:17 PM

Thanks! I set the Website thing on the comment form to my blog now, so you know where it is. 🙂

For some specific questions:

What are some good sources so that I know what’s recent, what I can write about? Apart from here, anyway.
Do you ever find it difficult to meet deadlines? I set myself a once every Friday, occasionally on Monday schedule, but I’m not sure I can make it every week.
Should I be worried about making too many posts about a certain theme too close together? The themes I follow the closest are the Super Heroes and Star Wars themes, but I’m worried I’ll drive people away if I focus on one of them too much.

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admin June 20, 2016 at 10:56 PM

I would say that first you need to decide if your blog is going to be a place where you just want to share your own thoughts on topics that interest you, and maybe conversing with like-minded people with the same interest, or if you want to have your blog as a service to the community. Both are totally acceptable routes to go, but with a different goal and outcome.

If you are writing mainly for your own pleasure, you don’t have to worry about deadlines, and publishing schedules, or any other pressures. You simply write when you are inspired. If you want to blog in service of the community, it is best to narrow down your topic, and really focus on offering the best possible information to your readership who is interested in that topic. So yeah, it would be perfectly fine to just focus on Super Heroes, or Star Wars, or both.

I know bloggers who only write about Star Wars, or Ninjago, or Super Heroes, or Friends, and that’s great. In fact in many ways preferable over being all over the place. You will have a smaller audience, but they will be more dedicated in following you. Or, if you want to cover more topics and themes, you can pick your audience first, rather than the theme. In other words you can cater to parents, or teens, or those new to the hobby, those who prefer to build official sets, or those who like to build custom models.

With your proposed publishing schedule of once or twice a week, I would suggest that you just test the waters and see how you like the experience, instead of putting a lot of pressure on yourself. Most people don’t realize how much time blogging actually takes. A quality article can take anywhere between 2-6 hours to put together including: organizing your thoughts, writing the article, taking and editing pictures, formatting the article, and promoting it through social-media and other platforms (if you want to grow your readership).

As far as consistently and regularly updated news sites, I mostly follow Brickset, the LEGO sub-Reddit, and the BrickFan. I believe that Allen from the BrickFan is some kind of supernatural being or cyborg who is always on top of breaking news 24 hours a day. The LEGO sub-Reddit is great for leaks that LEGO bloggers and news sites are not allowed to cover, and Brickset is one of the largest LEGO fan communities with a very dedicated staff. LEGO’s Facebook page is also a pretty good resource.

As far as smaller, focused blogs you can get an example from, I really like the New Elementary. It is a small blog with a very unique niche; only talking about new LEGO elements and their uses. The articles are infrequent, but always top quality and very interesting, which results in a small but dedicated audience.

In summary, I would say that at this point it is best to take small but steady steps. It will take a while to ease into blogging, find your voice, and connect with your audience. Then you can gradually build up as you become more clear on your direction. It is better to go this way than jumping into blogging head first with unrealistic expectations, only to get burned out after a couple of months. So take it easy, and happy bloggin’! 😀

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Diamond655 June 21, 2016 at 12:43 AM

Thanks for all the help, Admin! 🙂

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admin June 21, 2016 at 6:04 PM

Sure, you are very welcome. Have fun, and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask. 🙂

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gid617 June 21, 2016 at 12:21 PM

Really interesting article, I remember seeing the mini Taj Majal when I was first poking around here. All that detail at that scale still impresses me. 😉
The magazine looks pretty nice, though of course I would be completely lost in it, knowing nothing of Korean. Funny how with all the Korean characters the headings – or some of the headings – are in English.

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admin June 21, 2016 at 6:07 PM

Yeah, I noticed that too as far as the sprinkling of English letterings and words. I guess they use them when it is easier or there is no Korean equivalent.

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John Moore October 16, 2016 at 9:51 PM

Greetings- I am trying to get in touch with Dongwon Lee- could you email me his contact details- much appreciated- My email address is jmoore@mediasoultions.jp

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admin October 16, 2016 at 9:58 PM

John, I sent you an email with Dongwon’s contact info. 🙂

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