Since first coming from Dunedin, New Zealand to Brisbane, Australia, Jake Hopkins has acquired his niche. He is The Lego Guy. The guy who takes everyday scenes and transforms them into Lego; the guy who creates Lego scenes from everyday living. Is Lego the reflection, or is the reflection that of Lego? Only Jake can answer that question. And admirably he does: for everything he touches turns to Lego.
It is that ultimate ubiquitous life brick; a constructive block of so much possibility. And Jake has managed to apply it beyond everyday living of carpets and floors, transposing it to the realm of arts and culture, while simultaneously finding everyday living needs Lego to live. Since his first sold-out show at C Gallery in 2013, Jake has gained momentum in everyday living as a Lego artist.
And now we sit down and chat Lego, Lego and more Lego; popular culture’s place in society, finding art, and exactly where Lego resides.
As a popular culture street artist in Brisbane, what do you think reflects Brisbane’s emerging innovation in art and design?
There are a few suburbs in Briz that now have great culture and show art. Paddington and West End are at the top of the list, but it’s great to see new exciting venues and opportunities popping up all the time for creative. It’s just a matter of finding them.
Art and popular culture have its place in society. How do you merge art and popular culture in your artwork and how do you stamp this onto your lifestyle? and do you see this showing anywhere else?
Street art is playing a big role in Brisbane – which is great to see. There are a lot of talents street artists out there. But my Lego works speak for themselves. I merge popular pictures, people, movies and music with the most popular toy ever. And boom: there’s my Lego paintings. The best thing about it is that the options are endless and everyone has an idea for these pieces. You can have a lot of fun with them and be a little bit cheeky. They always seem to get a smile or laugh.
How did you first get into art? What is your background that allowed for you to pursue it?
I started drawing and painting at a very young age. My parents framed my paintings from when I was 6 years old. And seeing them hanging on the walls was very humbling. My parents always encouraged creativity without pushing it on to me. They let me pursue it at my pace and how I wanted to, and for that, I am very grateful. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties after a few years away from creating that I rediscovered the love for creating, so I sacrificed my fulltime job for time to paint and create and free the mind from the outside stress. I grow daily as an artist and a person and am always learning and building my skill set.
There are so many different spectrums and areas of art, and Lego is quite distinctive in what it represents and says. But what would you say your kind of art is?
I have many different styles in my art, from landscapes, cityscapes to abstract and then, of course, my pop arty Lego pieces. I can’t be pinned down to one style, as I find the drive fades. Repetitiveness bores me, which is why my creative mind must keep thriving for different styles. They don’t all appeal to everyone, but the way I see it is: if I like something I create, then there’s sure to be someone else out there who likes it too.
What has allowed you to have the personality that you do in your artwork?
The freedom to let go of everyday stress and not fret about the little things, be happy with who I am while being humble and thankful that I have found my passion. This is what makes me happy. To have found that at such a young age, with the support of family and friends and encouragement from others is pivotal for self-growth. When you are happy, it shows in your work.
Brisbane isn’t the centre of the art world, like say New York City, but you have found your niche which can take you anywhere. What are your dreams and aspirations?
As long as I’m creating I’m happy. I’m living my dream – as cliche’ as that sounds. I wake up every day knowing I can create whatever I want. It’s all about trusting in your abilities and yourself.
Where art sits in society can be viewed from many perspectives: it has become so much interconnected with society it is one, or it has lost that connection it no longer seems relevant and seems immaterial. How important do you think art is to society and how can we make it important and relevant?
Art is very important. Seeing the joy and happiness it brings to people is success in itself. Having parents commission pieces for their young children, then seeing kids’ faces when they receive them is amazing. That makes me happy. Art has always been here and always will be. I believe the world would be a boring place without art. It will always evolve with time and yet there are so many styles and types of art that everyone can enjoy.
Your previous art show was Fear and Lego in Bris-Vegas at C Gallery and was an absolute hit. Tell us about it.
The C Gallery show was my first solo show and was a sell-out. Troy (from C Gallery) gave me this opportunity, and I’m very thankful for it and will never forget. It boosted my confidence as an artist. The show involved 30 Lego pieces of famous people, pics, movie scenes and album covers all painted as Lego people. That’s where I started to get known as “The Lego Guy” – which is pretty cool. Fear and Lego in Bris-Vegas has been very popular and has evolved to another signature piece.
What can we expect next from your works?
I want more people to see my creations. The more walls my art is hanging on, the more eyes that get to see them, with the more lives I get to have an impact on.