Three examples of Adnan’s work – Innervisions (Stevie Wonder). Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) and Abbey Road (The Beatles)
Posted April 27th, 2022 by Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
I’d written about a Brooklyn, NY-based artist named Adnan Lotia and his album cover-inspired works – made using LEGO products – last November, but friend of the ACHOF Lyle Waisman (www.icongallery.com) recently sent me a link to an updated article he found on the Moss & Fog art and design site that contains a lot of nice photos of Lotia’s efforts, which you can read at https://mossandfog.com/impressively-detailed-album-covers-recreated-entirely-using-legos/.
Since my initial coverage, the artist – who calls himself a “plastics manufacturer” on his Instagram page – https://www.instagram.com/uvupv/ – has done dozens more of them, featuring covers from the 1960s to the present, so I figured that it was time that I contact him and learn a bit more about him and his impressive undertaking. There’s been a LOT of buzz about his work on the Web, and while I wasn’t quite sure exactly who I was writing to, now that I’ve found him (we corresponded via email in late April), I was eager to learn more about him and his work.
Mike Goldstein, ACHOF – Adnan, thanks so much for taking the time to get back to me with your answers – much appreciated. So, let’s dive in – first off, can you tell me how and when you first chose to explore this form of art?
Adnan Lotia – I was reintroduced to LEGO in 2012 when I started teaching robotics and creative engineering. Inspired by my students, I began to build a few models with my modest LEGO collection. But I felt that my builds were restricted by the pieces at my disposal, so I turned to digital LEGO in 2020. Because virtual LEGO is free, unlimited, and doesn’t occupy any physical space, I could prototype builds quickly and efficiently. Although the software that I use, Studio (now called BrickLink Studio), is meant to support physical LEGO building, it is now my primary medium. It’s also nice to be able to render bricks in immaculate condition with perfect lighting!
Mike G – Yes, life’s a bit easier when you have the right tools to work with!. So, how did you choose which album covers you decided to re-create? Were these albums you had in your collection, or ones you’d seen in a book of album covers, or ?? What was the first cover you chose to do, and why?
Adnan L – The very first album cover I tried to recreate in LEGO was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I was curious whether I could capture the iconic prism with its angled rainbow in a simple mosaic format, since LEGO makes just a few different angled plates. I managed to complete the cover within a day and decided to continue challenging myself to recreate a different album cover every day.
MG – You said that you do one of these covers a day. When was it that you started, and are you still making new ones? If so, are you trying to do X number per day or week, or just make them whenever you’re so inclined?
AL – I started about a year ago and try to post every weekday (Editor’s Note – his first posting was in April, 2021. By the time I’d first reported on it in last November’s newsletter, he’d completed over 100 covers in 25 weeks. How’s that for commitment?!).
MG – Can you tell me whether there was something about specific album art visuals that stuck in your brain and motivated you to create these new versions?
AL – I grew up collecting music on cassette tapes and CDs and was always excited to examine the printed inserts which featured the album art, track listings, and occasionally multi-page booklets with other photos or artwork. So, I was very familiar with the cover art for music that I loved and began this project with those albums. But as I gradually searched outside of my own collection, I discovered many well-designed album covers, great albums whose covers have become iconic, and covers that were neither but translated particularly well in LEGO.
Adnan’s interpretation of the cover for the 1976 record Ramones
MG – OK, so now that we’ve got a bit of an understanding of what got you started down this path, let’s talk a bit about your process. When I recall my own art/animation training, my first teacher wanted her students to think about a project in three phases – 1) what is my initial concept or inspiration?; 2) what I would like or need to do in order to create my art or, in my case, what my plan was to create the comic storyboards that’d direct how my features would look and, finally, what would I do in this project that would make it MINE – that is, how would I innovate, or would I follow a scheme that I’d used before? Do you follow a similar approach, or just how do you typically go from concept to finished project?
AL – I think of this particular project as a daily meditation. I listen to the music, learn about the art, and create a quick sketch to honor the artist. Since I’m relying on someone else’s design, I introduce my creativity in my choice of LEGO elements. Before starting, I will examine an album cover for “LEGO compatibility” and pay attention to focal points that could be suggested with LEGO structures. I try and build as much in my head as possible before actually putting down any bricks.
MG – So once you’ve selected something that measures high on your “LEGO compatibility” scale, can you tell me how long it takes you to develop and produce finished cover images? Besides the digital tools you use, were any other special processes, equipment or other aids used to produce the final versions of your work?
AL – It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Each album cover brings a unique set of challenges, depending on its palette, level of detail, and composition. Many covers get roughed out very quickly and then take ages to complete detailing. Occasionally what seems to be a simple build starts off well and abruptly stalls, so I will return to it days or even weeks later. Sometimes an album cover needs to percolate in my brain for a bit before I can approach it.
MG – Were there any album recreations you’ve completed that you would like to do again…perhaps do a second, somewhat different version?
AL – In the beginning of this project I was much looser with proportions and many of my covers ended up like caricatures, so I will sometimes revisit an early attempt and create an updated version. I could probably spot a flaw in every album recreation I have ever made, and fuss with it endlessly in an attempt to make it perfect. But if there is a major issue with the composition or colors in a build, I will rebuild it from scratch.
MG – With all of the thought and work you put into these works, are there examples of album covers that just couldn’t be “LEGO-ized”?
AL – There are plenty of album covers with photo effects and layering that can be difficult to reproduce. I’ve encountered several psychedelic illustrations that simply have too many curved shapes to faithfully recreate in LEGO!
MG – With all the publicity you’ve been getting, I’m wondering whether you’ve heard anything from the LEGO folks about whether they like what you’re doing?
AL – Not yet!
Here’s a “LEGO-ized” version of the wonderful Robert Brownjohn cover for Let It Bleed by the Rolling Stones.
MG – I suppose that as long as you’re giving them positive press…Now, it’s time to move into the “what does Adnan think about this?” portion of the interview, so let me ask you – what are your views regarding the future of graphic and visual design in the music industry as it moves on to the many available distribution platforms?
AL – I think album art has become less integral to the experience of appreciating music, certainly since the days of vinyl. However, technology provides an opportunity for record labels, artists, and musicians to create a digital database with high quality album cover art images that can be traced, correctly attributed, and enjoyed by the world.
MG – What are your feelings about the quality of the album artwork and design you see these days? Are there any designers or musical acts that have influenced your work and you think are keeping the field alive or important? Besides as a launching point for your own work, do you think album art matters anymore?
AL – Once I began collecting my music digitally, I simply stopped noticing the album art. Back when music was distributed physically and cover art was tangible, it made the album a visual object. When I recreate an album cover in LEGO, I think the physicality of the finished image is compelling for the same reason, which is ironic, considering my work is actually 100% virtual.
MG – Here’s a “deep one” – do you think that album cover art and images help us document human history? Personally, I believe that “iconic” album cover art in many ways has had a noticeable effect on Pop culture, so I’d like to get your take on this is the imagery and music providing the direction, or is it reflecting the culture, or ??
AL – I think just like film and fine art, album cover art has documented critical generational shifts throughout the years it has existed, in addition to providing a platform for many pivotally influential designers and photographers. It’s interesting to note that album art tends to mirror cultural trends and biases, but also frequently represented a counter-culture perspective.
MG – So now we’ve come to what will be my last question for you today…since you’ve been posting your work online, are you seeing new opportunities for your talents?
AL – I have discovered the enormous community of talented LEGO artists who share their work online and feel assured that both virtual and physical LEGO art is flourishing! I hope LEGO continues to be embraced as a design tool, especially in an educational context.
MG – Adnan, thanks so much for sharing this with the ACHOF community, and keep up the great work!
A bit about today’s interview subject, Adnan Lotia – Originally from Fresno, California but now working as a freelance designer/educator based in Brooklyn, New York, Adnan’s studied art history, studio art and graphic design and has always been interested in design and education. One of his first jobs was as a designer at the Oxford University Press, where he worked on a multitude of design and art-related projects – book covers, textbooks, catalogs…even a mobile book bus (but alas, no album covers!).
You can watch the growth of his ever-expanding portfolio of Lego-ized album art images on his Instagram site – https://www.instagram.com/uvupv/
Except as noted, all images featured in this story are Copyright 2021 – 2022 by Adnan Lotia – All rights reserved – and are used by the artist’s permission for the purposes of illustrating this article. Except as noted, all other text Copyright 2022 – Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com (www.albumcoverhalloffame.com) – All rights reserved. “Lego” and “Studio” are trademarks of the LEGO Group. © 2022 LEGO BrickLink, Inc. – All rights reserved.