Special Interview with Andrew Tate a.k.a. snaillad

Today's  guest of honor is Andrew Tate a.k.a. snaillad from England who is known for his great City building MOC's and incredible interior designs. Photos from the work of our guest will be presented between the questions.

Kaplan: We already know you are one of the best LEGO MOC'ers in the world. What can you tell us about yourself other than that. What is your dayjob? Do you have any other hobbies or activities?

Andrew: Well that's a very flattering description, not sure if I quite believe it but thanks! I'm 31 years old and live just outside Newcastle Upon Tyne in the North-East of England. In my day job I work as a telecommunications field engineer for a major telecoms provider. I do quite a bit of travelling daily so I get a chance to see plenty of different styles of building which, of course, helps inspire me to build a variety of styles. When I am not at work I try to keep fit by running. I enjoy watching movies and following my local ex-premier league :( football team.

K: Do you remember the day when you got your first LEGO set? Which set was it? And How old were you when you started playing with LEGO bricks?

A: I think I was around 4 or 5 years old I received two sets at Christmas time, 6522 - Highway Patrol and 6506 - Precinct Cruiser. They were given by a friend of my mother and I apparently loved them so much my own parents followed up with more classic town sets in the years to come.

K: What is your best/unforgettable memory involving LEGO?

A: I remember seeing Lego sets for sale in a local department store about ten years ago. I had never noticed Lego for probably the ten years before that. The fact I was old enough to buy sets for myself sparked my interest again. I then discovered some amazing creations online by adults - so many newer, more interesting pieces and colors had been made since I last received a set I knew it was something I wanted to get back into.

K: If you have to choose, what is your all-time favorite LEGO set?

A: Surely it can't just be one! I'll assume this would be a set I own or did own as there are many fantastic sets I never got to experience.
6973 - Deep Freeze Defender - Great swooshability and so cool that you could take it apart.
6278 - Enchanted Island - So different from the town sets I had, I loved the baseplates and than drawbridge that you could flip over.
10185 - Green Grocer - Cafe Corner always looked so impressive but when I saw the Green Grocer - the interior details, the use of sand green (a color I never had until then) and the asymmetrical design - it blew my mind, and it was also affordable.

K: What is/are your favorite LEGO theme/s

A: I loved town and castle when I was a young'un. These days I'm buying fewer sets the older I get as I tend to concentrate more on my own creations. I look now to see what parts a set has and how I could use them in my own designs. I own all of the modular buildings since they first came out and more recently have taken a liking to the creator large-scale vehicles such as the Mini and VW camper van.

K: Did you have a "dark-age"? If you had one when did you return from your dark age and how?

A: I definitely had a dark age - from the age of 9-18. We got our first computer at home around 1996 and I played alot of sports in my free time so Lego eventually and sadly got forgotton about. However looking back now, most of the sets I missed during the late 90's and early 00's were during Lego's difficult period so I'm not too sad and don't think I missed out on anything spectacular.

K: How many LEGO bricks/sets do you own approximately?

A: Definately in the tens of thousands, nearly all of my pieces fit into a fridge-sized cupboard, so not as many as I would like!

K: What are your favorite top three of your MOCs?

A: - Piazza Maria - a joy to build and a sad moment when I had to take it apart.
- Avenue Saint-Jacques - It took 2 months to build, was awkward to move on my small desk but I got some great feedback and very complimentary blog postings.
- First class lounge (Idlebrick Airport) - An idea I had for a while than came together quickly and made me think I could maybe build more smaller MOCs to focus on details.

K: Do you scrap your MOC's after taking photos or displaying or do you keep them? How do you decide which ones you keep?

A: I have limited shelf space, usually only enough for 3 models so one has to go, its usually the oldest but if I need the odd piece here or there from something on the shelf I have to take it. Once the model looks too ugly to leave as it is, it's coming down!

K: What do you think about custom or third party pieces in MOC's?

A: To be honest I've never used any custom pieces as I am a bit of a purist. My scenes tend to be around town so I'm not aware of too much available other than some printed tiles that might be appropriate.

K: Many MOC'cers just build the exterior of the buildings and don't build any interior but your creations have amazing interiors. What is your secret designing those beautiful interiors?

A: To be honest I've built some buildings with and without interiors. I started building in the style of modular buildings but got frustrated when I was putting in furniture and decoration I could not really get a decent view. I figured when its sat on the shelf who cares what the back looks like so lets make it open and see how much more freedom I've got to build and photograph. I've seen some NPU from some great builders making furniture so I've found it harder to make something original or unique as time has went on. I do study and research a lot of period interiors depending on the purpose of the building to try and get a realistic impression when building.

K: Since you are a very talented builder who is known for amazing city creations. Do you plan to build MOC's in other themes (like castle or space) in future?

A: To be honest most of my pieces lend themselves mainly to town sets and I have limited room right now, hopefully if I manage to get a bigger room and expand my collection I might dabble down a different theme. Its more likely I'd try and combine town and castle or town and space. There are some fantastic castle and spaceship builders out there so I'm not sure I could do anything to stand out. I do make plenty of drawings of my ideas, I hope to make some 'future' themed buildings but also some that are a couple of hundreds of years old as well.

K: If you choose best three LEGO elements that you think are extremely useful for building MOC's which element you pick.

A: 1x1 brick with stud on one side, 1x2 jumper plate and the 1x2 grille brick. I tend to build a lot of SNOT and stud-free MOC's so the 1x1 brick is great for sideways building, the grille brick and jumper plate are very useful for achieving some texture on mostly flat surfaces.

K: Do you have any suggestions for the new MOC'ers?

A: When I started to MOC I refused to take apart and mix the few modular buildings I had. So I took apart just Cafe Corner and managed to build a couple of MOC's with the pieces and was really surprised by what I could achieve. If you have an idea for a MOC I would suggest maybe drawing it out first and maybe roughly working out dimensions using a baseplate or two and using bricks to scale it out. If I make a building I tend to design the things like doors and windows first then it gives me a better idea of what goes together and sizing . It's probably easy to get carried away and end up making something huge or costly.

K: Are you currently working on some MOC's or other LEGO related projects?

A: I've just recently finished a build but I've got some ideas on paper for a couple of recreational themed MOC's where my townspeople will be doing activities rather than a street scene. I also want to make some scenes from movies I like. Hopefully I can get at least one of them done in the next couple of months.

K: Do you member of a local LUG? Do you participate in collaborative builds?

A: No. I'm not a member of a LUG, there is not one near me that I know of and I don't have the inclination to spearhead one, not that I'd be averse to joining one. Right now I'm happy building on my own at my own pace - maybe its an only child thing!

K: Tiles or studs? My guess would be that your choice is studdless design :)

A: I have a keen interest in architecture and I found Art Deco and modernism to be my favorite styles. They're quite sleek so studless is definitely my preferred choice!

K: Thank you very much again for your participation.

A: Thanks for having me!