10K Club Interview: Meet Stewart Cromar of Lovelace and Babbage
10K Club Interview: Meet Stewart Cromar of Lovelace and Babbage
Say hi to Stewart Cromar, a.k.a. stubot, creator of the Lovelace and Babbage project and this week's 10K Club member. Stewart's monochrome project celebrates the achievements of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, computer pioneers, in what is a detailed and educational design. Stewart shares lots of insightful thoughts about his journey to the 10K mark as well as plenty of great advice for any budding LEGO Ideas member with a great idea..
Help us congratulate Stewart on becoming a part of the LEGO Ideas 10K Club!
- Where are you from?
Edinburgh (aka Auld Reekie), Scotland.
- How old are you?
41 (and a stereotypical Capricorn).
- What do you study or do for a living?
Interactive Content Manager - I manage a small creative team that designs and builds interactive web content for the University of Edinburgh. For almost 20 years I have been developing e-learning materials (animations, videos, quizzes) for students all-around the world. In my eyes, it's the perfect career for pursuing artistic endeavours, technical innovations and fruitful collaborations.
- What hobbies do you have?
I'm a budding mixed media artist who loves to paint with acrylics, charcoal, pencils and paper scraps. I've even been known to use LEGO building instructions in my collages (photocopies of course!). It's quite a messy hobby, but getting your hands dirty is great fun and a nice distraction from the digital world.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
My affection for LEGO goes back to my childhood when my parents first bought me LEGO Fabuland. The highlight of every birthday and Christmas was a new LEGO set for me to build with my dad's help.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
It has to be 1982's Town House / Villa (set 6372-1). As an 80's child the patio doors, garden umbrella and American style post-box was very aspirational. It even had two cute alternative builds for a barbecue and bungalow.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Kind of random, but I've always treasured the LEGO baguette (aka White Bread). There was a Fabuland minifig called Rufus Rabbit who had two little loafs in his backpack.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I'm a big fan of Jason Allemann. I stumbled across his "Sisyphus Kinetic Sculpture" video last year and it blew my mind. The beauty of his models in motion is next level. I had no idea LEGO was capable of such things.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I'd have to say JANGBRiCKS (aka Bamidele Shangobunmi), I truly value his passion and opinion on LEGO product reviews. He has such a calming voice and this alone sets him apart from most video bloggers! - http://www.jangbricks.com/.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
It goes all back to a videogame I loved playing in 2008 called LittleBigPlanet. This game featured a number of historical figures including Genghis Khan, Boudica, Mozart and Ada Lovelace. This was my introduction to Ada, the first published computer programmer. My obsession just grew arms and legs from there!
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Limiting myself to a black and white palette was pretty tricky. But I was determined to try and achieve a different aesthetic for this project that would help make it memorable.
Charles’ proposed dimensions for the Analytical Engine were bigger than those of a steam locomotive (it was drawn up in detail, but never built). Trying to capture this vast mechanical computer in LEGO form at a scale that’s fun to play with and economical to manufacture was an exciting challenge.
- How long did it take to complete the model?
It took me a few weeks to gather all the monochrome bricks. Most were from my childhood collection, but some came via new LEGO Architecture purchases. The actual build was a freestyle affair and was completed in one weekend.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes?
It was genuinely overwhelming and my initial response was tears. Having dedicated this project to my late father, it brought a lot of mixed emotions to the surface. However, later that day I was able to truly celebrate with my friends online and IRL.
It took 471 days in total to reach 10k. Some days you’d be chuffed with 10 votes and then the next day you’d get over 1,000.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
My best guesstimate would be 500 LEGO bricks. One day I should really do a legitimate piece count, but I’m a bit reluctant to take any of it apart.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
- Choose an idea that you have an emotional connection with, whether it’s related to your pet, hobby or favourite book. People respond well to a personal choice and this will help you stand out from the crowd.
- It may sound obvious, but fully embrace all social media networks and not just your favourite platform. Whilst you may only use Twitter, did you know Facebook has 5 times the number of users and potential voters!
- Try and be courteous to everyone, manners go a long way with online campaigns. It can be challenging when people are overtly critical about your idea, but try to find a polite way to placate them.
- Definitely ask your friends for help. I can honestly say involving my family, friends and colleagues made this project one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
The “LEGO Bird Project” by Thomas Poulsom is my absolute favourite. When you get to the end of the Robin build and stick his wee tummy on, it’s just the best feeling.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
I honestly can’t think of another website where anyone has the opportunity to design something they love and have it potentially manufactured and sold around the world.
- Choose a relatively short name for your project, longer titles can often get truncated on different websites and could become meaningless.
- Similarly, be sure to embed your project name within the main image. This will help tremendously when other people copy and paste your photo into social media posts.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for people’s opinions – it’s never too late to make minor changes or additions to your idea based on community feedback.
- When trying to build momentum or establish a social media presence post regular updates and thank people personally. Every vote counts and you never know who they might share your project with!