I am recreating the entire first level of Super Mario Bros. out of LEGO® bricks, using one LEGO® brick per pixel!
Epic Mario combines LEGO bricks and Mario for epic sized fun!
1985 was a particularly great year. I was six, and being six is pretty awesome. It was the year that I got my very first 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and with it, Super Mario Bros. It was also the year that I designed the first LEGO set that I felt was worthy of LEGO's attention. I took photos and drew instructions and wrote The LEGO Group a letter asking if they would kindly share my idea with the world. They didn't, but I have been hooked on both LEGO and video games ever since. By the time I was 14, I began designing entire product lines of Lego sets for myself and illustrating the instruction manuals so I could build them again later. That drive for building continues to this day but the scale has changed.
In 2005, I rediscovered my passion for building big. I realized that as an adult I have much greater access to large supplies of LEGO bricks now than I ever did as a kid. Since then, my projects have hovered between 6,000 – 15,000 pieces. By recreating Level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. in LEGO bricks, this project trumps all of my other work by leaping to almost 780,000 LEGO studs. No one that I am aware of has done a LEGO mosaic on this scale before. Only a small number of people have done work with this number of bricks. The final project will stand over six feet tall and over 90 feet wide.
Why is this project important?
I created this project as the basis for the foundation that I want to start. The funding will go directly to the project but the notoriety will help start the foundation. The foundation will work with children in hospitals like Doernbecher's to help bring some joy and laughter to kids during an otherwise dark time. Together the kids and I will create a large LEGO sculpture to be installed at the hospitals. The kids get to help design it and build it. Anyone that has seen kids (or adults) playing with LEGO knows how bright and positive an experience it can be.
There is one little girl that is fighting for her life right now who is truly at the heart of this. Her name is Ella and she is very sick. I think about her every day when I work on this project or the foundation. Her situation has affected me deeply. She doesn't know it, but when the project gets funded I will make sure that she is there to put in the first piece. Sadly Ella's story isn't unique. That is why I am doing this. I want to reach as many kids as I can with this project and help spread the joy.
I want to show the world LEGO and video games can be works of art as well. I and I think many other people, really want to see the entire level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. made from LEGO because it is just FUN! Right now I think we all need a little more fun in our lives.
What does your contribution help fund?
Primarily it pays for LEGO bricks. A ridiculous amount of LEGO bricks. Your money will also go to other materials critical for the installation of the work. Items like plywood, Plexiglas, and mounting hardware.
The funding will not cover items like labor (of which there will be a lot), transportation of the finished project to various conventions around the country and the associated convention expenses. That stuff I will figure out a way to handle if I can get your help with funding the materials.
Where can you see it when it is finished?
The project will be under construction at Bricks Cascade in Portland this June. It will be on full display at the 2012 BrickCon Expo in Seattle and at as many other conventions as I can get to over the year following its completion, like PAX and Comic-Con.
When will it be finished/how long will it take?
My goal is to host a series of brick building parties in the Portland area. Every contributor will get an email invitation to these events. I will hopefully get 10-20 people at each work party and we can get the mosaic assembled in two or three work sessions of a few hours each. At the outside, it will be finished for the BrickCon Expo in October of 2012 but I hope to have it done long before that. I hope to have all the materials in time to begin building it during Bricks Cascade and will let everyone who wants to participate take part.
I will be posting updates to the project along with links to other LEGO artists and projects on my blog. Thank you for contributing and please share the word!
Here is a sample section of what the project will look like. This constitues 1/60 of the total width of project.
Here are a couple of quotes that I have received from two of the 11 certifed LEGO professionals.
As a LEGO Certified Professional, I have built quite some time and brick consuming stuff myself. I know the challenge you’re facing, and I wish you not only the best of luck and great success, but also many, many people that give you either a hand, of a handful of bricks and support !
Dirk Denoyelle, Flanders, Belgium."
"The basic game play of Mario Bros and LEGO is the same - it's all about leveling up. Can I advance Mario and his brother Luigi through the sewers of New York? Can I make my next LEGO model bigger, taller, better? In addition, Mario and LEGO are both classic retro games that harken us back to our childhood. It will be interesting to see if Zachary Pollock can level-up and blend the two fan favorites." - Nathan Sawaya, artist and founder of brickartist.com
"LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site"
For now I am keeping that a secret. Fans may have to see the final project completed to find out.
Mario will live on in my heart forever. I have received a lot of feedback from the LEGO community about ways to keep the project alive. I will probably explore those eventually, but not right away. I may shift gears and work on some other projects first, to give myself time to think about other ways of approaching it.
I will apply it towards expenses associated with starting the foundation, and getting the work shown around the country.
The goal with the foundation is to create an environment where I can partner with the pediatric wards of hospitals and businesses to work together creating projects with the kids. The way that it will work is that I negotiate a partnership between the two entities. The businesses will provide financing and the hospitals will provide access. I will go in to the hospitals and work directly with the kids to get them excited about the project and work with them developing a project that they would like to build. Then I will flush out the structure and design of the piece back in the studio. Next comes the critical element. I will bring participants from the businesses into the hospital to actually build the project side by side with the kids and to hand out LEGO sets for all the kids to keep. I think it will create a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved. The kids get to take part in project that will become a permanent part of hospital, and the businesses get a chance to give back to the community.
Epic Mario creates an opportunity for me generate get the word out about my larger aims of starting a foundation while tapping into my community at large and the large LEGO community for support in creating a noteworthy project. There are are couple of ways that Epic Mario will give back to the community. A portion of the net proceeds will get funneled back into Kickstarter to support projects in the Portland area and the areas that my contributors are from. After the project travels for a year, several panels from the project will be donated to the annual auction at Child's Play. Child's Play is a charity that was started by Mike and Jerry at http://Penny-Arcade.com. "Child's Play seeks to improve the lives of children in hospitals around the world through the kindness and generosity of the video game industry and the power of play." They raised over $3.5M in contributions last year. I hope to someday develop my foundation something of that scope, or to partner with them to create a LEGO centric wing of their organization. The conventions that Epic Mario will be displayed at also help contribute to their local communities as well. Many are run by Non-Profit organizations like Bricklandia, Inc. which puts on Bricks Cascade here in Portland. Lots of these organizations run programs to foster the building spirit with kids of all ages.
A LUG is a LEGO User Group. It is a collection of people that come together in a community to share projects, talk about LEGO, and have fun!