Creator Q&A | Celebrate Black Creators

Inspiring ALL the Builders of Tomorrow

Diversity in creativity is essential to building a better world for us all. In their own words below, Black LEGO® artists and builders share with us how building with LEGO bricks inspires their imagination, and how kids can use bricks to experiment, create and express themselves.

CREATOR Q&A

Lianna Newman – Engineer. Creator. DEI Practitioner. 

Lianna Newman (no pronouns, just Lianna) is Black, nonbinary and an enthusiastic hobbyist.

Whether building with LEGO® bricks or making realistic-looking dollhouse miniature scenes, Lianna enjoys creating inclusive scenes which honor Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging culture, which Lianna values.

Lianna is a proud volunteer with Out In Tech and enjoys spending time with family, friends, Lianna’s girlfriend, and 8-pound dog.

How did your passion for building with LEGO bricks begin?

I always wanted to be an inventor since I was a kid, and in adulthood I really got into miniatures. So naturally, LEGO building has been a part of my life since childhood and continues to be so today.

How does building with LEGO bricks help you express your creativity?

I love being able to see myself in toys and recreate parts of my life along with building different scenes.

How do you express inclusivity through your builds?

I include people from all walks of life in the majority of my builds, specifically focusing on historically excluded groups including Black, Indigenous and other People of Color, members of the disability community, LGBTQ+ community.

What advice would you give to Black children who are just discovering their creativity?

Imagine a world that celebrates you for you, build it, and encourage others to do the same. Creativity allows us to tell our own stories, for us, by us. Black is beautiful, and so is your brilliant mind.

Jhaelon Edwards Smith – Story Reteller. LEGO® Store Employee.

I am always retelling some sort of story with my LEGO builds. My intention is always to evoke the same feelings and emotions you had when you initially witnessed those scenes.

How did your passion for building with LEGO bricks begin?

LEGO bricks were always my favorite toy as a child. It was the ultimate bonding experience for me and my cousins during adolescence and continues today to bring me closer to some amazing people.

How does building with LEGO bricks help you express your creativity?

LEGO bricks and elements are the perfect medium for my artistic expression. It is a fun and exciting system that is fluid and versatile enough to allow me to tackle any project my mind can conjure, yet still provide fun building challenges along the way.

Where does your inspiration come from and how does that create hope for the future?

My drive to build and create is ultimately driven by my desire to share experiences and story-tell. My LEGO builds are snapshots of something I saw and felt in that moment, and my intent is always to evoke those same visuals and feelings when others observe my work.

Why do you think creativity is important for building a better world for future generations?

Creativity is the foundation for problem-solving. Very few of the complex systems that make up our modern lives were developed linearly. Creativity gives us curiosity, inspiration and purpose.

What advice would you give to Black children who are just discovering their creativity?

Do not be afraid to integrate any part of your culture into creative interests. Your culture is important and central to you as an individual.

Visit Jhaelon’s Instagram to see more of his work

Syreeta Gates – Archivist. Creative. 1/2 of Most Incredible Studio.

Creative, art collector and archivist. Syreeta Gates is the founder of The Gates Preserve, a multimedia experience company committed to archiving and preserving hip-hop culture such that it lasts forever. She produces ‘Yo Stay Hungry’ – a live culinary competition that bridges hip-hop with food and beverage, and is co-owner of Most Incredible Studio, which celebrates and commemorates the artists and moments that continue to elevate and define hip-hop culture – through LEGO® bricks.

What sparked your passion for creativity?

Game Changing ideas. I’m working on a documentary project and what sparked my passion was ‘putting on’ the writers. For me, writers and journalists are the foundation of hip-hop culture.

Why do you think creativity is important for building a better world for future generations?

Self-expression is the most important thing, and it’s unique to everyone. I’m committed to giving people flowers while they can smell them. That’s what we did for Mary J. Blige’s 50th birthday with ToMaryWithLove.com. It was a creative process: I had collaborators, created a team, made requests from a bunch of people etc. It was a world that I thought was important that other people could experience. So people who come after us know and understand how important Mary J. Blige’s legacy is to the world.

Where does your inspiration come from and how does that create hope for the future?

A lot of my inspiration comes from the past. Knowing where we have been supports us in where we are going. Archiving and preserving those histories supports creating new worlds and new visions for the next generations. And I’m inspired by hip-hop culture, duh. Which is why Randall Wilson and I created Most Incredible Studio. We hope that Black and Brown people feel reflective in the work that we create. #RepresentationMatters

What advice would you give to Black children who are just discovering their creativity?

They are born creative and all they need to do is ‘tap in’, that’s what I would tell my nieces and nephews.

Find the bricks and pieces you need for your next amazing creative project right here!