An investigation into the origins of the LEGO Foot Soldier Doodle!
LEGO Memes are in abundance, but not many of them are as elegant and surface more often that this particular one. It features an army leader type sporting a soldiers’ helmet of sorts and seems to be giving training to other bricks soldiers to target the human foot.
The art clearly messages the purpose that no words are neces-sary to describe it’s intent – let’s cause pain to all human feet and here are the best parts to target! SIR! YES SIR!
We’ve all seen this as an AFOL at some point in time or another, and never really stopped to think, WHO CREATED THIS? Well, that’s what piqued my interest. Let me share with you the journey of discovery that I took.
It all started with the few iterations of a similar theme that has come to surface since the original fully hand drawn version. Some of you may remember this surfaced late last year. The origins of this were relatively easy to trace as it contained a signature, that gave credit to Samsofy. With Google at my fingertips, we find that Sofiane Samlal or better known as Samsofy, a French individual – is a Photographer & Plastic Artist. You can read all about him on his profile page.
What’s more important, he called it “The Rookie” (2016) and actually gives credit to “inspired by a thing found onthe web”. So, we have some proof and link to the original idea that was seen somewhere else! But where?
The other one that surfaced MOST recently (Feb 2017) is by Didier Burtin (another French) who’s an aero space engineer, but living in Spain) from his Flickr Feed titled “They have a plan!”. It’s further LEGO-fied with now the foot being built in bricks as well!
Once again there is an acknowledgement of the following. “Earlier this year I saw the same kind of funny scene somewhere on the web with a drawn foot and I found it technically interesting and even more fun to reproduce it in Lego”
So, it seems that either way, be it a reference to Samsofy’s “drawing” or the unknown “drawing”, it both had a connection to the original Foot Soldier design!
Knowing that this MEME of sorts has evolved, from a simple hand drawn artwork, to a partially LEGO filled photograph, and now, a completed scene with a brick built FOOT! I had no choice but to press on to really find out the origins of this masterpiece that inspired many an AFOL out there!
Trail of breadcrumbs
I did lots more digging and found the earliest presence of sharing, yes, checking every datestamp of it be-ing shared from the countless pins on Pinterest, and various forums – and the earliest possible trace with some level of descriptive sharing that I could go back to was this Reddit thread from 4 years ago titled “Battle Strategies”. One thing I did learn now is it’s pretty old and hence I’ve seen it in a kazillion places.
The earliest image footprint (pun intended) of that Reddit post was a shared via the imgur platform – revealing a specific date of 15 December 2012 (http://imgur.com/474Lk) So, perhaps 2012 is when it was first released. That seemed to be the earliest thread of evidence I could find.
So, then the intensive googling began, and soon enough I started to realise that these foot soldiers started to look more and more familiar! I seemed to have found another piece of sibling art with the samestyle and strokes indeed! And yet another doodle that still surfaces every once in a while in a LEGO forum post – it’s classic that comes up time and time again. The very same elongated hands and feet, these have got the be the same artist! I’ve got to be on the right track.
Well, from there on, this too appeared! LEGO brick inspiring to be the Great Wall... and this time with a little (c)opyright note that signed off as www.ilovedoo-dle.com
You can tell that my journey of Googling has almost come to an end here – ilovedoodle.com is the site owned by an illustrator and graphic designer known as Lim Heng Swee based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
So, from humble beginnings of a Malaysian artist with a pencil in his hands, induencing a French artist who ex-presses himself through plastic as a medium and another French AFOL living in Spain, we have come to an end of this search.
Lim Heng Swee is quite known in his industry having being published in international magazines and design blogs and magazines across Europe with a strong social media following. His mantra in life is “Doodling a Smile– aiming to make people smile more in their everyday lives” and if you ask me, that’s what he did for all of us in theAFOL community. Thank you, Lim Heng Swee!
Our investigative journey does not really end here! While it’s been a fun ride discovering the origins, it’s never going to be complete until we hear from the man himself.
I tracked down Heng Swee and he was kind enough to give us an interview to understand the inspiration behindthe doodle!
When did you start or knew that doodling was going to be your path in life?
That was after I graduated from University and received my degree in Mechanical Engineering. I had no interest on those machines and mathematics equations at all, I told myself that I had to do something I love for the rest of my life... and that's when I start to draw.
The biggest question from the Adult Fan of LEGO community is probably this: Are you a LEGO fan? Do you build sets? Or look at it for inspiration?
Yes, I love LEGO for sure but I grew up in a rural village where we’re not privileged to have access to mod-ern toys. I grow up with nature – mud, trees, insects and we forged handmade toys made of natural materials. I only knew of LEGO as an adult. I still love the concept of LEGO during simpler times where building bricks would encourage kids to imagine and create instead of the fancy sets we have now which promote build and assembly via instructions.
When was it actually released? My research took me to circa 2012.
Yes, to be even more accurate, I created that doodle on the 11th of December 2012.
What inspired you to create that piece of drawing? From real life? Your actual pain?
Ha! I’ve never stepped on any LEGO brick prior to that when that drawing was made. After the success of the first Lego’s illustration “Lego! No!”, I did a bit more research and that based it off true stories from other parents. Since then, after I’ve introduced LEGO to my 3 year old son, I now knowhow painful it is when one does step on one of those bricks!
Did you know it was going to be so popular and viral? (and still be shared among the LEGO community every once in a while?)
No, I never expected it, but I did have a lot of fun making this illustration.
How long did it take you from sketch to finish for that piece? (or most of your art pieces – share a bit of your thought process?)
In 2012, I challenged myself to a “doodle everyday” project – which was to make a drawing everyday for365 days. This is one of those drawings from the project. Every piece took few hours to complete. Mostly of them are simple drawing based with humorous ideas and messages. The concept of the idea always took longer than the actual drawing process.
What about your other LEGO doodles? “LEGO! NO!” and the “Great Wall Inspiration” What was the inspiration behind those?
I have a sketch book to keep track of many object/things/animals which I think are potential characters inmy art. I’ll then start to imagine situations. What if they run? jump?, smile?, fall over?, hug?, dream? ... and then these ideas pop in my mind. This is my approach on how to ignite and spark ideas.
What do you think about the ‘evolution’ of your art, the Samsofy and Didler Burtin’s versions?
OMG! Never seen these before! Totally cool! Thanks for showing me these :-)
What would your advice be for budding artists who wish to pursue in your footsteps?
Just do what you love. If you really really love it, then you’ll surely find your own way and you will be just fine.
Any last thoughts, comments that you want to share with your fans out there?
Thanks a lot for all the support for all these years. I’ll keep doodling to put a smile on both yours and my face. Cheers!
Heng Swee Lim just being a dad!
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