Questions destroyed with answers!
Q: Who are you, and what is this website?
A: I am Julius von Brunk, the only pop-icon and living folk hero to come out of Lancaster Pennsylvania, and this is my Website of Justice! I’m an eccentric artist, actor, inventor, and animator. In recent times, I’ve gained quite a bit of notoriety for my custom LEGO models (that are obviously flaunted among this site), and chances are you found me via the viral publicity of my LEGO/Transformer mashups or the Giant LEGO NES Controller — either way, welcome to my website. . . Now grease up your eyeballs and plunge into the world of Brunk! Look around; you might just learn something!
As for me, I’m a multimedia artist in his early 30s, originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and currently living in Queens, New York. I build geeky things out of LEGO bricks and eat lots of tacos. As a profession, I currently work as a designer in the financial industry in Manhattan.
Q: What type of camera do you use, and what’s your studio like?
A: I currently own a Nikon D750, which is a high-end full-frame DSLR camera. Prior to spring 2014, most of my LEGO models and toy photos were shot on a Nikon D5200, which was an intermediate model; I still use that camera for animation. I use a variety of lenses, usually prime lenses, but mainly a 28mm lens as my primary lens for almost all of the photography. My studio is actually a makeshift setup in my attic apartment: I use a few softboxes with 5,500K CFL bulbs, and an interchangeable backdrop. Occasionally I’ll use sheets or LEDs for backgrounds. I always use a tripod no matter what, and almost every single photo I’ve taken since spring 2014 has been with a remote control: I want my photos to remain perfectly clear with no camera shake (also, most of the photos of myself on this site are self-portraits taken with the remote — which is why usually one of my hands is always out of shot).
Q: How many tattoos do you have, and what are they of?
A: Glad you asked! I currently have 14.5 tattoos — all LEGO or Nintendo themed, except for the tiny Romani Gypsy flag on my upper right bicep. I say “14.5” tattoos, as my LEGO spaceman minifig is one set, but broken up into two unconnected images, which isn’t quite a separate tattoo — hence 14.5! My red Futuron astronaut is in reference to my childhood fascination with the LEGO Space theme; the red astronaut was a rare minifigure that only came in expensive sets, so growing up in a poor family, I never had that little spaceman — but now, I’ve got one permanently on my arm! Also on my right arm is a Castle Forestman minifigure. On my left arm are all tattoos are Nintendo-related — notably Super Mario Bros. 3 and Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time: Biggoron’s Sword, the Lens of Truth, 275 rupees, and an activated Bombchu. In the summer of 2015, I got two new Super Mario Bros. 3 tattoos in St. Marks Place: the first is simply an illustration of Mario from the game’s box art, and the other is a warp pipe with a piranha plant and a Goomba; both tattoo sessions were done two weeks apart, and at two different locations in the same neighborhood. A year later in 2016, I added a few more Mario tattoos to the same section: the new designs were a Koopa Paratroopa and a coin block:
The photos below are from summer 2016 before I started wearing contact lenses again:
Q: Is von Brunk your real last name?
A: Yes, my real last name is Brunk, which is a German variant to the name “Bruno”, and in various Germanic nations, you’ll see other versions of my name such as Bruun, Brunck, Bronk and even Brunswick (the latter is the British-English version of my name). My great, great grandfather was a mid-19th century German immigrant who arrived in our country from Prussia and had the last name von Brunk before he anglicized it to Brunk. When my father’s father explained this to me as I was a child, I then began spelling my name as von Brunk, but never legally changed it yet. Also, my German ancestors were noble Junkers, to whom actually possessed the title of “baron” in the classical era, therefore I opted to adopt the same noble title myself. In 2002 when I began creating online personas and launching websites, I needed a clever title; things like Dr. von Brunk or Captain von Brunk never had a good ring to it, therefore I went ahead with “Baron”, and since then it stuck! Notice how I adhere to proper German grammar by having the V in von lowercase, and not spelled “Baron Von Brunk” [sic].
In the days that used to be, I was a popular forum poster on the now defunct G4TV forums (in the 2002-2005 years), way back when the website was strictly video game themed, and integrated with the TV show — integrated in the sense that forum postings and chat conversations would be reflected on the various TV shows. Those days have long since passed, as I don’t consider myself an avid video game player anymore (despite my Legend of Zelda tattoos, which are more of a monument of my teenage years), nor is G4 anything of the least bit an innovative, interactive television network. However, I owe a lot of my career to my hours wasted on the G4 forums arguing over Gamecube and Xbox games: Because, whilst posting on the forums and getting knee-deep in pointless quarrels about gaming, I’d use image macros to express my opinions and sometimes come off as trolling. The time spent getting better and better with Photoshop gave me a skill and experience with graphic design, to the point of gradually landing freelance gigs based on my slowly-accrued artwork. As of now, I’m a professional designer of multimedia and working in New York City.
Don’t get me wrong: I still love old video games — I mean, 90% of my LEGO creations reference that, but I lost my fascination for in-depth gaming around the early 2000s when games stopped being fun and innovative. I mean, seriously, prove me wrong: you can only make so many Madden Football games or generic Halo-ripoff first-person shooters before you get fed up and say, “Screw this, I’m busting out the old Atari 2600 and playing a round of Battlezone!”
Q: Did you actually adopt a highway in Pennsylvania?
A: The following photos have not been manipulated in any other way aside from image resizing and optimization. . .
In 2005, as a publicity stunt I decided to adopt a highway in order to basically get free advertisement for my then recently-launched website. PennDOT wouldn’t allow me to put a URL on the sign, but they were able to fit my full name. Adopting a highway actually doesn’t cost any money for the person volunteering to do it, contrary to popular belief. I’ve been away from Lancaster for four years now, yet the sign still remains! Also, this is the Mk.2 version of the sign: when first installed, PennDOT spelled my name incorrectly as “BRONK”, and it took them well over a year to fix it. These particular photos shown above were taken in the fall of 2006 shortly after the sign was repaired. I won’t giveaway the exact location of this sign, rather I will say that it is in fact located somewhere in Hempfield. I pity the fool that pollutes my road.
Q: What’s your favorite color?
Q: How long have you had this website?
A: The actual domain Baronvonbrunk.com was launched in late March 2005, and simply redirected to a free site hosted on 95mb.com. My old site looked absolutely nothing like the layout of today (sans the blue color scheme); the original layout was decorated with clouds, World War 1 airplane paintings and pictures of Snoopy — yes, seriously, I thought that was funny at the time. The purpose of the old BVB dot com was more or less a pointless playground where I posted image macros and nonsensical images from my various YTMND sites, and around the same time, I was gradually becoming a Flash animator for Newgrounds.com, ergo a huge function of my site was to post my original cartoons — many of which were crude video game parodies. In addition to those ventures, I had a sort of blog where I ranted (incoherently) about things that bothered me at the time. I was 20 in 2005 when this site was first launched, so you can only imagine the sort of pointless bullshrapnel I’d ramble about! More or less, my inane ramblings and offensive image macros were getting me banned from G4TV and Geocities, so I created my own domain for the sole purpose of dumping graphics, Flash, and writings onto a website that I personally controlled, rather than being censored.
Months later, I bought web space and made this into a fully-operational site with domain, e-mails, databases and all. I even added a now-defunct message board via PHBbb, and a custom Wikipedia (that’s also gone). Throughout 2005-2007, Baronvonbrunk.com evolved and flip-flopped from being a pointless image site with Flash toons to a slightly more serious cartoon site, with a strict emphasis on animation — kind of like Homestar Runner, but on a smaller more personal scale. Around 2008-2009, I took a break from making cartoons and instead focused on art and design — and in early 2010, I moved to New York City and began a successful career as a graphic artist, which means I’ve now focused on that tangent almost entirely — with LEGO models being my primary draw. The only things I’ve really retained from the original BVB site are the blue color schemes; I actually dislike the color blue, but it’s easy on the eyes and goes well with my branding.
Q: For the love of Zeus, what in Hades’ name happened to your cartoons page!? Holy shrapnel, that was my main draw to your site many years ago! I loved your hilarious Mario and Sephiroth parodies on Newgrounds — please bring them back!
A: As much as I hate to say it, the cartoons page is no longer here, and shall never be brought back in its original form. The reason being, is that many (all) of those toons were simple parodies that I created for fun at the time, and had little foresight as to potentially taking myself seriously. For some of you newer fans, long before I focused on LEGO creations, my site was actually a hub for amateur animations with crude jokes and pop culture references, back in 2005 to 2008. My first animations were created with limited quality and poor animation, that I merely threw together in spare time originally back in my early 20s. Times have changed, and although my general quirky attitude is the same (quirkier, actually), I’ve lately focused on other ventures to make a name for myself by — e.g. LEGO, graphic arts and such. In other words, the old cartoons were never made with the intention of earning a living nor gaining popularity, unlike the graphics I do that pay the bills, or the LEGO models I build which earn me multiple interviews in major magazines.
Also, if you do stumble upon my old cartoons, you’ll notice a recurring theme: typically my animations portrayed an exaggerated version of myself constantly battling weird enemies that hate me for no reason. I was young at the time, so a lot of the subtext behind my animations were references to school and childhood when I was highly introverted, bullied, and mistreated for no reason — hence there’s always conflict depicted in my early animations. A lot of the characters and villains were even caricatures of former teachers, coworkers, and family. As of now, I’m strictly a visual artist, so anything I create has little subtext and instead focuses solely on its ascetic face value.
Q: Do you make LEGO animations (brickfilms)?
A: As of 2017, I am now animating my LEGO minifigs and models for stop-motion, using DragonFrame software. The first brickfilm I’ve ever created is the promotional video for my LEGOformer Prismatis. In 2016 I began pre-production for a stop-motion Alice in Wonderland video, and I began animating its footage in summer 2017. I plan on releasing the Alice video by the end of 2018.
Q: Are any of your creations made by other people, or do you make everything yourself?
A: Every single LEGO creation ever put on this site has been made by me, hands down, with absolutely no reblogging or reposting of other peoples’ work. My Tumblr page, my Facebook, and Instructables profiles are only specifically for the purpose of displaying my talent. Unfortunately the internet has become oversaturated with aggregate sites rather than native content, so often times a lot of peoples’ creations are simply “reblogged” in an endless sea. I’m definitely not some no-name artist, nor do I want other peoples’ work to go uncredited.
Q: I loved that Game Boy / Transformers mashup! Can you give me instructions and a parts list?
A: Certainly! View it on my Instructables page to get the lowdown. Warning: this is NOT an easy project to build nor obtain parts to, which means I only recommend experienced LEGO builders to take a stab at it! You can also substitute it with any parts you desire to swap the colors and make clones.
Q: How long have you been a fan of LEGO?
A: The word “LEGO” was actually one of the first words I could write when I was a wee lad. I think my first sets were given to me at age 2 or 3 (screw the choking hazard warnings!), and since then (the mid-1980s) I’ve been a LEGO Maniac! As evidenced by my current two minifigure tattoos, my two oldest favorite themes were space and castle, notably the Futuron astronauts and the Castle Forestmen.
Q: Where do you buy all of your pieces?
A: I rarely ever purchase new sets — let alone follow the instructions and assemble them — which means I buy almost all of my parts specifically “on demand” from www.bricklink.com, or occasionally I’ll step out to the various LEGO Stores in Manhattan to get cups of Pick-a-Brick.
Q: Which creation are you most proud of?
A: Favorite project of all time: the N64 Transformers Ultra Hexacon and Tetragon, as it’s a particular set of models which really tested my creative limits, and still holds true to this day. Favorite technological achievement? The Giant NES Controller: frankly, I’m amazed it worked.
Q: I really like [insert LEGO creation here] — can I buy it off you?
A: This is actually a question I get a lot. To be honest, I dislike selling my creations on a personal level, as I’m not a business man. HOWEVER, I have no objection selling (or even custom building) my large monumental designs to businesses and art collectors. For example, let’s say some guy from [insert well-known video game company] randomly asks to purchase my giant NES controller to keep, I’ll gladly sell it to him in a heartbeat. Otherwise, usually when a fan asks to purchase something like one of my Mario lamps, I instead give them the tutorial I made so that they could build their own. More or less, I kind of like hanging on to my own stuff, but as stated prior, this varies on a person-to-person basis. Like, let’s say Shigeru Miyamoto wants to keep my Nintendo 64 Transformer? Hell yeah, I’ll give it to ’em for free if he asked for it!
This could also change in the future; once I establish myself better as a legitimate artist, I may actually have a store on my page that sells my original LEGO models. As of now, if there’s a certain thing in my portfolio that piques your fancy, go ahead and contact me and we could arrange a deal. Maybe if you know me in person you could barter with me or something.