Friday, December 12, 2008

Lego King

Who doesn't remember growing up playing with Legos? Most kids ultimately pack up their Legos and move on. But Nathan Sawaya never did.

The 35-year-old New Yorker makes a six-figure living as a Lego artist, creating large-scale works of art using tens of thousands of the plastic pieces.

The New Orleans Public Library commissioned this work from Sawaya to celebrate the city's rebirth. It contains over 120,000 bricks and took over six weeks to build.

Legos were the furthest thing from his mind when he set out in the working world. After graduating New York University Law School, Sawaya became a Wall Street attorney, earning six-figures—and working in a high-stress environment. To relax after long hours at the office, he would work on art projects at night, One of Sawaya's first hobbyist projects with Legos was an eight-foot-tall pencil. Friends would come over to gawk at it, Visitors to the site sent in requests, such as Lego renderings of portraits of their children.

The hobby became the real thing in 2004 after he won a competition sponsored by Lego to find the best builder in the U.S. He quit his job and became one of Lego's "master model builders," creating sculptures for its theme park in San Diego. They paid him just $13 an hour, but it gave him good training for when he returned to New York to create his own Lego works full-time.

Sawaya now keeps 1.5 million Lego bricks, meticulously organized by shape and color into clear bins. Sawaya says he now works more hours per week than ever but gets artistic gratification from his Lego creations, particularly when he hears from children who are inspired by his projects.

You can buy a life-size Lego vanity-sculpture of yourself from this year’s Nieman Marcus catalog for a mere $60,000

Source: Conde Nast

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