My career at LEGO spanned many genres, all pithing the creative field. I learned of a job for a graphic designer through an ad placed in the newspaper! I didn’t get the first job I applied for, but I got a call back a mere three weeks later for another design job.
Back at the turn of the century, I was responsible for U.S. based retail initiatives. That could be anything from designing gigantic, half a street block long posters to be displayed in Toys R Us in Times Square, to making a sticker that said “sale, $19.99.”
For a short while, I was responsible for making visual assets to support LEGOland. That included designing interactive play concepts for Bionicle, all the way to stickers that said, “sale, $19.99.”
Shortly thereafter, I was assigned to take on developing the LEGO Club Magazine. It was the largest international children’s magazine in circulation, and it was a thrill putting it all together. LEGO was starting to grow at a wild pace back then, and any idea we could think of became a reality. It was truly a magical time to be employed there, as creativity, and ways to connect with kids were celebrated.
As the growth started, so did the need for development on new product lines. My boss and I would literally fly to the main office in Billund, Denmark, and go from desk to desk asking if anyone needed creative help. This sales technique worked, and we started bringing in the revered international development work back to our office in Enfield, Connecticut. We would get assigned projects that the big agencies couldn’t crack the code on. Go look up Galidor. We cut our teeth on that forgotten line, and our ability to adapt and create on the fly opened the door for us. That led to Bionicle, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. My team became known as the quick turn problem solvers, and we would fly to Denmark and develop marketing campaigns in a week. Granted, we would work until 4 am, then be back for meetings to present our work at 8 am, but anything is possible when you are 30 years young.
The list of international marketing campaigns I was involved with is long, but the most glorious one was Star Wars. I began helping on that line in 2003, as a designer who would create storyboards for TV commercials, and assemble the final packaging art.
In 2008, I was promoted to leading development across all intellectual properties that LEGO partnered with. My team grew from 1 to 15, and we had the privilege to develop Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, The Lord of the Rings, Superheroes, Cars, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more! Star Wars was always the crown jewel, mainly because we were expected to innovate and predict consumer trends.
My fondest memories were working with our in-house think tank called Creative Play Lab. Their job was to look at the intersection of technology and play. I got to develop video games, and explore augmented and virtual reality, all while partnering with Microsoft, Youtube, Google and Apple.
In addition to all of the above, I also got to develop content. Lots and lots and lots of content. I’ll never forget the first extended piece of content we made. It was called Revenge of the Brick. Through endless perseverance and nagging, my boss was able to convince the marketing team to spend a giant pile of money to make a cgi cartoon. It was five minutes long and aired on Cartoon Network. It was the first time LEGO made something like this, and I’ll never forget going to New York City to work with the production house called Treehouse Animation. It was there that I learned what is possible with cgi, and watching a retired police officer create mini figure walking cycles was truly astounding to me. Bringing our attempt at a script to life was simply magical.
That initial animation lead to a vast explosion of content development work. I made over 70 tv commercials, countless hours of content for websites, and then full on TV shows. Those started in 2011 with the The Padawan Menace, followed by The Empire Strikes Out, and then onto series: The Yoda Chronicles, Droid Tales, Freemaker Adventures and LEGO All Stars.
While my journey changed direction in 2018 ( I now do the same type of stuff for the aerospace industry), my career at LEGO was only revolutionary for me. The opportunities were endless, and I liked to say that LEGO wasn’t a job for me, but a lifestyle. To see the joy these little plastic bits bring to children is simply heartwarming, and the bold saturated colours of the LEGO universe haunt my thoughts all the time. That’s why I need to paint it, to clear some space in my mind for new thoughts!