Arts & Culture
12:27 pm
Sat June 1, 2013

LEGO Used as Building Blocks for Arts Education and Creativity

Lake Effect's Bonnie North interviews LEGO Master Model Builder Andrew Johnson.

LEGO has been a part of childhood for many of us, but for some, it is also their career. Andrew Johnson is a LEGO Master Model Builder in Chicago.

Andrew Johnson, Lego Master Builder
Credit NPR

Ole Kirk Kristiansen started the brand in Denmark in 1932, but came out with its trademark building block in 1958. That block has not changed since.

“I know there are a lot of new kits and different pieces coming out,” says Johnson, “But the original 2 x 4, the model for it, hasn’t changed in the past [50] years. It uses the same mold.  So I don’t think that the Lego block will ever go away.”

Johnson began working with LEGO as a little kid and continued creating models through college, when he worked at a LEGO educational camp during the summers. One day, his dad found an ad in the paper for LEGO, who was looking for a LEGO Master Model Builder.

The application process was not like any other; the first step was to send in his resume and a Youtube video of him constructing a model. After he passed that level, he competed against seven other applicants at a “build off” and was challenged to build models using the given blocks and the themes, which were both given moments before they needed to start constructing.

“The LEGO can be interpreted in many different ways that looking at one thing from one person, someone else may not see the same thing,” says Johnson, “ I think kind of bringing that perspective to the competition gave me that edge right from the get go.”

Johnson was hired and became one of approximately ten LEGO Master Model Builders in the world.

He currently works at the LEGOLand Discovery Center in Chicago and still works with kids, trying to encourage and strengthen their creativity.

“I’ve always given advice just as kids get older to shy away from [the kits],” says Johnson, “They’ve kind of gotten the building down and to really come up with something on their own that they really have to use their imagination and creativity on their own. Keep it balanced and you do progress, getting into your own building niche.”

LEGO is coming out with a couple of exciting events. The company is coming out with a new movie, Legends of Chima. There is also a competition for kids to create their own LEGO video and upload it to their website to win many prizes, which can be built using the  LEGO Digital Designer.