Ten years ago, Nathan Sawaya quit his high-paid job as a lawyer to become the world's first "brick artist".
I was practicing corporate law in New York City, and was just doing sculptures in the evenings. I put together a website to display my Lego sculptures: brickart.com, and I started getting commissions from folks all over the world. So I quit my job and opened an art studio. It was quite the change, from having a very secure salary, working in a high-rise, doing corporate law, wearing a suit all day, to becoming an artist where I just played with toys all day.
I realized very early that Lego didn’t have to be what was on the front of the box, it could be whatever your imagination wanted it to be. When I was about 10 years old I wanted to get a dog, and my parents wouldn’t let me, so I built myself a life-size dog out of Lego. When I first started out as a brick artist I was making very representational pieces, but these days I try to focus a lot on the human form created out of just the bricks, and really try and put some emotion into it.
There’s one piece, Yellow, that has resonated with a lot of folks, and, I’ve seen it all over the world used in different places, some with my permission, some without my permission. It’s the one that has crept into pop culture a little, and it has become pretty iconic to what I do.