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How to become a professional Lego designer. No, seriously.

I know there's probably a lot of competition for the job of being a real Lego designer, but somewhere on this site, there has to be someone who is/was one, or at least knows the process of becoming one. Even if my career choice leads me in another direction, for curiosity's sake: What does one have to do? What university courses and so on?

Comments

  • edited January 2012
    A couple of news articles about a young chap and his LEGO. They are somewhat out-of-date since I beleive he did go on to become a 'LEGO Designer'.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/tees/hi/people_and_places/newsid_8607000/8607735.stm

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7558901/Artist-creates-Amy-Winehouse-in-Lego.html
  • What does one have to do? What university courses and so on?
    LEGO used to essentially say to study design of some sort, or possibly engineering. However, in recent years, LEGO has demonstrated that really, what you need to do is demonstrate to them that you'd be a good designer. They've hired a number of designers (at least 6, probably more) from the online LEGO community that have proven themselves to be right for the job.

    However, one thing to note: it's not just ONE job. I believe there's at least 3 types of designers at LEGO that work with building LEGO models:

    1) Set Designers - These guys design the products you buy in the stores. They have to be very versatile, and be able to design products that the target market will want. You can be the best MOC expert in the world, but if your designs fall apart at the drop of a hat, then they won't make good sets (for instance). You have to be able to listen to the task at hand, and know how to be creative within the scope of your given project. I believe Set Designers are all located in Denmark-- so you've got to be willing to re-locate to the Billund area.

    2) Master Designers - These are the folks who build displays for events, store displays, and so forth. They often build life-size sculptures, or at other scales like miniland. Their creations don't necessarily have to be built by kids (although sometimes they do), and they probably get the most creative leeway.

    3) Master Builders - Typically, they're there to do things like copy LEGO designs (like: build 50 copies of this statue that a Master Designer made), or repair designs in LEGOLAND theme parks. They generally don't get to make their own designs, but sometimes do.

    For all of those positions, you also have to be good with people and with kids. You can't be the type of person who goes and hides behind closed doors, and you also shouldn't be snide or otherwise negative. All three types of designers are often exposed to the public, and especially to kids, and LEGO very much wants to make sure that their image is positive.

    Also, they don't pay amazingly well. If you're the type who studied engineering (for example), you can probably get better pay in another field. If you want to work for LEGO, it'll have to be because you love it, not because you think you can make a lot of money!

    DaveE
    Adzbadboy
  • Thanks.
    I just remembered that there was a chapter about the Lego Harry Potter team in that 'Building the Magical World' book. That talks about graphic designers and part designers as well. Presumably they're not exclusive to HP, or only licensed themes. Does anyone know about these?
  • There's scads of other designers at LEGO that don't work with assembling LEGO models-- things like:

    Concept/Product Design - Very open ended, people who come up with new ideas for potential LEGO themes. These often include Concept Artists as well, who work to try and create artwork that gives people the "feel" of a new theme or product, without really having the specifics fleshed out.

    I'm not sure if "Concept Design" and "Product Design" are two different departments-- Essentially Concept Design is earlier in the process: "Let's make a theme where underground miners battle rock monsters", or "how about an elite team of ninjas?". They'd come up with a concept, and then provide artwork, or possibly even sample models to help people "understand" the idea. These ideas are then pitched to marketing, who will give an approval or denial-- and often times suggest revisions.

    "Product Design" generally is about fleshing out a concept into something more concrete. If you have a theme idea where (say) you've got mutant dinosaurs on the loose, then how do you decide which sets and dinosaurs to include? Do you have a "big base" set? What are the price points you'd like to hit? What's the backstory (if any)? What's the logo design? What do the minifig torsos and characters look like, and what are their names? Etc.

    Part Design - Essentially a sculpting/modeling job taking the requirements for new pieces and translating them into a physical piece. This usually means figuring out which aspects to accentuate, and what scale and level of detail things should have.

    And then there's tons of OTHER content designers:
    - Website design
    - Catalog design
    - Packaging design
    - Advertising design (many facets, like TV spots, print advertising, promotional events, etc)
    - Instruction/print design

    And probably scads more. Each of those is a pretty typical design job, though, at least in terms of training. There's no special requirements that I'm aware of regarding education or anything. It's a good idea to be FAMILIAR with LEGO of course, but otherwise, I believe they want the same types of designers that any toy company aims to get.

    DaveE
  • FYI, Most of the Master Builders are located in Kladno, Czech Republic. There's also the LEGOLAND Master Builders, who are hired by Merlin entertainments, not TLG.
  • Thanks, @davee123. If there was a way to measure a member's ratio of value:post, I'm certain yours would be among the highest.
  • If anyone is actually looking at becoming a designer, this is probably the way to go :-)
  • Thanks, Matthew. I was actually just looking at that last night! Thing is, they're a little vague, and they only seem to talk about being a Creator designer. Is that because that's a mandatory first step, or just because that's what they chose to put on there?
  • ^ That's the only one they're hiring at the moment. There was a post a while back for a Preschool (Duplo) designer. They just put an ad up when they need a particular one.
  • I'm curious also. It would be my "dream job"
  • It would also be my dream job, unfortunately I haven't graduated high school yet and therefore cannot be hired by Lego for any job.
    Andor
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