You can build LEGO for a living in Hampshire – here’s what it is like

IT might be one of the most popular toys in the world but did you realise that building LEGO can actually be a career?

Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 12:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 1:45 pm
Jack Diprose, Kamila Stahlavska and James Diprose all work as builders at Bright Bricks in Bordon. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Jack Diprose, Kamila Stahlavska and James Diprose all work as builders at Bright Bricks in Bordon. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The Bordon-based company Bright Bricks take the humble toys and transform them into spectacular sculptures that are displayed across theworld. 

Tucked away in a nondescript industrial estate that could be anywhere in the country, walking up to Bright Bricks you don’t really get the sense of what wonder awaits you inside. 

There are boxes and boxes of LEGO bricks in all shapes, sizes and colours to help create the towering works that the team are currently building.

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Jack Diprose, Kamila Stahlavska and James Diprose all work as builders at Bright Bricks in Bordon. Picture: Habibur Rahman

With the company’s latest tour Brickosaurs set to arrive at Marwell Zoo next month, Bright Bricks were kind enough to lift the lid on what it is like to be a professional LEGO builder.

Here is what we learned: 

What is a typical day as a brick builder like? 

Working in an office your days might have an air of predictability about them. 

Bright Bricks creative director, Ed Diment, from Waterlooville, with the T-Rex. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Get in for 9am, have a coffee, check your emails and repeat until it's Friday. 

But what is a typical day for a LEGO builder like? 

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Tom Moisey, 27, from Wokingham, is a Bright Bricks builder and he said: ‘I wouldn’t say there is an average day because you’ll be working on so many different projects. 

Some of the completed dinosaurs ready for Marwell Zoo. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘It can vary from some of these bigger models all the way down to smaller little personal builds. 

‘It varies day to day quite often.

‘Sometimes we’ll be picking up from where we left the day before so it’s quite easy. 

‘Other days we’ll go in, get a model assigned, work out who the senior is, they’ll give us a brief on what we are trying to achieve with the model, any potential issues there could be.

Bright Bricks creative director Ed Diment explained the huge amount of work that goes into their projects. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Then we'll have a look at the file ourselves and work out what sort of bricks and pieces we'd need to make the model, any potential issues further up there might be and then we’ll collect the bricks and start from layer one.' 

Where do ideas come from? 

Bright Bricks staff are always working on building various LEGO designs. 

They range from out-of-this-world concepts like spaceships to a towering T-Rex and even tigers.

Explaining how they come up with the ideas for their many builds, creative director Ed Diment. 47, from Waterlooville said: ‘We do a variety of different projects.

‘We do things like corporate builds where we are building for a company where they will send us an idea that they want us to create. 

Bright Bricks has millions of LEGO pieces at its factory in Bordon. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘For example we built a life-size car for McLaren.

‘We also do various smaller builds and things for companies and organisations that want to do fundraising. For example we’ve done cathedral builds where people will pay money to put a brick on to the model and that will raise money to repair the cathedral. 

‘Then we also have our own touring shows, sometimes those go into actual LEGO events that we run where people can come along and each have a go with interactive models. 

‘Or we rent them out to a venue such as a zoo, so for example these dinosaur models are going into Marwell Zoo. 

‘When we do those it is a question of the design team sitting down and coming up with a concept. 

‘Once you’ve picked a show theme its just a question of working out what kind of models you want to build to go in it. 

‘Then it’s on to designing and building.' 

Is it just LEGO builders who work at Bright Bricks?

The answer to this is no, Bright Bricks have a whole backroom team from marketing to the designers who help pull the projects together. 

Bryn Morgan is the design manager and he helps come up with the 3D models the builders will use to help bring the creations to life. 

Explaining how they do this, the 26-year-old from Headley said: ‘As a group we'll come together, we’ll decide what we are making to begin with. 

‘We would choose whatever breed of dinosaur or animal we think will look good. 

‘We then have to decide how dynamic we’re going to make it, so if we’ve decided that it is going to be a high contact model or something that people are going to be able to come and stand next to and really interact with then it has to obviously be a lot more structurally sound.

‘Or if we don’t expect people to be able to come up and touch we have a bit more freedom with how dynamic it is. 

‘Once we've got all that laid out and the groundwork made we'll start sculpting it. Either we can get a 3D file that is a little bit closer to our end goal.

‘But quite often we’ll have to sculpt it from scratch using a programme called ZBrush, it's kind of like digital clay. 

‘We will then put it into our own software where we can convert it into LEGO bricks, we can paint it in what we know are LEGO colours and the stock we have. 

‘We will then hand it over to another department our team of production developers and they will create steel frames that will go within the model so we know its not going to fall apart. 

'Once we've got that we can take one from the other, make sure it all fits together and it's going to work perfectly and we can convert it into a version that the builders will be able to build from.’ 

What tips do they have for LEGO lovers chasing this dream job? 

If this has got you considering trying to get into the professional LEGO building world, here are some top tips from the Bright Bricks team.

Ed said: ‘There are relatively few professional LEGO builders in the world and not that many companies doing it. We are the largest independent one in the world. 

‘The very first point is having a passion for LEGO, if you like building with LEGO then keep trying to make models, make different sorts of models don’t just stick to one theme. 

‘Try and build as many different things as you can. There’s innumerable websites out there with models on them and things people have built in the past.

‘Look for blogs and look for photo galleries and you can then learn about techniques and builds and so on. 

‘And then join the LEGO fan community.’ 

Tom added: ‘Top tip would probably be experiment with building outside of instructions and actually create free building that will always come in handy no matter what you do.

‘A little bit of engineering knowledge in structures and shapes and material strengthens bits like that can be quite handy as you move up.’