If the "BrikWars!"
painting is the one that got me hired into LEGO, "Vladek"
is the one that got me into the Knights Kingdom team.
For a couple of years,
this was the only piece out of LEGO Concept Lab that I was allowed
to show people. Eventually I got permission to show a couple of
other specific pieces of development material for other products
as they hit the retail shelves, but if I had to be limited to only
one painting, this one's not a bad one to be stuck with.
I'd been at LEGO for
about two months when this job came up, getting my butt kicked day
in and day out by all the product design majors in our concept group.
Their product-sketching skills made mine look amateurish at best.
Since sketches were all we'd been doing up until this point, I was
convinced that I was about to get ejected at any moment as the group's
So when an illustration
job got handed down from the upper execs, I was all over it. Bionicle
was a huge seller for LEGO then (and still is, I assume), so LEGO
had a second constructible action figure range in the works - Knights
Kingdom, to be released in 2004. Our assignment was to paint pictures
of the characters and find ways to make them look cool. I got assigned
the badguy, of course. We were all sent home at the end of the day
with instructions to show up tomorrow with whatever we'd come up
Figuring this was my
last shot, I was determined not to be outclassed again. I was up
from dusk till dawn painting this guy out.
In the office the next
morning, it turned out that I needn't have worried so much - I was
as much better than the product design guys at illustration, as
they were better than me at product design. Which makes sense, in
hindsight. Even in the picture above, though, you can see one of
the primary advantages they had over me in those early days: I had
a real problem drawing ellipses in perspective. A couple more months
at LEGO cured me of that, thankfully.
The end result of working
so hard on this one painting was that it caught the attention of
some folks higher up the food chain, and two weeks later I was in
Denmark assigned to the Knights team directly. And, after a couple
of twists and turns, that led to being the primary artist for all
the Knights comics and trading cards in the years that followed.