The World’s Best LEGO® Artists | LEGO Adults Welcome | Art and Design | LEGO.com
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The World’s Best LEGO® Artists

OK, we admit we’re biased. But we really love LEGO® artists.

And not just because of the incredible, awe-inspiring structures they produce, like the ones we feature below (…although it definitely helps). But as with any artist, it can be equally amazing to dive deeper into their motivations and process, to discover the care and passion behind the laying of each brick.

So whether you are already an expert LEGO builder, or if you are looking to take your first steps off the manuals, we hope you can be inspired by the works (and stories) of three of our favorite LEGO artists right now!

Ekow Nimako

Ekow Nimako doesn’t just build LEGO® structures. He creates ‘monuments to Black youth’, exploring Black identity through a surrealist lens. 

Now. If you are thinking “he’s doing all that… with LEGO bricks?”, then that is exactly the reaction Ekow is after. 

A huge part of his art is about tackling difficult issues head-on. As he puts it, “Working with LEGO bricks is really important, because I get to breach topics and make them accessible. LEGO bricks are a benign, globally-loved toy. But the topics are not benign.”

A perfect example of this deliberate contradiction (or, as Ekow much more eloquently puts it, ‘cultural polarity’) in action can be found in his stunning ‘Flower Girl’. Made with over 25,000 LEGO pieces and standing at four feet (1.2m) tall, she represents a poignant monument to the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. 

‘Flower Girl’ is part of Ekow’s internationally-renowned ‘Building Black’ series, inspired by West African civilizations, mythology and traditions. Strikingly, Ekow only uses black LEGO pieces. The reason for this choice stems back to his experiences growing up in Canada to Ghanaian parents, where under-representation was a major issue in the films, cartoons and TV shows he loved. 

Ekow’s art now seeks to address that imbalance for the Black children who visit his exhibitions today by promoting positive Black narratives, as with his extraordinary, seven-foot (2.1m) tall ‘Cavalier Noir’.

For Ekow, it was important here to “create a hero in the image of a young, Black warrior”, in response to how many of our existing statues don’t typically represent Black individuals, with just 4 statues of Black individuals standing in the entire US Capitol providing one prominent example. 

Of course, the fact this issue has so visibly resurfaced across the world in 2020 following the resurgence of the BLM movement, only reaffirms the relevance and importance of Ekow’s mission.

“Seeing Black kids engage with my work, to see themselves reflected in something that doesn’t typically reflect them, is the most profound thing”

We always knew that you could do anything with LEGO bricks… but it’s still nice to be surprised.

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Nathan Sawaya

Nathan Sawaya is arguably the most well-known LEGO® artist. He has over 67K Instagram followers and a global touring exhibition entitled ‘The Art of the Brick’, which was rated by CNN as one of the world’s ‘Must-See Exhibitions.’

Nathan’s most famous work is that of Yellow, although the motif of a man having his chest torn open to reveal LEGO bricks appears throughout his work. If we may just assume our best armchair psychologist role for a second, this imagery might just have something to do with how Nathan felt when working as a corporate lawyer before making the switch to be a full-time LEGO artist…

The jump from lawyer to LEGO builder is a pretty big one, but it was never something Nathan planned. LEGO building for Nathan initially fulfilled the same purpose as it does for all of us – simply being a way of unwinding, relaxing and having fun. He eventually created a website to display his LEGO creations, and as it turned out, it was the day that website crashed from too many hits that made him realize “ah… there’s something to this.”

Nowadays, Nathan owns over 10 million LEGO bricks, and currently holds no less than three Guinness World Records for his gargantuan construction efforts:

  • #1

    An 18-foot replica Batmobile™, which was made with over half a million LEGO® bricks, in collaboration with legendary DC Comics™ Publisher Jim Lee.
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Nathan’s latest project is called PERNiCiEM, which is dedicated to raising awareness about some of the planet’s most endangered creatures. And, keeping on brand with the rest of Nathan’s work, it also happens to be really, really cool. 

Mariann Asanuma

Last but by no means least, is Mariann Asunuma, who has smashed the… glass brick ceiling for… LEGO® brick builders… (don’t think about it too much…)

Basically, Mariann lays claim to being the world’s first female freelance LEGO artist. Before that, in 2003, she was the first American woman to work as a Master Model Builder at LEGOLAND® California, creating some of the most the recognizable attractions at the park, including the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign, the life-size pirate and a four-foot ladybug. 

Since going freelance full-time with her company ‘Model Building Secrets’, Mariann has written two unofficial books on LEGO building. One on how to build a LEGO ball (take it from us, it’s harder than it looks), and another on how to bring color to your creations. In terms of her actual building, Mariann has adopted a simple, yet extremely effective and inspiring philosophy:

From Big to Small I Can Build It All!

That motto is reflected by the sheer variety of her portfolio. 

For example, currently in the Leonardo Museum in Utah sits Mariann’s immaculate 5-foot-long replica of the Cathedral of the Madeleine, which she made using around 50,000 LEGO pieces. Also standing at 5 feet is her mosaic of the Google Chrome logo, built and designed for Google’s headquarters, where it remains today.

One of our favorites of Mariann’s is her mosaic of Matt Smith playing Doctor… I-don’t-know-Who… mainly because of how it was designed by hand. Her blueprint of the design really goes to show the level of dedication and expertise that these master LEGO builders need to have to succeed in their line of work.

Arguably Mariann’s most spectacular build is her 6-foot wide recreation of the California Academy of Sciences, which required every one of the skills that made her such a successful LEGOLAND® Master Model Builder! It’s filled with hundreds of expertly designed details and Easter Eggs, from the beautifully textured roof to a replica whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling!

Whether it’s big or small, we can’t wait to see what Mariann will be building in the future!

Looking for more?

Check out the Adults Welcome homepage to see our collection of adult-focused sets and articles!