A Story About Two Famous LEGO Craftsmen

by Sally Matheny

(Part Christiansen and part Sawaya)
This is a story about two, famous Lego® craftsmen. It’s not meant to inspire you to build with colorful, plastic bricks—although it may. Read on and find your motivation. 

Have you heard of Ole Kirk Christiansen? Probably not, but I am sure you’ve heard of his company. 

Ole Kirk, one of ten children who grew up in an impoverished home, worked hard as a wood craftsman in Denmark. Years later, after focusing more on toys than anything else, he named his toyshop “Lego.” Originally, he made wooden toys, but later, in 1947, his company expanded to make plastic toys. 

Ole Kirk was well known for saying, “Det bedste er ikke for godt.” Essentially, that meant, “the best is never too good.” He insisted his toys be of the highest quality. Not all toymakers stood by that motto. But we know by their continued success, the LEGO® company, did and still does. 

Not all of Ole Kirk’s days were successful though, especially during the Depression and after experiencing a devastating fire. Nevertheless, he stood firm in his convictions to provide the best he could offer.

LEGO® has grown into a phenomenal company today that would probably astonish Ole Kirk. The little plastic bricks have generated clothing, movies, and even theme parks.

Lego art by Nathan Sawaya
An amazing, American artist, Nathan Sawaya, clicked his talents into Ole Kirk’s motto and has built his own success story. He traded his lawyer’s briefcase in for a box of Lego® bricks—a BIG box! Sawaya stores about 4 million bricks in his two art studios. He became the first professional artist to make LEGOs an art medium. In 2011, CNN named Sawaya’s “The Art of the Brick” one of the top 10 “must see exhibitions in the world.”

My family was fortunate to visit one of Sawaya’s exhibits held at the Captain White House in Alamance County, North Carolina in 2012. 
LEGO Self-Portrait of Sawaya 

People view Sawaya’s famous exhibits all over the world. In 2012, it was the only exhibit in North Carolina and well worth our drive. We learned the same exhibit in New York costs $24 per person. Thanks to the generosity of the Wooten Family Fund, everyone visiting the exhibit at the Captain White House experienced a blessing of free admission! 

What a fun and fascinating way to discover a different medium of art. Even those in my family who weren’t art enthusiasts were in awe. 

Both Ole Kirk Christiansen and Nathan Sawaya inspired us to give our best, no matter what we do, because det bedste er ikke for godt!


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    EMILY BATES wrote: "A wonderful tale of the two Lego craftsmen, which I loved!

    Sally's Reply: "I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by, Emily.


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