Amy and Jamie Interview (LEGO Masters)

With no episode of LEGO® Masters on April 1, and subsequently no elimination, we replaced the weekly contestants Q&A. Instead, True North Bricks, The Brothers BrickBrickset, and BZPower caught up with Brickmasters Amy and Jamie for an interview! They share their thoughts on what it takes to become a LEGO® Master, work for the LEGO® Group, as well as their impressions from judging the show.

Amy and Jaime
Jamie and Amy (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

What was the best aspect of being a judge on LEGO Masters?

Amy: I just loved the moment that we gave the teams a challenge and we could see their eyes light up with ideas, them running to the bricks then sketching down what they were doing, getting excited telling each other about what they were planning to create, and then eventually sharing it with Jaime and me. I think that the creativity, imagination, and energy that was a part of every challenge was just really amazing to watch.

Jamie: It was really special to be able to work with these talented people–and then give them a challenge that really surprised even them on what they could accomplish. I think it was those moments that you could sense there was a little bit of self-doubt with a team and then we would be able to come in and just give them that little prompt and get them to go, “Oh, we could totally do this!” Then they get all re-energized and they totally come out of nowhere with something amazing. I think that was super inspiring, seeing how the words that we were saying had such an impact on them. It made us very conscious to make sure that we were careful in how we chose our words because we knew that this would dramatically inspire or change someone’s idea. We were really trying to get the best out of everybody and, more often than not, people recognized that and started doing things that they didn’t even think were possible because they’re in that environment where we are pushing them to bring out their best.

Amy and Jamie
(©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

What was the hardest aspect of being a judge on LEGO Masters?

Amy: The hardest was sending teams home. I think it definitely comes across in the episodes. I think that was the hardest by far. I don’t want to speak for Jaime, but both of us got very emotional every time that it happened, and really felt the weight of that decision and announcing the news every week. It was tougher than I think either of us had really expected.

Jamie: I think it is that perspective of having to be the judge. I’m more used to being the coach, where I want to celebrate people’s creativity and further it. We really did try to do that along the way. But in the end, knowing that people that have worked so hard, and especially people that have so much potential in some of the challenges, to then see them really not handle one of the challenges as well, it was really tough. You know someone has potential–you know they’re good at so many other things. But based on the current build and how everyone else did, you have to stop someone’s journey when you really want to see more from them. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. That was really hard because, again, they’re very likable, creative teams. We just wanted to cheer all of them on and see all of them succeed.

Jamie, Amy, and Will.
(©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

How much time did you spend with each team as they were building? The episodes only show you providing a little feedback.

Jamie: We had multiple check-ins for sure. But total time probably varied on the different challenges. Amy, would you say we had about three check-ins on average for each of the challenges?

Amy: Yeah, at least. Basically, we checked in with the teams every couple of hours for 10 to 20 minutes each chatting about their idea, giving some input, and giving our thoughts on it. We did spend a lot more time behind the scenes on coaching and inspiring the teams than time allowed for in the episodes. There’s just so much happening with so many teams to fit into an hour-long episode. We had a lot of time with the teams during long builds, and when we weren’t chatting with them, Jamie and I were usually watching from the sidelines or via screens that we could also be watching a lot of the time. That way, they could have a little bit of peace to keep building and being creative, but we could still keep an eye on them and see what was going on.

Jamie: There is a fine line with the builders that there’s only so many interruptions that they can handle from the judges or Will or the guests before it really freaks them out. We wanted to be very strategic when those interruptions were with the first check-in where we want to know their concept and then give them feedback and if we think it’s heading in the right direction. There were two extra check-in points to address if they are on track and to help provide direction if they’re not accomplishing what we think they need to do. We tried to give them an awareness of that so they could have time to actually react and not be surprised at the end. But it is that fine balance. We want them to be building mostly and not spending all of their time just engaging with us and Will.

Judging Dream Park Theme Park
Judging Dream Park Theme Park (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

What were some of the best building techniques you saw used?

Jamie: There were so many little things! I’d love for there to be another whole program for just geeking out about techniques and seeing all the cool stuff that was made. Where do I start? Boone and Mark’s little hot dog creatures were just so cool. They also made these tables using a clutch gear or Technic piece to support the base of the table. And then there were some trees that were made I hadn’t seen before. I’m trying to remember who did them. You know, I’ve seen a lot of LEGO trees in my day, so the fact that I was actually seeing trees that I hadn’t seen built that way before was amazing. It’s a little thing but it gets me super excited. There were so many of these little moments where I would just smile and say, “I love the way you did that” or “Oh, that is amazing” or ”Oh, that is so cool!” I could have spent an hour distracting them and just geeking out over their models. I love the fact that even knowing there’s a time crunch, they were still playful enough to add these little moments that they knew we would discover. Sometimes, they were almost like little kids wondering “if Amy and Jamie are going to see this little thing that we put in.” When we did find them, it was even more fun.

Amy: There was so much nice parts usage! The teams loved taking something very unexpected, like a hot dog or a banana or even the minifigure legs and using them in a way that we hadn’t seen before. We love those moments going around and spotting how the teams had used them and finding different little Easter eggs that they had snuck into the build. There were quite a lot of little nods to me, Jamie or Will. I was wearing my pink suit one day and one of the floors of a skyscraper was made pink as my penthouse on the top. There was a playfulness with how they approached the tasks. That was really amazing to see. Of course, there’s just not enough time in the episodes to show all of these details, and epic-ness of the builds at the end and the whole judging. But it was really magical for Jamie and I spot them.

Jamie: Also, we had three and a half million LEGO bricks. Yet inevitably, there are always those pieces you wish you had more of just like when you’re building at home. For example, from Richard and Flynn, when you can’t find a magnifying glass, use a pan. Really clever parts usage comes from constraints and using what you have on hand. We saw many pieces being used in interesting ways.

Jamie, Amy, and Will.
Judges Jamie Beard, Amy Corbett and host Will Arnett in the “Space Smash” (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

What challenges were your favorite and which do you want to see return next season?

Amy: That’s always a tough one. The challenges are so different and there are moments in all of them we love. There’s something special about every single challenge that we have. But I think one of my favorites that’s definitely very close to my heart was the Storybook challenge. I really love when I’m designing a product focused on kids and thinking about the story. How do you communicate it to kids? Then having kids actually come into the studio and tell the story that the builders had to create was really, really fun.

Jamie: I have an inherent bias. I love the Fair Ground. That’s how I got into the company–I’ll always love Fair Ground. Having that as the very first challenge and seeing how some of them really nailed it. Day one, they came in and they just blew us away. There was something super inspiring about that, really setting the bar quite high upfront. But it goes two ways. I think that first challenge actually terrified some people, but when they finished it, it made people realize, “Yeah, we belong here. We’re going to do awesome this season.” It really validated that they probably didn’t think that they could accomplish what they did, especially immediately upfront, but then they knew they could handle anything.

Jaime, Mayim Bialik, and Will.
Jamie, Mayim Bialik, and Will (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

How do you feel about your representation on the show after editing?

Jamie: It’s something that I needed. Now that I’ve seen it, I can actually appreciate the challenges that they had editing. In the early episodes, we did three days of non-stop shooting each, and then they had to somehow whittle all of that down to an hour-long program. Looking back, Amy and I both learned that sometimes we have to be really sharp with what we’re trying to say to really communicate clearly what’s going on. Because there’s just so much content where they have to build characters and tell stories, we have to be succinct.

In terms of our portrayal, I went in a little bit less aware about how much time they actually can spend airing each part of the show. All things considered, yes, I reflect back on things that I said. But I do see it as an entertaining program where we’re celebrating people’s creativity, and the focus should really be on the builders and what they’re doing. So I’ve learned re-scope what I thought I might be in the show. And then I also see the necessity of what Amy and I are doing to drive the show forward. We tried our best to give comments that were constructive and actually help the audience at home understand the decisions that are made. LEGO Masters is an ambitious program where there’s so much content. It’s hard for me to be critical of how they edit because I know they have to help tell a story.

Amy: I think it’s just amazing how they can edit so much content in such a short space of time. I agree with Jamie completely that there’s maybe a learning for us to say things in the shortest possible way and to make sure that we’re always celebrating the creativity that these teams bring. Because genuinely, no matter how many critiques we give, in each challenge we are genuinely blown away that they’ve managed to complete the challenge and that they’ve given it their all every single time.

Jamie, Amy and Will.
(©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

During the episodes, the teams display their creations and then you announce the results fairly quickly. How long did the actual judging period take?

Amy: It was a process of judging. As soon as the builders shared their ideas and started building, Jamie and I were talking and sharing our thoughts on how we felt things were going the whole way through. In terms of the actual physical judging going around to the teams, there was a longer segment of judging that’s not shown on the show where we get into a little more detail on certain aspects that are working and not working. And, and then we had quite a few late nights, right Jamie?

Jamie: Yes. Debating.

Amy: Debating how we were feeling about a decision we had to make the next day, whether the build was finished or if it was coming to an end. So those very lengthy discussions and a lot of thought from Jamie and I went into every single decision that we made.

Jamie: That’s where the healthy back and forth between myself and Amy was really good. It didn’t just end when we were on the set. We went back to the same hotel, and we couldn’t help but continue to discuss what our thoughts were. Besides our different backgrounds, we also see different things. Amy might see something while watching the monitor that I missed and then I’d say something like, “Oh, I didn’t realize they were actually adding that additional feature,” and now it changes my perspective on where they were headed with the build. So, it was really helpful to have two sets of eyes coming at it because by the time the judging actually happened–at the end of the episode, if you call it the judging–we were very much aligned on our view of the models and how we thought about them. It was more of a formality at the end, to just confirm and then trying to, as best we can, sum it up in some words that are meaningful to the contestants.

Judging Aaron and Christian's build (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)
Judging Christian and Aaron in the Cut in Half challenge (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

Many times, a team that was on the bottom one week went home the next week. Did the strength of the team’s prior builds have any impact on the decision to eliminate them?

Jamie: On some level, there is a subconscious thought that if somebody struggled the week before, you want them to succeed the next time. I always thought that was a good opportunity for each team to assess where they’re at and then think of how they can change. There are some teams, like Sam and Jessica, who had a revelation about what they were good at and wanted to start doing more of that. As long as the team was reflective, I think some of the teams did better after being in the bottom because they looked around at what builds did well compared to what they were doing and then they grew. So I don’t agree that there’s a default that if you’re in the bottom then you’re in trouble the next week. But for some teams, that is the way that it worked out just because they had two rough weeks in a row. It is a tough competition and I can imagine there’s also something to be said about the amount of energy it takes to keep being creative week on week on week. I think some teams just hit a little bit of a creative tough spot–and unfortunately, it happened to be two weeks in a row. Amy, thoughts on that?

Amy: No, I agree with you there was no formula behind it. But of course, when you can see a team was really struggling continuously then they were just having some challenges in general with the competition.

Tyler and Amy get judged (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)
Judging Tyler and Amy in the Cut in Half Challenge (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

From watching the episodes, it looks like it was hard to tell the teams they were leaving. What was bonding like as the show progressed? Did you know it would be so emotional when you signed on to judge?

Amy: At the beginning, Jamie and I both discussed what our role was as judges and that we shouldn’t become friends with the teams on the set. We wanted to set that line of “we are the judges” and that we were being serious about it. But you spend so much time with them, you see them building for so long, you check in with the teams all the time, and you see their passion and love and energy for the bricks and for what they’re creating every time. So of course, you get to know them more and more every week, and they all they’re all awesome. They all create amazing builds. It is extremely hard in that moment when you have to say, “I’m sorry, it is your time to go home.” Because they’re people and they’re doing what they love. It’s really hard to break that news and much harder than I ever imagined it would be from sitting on the sofa at home watching other reality TV show judges.

Jamie: The biggest challenge for me was that I genuinely liked all the people. It’s a really creative, fun group of people. I think it came out on camera pretty well, but everybody in that room was so connected with and supporting each other. Even though we were trying to stay as objective as possible, you can’t help but get caught up in the moment because you really like these people. It was particularly difficult when teams are making amazing things, and we’re just blown away. But then we’ve got to choose who made the one thing that was just not quite as amazing as the other people’s builds, especially when you love their personalities and the people and their talent. It was a little bit surprising to us just how much you do end up really caring about these people and getting to know them. So it made it particularly challenging when we had to make the tough calls and actually send people home.

Check in with Mel and Jermaine (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)
Jermaine, Mel, Jamie, and Will (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

Did you ever have any strong disagreements about which build was the weakest, and if so, how did you resolve it and determine who would go home?

Jamie: [long pause] Yes. We both have very different perspectives. That also means that sometimes we approach things differently, and that’s actually okay. What we agreed to is that every episode we would always come up with who we thought were the top two and the bottom two–to have a range of two or three people in mind. The good thing is that we always agreed in that realm. It was just a finer detail within that top two or three of who should be the top or who should be in the bottom. We always had a good discussion.

We also decided early on we would alternate each week, to allow one of us to announce who was going to go home or who was going to stay. No matter what our discussions were, we made sure that it was a team decision–that it was both of us. We didn’t want to make it look like just one of us was always picking a winner or one of us was sending somebody home. So as a starting point, it was a shared effort. We did have disagreements, but in the end after having a good discussion, we were always aligned. And I think that we always felt very comfortable with the decisions that we made. But, we definitely had a dialogue along the way.

Amy: It’s a discussion that we tried to have the whole way through the builds. We always shared what we were feeling about each of the teams and how it’s going. It never was a quick discussion at the end. We always made sure each other was on the same page or knew how we were feeling. We really made our points for why we felt that way. It was never just, “I like this one, I don’t like this one.” It was always, “They have fulfilled this criteria,” or “We asked for this and they’ve done that better,” or “See how they really pushed the technique here.” We always tried to link back to storytelling, creativity, and technical ability, so that we could use them as discussion points.

Jamie, Amy, Will, Flynn, and Richard.
Judging Richard and Flynn in the Cut in Half Challenge (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

Do you think you two could participate as a team in one of the competitions against the builders?

Jamie: [laughs] I don’t know about the full competition, that would be a conflict of interest, but I actually have really grown to enjoy spending time working with Amy. And we’ve also been building together. But at the level of actually competing in a challenge, that would be a very curious thing to think about how that could work. How do you feel, Amy?

Amy: I’m not really sure how it would fit into the show. But building for fun, that’s something that Jamie and I maybe will try and do more often once we can be in the same building again. We have some great ideas when we’re together, and we have a lot of fun building together.

Jamie: Full disclosure, I like to view myself as a more deliberate builder. I’m actually terrible for television because I would spend the first eight hours of a challenge planning, and then rapid building for the last two hours. So, it’d be dreadfully boring to watch on TV. But it is reminding me how my skills don’t always marry perfectly with the challenges and how we’ve structured it. Which is why I’m always continually amazed at what people can do when put on the spot. They can automatically go right into it. It’s a very different world than how I build.

Jamie and Amy
Jamie and Amy (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

What challenge would you have excelled at as a team if you were contestants on the show? What would have been the most difficult for you?

Jamie: That’s a good question. What would we have excelled on?

Amy: Jaime and I, in the background while all the teams were building were always kind-of whispering like, “Wouldn’t this idea be really cool? What would you build if we did this one?” I feel like the Storybook challenge got the most ideas and discussion between the two of us. We were almost at one point holding ourselves back from grabbing some bricks and starting our own little creation in the corner. For me, we just had so much energy around that one that I would have loved to have given that one a try.

Jamie: I think that even something like the Mega City challenge, in some ways that would speak to me because I would be really into wanting to build the buildings. I’d want to make this really cool skyscraper. But then the storytelling aspect is where Amy probably would have really loved going into that, especially with the twist and destroying my building that I was working so hard on! [laughs] We were wonderfully balanced in that way. Whereas I am probably wanting to focus on the buildings and the details and the use of bricks, then Amy’s all about making sure that it’s the right story that has emotion and really captivates people.

Judges Jamie and Amy with host Will Arnett in the “Mega City Block” episode (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

If there is a season two, will you both be back or would you pass the duties onto somebody else?

Amy: We have to wait for confirmation of season two. And then wait to be asked to be the judges again, so I think all of that is up in the air right now.

Jamie: We definitely experienced plenty of good things from season one that would make us want to continue. But it’s very much up in the air right now.

Amy: We had an amazing experience on the show, and we loved being the judges.

Amy, Will, and the Golden Brick
Amy, Will, and the Golden Brick (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

If LEGO Masters returns for a second season, what advice would you give to aspiring contestants?

Jamie: The first thing, and this is the advice that we also gave to the current team, is to watch the previous shows. Get familiar with the format–it is asking a lot of people. They have to build under a time crunch, they have to be able to handle twists, they have to be able to work with other people. Just really get a sense of what you are getting into, and make sure that that’s exciting to you–because it’s terrifying to most people [laughs]. But the people that really excel at it have to be really versatile and be able to change, to roll with it, to be adaptive. I think that’s the number one quality that I think the people that do well with the show have. One of the traits they have is that they are really flexible.

Amy: I think getting other people to set you challenges is a really good way of practicing. So, you don’t know what they’re going to ask you to build, and you work under a time limit. Just do your own version of the show to teach yourself to see how you can build under a time constraint and with a challenge that you didn’t have time to think about before. I think something else that we really noticed on the show that’s really important is knowing your building partner. The more you can be in sync with what your different skills are, how you can support each other, how you handle the pressure, and how you can be a team that works as one, the better. I think it’s really an advantage to know your partner.

Jamie: It can really double the amount of time that you have because if you have an effective working relationship with your partner you essentially get twice as much time.

(©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

How are some of the builds animated into stop-motion videos after they are judged as we saw initially with the Dream Park challenge?

Jamie: I don’t know the specifics of it, but I love it. They told us as we were shooting that they were already working on the early episodes. So they were doing it even the show was going on. I was really blown away with the amount that they invested into those because it takes so long. Whoever is doing it–forgive me, I should probably find out who’s doing it–because it’s amazing and they’re doing some really good work.

Amy: That was something that was quite fun for Jamie and I when we got to point out some cool details in each build that was conveyed to the animation team so they could really bring it to life. That’s where the magic of the storytelling and LEGO really comes to life on TV when they marry the great builds that are filled with little story details and really bring them to life through animation.

Amy, Nicole Byer, and Jamie in the Storybook Challenge (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

What happened behind the scenes during the Bridge Building challenge when there weren’t enough weights? How did you adjust judging because of that situation?

Amy: We were all absolutely blown away by how strong these teams managed to make the bridges. It was beyond expectations because we didn’t have enough weights ready because we didn’t expect that it will be that hard to break them. There were so many kids who came to watch that day of filming and they were just waiting for the bridge to break! But then there was another weight, then another weight, and it was taking some time. You could just feel the tension in the room as all the kids were just giddy for them to break.

Jamie: Behind the scenes, there was a lot of scrambling to figure out the weight scenario and how to be fair to everybody and determine the best loading of the weights going forward. There were definitely some smart builders that had some really great ideas. As far as the weights go, it is certainly a learning for the future. Luckily, we had a lot of cameras around that had counterweights that we ended up using. That challenge was a tricky one because we did try to change it from the Australian version of the show. We changed the distance between the two columns and we also gave them less time. We also changed the requirement about the decking anticipating that it would be just enough change that those who maybe had seen the previous program and tried to study it would be throw off a bit. We had some pretty good builders and they are giving us a lot to think about for future challenges.

Jamie, Amy, Nicole Byer, and Will (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

For any future seasons of LEGO Masters, will the challenges only get more difficult from now on?

Amy: We always want to challenge the builders, not so much make the challenges more difficult, but find ways of pushing the builders to really show us what they can do.

Jamie: You don’t think it’s difficult enough? [laughs] It is a fine line. We don’t want to make difficult challenges just for the sake of being difficult. We want to have people succeed and show off their creativity. Sometimes it is as simple as finding the best way of getting people to just think differently. I think the challenges that we try to avoid are the ones that are very matter-of-fact like “Replicate this” or “Build this exactly.” We want to see the bricks used as a creative medium, and that’s what makes the challenges somewhat difficult to get just right, to think of new and imaginative ways to spark the imagination within the builders that will get them to think of something they didn’t even think was possible. Honestly, that’s when you know the challenges are going well when the builders go in a completely different direction than we thought they would because people are just so creative.

(©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

Are you both life-long LEGO builders?

Jamie: That’s an easy one for me, I am! I would say at least since the age of five or six, but that changes depending on when you ask me [laughs].

Amy: I also have built since I was a child. I would also say that I am a life-long player. With LEGO, it was only as I got my design degree and went into toy design that I really started building on a bigger and more professional scale. Still playing though, I am always still playing.

Jaime: I can see that on a t-shirt for you, Amy. “I’m a player.” [laughs]

Evil Will (on screen), Amy, and Jamie (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

Do you remember the first set that got you into building with LEGO?

Jaime: For me, I remember it being a firetruck. It’s a very stereotypical thing that most kids get into, but for some reason, I remember it was a firetruck with a ladder.

Amy: Actually, it is a build that my brother got as a child. I remember him getting a pirate ship one Christmas as a child, and as soon as he got that it inspired us to bring out the LEGO bin and play our own universe, our own world out of LEGO for the pirate ship to be a part of. I remember we actually played with that world for days, creating new builds and expanding it. I think that is one of my first LEGO memories, playing with my brother.

It’s really the beauty of LEGO that it can bring families together. I think that’s something quite amazing we’re seeing at the moment, actually, with COVID-19. I love seeing people on Instagram who are sending me pictures that they’re actually building together as a family and setting their own challenges for themselves. It’s something really magical that LEGO bricks bring.

Jamie, Amy, Will, and Terry Crews.
Jamie, Amy, Will, and Terry Crews (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

What is it like working at the LEGO Group? Are people jealous when you tell them you work there?

Jamie: [laughs]

Amy: I think it’s quite a magical thing to tell people. When people ask what I do and I say I work at LEGO, people are always like “Wow, that’s a job?” Before I even say that I am a designer, people think, “Wow, you get to design toys and play for a living!” So, it just brings a lot of nostalgia and ideas of fun to people.

Jamie: It is pretty special to be able to have a job that I don’t know anybody that reacts negatively to it. I mean, honestly, everybody is just really inspired and blown away, and I think it’s for good reason. Pretty much across the board, adults become kids as they get excited and they start talking about memories when they were a kid, and “Oh, I used to build these towers,” and stuff like that. In many ways, when I mention what I do for a living, I don’t have to speak anymore. It’s the other person that can’t help themselves, or share their own memories of something magical, or “Oh, I was building this with my child yesterday,” or “They built this amazing something.” Kids are all excited because they want to know how to become a LEGO designer, and they start showing off their things. I can’t think of any other single career that immediately disarms people no matter what the situation is. It just makes them smile and think of a happier place, and then we are magically in that place. In that moment they get a little piece of it. They feel it just by talking about it, and in many ways, that’s what we feel every day when we go into work.

(©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

What background experiences helped you prepare for a career in LEGO engineering and design?

Amy: I have a design engineering background with a focus on designing products. So I guess my education is perfect for creating LEGO products where there’s a lot of engineering on how you put them together. Studying something that’s relevant to product design is a useful background path. But having a sense of playfulness, creativity and imagination, is important. Not forgetting your inner child is really a key quality to being able to work as a designer at LEGO.

Jamie: I don’t have the professional training background in design, but I do have some experience with engineering. I went to school originally to be an engineer to do a nice practical job like designing roller coasters. [laughs] But that helped me to have a good process, knowing how to take a big problem and break it into chunks that you can actually solve along the way. It can be daunting just looking at the big picture and trying to solve it all at once. Having a good process can really help us along the way.

But also from my background, I ended up with an English degree. That helped me on a communication level because a lot of the job that I do today is working with others. Being able to use simple tools like language to motivate people to try to help solve problems or getting people excited about ideas that we want to create is invaluable. Even before we put two bricks together, communication is a huge asset when working in the design department.

Amy: One of the wonderful things about LEGO, and especially the design organization, is that we come from so many different backgrounds. You can see that my and Jamie’s backgrounds are very different, but we work so well together. At LEGO, we have so many different experiences and so many different cultures that we all bring our unique skills to the LEGO family to create the best toys we possibly can.

Jamie and Amy (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

With the current world crisis battling COVID-19, are you both working from home? How has that affected LEGO as a company that fosters such a creative workspace?

Amy: We’re all working from home in Denmark. LEGO is still operating. Its been really amazing to see how the creative people here have all brought our ideas, imagination and creativity into a new working situation. We’re not only coming up with new creative ideas, but also figuring out ways to share them online with each other without being as hands-on with the bricks as we normally would. The community spirit has been amazing. That is something that’s unique to the LEGO design organization that by caring for each other and adapting to this new way of working we are still creating great new toy ideas. It has been a tough and challenging time for everyone, but it has brought us closer together as a design family.

Jamie: It is definitely a difficult time for everyone, but I have to say all things considered, it’s been an opportunity to explore ideas in new ways. There’s a really nice go-to spirit of “We can figure this out!” Everybody’s tackling the challenges. But it’s also been a little fun too. We have video conferences all the time, and it had been interesting to see how people’s wardrobe has changed. You see some people wearing more casual clothes and some people are practically wearing children because they are home from school and constantly asking for snacks and treats. You really see a different slice of reality of your colleagues in their home place. It makes you appreciate the full roundedness of each of us and what we bring to work every day.

We have a virtual breakfast together every Friday where we literally have the cameras turned on and we just talk to each other and eat breakfast. Even though we are hundreds of miles away, we can bond and have a good time. Some people bring their guitar from the back and start playing music and then we just start talking about people’s different interests and passions. I actually think we’ve gotten closer as a design organization and as friends because of this. Even though we’re more removed, we’re actually closer than we’ve ever been.

Amy: Breakfast meetings are a huge tradition at LEGO. Every team, usually on a Friday, gets together in the morning and eats breakfast together. So that’s a big change we’ve had to adapt to not having that social breakfast meeting once a week. Having online breakfast meetings is something a lot of the teams are doing, and it’s been really fun to continue those.

Aaron, Christian, Amy, and Jamie (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

Did you send home a “Brick Pit” with each designer so they have pieces on-hand to build with or has design work shifted to digital options?

Jamie: The design teams have brought their bricks home so they can work with them in combination with a digital environment.

Amy: It’s the same with my team. A lot of the designers have quite a big personal collection, but most of us collected some pieces to be hands-on with the bricks to create physical models and then work a little bit digitally as well. I think the best creations are ones you hold in your hands and really look at it in 3D. It’s great that we’re still managing to do that with everything going on.

Jamie, Amy, Will, Boone, and Mark (©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX).

Have you brought back any of the LEGO Masters challenges back to your colleagues in Billund?

Amy: We did talk about this, before everything went on lockdown, whether we should do a mini LEGO Masters in the office and put some of the challenges out. We were judges, though, on a Fun Friday competition for some of the designers.

Jamie: Some of our colleagues chose to do this bug build challenge where they had a couple of hours to build bugs. Then they called in the big guns and had the two of us show up and be judges. We both dressed up as best we could, and I had my brick-built red glasses. We tried to give them the real LEGO Masters experience. It was pretty fun. I think everybody took it in stride. But we have talked about trying to roll this out internally a little bit more, just to see what could possibly happen if you get all the designers in LEGO to also do it. It’s really a fun thing to think about. I think when we get back in the office we have to try to see where we can go with that.

Amy: I’m sure there might be some fabulous results. I think one thing we’re missing definitely with the current social distancing situation is that we really enjoyed watching the show every Friday. We’d get the whole design team together, we would sit in the reception area and we would have LEGO Masters on the big screen, watching it together as a big family. That’s something that Jamie and I are kind of missing now that we’re not all together in the office. That was a really fun and “together” moment that we had with the LEGO design team.

Jamie and Amy with Will Arnett in the Movie challenge.
(©2020 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

Stay Tuned for More!

LEGO® Masters is now down to the wire. The show returns on April 8 with the top three teams competing in a Star Wars Challenge. Be sure to tune in on FOX at 9:00 pm ET. Meanwhile for full season one coverage, click here.

Until next time,

-Tom

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