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Interview: LEGO BrickHeadz Lead Designer Marcos Bessa talks to LEGO Certified Store (Bricks World)

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LEGO BrickHeadz - Bricks World interviews LEGO Designer Marcos Bessa (March 2017)

Learn more about the all building, all singing, rock star Senior LEGO Designer behind the LEGO BrickHeadz series.

1. What is your role at The LEGO® Group?

I’m a Senior LEGO Designer, working mainly in IP projects (like Super Heroes, Ghostbusters, Simpsons, Disney…) and currently I’m also Design Lead on the LEGO BrickHeadz project.

2. What is the best thing about your job?

To always be surrounded by LEGO bricks and earning a living by not only playing myself but also by inspiring the play of so many children around the world. It’s a pretty incredible position to be in!

3. Which is your favourite LEGO BrickHeadz character and which was the hardest to get right?

I love Jack Sparrow BrickHeadz with his “bacon-like” little belt…  I think hairstyles and hair design in general has been one of the most discussed topics within our design team. Any character with visible hair poses a new interesting challenge: how to make it organic and true to reference, but square and iconic to BrickHeadz? I know that Black Widow was a particular challenging model exactly for that fact and not only 1 but 3 LEGO Designers were involved in making her look just right!

4. Which LEGO set are you most proud of and why?

I’m very proud of my LEGO career so far. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in some really exciting projects – and a lot of them connected to franchises that were very dear to me: like the Simpsons, Ghostbusters and more recently with the Disney Castle. That last one will probably forever stay has one of the highlights of my career as a LEGO Designer.

5. We know some designers add a touch of themselves/their personal lives in the LEGO sets they design. Are there any you would like to share with us?

I have a favourite number: 28! It was my grandfather’s nickname, “Mr. 28”, and my whole family is known in my hometown Vilela, in the north of Portugal, by that number. I’m very proud of my family and everything that my grandfather represented to all of us. And I try to honour him every time I can sneaking in a little 28 wherever possible.  I also use my initials often… or a little reference to the Portuguese flag.

6. What was the route you took to becoming a LEGO designer?

I haven’t taken the most traditional path when it comes to my journey to become a LEGO Designer. I studied Computer Sciences and Engineering and while I was in University I was also spending all my pocket money on LEGO sets and building again after a period of what the LEGO Fan Community calls “Dark Ages”. Between ages of 13 and 18 my contact with LEGO bricks was almost non-existent, but when I got back into it I went completely full-steam! And quickly I realized that the long lost childhood dream of mine of one day becoming a “LEGO maker”, was still pretty much alive and I had to do something about it. So I joined a Fan Community in Portugal, which helped me develop a lot as a builder, and then at the age of 21 I applied for a job at the LEGO HQ in Denmark. And I got the job of my dreams! Needless to say that my “Steve Jobs” career was totally parked indefinitely. 

7. How do you manage to find the time to design great LEGO sets and start a singing career?

Well… I wouldn’t call it a “start”. I’ve been singing my whole life, in fact, for more years than I have been playing with LEGO Bricks. But only recently I took the time and energy to try out something more serious with it. It is very hard to find time for everything, especially when you love so many things like I do, but when I don’t have the pressure to make it happen within a specific timeframe then anything is possible really. I keep my own pace and set my own personal goals. And work from there. 

8. Any advice that you can give to young aspiring LEGO designers?

Never put your LEGO bricks away. If someone ever tries to make you believe that LEGO bricks are no more than just a toy – and that therefore you “must” outgrow it – stop talking to that person! Not only have they never fully understood what LEGO bricks are, they are the kind of “negativity” that none of us needs in our lives.

9. And finally, the most important question of all. What is your favourite LEGO brick and why?

I love the jumper plate. For those who might not be familiar with this name, it’s a 1x2 plate with only one stud in the center of the plate. It’s the “brickification” (see what I did there with brick+personification?? =D) of “thinking outside the box”, “breaking the rules”, “stepping out of the grid/system”. And that’s exactly when some of the greatest stuff gets created: when we dare to challenge ourselves and the world around us.

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