Sean Kenney: Art with LEGO bricks
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This news segment was filmed for ABC Eyewitness News in New York City. It was later syndicated and appeared on ABC World News and affiliate networks across the US and Canada. It was also featured on Yahoo's home page







Text of the segment

[Lauren Glassberg] Sean Kenney is living out his fantasy. He gets to play with LEGO, and get this: He gets paid to do it. I'm Lauren Glassberg, and coming up, you'll get to meet this New Yorker.

[ Diana Williams] I just told Lauren: I want this guy's job! We've all played around with LEGOs, but they are serious business for a Brooklyn man. [Editor's note: Sean actually lives in Manhattan.]

[ Sade Baderinwa ] Yes, he's one of 6 LEGO Certified Designers who creates art from the plastic pieces. [Editors note: There are actually 9 "LEGO Certified Professionals".] And Lauren is here. Lauren, I had no idea that there was such a thing as a Certified LEGO Designer.

[Lauren] Well, there are only 6 in the world who have that title, and you'll see why this gentleman is one of them. If you ask him, he'll tell you he's not really sure if he's an artist or an architect, because as you know, playing with LEGO pieces is all about building things. And the things he builds... they are well beyond the scope of the things you probably built as a kid.

[ Sean Kenney ] I play with LEGO toys all day long, every day.

[ Lauren ] Sean Kenney doesn't just play with LEGO toys. He gets paid to play with LEGO toys.

[ Sean ] I've been lucky enough that people are willing to pay me what, you know, I feel my time is worth to do this sort of thing!

[ Lauren ] And this sort of thing is hardly basic; Some works take years, like Yankee Stadium, made from 45,000 pieces. So it's not surprising that Sean stocks 1.25 million pieces at his Queens studio.

[ Sean ] So I have to keep them all sorted by size, and by shape, and by color.

[ Lauren ] There's a system all right, because not all pieces look like these. There are hair pieces, face pieces, and Sean's favorite piece, "the one with the bump".

[ Sean ] It means that you can start building sideways!

[ Lauren ] And it's those curves that can sometimes do you in.

[ Sean ] So, if I don't want this piece here, this one's connected to this one, which is connected to this one, which is connected to this one... And you have to take the whole thing apart and start over again.

[ Lauren ] The ones that don't work get recycled. The ones that work are glued for extra security. Right now, Sean's been commissioned by the New York Stock Exchange.

[ Sean ] They're going to use it as a display next month.

[ Lauren ] Buildings! He loves building buildings.

[ Sean ] I walk around the streets of Manhattan and see buildings as if they're built out of LEGO bricks.

[ Lauren ] Sean used to have a desk job: That's what life looked like back then. Now he creates LEGO cake toppers for $79, and larger pieces for thousands. He even has a how-to book for kids. After all, that's how he got his start.

[ Sean ] It's one of the only toys that I think is going to stay in their toy box from when they're 5 to when they're 12. Or even older, in my case.

[ Lauren ] Well, if you're wondering where Sean gets all his LEGO pieces.... LEGO allows him to buy in bulk. That's a good thing. By the way, I commissioned Sean to make us a sculpture, of sorts. May I present, the Eyewitness News desk! That's me, Diana, Sade, and Lee. Isn't that the greatest thing?

[ Sade ] Very cute!

[ Diana ] I really, really want his job.

[ Lauren ] I know! But I think it's quite challenging.

[ Diana ] Yes, absolutely.

[ Sade ] This is clearly artistic work.

[ Lee Meyers ] I love that he chronicled his life, like "this was his desk job".

[ Sade ] This is great!

[ Lee ] Who gets to keep that?

[ Sade ] I like my brown hair.

[ Lauren ] Well, the hair selection's not vast when it comes to LEGO pieces; you have blonde, brunette, and that's about it.

[ Lee ] That is SO cool. Wow.