Interview With Hans Burkhard Schlömer

| Apr 25, 2011
Hans Burkhard Schlömer (aka Burkhard) is living a childhood dream. He builds with LEGO for a living and sees his creations come to life in LEGO Universe! Read more to find out how he began building with LEGO, how he joined the LEGO family, and tips for aspiring builders!

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your background?
A: I was working as a music teacher for 8 years and played the Trombone semi-professionally. No, it wasn’t hard for me to leave music, because I can keep making music even if I’m not working as a teacher anymore.

Q: What was the first LEGO set you owned?
A: I don’t remember my first, but my parents let me watch the first moon landing on TV when I was a baby (or so they told me). Later my grandparents bought me this huge, BLUE Moon Landing set! While it wasn’t my first set, it was the biggest so far.

Q: Were you always a skilled builder? When did you start free building?
A: Around 1998 I rediscovered my love for building with LEGO. I got my first PC and internet and found many LEGO fan sites, one in particular had mechs. The web owner built about a dozen models based on a table top game with miniatures. One day he just stopped – that’s when I started building my own. Digitally, so I could create building instructions and render pictures. Until then, I hadn’t done much creative building, and my first build since childhood was – surprise - a mech!

Eventually I also created my own website, to display and share my LEGO creations. Going by the artist name of “Primus”, I managed to make quite a name for myself in the fan community as a builder.

Q: What is it about LEGO that you love?
A: The challenge of building something to certain specifications. There always are limitations to overcome – not the right bricks, colors, shapes, or certain “price tags” to meet. You get to be really creative when building with LEGO. I feel a bit like a sculptor, but I just choose to create things with LEGO instead of, say, clay. It’s much more fun. And less dirty!

Q: Some people think if you turn your hobby into a job, it doesn’t become fun anymore. Do you still have fun?
A: I’m not building that much anymore when at home, true - but that’s because I get all my building needs met at work. The only difference is: now I’m even getting paid for having fun!

Q: How did you go from being a music teacher to a professional LEGO builder for LEGO Universe?
A: For many years I was building models for my website as a hobby, training myself to be a professional LEGO builder – without knowing it! Really, I had no idea this would ever turn into an actual job. I joined the LUP program for LEGO Universe and even became team lead of the best team ever: the BETA BLOCKERS! When the time was right, I simply asked LEGO to be hired. Now I’ve been a model designer for LEGO Universe for just over 3 years.

Q: What exactly do you do as a professional LEGO builder?
A: I create digital models for the game based on artwork, short descriptions, or my own imagination. Sometimes an idea that looks good in a drawing doesn’t work in brick at that scale. Then it’s my job to find a solution that is close to the concept art and works in LEGO.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you face in creating models for LEGO Universe?
A: If all I get to work with is a line of text for a description, things can get tough. “A small turret to protect the player” – would you have thought this would eventually turn into the Personal Fortress for Assembly Engineers? I made a few different concepts, and our art director Phil Atencio chose the one that fit his vision the best. Then I gave the model two more passes until everybody was happy. A tough process, but so worth it!

  Q: I understand you built the Mach Lava and Fire Brawl, the two new Dragonmaw Chasm themed Race Cars! Which one is your favorite?
A: The Mach Lava because it’s really got character. From a front angle, the spiky pieces look like eyes and teeth! Chomp!

Q: Do you build with LEGO Digital Designer (LDD) or with real bricks?
A: I prefer to build digitally – it saves SO much time. But while many models in LEGO Universe only exist in digital format, it’s also nice to have real LEGO models that you can put on the table and show around. Physical building for me is the second step after building digitally.

Q: Do you have any advice for the aspiring builders out there?
A: Keep your brick collection sorted and organized! Small parts magazines with drawers come in very handy here. Of course, searching for the right bricks is part of building with LEGO, but you want to spend most of your time actually building, not looking for stuff. Oh, also check out LEGO Digital Designer! LDD is free, and easy to use. It has a lot of useful features but is not complicated at all. You get all the bricks you ever wanted in any color. The bricks even automatically snap together!

Q: Can you show us what you’re working on now? :)
A: Now THAT's the hardest part of this job: sometimes I just cannot tell or show what I'm working on! You have to wait until it is in the game. See you in LEGO Universe!

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Eragon.Saphira said... [REPLY]

What an AWESOME job! I think being a LEGO designer is every kids dream job :-)

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