Career lessons from the Art of the Brick

This is a a first for this blog, a post about fine art. This weekend I went to see The Art Of The Brick exhibition in London. The exhibition entirely showcases the work of Nathan Sawaya and includes over 80 pieces of lego based work (with over 1 million bricks). It was a great exhibtion and I would thoroughly recommend it (open until 14th April) from a careers perspective there were two things of particiular note.


Firstly Sawaya has a very strong career related narrativ ehimself that works out in a lot of his work. He studied at Art School but then went off and retrained and practised as a lawyer. He found himself returning from long days in the office needing and hours “creative time” to unwind and increasingly started looking to lego as a new medium before eventually taking the plunge, ditching the lawyers suite and becoming a professional artist.

Secondly Sawaya creates simple yet powerful pieces many of which aim to capture something of the experience of being human.  Because of the limited nature of the medium (Lego bricks) the pieces have a simple clarity and tend to work round a dominant metaphor about existence. I was struck how these create powerful metaphors which are able to relate to on a range of levels.

Bellow are some of my favourite pieces with some careers related lessons.


The Courage Within

This piece is autobiographical, depicting Sawaya the artist emerging from Sawaya the lawyer. From a careers perspective this bares a strong linking with idea around congruence, Sawaya sees his personality as not linking in with the identity of a lawyer and instead needing to break out of the empty shell of his old unfulfilled existence.



This holds to a similar narrative to The Courage Within but instead sees the individual trying to break free of the forces that hold them back. Sawaya describes this piece as being about the way criticism and negativity from others created a barrier he needed to overcome in his career. For me it speaks powerfully of how we can experience negative forces that hold us back and that we most fight against in our careers.


This might be my favourite piece from the exhibition, at least from a careers point of view. Sawaya takes a common careers related metaphor of the staircase representing progress and the desire for something better but instead sees it leading back to the individual. In other words our progress and success is within us not without us, we are responsible not the world around us.



This is negative but very interesting. Sawaya says this is about how the world erodes our sense of self. I find that interesting in terms of if it is the world around us that attacks who we are or us who are not capable of understanding or holding on to who we are. Either way it talks of the importance of self knowledge and how knowing who we are is a challenge that often comes under pressure.

3 thoughts on “Career lessons from the Art of the Brick

  1. Looks like a great exhibition! As a career counsellor and art therapist I can vouch for the effectiveness of using metaphor and image making in a career-counselling context. A powerful way of getting straight to the ‘heart’ of drivers and obstacles!

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