10K Club Interview: Meet Jaijai Lewis of NBC's The Office
This week's 10K Club member, Jaijai Lewis a.k.a. LEGO The Office, who submitted NBC's The Office hails from New York City and he felt a strong desire to share his love for the iconic TV show with the world!
Help us congratulate Jaijai on joining the exclusive LEGO Ideas 10K Club and for sharing his story with us!
- Where are you from?
New York City.
- How old are you?
- What do you study or do for a living?
I work in Market Research.
- What hobbies do you have?
I enjoy drawing, reading, eating pizza, LEGO bricks and binging my favorite shows, which obviously includes “The Office”.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
When I was little I received the Basic Building Set (1922-2 made in 1983) as a gift. There were probably 60 elements inside this red plastic briefcase. They were just the basic LEGO elements that they made at the time. But I loved it! My little sister and I created worlds with that small little set and our imaginations.
I stopped playing with LEGO bricks as I grew up, but I always remained very fond of it. I know how it can spark a person’s creativity, cause them to think outside of the box. So when my sisters had kids I was the one that introduced them to LEGO bricks. That also inadvertently brought me out of my LEGO Dark Age.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
Wow, that’s a hard one. I can’t say I have one favorite overall, I’m constantly impressed with how LEGO sets evolve. I do like the UCS sets, I appreciate really detailed sets.
I really like the LEGO Seasonal Vignettes that are released every other year.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
I like bricks that allow motion. Wheels, hinges, turntables, gears, technic bricks, etc.
But my favorite has to be the 2x2 plate turntable.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
Ellen Kooijman (Alatariel) because of her Big Bang Theory set (21302). It was what inspired me to make a set for The Office.
JKBrickworks makes some truly amazing LEGO creations. The LEGO Maze (21305) really impressed me.
BrickPrincess makes some of the most beautiful LEGO vignette scenes.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
The Brickfan, Brick Toy, Hello Bricks. But most of the time I like looking at pictures on social media, a lot of fans can come up with truly creative ideas.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I heard LEGO was releasing a set for “The Big Bang Theory” online (That was also how I learned about LEGO Ideas.). I thought that was a great idea (I bought 2 sets), but I wished LEGO would release one for “The Office”.
I’ve seen a lot of really great television shows and “The Office” really clicked for me. I think if we’re lucky, we encounter things in life that can really touch us in a profound way, like a favorite show (or toy). If I had to say what “The Office” means to me, it is the show I go to for comfort. If I need to smile or laugh, I can always count on “The Office” to do that for me. I have lost count how many times I’ve watched it, it is my favorite show.
What I learned really quickly was that it also had a really large fan-base around the world who felt the same way. There are millions of Office fans out there, even after the show has ended. And thanks to DVDs, Blu-ray and streaming services, more people join the fandom every day.
When I started I just planned on building a model for myself to go along with my other Office memorabilia but after I started building it, I realized other Office fans would probably want an official LEGO version like I did. That’s when I decided to submit a proposal through LEGO Ideas.
^ One of The Office memes Jaijai created whilst his project gathered support
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
I think a pretty big challenge for me was building a practical prototype instead of using LEGO Digital Designer or Photoshop. I liked LDD, but the parts were limited and I wanted to build a model for myself because I’m still a huge Office geek. Some of these parts took a long time to acquire though. Especially the sand green bricks, which required saving to purchase.
The characters were one of the most difficult aspect of the model to create. It is difficult to make minifigures to look like real people. I think the most difficult minifigure was Mindy Kaling’s character, Kelly Kapoor. Finding a piece for her face took a long time.
The final setup I decided on was determined by my use of the model taking photos, so it ultimately took the longest to figure out. I wanted a model that could be used for display, but that could be played with or used by LEGO animators. I wanted it to be sturdy, but also have the ability to disconnect sections easily so anyone could get a camera in there to take photos from any angle.
- How long did it take to complete the model?
I’d say it took about a year and 2 months on and off. A lot of that was planning and waiting for parts to arrive. And even after I started the campaign, I still worked on improvements like re-doing color schemes, tweaking the minifigures or designed playstyle (which I like to call modular vignette) even after hitting the 10,000 votes.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
It took one year and five months to reach 10,000 votes. It was a relief and I am extremely thankful to my supporters. This whole experience has been surreal and I feel privileged to have gotten this far.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
Surprisingly, about 1800! I thought it would be a lot larger.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
In my initial proposal, my knowledge of photography with LEGO was poor. The lighting in the images in my initial proposal was not as good as it could have been, my setup has improved since then. But if you build a practical model, use good lighting.
It requires work to get to 10,000 votes, which also requires a lot of time. Make sure your idea is something you are passionate about.
It is really important to interact with the communities you are trying to reach, you never know where it will lead. I was all over social media. I reached out to Facebook groups and pages. I ultimately contacted a page called “The Office-isms” that was kind enough to share my LEGO Ideas project with their followers. One of those followers runs the most popular Office fan account on Instagram (@DunderMifflinPaperCo) and made an adorable fanvid from the images on the LEGO Ideas page. This brought it to the attention to several of the cast, like Kate Flannery (Meredith), Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin), Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly), Andy Buckley (David Wallace) and Craig Robinson (Darryl Philbin). They shared it with their followers and it just took off after that.
I also connected with the LEGO community more by connecting to AFOL pages or LUG Groups. My local LEGO store (Flatiron District in New York) is amazing because they try to really create a sense of community, it made it really easy to connect and learn from other LEGO fans because of their help.
I also post recreations of popular Office scenes and memes using the prototype I built. That has been one of my favorite things about this campaign, to play around with my own creation and tweak the design. It also helped spread the word to get the vote out, people love seeing their favorite show in LEGO form.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
I adore the Doctor Who LEGO Ideas set. It is a great show and the set was a lot of fun to build!
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
Be strong. Trust yourself. Love yourself. Conquer your fears. Just go after what you want. And act fast. Because life just isn't that long.
And remember… There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?