This story originally aired on September 8, 2018.
Iain Heath had just caught a break. As an early employee of the data visualization at Tableau, he stood to make a bundle when the company went public in 2013.
And for the first time, Heath realized he could quit his day job to pursue his passions.
He says he asked his boss whether he was planning on leaving, too. His answer: No.
“[He said] ‘I don’t know what I would do with myself.’ I realized that a lot of people, their job defines who they are,” says Heath. “I had a list of things to do.”
Number one on that list was a career transition, from software engineer to LEGO artist.
In his light-filled workshop perched above Lake Sammamish, Heath builds weirdly lifelike creations out of rectangular bricks.
“It’s very blocky, so people tend to build buildings. I decided to focus on building characters and organic things and creatures, which seemed like a much more interesting challenge,” Heath said.
One of his first pieces was a rendering of Stephen Hawking, seated in a wheelchair with a speech device. The photos he took of this sculpture went viral, and convinced Heath that he could make a go of it.
He followed up with scenes from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, figures of Groot and Grumpy Cat and countless others.
“I’m kind of a failed artist, something of a creativity junkie. So I’ve always had hobbies which involve making things,” Health says.
“I’m just kind of in my happy place, just producing art.”