Special/Signature Issues » 2017 Top 40 Under 40

2017 Top 40 Under 40: Brian Korte, 39

Owner of BrickWorkz

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By the time he was making double his information-technology salary in his side gig of creating Lego portraits, Brian Korte knew it was time to trade in the clicks for bricks. What had started as a cool wedding gift for two college friends had grown into an in-demand creative outlet.

Korte's portrait work has taken him to some surprising places — trade shows, corporate retreats and Fortune 500 companies. He's even done work for royalty — probably his most unusual commission, Korte says.

"I had a two-sentence email come to me one time when I was in Orlando doing a gig," Korte says. "It said, 'How much?' and 'Do u ship to Bahrain?'"

The bizarre email turned out to be on behalf of the king of the Middle Eastern country, who was throwing a Lego-themed birthday party for his grandsons, Korte says. The result was a trip to Dulles to see an envoy off on a first class-flight across the ocean, portraits in tow.

These days, Korte, a former Lego-portrait world record-holder, also splits time with his wife's nonprofit, Project Just Like You. The website chronicles children with special needs and their families, inspired by the birth of their son who was diagnosed with autism.

It's the perfect fusion of passion and creativity, Korte says: a step to help make the world a better place for people like his son.

"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. My dad taught me that," Korte says. "If you're going to take the time to do it at all, you might as well do it correctly the first time."

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