Madison O'Neil '13 is a KU alumnus success story

Madison O'Neil '13 is a KU alumnus success story

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Alumni Success Stories

Madison O'Neil '13

Madison O'Neil graduated from Kutztown University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design in 2013.  A native of Kutztown, Pa., he now lives in Vejle, Denmark, with his girlfriend and fellow KU graduate, Megan Blair '13. O'Neil works for the LEGO group and has had a hand in designing pieces of the line of LEGO® Star WarsTM merchandise. Maddy took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about what he's doing now and how Kutztown helped him get there.

Why did you choose Kutztown University?
I chose KU for its highly rated Communication Design program.

How did you select your major?
I had always had a passion for the arts, most specifically Illustration. After visiting the Sharadin Arts Building, meeting some of the professors and looking at the work that the students were creating, I knew the Communication Design program would be a great place to develop that passion and learn how to turn it into a profession. I was right!

How have the concentrations in your major been useful in the professional world?
I had 2 concentrations within the KUCD program. My concentration in Graphic Design instilled in me a sense of the principles of design, a penchant for creative brainstorming and the technical skills and knowledge of design programs that I've used every single day of work since graduation. My concentration in Illustration expanded my horizons when it came to using different illustrative styles and techniques. All of these aspects have been invaluable to me out in the real world. 

How did you get your job with LEGO and what do you do?
I secured my position as a Graphic Designer at the LEGO Group through a combination of personal passion for the brand, a targeted portfolio and good networking. I am actually the third KUCD grad to get a position at LEGO as a graphic designer - Austin Carlson '12 and Lauren King '08 preceding me - so that didn't hurt my chances either! I applied online, had a Skype interview, and was then flown to Billund, Denmark (LEGO headquarters) for 2 days of workshops and interviews.

I work on LEGO® Star WarsTM, my favorite LEGO theme as I am a huge Star Wars nerd! It's my job to design the printing that goes onto elements in Star Wars sets, so primarily the minifigures. We must work well ahead of the new movies, so as a little perk I get to see the concept art, vehicles and costumes before the films are released.

How does your major apply to what you do in your work?
My major applies directly to my work. I utilize graphic design and illustration every day.   

What professors had a positive impact on your career?
Name one! Off the cuff I can think of 7 or 8 of my design professors that made all the difference, gave special attention, pushed me to do better and helped me to forge my path ahead. I cannot thank them enough.

What is your favorite memory of your time at KU?
Some of my favorite moments would have to be linked to the annual KUCD Designathon, an all-nighter where students would pile into the Sharadin building, play games, eat and complete pro bono design work for non-profit organizations in the area. It was a rewarding event, and we always had fun despite the sleep deprivation.

What would you tell a prospective student who is considering choosing KU?
Go tour the campus. Talk to a professor. Peek in on a class. Sit down for a few minutes with a student in your prospective major if possible. I find that these types of interactions are the most real and will give you more information than any pamphlet might. I think you'll find people are eager to help. Ask questions constantly and don't feel as if you should inherently know anything.

Recently, Maddy was featured in LEGO's video promoting its Millenium Falcon design. Check out the video below to see him talk about his work.