LEGO Hugman at National Hugging Day

by admin on January 29, 2018

in Community News

Just about a week ago was the celebration of National Hugging Day. According to Wikipedia, Kevin Zaborney is credited with coming up with the idea of National Hugging Day in 1986. He chose January 21, as it fell between the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays and Valentine’s Day when he found that people are generally in low spirits. The idea of National Hugging Day is to encourage everyone to hug family and friends more often. Zaborney observed that American society is embarrassed to show feelings in public and hoped that a National Hugging Day would change that. The event was first celebrated on January 21, 1986, in Clio, Michigan, and since then has become popular in other places around the US, and many other countries. šŸ™‚

So what does National Hugging Day has to do with LEGO? Well, LEGO fan and artist Nathan Sawaya has been participating in National Hugging Day since 2009, by installing his brick-built figures as a form of street artĀ in large citiesĀ like New York, Los Angeles, Ā London, Paris, and Rome, as well as in Brazil, South Africa, Singapore, South Korea, and China. You could see these fun little guys wrapping their arms around table legs, signposts, bicycle racks, trees, and fence posts to celebrate the event.

This year, Nathan teamed up with the Art Revolution Foundation to bring a mass installation to the streets of Los Angeles on National Hugging Day. The designs include not just Nathan’s original Hugman LEGO sculptures, but also variations of the figures in collaboration with other notable artists, influences, and designers, such as Tony Hawk, Justine Ezarik (ā€œiJustineā€), Alec Monopoly, Ashley Eckstein, Phil LaMarr, Adam Savage, and many more. Over 100 Hugman sculptures were installed in total!

Those participating in National Hugging Day in Los Angeles this year were able to take part in a fun scavenger hunt by following along on Twitter to help locate the Hugman sculptures and share a photo using the hashtag #HugmanAdventures. The sculptures were placed in public places from Culver City and Downtown Los Angeles to San Fernando Valley.

Nathan’s original Hugman figures stand around 20 inches tall, and come in bright LEGO colors like yellow, red, blue and green. For the Los Angeles project, blank hugging figures were provided to a variety of creative collaborators to personalize. Collaborators painted, drawn on, and customized the figures as part of the National Hugging Day installation.

The Hugman figures not only celebrate National Hugging Day, but stand in support of the Art Revolution Foundationā€™s mission to strengthen art education in schools and supply students with the tools they need to succeed. Thus, following the one-day art installation, the sculptures are now part of an online art auction at to support the Art Revolution Foundation. ā€œStudies show that including art into the classroom curriculum has monumental benefits for students and school culture,ā€ said Nellie Scott, Director of Development for the Art Revolution Foundation. ā€œUnfortunately, not every student has access to these benefits, so Art Revolution Foundation is working to change that.ā€

The Art Revolution Foundation auction includes some of the painted, drawn on, glued on, dressed up, and sculpted-over Hugman figures by various collaborators. Some of them are pretty and artistic, some philosophical and thoughtful, and some playful and whimsical. You can check out the current live auctions at the Art Revolution Foundation’s page at

It is worth noting that Nathan Sawaya’s original Hugman is also featured on LEGO Ideas. I like Nathan’s description of the Hugman project, so I will copy it here: “This is Hugman. Hugman likes to hug. Hugman hugs table legs, signposts, bicycle racks, trees, fence posts and anything it can get its arms around. Hugman began as street art in New York City. Hugman figures would appear in different locations throughout the city. People would spot Hugman and stop to take photos. It was a fun surprise to find brightly colored LEGO sculptures in the most random places. From there, Hugman figures started appearing in cities around the world. Often I would leave a Hugman behind, wrapped around the leg of a park bench or a pole, to put a smile on peopleā€™s faces who happen upon this bright pop of color. You can see photos of Hugman around the world here. Soon I was getting requests for Hugman sculptures. People wanted a Hugman in their home, embracing the leg of their desk or lamp. Hugman figures were bringing the happy feelings of a friendly embrace to folks everywhere. So, I was finally convinced to bring Hugman to LEGO Ideas in hopes it would become an official LEGO set. Hugman is a simple design, just like a real hug. With about 400 pieces in total and standing 16 inches tall, all ages can build a Hugman. Made in bright, primary colors and ready to hug.” If you would like Hugman to become an official LEGO set, you can vote here: VOTE FOR LEGO IDEAS HUGMAN PROJECT

I’m a big fan of Nathan Sawaya’s work. His sculptures are inspirational, playful, and often interactive. And I really like Nathan’s writing, which is just as inspirational and playful as his sculptures. I highly recommend his book, The Art of the Brick: A Life in LEGO, which I reviewed a few years ago (see: The Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya). You can find the book on Amazon: THE ART OF THE BRICK BY NATHAN SAWAYA

What do you think? Have you ever participated in National Hugging Day, hunted for Hugman in a big city, or participated in any of Nathan Sawaya’s exhibits? Feel free to share your thoughts and own review in the comment section below! šŸ˜‰

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

brickmaster January 29, 2018 at 11:51 AM

I want to build some hugmen and put them around the office. Are there instructions available?


Tito January 29, 2018 at 12:16 PM

I like those custom ones. Too bad they are painted on rather than brickbuilt. But it’s understandable. I never even knew there was such a thing as national hugging day.


admin January 29, 2018 at 1:46 PM

Using mixed-media is pretty common with the artsy-craftsy crowd. They are not necessarily die-hard LEGO fans like most of us. And yeah, National Hugging Day is a thing! šŸ˜€


BrickBox January 29, 2018 at 12:43 PM

Are these glued? Just wondering.


Hayato January 29, 2018 at 1:37 PM

They probably are. Most of Sawaya’s displays are glued. They need to be because of transportation and interaction with the public.


admin January 29, 2018 at 1:45 PM

Yes, that’s correct.


jabber-baby-wocky January 29, 2018 at 2:45 PM

The brick built hugmen are fairly crude at this size, but I think that’s what gives them their charm. They are obviously Lego, and simple enough that even a child could have built them. Very nice idea. I wish they would do this in more cities!


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