Interview with an AFOL: tiagoreiscatarino

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us as we continue our newest series: Interview with an AFOL. In the following weeks, every Tuesday and Friday, we will be having interviews with AFOLs of different kinds. There will be photographers, collectors, builders, animators, and even bloggers! We’ll try to learn a little more about them and see how they came to love the plastic brick (or people) we all love. Some of these AFOLs are well known throughout the community, while others, not so much. No matter who they are, they are all incredible people who have at least one thing in common: Love for LEGO.

Today we have Tiago Catarino, a.k.a. tiagoreiscatarino on Instagram.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello! My name is Tiago Catarino, I’m 33 years old, got a wife and two kids and LEGO has been a huge part of my life since I can remember! That eventually led me to getting my dream job at LEGO in Denmark being a model designer for the Creator 3in1 team for 3 and a half years. While I was there, I also got the chance to design well known models like the LEGO Ideas Ship in a Bottle and the Creator Expert Gingerbread House. For personal reasons I left my job with my family, and back home in Portugal, I focus on my Youtube Channel where I do daily LEGO building tips!

How did your journey with LEGO begin? 

As a kid, naturally! It was my favorite toy which I would always be asking for Christmas and Birthday as gifts. I’ve gone through a dark age of course but in University I found out about the huge AFOL world out there, went back to my parents’ attic to get my LEGO and started building again. I joined a local LUG by that point as well and from there the rest is history.

What about your journey with building/collecting?

I don’t consider myself as much of a collector, I always thought that having closed LEGO boxes was kind of a waste. But at the same time, while working for LEGO and having access to the employee staff shop I started picking a few boxes that were harder to get everywhere else thinking of their value for collectors out there. I’m a builder, that’s where I have more fun with LEGO, coming up with solutions for a problem and also building a LEGO set every now and then, when I’m too tired of thinking creatively and just feel like shutting down my brain and following instructions.

What do the people around you (friends/family/spouse/children) think about your obsession? 

I don’t think they think of it as an obsession, that’s a bit too extreme hahah. But they’ve seen where LEGO has taken me, and while not necessarily the standard job you’d expect someone to have, they came to understand that it is something that I really enjoy doing and since it pays the bills everybody is always very supportive and enthusiastic about what I do.

What is your favorite theme? 

Creator 3in1 and Creator Expert or I guess now they call it 18+.

Who has been an inspiration to you? 

As silly as this might sound, Cristiano Ronaldo. He got to the top of the world by being hardworking every single day on every little aspect of his life. And now he is considered to be one of the best football players of the world for years now. In the same way, I feel that I need to work really hard if I wanna be the very best at what I do, and nowadays the focus is Youtube, and trying to deliver a nicely and professionally done building tutorial every single day. When I’m feeling lazy, I think “What would Cristiano do right now?” Laugh all you want 🙂

Can you tell us about the Ship in a Bottle set? 

I was tasked with turning the model that the fan Jake Sadovich submitted to the LEGO Ideas platform into a real LEGO product. But it was a big challenge at the time and one of the sets I had more fun designing! Doing the bottle itself was surprisingly challenging.

Do you build digitally before you build physically? Or make a draft of the build with random colored parts before moving on to the main build? 

Nowadays I tend to sketch first digitally. Since I do a new build every single day, things can get messy really quickly if I were to dive straight into the bricks trying different solutions to get to the final result and my studio would be upside down in no time. Unless I have a super clear idea on how to build a certain object I will always start digitally.

Do you keep your builds? Or take them apart after a while? 

Yeah, my builds don’t last long, or at least most of them don’t. I end up needing the parts sooner or later and I really don’t have the space to keep my daily builds around. That’s becoming a real issue for me!

What is your biggest challenge when building? 

Sometimes not having enough of the parts I need if you believe it. Or knowing that I have the parts somewhere and not remembering where they are, or not being able to find them in the bin of unsorted LEGO…

Do you have any advice for other builders? Tips? 

There is nothing you cannot do in LEGO, it might just take longer to get there, so don’t give up on your ideas!


And that’s it, folks! Thank you, Tiago, for having this interview with us and letting us take a sneak peek into your world. As for everyone else, don’t forget to check out Tiago’s Instagram page and YouTube channel. He makes amazing little builds and creates tutorials for everyone to enjoy!


Oh, there’s one more thing, an Easter egg, if you will. Take a look at the image below, where you can see the initials of Tiago as a part of the Ship in a Bottle set.

Now, take a look at this image, where you can see the same initials, but this time in the recently released Haunted House set.

Yep, it seems LEGO has killed Tiago!


All images belong to tiagoreiscatarino


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Pinar Alsac

Some girls play with Barbies while others create small worlds with minifigures and continue to do so when they grow up. You can probably guess which group I belong to :)