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'An extraordinary journey': North Carolina artist goes from working in secret to being a Lego designer

David Bulfin's always been an artist, but until Charlotte nonprofit ArtPop featured his work, no one knew. Now he's got the chance of a lifetime with Lego.
Credit: WCNC Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte artist recently got his dream job thanks to a nonprofit that recognizes artists' work in the Queen City through public displays and signage. 

ArtPop works to promote artists in Charlotte and has helped hundreds earn hundreds of thousands of dollars along the way. You've probably seen their billboards along Interstate 77, Interstate 85 and other highways in the Charlotte metro. 

Among the featured artists was David Bulfin. He's always been an artist, but no one knew. 

"I was kind of doing it in secret," Bulfin said. "It wasn't until ArtPop that I was able to come out of my shell and allow the work to be seen, and it's been an extraordinary journey."

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Every year since 2014, ArtPop has selected 20 artists to feature in advertising across the city. More than 100 artists saw the money they made after being featured skyrocket by 30%. 

"It's the greatest feeling — mission accomplished," said Artpop founder Wendy Hickey. "We're here to support artists and make sure they're successful and to see them shine. Success is my heart's biggest gift."

For Bulfin the gift has truly been life-changing. 

"It's meant everything. It's been the ultimate launch pad for me," he said. "It is sending me toward something new, it has legitimized what I feel about myself."

Credit: WCNC
David Bulfin landed a job with LEGO after his work was recognized in Charlotte. He says it's a dream come true.

Artpop helped Bulfin land an incredible new gig in Denmark, designing for Lego. 

"The new job is significant," Bulfin said. "It represents a lifelong dream realized."

It's all based on a piece of art that means everything to him. The work that ArtPop honored him for last year is something Bulfin did to honor his late son, William, who died when he was just a few days old. 

"I began it the day after my son passed away. He was with us four days," Bulfin said. "He was not able to withstand the NICU, and so the work represents a mark of intent and hope for being prepared and ready for the unknowns we are called to go to that we're not designed for." 

Credit: ArtPop
David Bulfin's artwork that was featured in Charlotte helped him land an opportunity to design for Lego.

That's a message this artist will now take to Lego's brand. 

"There's a lot of healing to be done but a lot of healing that has taken place," he said. "This artwork and all the kindness the city has shown me has been a big piece of that story."

ArtPop also has a newer division that pairs artists with businesses in the Charlotte community who have projects in progress. They started last year and have already helped Charlotte artists earn $250,000. 

Contact Michelle at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.

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