Tuesday, September 18, 2012

From Manufacturing to Art

The question was recently posed as to how I go from manufacturing to art by a fan on my Facebook page.

Laser Artillery in Progress
This is a hard answer to give without saying "I just do". I think the best answer is that I view the CNC mill and machining tools as something akin to a pencil or carving tools for stone. I remember when I started my first job in a machine shop, all I could see were the possibilities for what one could make with these machines. The company I was working for was making land graders, but if you only caught a partial view through the shop doors, you could imagine them being giant robot legs, tanks, or anything cooler than land graders.  You can truly make anything in a machine shop.  To make art with a mill and lathe I think you have to learn the programming and methodology first, then inspiration can take hold. Really the basics of programming CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) for CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machines are lines and curves creating a design. To me, where there are lines and curves, even mathematically derived,  you can draw anything. From there you can take 2D to 3D by intersecting two planes of two dimensional profiles (basically picture a graph intersected by another graph perpendicularly with drawing on each one.  By intersecting these two profiles, you can make a 3-dimensional shape).  Math to make art isn't a new thing, music is very closely related as well.  To me, with math as a tool and the wonderful programs like Autodesk Inventor or Solidworks, this is a blank palette ready to be filled with imagination and vision. 

I can't say if this vision is innate or learned because I can't remember a time when I wasn't imagining or inspired.  Going back to relating these processes to a pencil, most people simply write with one, but artists can use one to create a realistic portrayal of someone's visage. The inspiration or vision just comes. I happen to see potential in a metal lathe or a CNC mill. It's torture in a way to work as a machinist and see the potential of these processes and not be able to create with them every day. It would be a lovely thing to have access to these machines full time for my own vision.  So I guess the answer to the fan question is still "I just do" but hopefully this elaborates a little on the thought process involved when making art with manufacturing.

Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions about anything and everything you want to know about machining in general, art, or both.

Weapons Ideas

Stainless 3D Printed "Socket Head Ring"
Thank you to Bob for the great question   
prompting this entry.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Shapeways: Stainless Steel Socket Head Ring

I have been wanting to get into 3D printing for some time.  In fact, that is the direction I want to take my work in general.  I plan on using Shapeways.com for my printing because they produce, cleanup and ship my models directly to the customer.  Last week I had my first trial jewelry piece show up on my doorstep.  I was very pleased with how the model turned out.  It looked great with a bit of a rustic texture due to the process.  I can easily embrace these aesthetics and use them to my advantage.  I generally try to test anything I make to see if there are any improvements or design flaws to be corrected. The ring wore well until I noticed a color change on my finger from extensive day to day wear.  Since it is out of stainless I assume this is a biproduct of the printing process, but it does rule out 3D printed rings for jewelry.  Shapeways does have a silver option, but it is more expensive.  As with any process, you have to learn the in's and out's to consider when designing projects. I will always recommend using the silver option for anything worn consistently.  Other than that, it was a great first experience with 3D printing.  The ring itself is sturdy and feels like stainless steel.  It's amazing to me that they can incorporate a powder and bake a 3D printed object to create a workable stainless steel product. I will definitely use it for sculpture prints.

So anyway, wheels are turning on what to print next.  I will most definitely be trying some figures, characters, or robots next.  I am currently considering piecing together a Kickstarter project to get the next model going.  I would probably do something along the line of if you help fund the larger sculpture, you get a smaller personal version of your very own.  I'm sure there will be t-shirts involved as well. 

Updates are also always shared on my Facebook Fanpage at www.facebook.com/robotart

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Robotagami Sale

I have made an executive decision about my Robotagami line. Once they are made, they will NEVER be made again. That being said. There is a quantity of 4 mini Chimera's and 6 Stealth Assault Robotagami left in my inventory at my Etsy shop. They are priced to sell at $20 each. Cheaper than I have ever listed them, and cheap as they'll ever be. Once they're gone, they're gone. Get it now or be sad...very very sad.    


Friday, July 08, 2011

Making a Living

One of the articles I have been dying to write since starting my blog up again is the viability of making a living as an artist and relating it to my own feelings and experiences.  It has been a boggy experience as of late trying to make a career from the ground up.  It may be a negative attitude seeping in after a few years of small growth as a career seeking artist, but it doesn't seem like making a living is as possible these days in the creative field.  Moreover, I don't know if I care about making a living at it anymore anyway.  I have primarily experienced burnout making the same merchandise over and over again.  Production work just simply sucks the soul out of you if you are looking for rewarding creative ventures as an artist.  Some of the best moments are when I have been in the thick of a large project and enjoyed every minute of it.  There's nothing like the moment where everything comes together.  For example when I first completed the transformer, Homage 1.0, I was transported to being about the age of 10 flying it around the room making jet noises.  That is the experience I look for and what is rewarding about creating art for me.  It takes you someplace else, just for a little while.  Escapism is my basis for creating art, creating something new and exciting, at least for myself.  The thought I have lately is that I need to get back to roots, so to speak.  I need to create for the love again and be inspired by an idea that sweeps me away to the places I wish to visit.  I am starting to think I was misguided to think that I could make a living as an artist, at least the way I perceived.  It requires a business mindset that takes the fun out of it all.  Plus you wind up creating for other people instead of for yourself.  That being said, commissions that I have been lucky enough to receive have been great learning experiences and I wouldn't trade them for the world.  I simply had more fun when I created art for art's sake, or just for simply myself.

 In this way, art truly is selfish.  You are lucky if anyone likes it besides you, but at least you enjoyed creating.  This approach may not make you famous, but it will make the best artwork you can possibly make because you enjoy the process and you are enthralled.  Maybe I'm justifying not approaching the difficulties of making a living in the real world as an artist, but I feel that if you make great work, love what you do, and put it out there for people to see, the world just might bend to your will.  Even if it doesn't bend to your will, you can be happy making what you love.  So, I am not out of pocket, I am not quitting.  I am just reorienting my thought process on how art makes me happy.  I am already looking forward to the next project.