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3D designer Mike Le Page

Many of us have a passion or hobby that becomes so all-consuming we dream of making it our life’s work. For the artist, while long has prevailed the idea that starving is part of the quotient, a ‘regular’ job is usually a big part of the reality—and daily grind. At some point however, the most determined will begin plotting out a path to successfully pursue their creativity 24-7. This generally takes time, effort, and some validation of expertise and talent, while a good following surely helps too.

And as we’ve followed the work of Australian designer Mike Le Page, it’s no surprise to hear that he endeavors to begin producing 3D works full time. Not just feeding an artistic ego, Le Page has a well thought out plan for making more space for innovation in his life, and is now conducting somewhat of an experiment to see what type of support contemporary creative types can map out today from sources such as crowdfunding.

“Financially, I haven’t yet broken even with this new kind of work–production costs are still on the high side for the kind of objects that are possible, although these are going down year by year,” says Le Page. “The question for me has been whether I should go away and do something else for another year or so, or whether I can push through this financial block on my design work until it becomes a viable business in its own right.

 

“This week I’m trying something new, since I’ve received so much great feedback from the Dove and my other creations,” Le Page told 3DPrint.com. “I’ve started a Patreon (crowd funding) campaign page with the aim of helping to support the development/prototyping costs of my taking my work from a hobby to a viable business, and what I’ll be doing is not blogging or podcasting about 3D printing in general, but instead I’ll be creating videos of my design process.”

Le Page has already uploaded his first videos, and as a great example, you see can his design process in a cool time-lapse video (below) which outlines how he made a cat key-ring for a friend. The video is free to all, operating as a vehicle to show people around the world what he is able to do with 3D design and printing, as well as offering a broader way to inform others.

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The main goal is to reach supporters interested in contributing as little as $1 a month to his cause—supporting a global designer, artist, and innovator who in turn is educating and inspiring many.

Le Page is also offering a Google Hangouts spot for those who become patrons. He plans to offer a ‘free-ranging chat’ every week that will allow his patrons to delve further into his work and processes, with the opportunity to ask him specific questions as to why he is doing things a certain way. He will also be open to feedback, discussion, and advice on trying other things. Although times may vary, he aims to offer two sessions per day. (See his campaign page for times and time zone conversions.)

Le Page will also be offering occasional sales for his Shapeways store, offering significant savings, and those who are pledging at least $10 a month will receive notice first, as well as fulfillment of special requests and uploading of 3D files for those joining in on the Google Hangout chats.

“Patreon is basically a recurring (monthly) Kickstarter, a crowd funding effort centered not around a single project, but around a single process (in this case, my prototyping/development work),” says Le Page.

“If you believe as I do that everyone is going to have easy access to a 3D printer within the next five years or so, then it’s also a really economical way of beginning and improving your skills in that area.”

The first video is conversational, easy flowing, and offers a simple way of seeing how he comes up with a design and follows through, including ‘cleaning up’ his design at the end and then uploading it to Shapeways. With no doubt as to his talent, we’ve followed Le Page through numerous designs. While his goal is to keep users busy with new ideas to explore, he has certainly kept us busy reporting on everything from the 21 piece, 3D printed Tetris puzzle to the maze cage or the incredibly beautiful and complex Dove, featuring 29 3D printed, moving parts with flapping wings. All of these designs are great evidence as to why you may want to support this campaign, and help push forward a valuable designer.

12715607_1576496632610867_6783780485247465762_nLe Page is one of the many makers today who realize that 3D printing has moved far beyond the capabilities of just prototyping. Indeed, what he produces can be a final design, ready for manufacturing at the 3D printer.

“I especially enjoy working with SLS (selective laser sintering) 3D printing because it gives me a level of creative freedom I could never have imagined just a few short years ago.  It’s for this reason that so far I’ve focused exclusively on SLS printing with Shapeways,” says Le Page on his Patreon page.

For just $1 a month, you have access to Le Page’s page and stream, and you’ll be one of the first to know when he publishes a new video or Google Hangout link.

shapewayscatIn pledging $10 or more, you’ll also receive access to all the STL files the designer releases, along with notice of his one-day Shapeways sales. Things get very interesting at the $50/month mark, as you’ll be able to enjoy one-on-one google hangouts with Le Page for at least 30 minutes every month. There, he will offer any feedback you may be looking for on your 3D designs, or you can just have a great chat about any number of things to include other interests, as Le Page is very much a renaissance man with interests in writing music, stories, and ‘a bunch of other stuff.’

“Even if I can achieve a small amount of monthly support, this will help me do further prototypes of my Dove, my Cyvasse set, and my puzzles, as well as give me ideas for new objects I’ll do each week,” Le Page told 3DPrint.com.

As Le Page points out, the whole process he is beginning here is somewhat experimental, but he is a true believer—as are many of us—that 3D printing is indeed going to be a field that’s more and more important in a short amount of time. Here is a designer who has a lot to offer in terms of helping enthusiasts on all levels evolve, and your support will make a huge difference for him. Are you backing this campaign? Discuss in the Mike Le Page 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.

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