Lauren Renee has had a presence on Twitter and YouTube and a dedicated following for several years now. Her first tack as a YouTuber was in the area of makeup tutorials, something that satisfied both her interests in beauty and her need to share do-it-yourself tips and tricks with others. Lauren is far more than just another pretty face, however, and after a number of videos, she found her interests expanding into other areas. She became involved in the maker movement and dove in to all things 3D print. After a brief hiatus from YouTube in which she learned everything she could about 3D printing, she’s back with an ongoing video series that aims to explain and demonstrate to others her successes and the not-always-smooth learning process.
I recently was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with Lauren as part of our Women in 3D Printing Spotlight series and ask her a few questions about who she is, what she does, and where she wants to go.
First of all, I love your dog. That’s not a question; I just wanted to get that out of the way.
“Thanks! She loves you too, or she would, if she met you! She likes to drop into my videos and generally be cute (and mouthy) whenever possible.”
You spoke in one of your videos about leaving behind the makeup tutorials because they had made you begin to spend too much time covering yourself up and changing your supposed imperfections. Your videos have a warm, friendly feeling to them partly as a result of not being slick and over produced. How much of the ‘imperfect’ do you edit out of your 3D printing videos and how much do you leave in and why?
“Moving to the 3D printing world instead of the beauty world was one of the best things I could have done for my self confidence. It helped me realize that most people aren’t looking at those flaws, only I am, and now I’m ok with them out there. I have even shot a couple of videos sans makeup, which previously I would have NEVER done. Nowadays I pretty much only cut out me rambling on about something (I tend to be awfully wordy when I don’t need to be since none of my videos are scripted, and it gets even worse with lack of sleep when I start repeating myself). I still see my imperfections in my videos and things I wish I had done differently, we are always our own worst critic, but I try to leave those things as they are.”
It’s clear that you have a passion for DIY, whether makeup or 3D printing. What is it that you find so appealing about making?
“There is something incredibly satisfying about making things, to let your creativity run wild and then turn that creativity from idea to reality: it’s an incredible experience. It is also a way for me to get my mind off of the everyday chaos of my day job. I’m a firm believer that everyone needs an outlet, and making is mine.”
How did you get introduced to 3D printing? And what was it about it that really grabbed your attention?
“Back when I came up with the idea of my coffee table I toyed with different ways of making it and many of them just weren’t realistic so after an insane amount of research I realized the best way to create it would be to use 3d printing. I loved that it gave me the immediate ability to create my designs, adjust them and remake them until they were just right. It really brought me back into 3d modeling after I hadn’t done it for years.”
You currently have over 2,200 subscribers and many of your videos have well over 1,000 views. I’ve also scrolled through your comments and they are, as a whole, positive and engaging. However, I can imagine that you are not ready to rest in place. What is your vision for your YouTube channel (both in terms of realistic plans and in terms of ‘If I had a wish fantasy’)?
“Seriously though, I never thought this would end up as large has it has, let alone larger. But you’re right, that doesn’t mean I’m ready to rest in place. There are so many things I have on my list of things to do on the channel and that I’m excited to explore. Unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day, so hopefully I’ll chip away at some of them over the next year. I love doing lengthy projects where I can do update videos like I did with the coffee table, so I will be doing that again with the high heels I’ll be designing. I’d also love to get my Etsy site up and running so that I can sell some of my designs to help fund the channel further and possibly lead to growing the channel so much that I just had to leave my day job. How awesome would that be?”
Some people manage to create their masterpieces in dedicated workshops filled with every toy imaginable, others produce amazing things with only the barest minimum of technology. What equipment do you currently own and what would be your fantasy 3D print setup?
“Currently I have three 3D printers, the Flashforge Creator Pro which was my first and is my workhorse, then I have the Kodama Trinus, and finally the Anet A8, which was just assembled last weekend. I use a Gigabyte P37 laptop that works great with all the 3D modeling programs I’ve thrown at it so far. Fantasy setup? Oh man, I don’t even know! I’m hoping to work towards having different styles of printers, so a delta printer, a dual head dual extrusion printer, a large format printer, a color mixing printer, etc. I don’t want to just have a bunch of printers that are the same style; I like the idea of learning more about printers by experiencing all the different types that are out there.”
Unicorns are awesome. That is an indisputable fact. And you have a video that demonstrates modeling one in Fusion 360. Do you have a particular audience in mind when you determine which objects you are going to feature in your DIY videos? Or is it more a matter of things you enjoy making and therefore believe others will too?
“I design things that I personally would like and I assume that I can’t be the only Disney, steampunk, high heel lover out there! Its worked out so far, I feel if you really love the project then you tend to be more passionate about it and in turn excites others to see where the project goes. A lot of the ideas just pop into my head and I decide that I just HAVE to make them. When you’re that excited about things, it shows in your work.”
I have a nine-year-old daughter who will believe that I am super cool for having communicated directly with a YouTuber. If you could tell young girls something about 3D modeling and creating that might encourage them to get and stay involved, what would it be?
“Well I think your daughter is super cool for watching us YouTubers! If I could tell young girls anything I would first have to say how cool it is to have something come from your own mind that you’ve worked on finally come to life where you can actually see and feel it. But above that, I’d tell them it’s so much fun, and to always have fun with it! It’s one of the most important parts and when you’re struggling with a model you just can’t get to work, its more important than ever to find the fun to help you push through the struggles. When it’s no longer fun, it’s probably time to put that project away for a little while and move onto another one revisiting the first one a few hours or few days later.
And on another note, I’ve heard from friends that their daughters are happy to see other women doing these types to tech hobbies because it makes them feel like they can do it too. To me there is nothing more important than spreading that positivity and growth. I hope that young girls realize they can use their creativity in any way they want, whether it be painting, sculpting, dancing, scientific theory, 3D printing or inventing things.”
Speaking of girls and 3D, it is widely recognized that 3D printing is still a male-dominated activity. Have you seen any indications either in events you’ve attended, correspondence you’ve received, or comments on your channel that indicate that this is changing?
“YES! When going to the Midwest RepRap Festival I was astonished to see how many people were supportive of me and other women being in the 3D printing world! I’ve found that companies are happy to support women in the tech world and are happy to hear that more women are getting involved. There are already six of us on YouTube with our own channels (plus some husband and wife tag team channels) and I hope to see that number grow in the coming years.”
Without asking you to give away the element of surprise, what are some topics we can expect to see you explore in future videos?
“As I’ve mentioned a little bit, I plan on designing my own high heels! I’m super excited about it, but it is going to take a lot of research before I actually get to design those since I’ve never created shoes of any kind. I have a couple of printer reviews coming up in the near future (the Trinus and the Anet A8) and a ton of filament reviews so my audience knows what I use and why. I’ve been working on a fun glitter filament comparison, trying to get ahold of every glitter filament that exists so I can show them all off. Plus the completion of the coffee table and some side tables that will come later this year or beginning of next. And there are SO many more that I’m not even mentioning! My idea notebook is quickly getting filled with so many things I can’t wait to explore on YouTube.”
Lauren Renee’s continuing dedication to sharing her excitement, not only as a woman in 3D printing, but as an enthusiastic supporter and participator in making culture, shows that you don’t have to be pigeonholed as a representative of your gender. She doesn’t eschew the feminine, it is simply a part of who she is. Without over the top efforts to pink ghetto 3D printing as an effort to package it for girls is, in itself, one of the most important things that can be done to reach out to the upcoming generation of girls in making and to sustain those of us who may sometimes feel isolated or alone as women in 3D printing. I look forward to watching her channel, with my daughter, and seeing what awesome things she shows us next. Discuss in the Lauren Renee forum at 3DPB.com.
If you are interested in sharing your story, or know a woman we should get in touch with for this new series, please reach out any time. Send us an email or connect on Twitter. We’re looking forward to sharing more stories about women in 3D printing. Find all the features in this series here.