Artists Embrace Possibilities Offered by 3D Printing

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[Image: TJ Turner]

3D printing has opened up new doors in the art world, allowing artists to create geometries that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to create by other means. Brad Jirka and Katherine Jones of the design studio Bohemiawerks are big fans of 3D printing, but they’re under no illusions about it being a quick or easy method of creation. The duo spent more than 65 hours on a recent 3D printed model, recreating the design 40 different ways in the design software formZ before 3D printing it on three different printers. The final work, a complex piece that tricks the eye, is well worth all the time and effort, though.

“That’s something that you couldn’t even try without the computer. It wouldn’t be realistic,” said Jirka. “By the time you’d figured out how that worked, that’d be months of messing around with a piece of wax. You’d have to do hundreds of iterations. When you were done, you couldn’t go, ‘What if I twisted it 15 degrees?’ That would be impossible. That’s where I think [3D printing] is most effective, is in exploring what the possibilities are.”

Jirka and Jones met at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where Jirka now teaches, and were married in 1980. They opened their first studio, St. Elmo’s Inc., in 1984, then moved and started Bohemiawerks in 2001. With St. Elmo’s, they worked a great deal in neon and other forms of lighting; they’ve always been interested in unconventional art forms.

“I think it’s looking for new things, but not necessarily things that other people aren’t using, because we all use so much stuff,” said Jirka.

Jirka is also fond of crafts that involve working with his hands, such as wood and metal working, but he loves the opportunities that 3D printing opens up.

Brad Jirka [Image courtesy of MCAD]

“There’s something really refreshing about going through that ideation process faster, and actually being able to get product out of it,” he said. “[The software] can both limit the process and it can expand the process—it depends how tenacious you are about exploring what’s possible.”

Jirka and Jones’ work ranges from small, jewelry-like pieces to giant installations mounted on skyscrapers. Scale isn’t an issue for them, and much of their work is interactive.

Some people like to divide artists into two camps: the traditionalists, who are suspicious of new methods of creation like 3D printing, and the new crop of artists for whom art and technology are inseparable. That’s often an unfair and untrue distinction. There are plenty of artists like Jirka and Jones, who have been working in the art world for decades but who are always on the lookout for new ways to create. Despite the possibilities that 3D printing presents, Jirka does admit that there are drawbacks to the technology, such as the potential for intellectual property theft – but he has a sense of humor about the potential for his art to be reproduced.

“My dream’s always been to have something turn up at Kmart,” he said. “I can go into Kmart and buy it out of a bin.”

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

[Source: The Growler]

 

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