Art & Design or Art vs. Design – mix in technology like 3D Printing and lines blur into an even more controversial definition. Do the lines between art and design blur to the point that 3D Printed Art actually becomes 3D Print Design? If Andy Warhol is not considered less of an artist because he used the technology of Silkscreen Printing, then why should today’s artist be considered less because she uses 3D Printing? Perhaps, 3D Printed Art is Art in the eyes of the artist herself.
Since the discussion with Bridgette Mongeon of Creative Sculpture in Houston, Texas for WTFFF?! 3D Printing Podcast #36, I have not stopped thinking about how the differences between art and design are blurring in our own process. I have always clearly defined myself as a designer throughout my career because 1) my work was always intended for commerce; 2) my designs are not primarily self-expression or expression of a message; and 3) my designs always have a functional use component beyond the aesthetics. But since we began 3D Printing, I am beginning to wonder if we are blurring into more of an Artist or at least Applied Artist. Are our new designs actually 3D Printed Art?
3D Printed Art or Design?
Not Created for Sale
Designing without a market goal in mind for ourselves or a client is both freeing and debilitating at the same time. What do you make when you can make anything? It is too broad and too open in contrast to the tight restrictions we usually work under. For our own 3D Print skill-building, we purposely directed ourselves away from creating 3D Prints that would be for sale. That is not to say they aren’t marketable or won’t be for sale, but it is not our primary goal. We wanted to be able to explore 3D Print potential without worrying about how long it might take a model to print and how profitable that might make it.
Expression of Artistic Message
When we design for clients and retail, our primary concern is “will it sell” along with the dozens of other market and manufacturing constraints that reign in the creation process. While designing a product that produce 100,000+ units per year is a rewarding career, 3D Printing provided us with the opportunity for a very personal unit of one. So, Tom and I created a philosophy or Artistic Expression for our 3D Prints. Each model we create must only be able to be produced by a 3D Printer and cannot be easily or exactly replicated in traditional (subtractive) manufacturing. This way we can highlight what 3D Printing has to offer. We also strive to design it in the most additive way possible by organically building our 3D Model geometry and not subtracting or digitally sculpting the model.
Redefining Functional Objects
In some design processes, form follows function. For us it does not. For our design work, form and function must have perfect synergy. But, with 3D Printing we have had the opportunity to reinvent and rethink both the construction and aesthetics of everyday objects. Our neck tie made of PLA plastic is as much a conversation piece and artistic statement as it is a wearable, functional item. When Tom wears it out in public, strangers come up and ask to touch it. Function is only the means to showcase our 3D Print skill and artistic expression.
3D Print Art and Design
Artists and designers blurring the lines between 3D Printed art and design shouldn’t be controversial, it should be encouraged. New technology opens up new aesthetic possibilities and new techniques. As long as there is an artist/designer’s hand and mind behind the work, it shouldn’t matter that their toolbox included a computer and 3D Printer.