3D printing has created so many new boulevards of possibility in so many different fields. One of those fields is fine art. So many new artists have begun the transition into 3D printed pieces, and it’s infinitely exciting. Tom and Tracy Hazzard take a look at the body of work of one such artist, Atlanta-based Leisa Rich. From wall installations to standing pieces, Tom and Tracy inspect how her creativity is expanding the horizons of 3D printing, and in turn, how this new technology has further enhanced her oeuvre. Looking for your new 3D print design inspiration? Leisa might just be it!
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3D Printed Fine Art
3D Printing is being used by established fine artists to create some truly inspiring works of 3D printed fine art. In this Design Inspiration profile, 3D printing was a critical part of the creative process, but it is not obvious. That reality makes this art even more impressive. Profiling 3D printed fine art artist, Leisa Rich.
Leisa Rich from Atlanta, Georgia is an artist with many 3D printed fine art pieces. She has been using 3D printing for the last year and a half. She has pulled that to her mixed media pieces. She has a lot of fibers and other things that she uses in there. She has a fiber and fine arts background spanning 41 years, with MFA, BFA and BofEd degrees in it!
What I want to highlight today is the idea of using mixed media and using it for 3D printed fine art. That is really something that can change things and create something that we call hybrid products when we talk about it from a product design perspective. But in an artist sense we call it mixed media. You can transcend 3D printing. You can use 3D printing for the things that are complex and for the things that really need time to work. Time off for what it does or to do some forms that you couldn’t make in any other method. We have an upcoming episode where we talked to ceramic 3D print artists and you will hear that. Sometimes these things become difficult that it makes it difficult to keep your artistic mode. Just with the labor to execute something. If 3D printing can make that easier then you can spend time in your artistic statement whatever it might be.
Her artistic statements are unusual. What I like about it is that when you are looking at the images of her work you don’t look at them as a whole image and think that it is 3D printed. My favorite one is called “Desert Sands Crystal Coral”. She has different detailed photos of it. I love that there is color underneath it. To me it looks felted but it is not because she says it’s resin on a base of original photos that she heat transferred onto cloth and then stitched. It has just that kind of feeling to me. Then you use this delicate 3D printing on top of it that imitates coral in an interesting way. You have something that transcends that which is very beautiful. Reality is she has down a large volume of work using 3D printing. It’s not like she’s just barely scratching the surface here. She has a lot of hours in using 3D printing in her art. She’s mixing on it. She’s painting on it. She’s adding color as well and mixing materials.
I love that black and white piece that is called “Noir et Blanc”. I love the way that it has spiky areas. Obviously she’s not doing it all in one print. Why do you need to? That’s not the point. You can’t find found objects, so she creates it. I really love the little crochet growth pieces that are coming off of that white one, “Before Hell Freezes Over”. They are crochet and they just look amazing. I love the idea of that. You are integrating different materials in different ways. You will not get that successful coloring and shapes via 3D printing alone but she was able to do that.
The other one that I love is the “Past Present Future”. It is a fine art but it is also a design. It has repetition. It is a different kind of piece of art that you could hang on your living room wall and your home. It makes a statement but it also brings nice color to the space. It could be a framed painting but this is a more modern painting with twelve little frames as well. She has brought great texture into it. There’s a lot of depth. Those green pieces are found objects. They are vintage appetizer trays. She did not 3D print those. You will see why when you see how large they are. You can see she couldn’t have 3D printed them. She has a Lulzbot 3D printer, not a gigantic one at that. But she 3D printed the pieces that are growing out of it in the bottom. She created a button which looks like some sort of upholstered button,which are growing out of it. It is a cool concept. I love this piece and it is one of my favorites.
You can tell that she is a true fine artist because she is going in a lot of direction with her art. I don’t particularly love the piece that I’m going to talk about next. That is just my personal taste. I respect the piece very much. It is the one called “sTrangulation”, the one with all the ears. The piece is pronounced striangulation as in strangled – Leisa is legally deaf, so this piece is about now being able to hear properly and not being able to triagulate sound. It
immediately brought a picture of Blue Velvet to my mind. If you have not seen Blue Velvet forgive me I will not venture into it but suffice to say it has something to do with an ear that was not on someone’s body. Pretty is not the right word. It does not do it. It makes such statements. She uses them to create some fantasy into her art that she was missing.
The other one that I really like from the bottom is the “Enter Space Exit Human”. She has taken these 3D printed pods and she created these some sort of cellular structure. She hand and machine embroidered it and used all sorts of flocking powder, which I think is a really cool idea. That is one idea that I want everybody to take away with. Why shouldn’t spray our 3D print designs with something like a flocking powder? It is because it is a spray. Why not flock it and give them a whole different texture. These are things that you can do as long as you are not using on daily basis because the flocking will wear off. But if you got it installed somewhere, why not? It can take you completely away from the plastic that you are printing in those cases. The other thing about these are, they are embedded and set in resins. They stuck in the resin that’s there. That’s a cool idea to totally embed them like that. She shows you the back side so you can see that they are coming through the back. It is an awesome idea. It’s the perfect example of it being a part of the process. 3D printing is not being the dominant part of these pieces. But you want to achieve something visually and physically. There are many ways to make it, 3D printing just makes sense for some of these pieces, but it just one part of the whole presentation.
We really wanted to present Leisa Rich to you today because we wanted to make sure that you are thinking about something out of the 3D print box or the build plate. Try to start thinking about the things that you could do to manipulate it. Go into it. Add stuff into it. Use 3D printing to create expressions, products, and things that you want. But you have to feel free to go beyond 3D printing to make that happen.
I remember once when we were at RISD, the first thing that our teacher made us do was this project where we had to create a gigantic, four feet by four feet, repeating pattern piece. We had to paint, do something with it, or completely assemble it together. But it had to be repeating and perfect. It was a week long project and we spent hours on it. I remember taking it and using the corrugation part of a cardboard. I separated it all out so you would see the bumpiness. I painted all these tiny pieces and I assembled the whole thing together. I remember when the teacher walked into the room the first thing she said was that I completely missed this project and she walked up to it then realized what I had done. In a distance it was perfectly repeatable but when you got up to it you will see all the depth, texture, and all the things. She said, I’m sorry you’re right and it’s great. I remember doing that and thinking that going in and doing some manipulation transcended what I did versus everybody else.
Final Thoughts on 3D Printed Fine Art
We always get emails every week from educators around the country that are looking for curriculum ideas and things like that. Mostly these teachers are from the science realm of things or they are teaching younger grades where the teachers are responsible for teaching all he subjects. We haven’t really heard much from any art teachers the country. Leisa Rich is a teacher as well. She has a teaching workshop so she probably is bringing that into it.
She got her 3D printer October of 2014. She has a Taz4 LulzBot which is an open source printer. I know some people who use that printer. It is something that you use for Cura or Simplified3D. It is not something that has their own closed system. She has a very techy husband who does a lot of fixing in the machine because it gets clogged a lot. I’m sure she’s pushing the envelope on this one with the materials she pushes through it.
At this point she is only three-months old as a 3D printer when I read this blog post but she already had to change the head completely. She’s really pushing it or what it can do. She is really using it. She has no CAD experience and no money to pay people to create renderings and computer models. She just decided that it’s okay, which she just wants to own one to figure it out, dive in and discover with it. I think that is a fabulous way to go about it. I applaud her for trying that. The very first thing that she did in the 3D printer was an adaptation from a Thingiverse model. You see what she has done with it with her picture. It’s like a bracelet with burn and melted holes in it which looks very cool. It might not be the most successful print but it something that really helped started and figure out that she can do what she wanted to do. Everybody has to start somewhere. It makes a lot of sense.
But clearly there is a large volume of work that she has done here and she has gone far beyond that. She has made quite an amazing progress in a year and a half of time that she got her printer.
This is very exciting to see this level of work done by an artist using 3D printing as one of their mediums. I am interested to hear more from schools around the country that are integrating 3D printing in their curriculum. I mentioned how that is creeping in to the fine art departments. It is integrated mostly on STEM programs and we are advocating STEAM programs with in art in there. You have to involve the art department and I’m hoping that that is happening. Curriculum for science, math projects, and things like that will be different projects. But art is a whole other animal.
We want to know more about it. Please let us know. If you’ve got a great art project in your school we would love to hear more about it and write in for a future episode of this podcast. You can leave a message comment at the bottom of the blog post. We would love to see the things going or you but we hope this design and art inspiration Friday inspires you to mix up the materials and start experimenting with what you can create and what your artistic expression wants to do with 3D printer outside the build plate.
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