It is amazing to see how far the 3D printing industry has grown without many artists and designers involved in it. Imagine what the future would hold for the industry if it incorporated significantly more artistic talent into its 3D design workforce, especially in the 3D retail product sphere. Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard believe that teaching the technical aspects of 3D design is a lot easier than teaching artistry. That being said, how do you build design talent in your 3D printing business? Tom and Tracy enumerate some of the ways you can do just that.
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How Do You Build Design Talent In Your 3D Printing Business?
This is the WTFFF?! 3D Printing Podcast Ask Us Anything segment. We’re going to use a question that came out of our mentorship with Kelechi in Nigeria. He asked us a good question that we’re going to answer, maybe partially with our session with him.
The issue of designers for the series because I’m looking into building that design community that will be serving the customers because we need a lot of them in Africa. I need to find out from you, how did you build your design talents? Did you outsource everything or you have to take a bottom-up approach for each?
This is a difficult question that we’re struggling with here in the US as well. Tom is the one who’s done on those designs. We conceptualize together and I say, “We should do something that looks like this.” I sketch a little but I don’t do CAD. Tom does all the CAD, so he figures out all the geometry and does all of that and makes it work. It’s all on Tom’s skill. That’s for making the model but the design itself is many years of designing products for the market, for retail. We know what sells and what people want to buy. We understand the US consumer and that’s the difference here. You need to find somebody who’s artistically skilled already and give them training because training them on CAD and training them to use a machine is a whole lot easier than trying to train someone with art to give them artistic skills.
The thing is that we answered the part of it in how we go about finding talent. We find somebody who’s already creative. We take that talent, turn it into something, and add the technical skills necessary. That’s one way to do it. This is the problem that we’re getting from a lot of people that they are technical. They’re already coders, techie, engineers, but what’s missing is the creative skills.
The 3D printing industry has been built on engineers and technical people who are into computers and software because that’s what it’s needed to create the machines that are doing this. They’re not designers and artists.
We’ve been to a lot of Maker Faires and maker shows. The thing is that to call them makers isn’t the right concept anymore. Maker still implies that you’re an artisan and there’s a big distinction there. We need to be careful because the hackers and that maker side of things that I would consider to be hackers, the robotics, drones, and that part of the 3D printing side of it. The part that wants to take the machine apart, make it work better, which has made fabulous inroads to make 3D printing better. There’s no question about it.
It’s created advancement that’s not been necessary.
It’s not making good 3D print content. The what that you’re printing is what’s suffering and it’s what’s not happening well because there’s not an artisan involved in that process. When I was a kid, my mom used to take us to these harvest festivals and she made these beautiful corn husk dolls in grapevine baskets.
Creative and beautiful crafts things.
There was some crafty stuff there. It was the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Do you mean macramé? There were a lot of plant hangers.
Exactly. There was a lot of that.
Your mom is artistic.
She would study and she would go and take lessons from great basket makers, weavers, and artists like that. The artists in part were always a big component of that, who trained her, so she wasn’t just getting a technical skill. She wasn’t just taking a technical class on how to use a loom or something like that. She was taking a class from a true artist and learning about artistic processes at the same time. That’s what’s missing here in 3D printing.Training an artist to use CAD is a lot easier than training a technical expert how to become artistic. Click To Tweet
All of the classes and the things out there are technical only. They teach you the computer skills you need but they don’t teach you the artist’s skills you need. The only way that it works is if you already have artistic skills or you already are creative and have that bent already. That’s what we said to Kelechi. It’s the easier way to go about it, but it’s not necessarily the most effective way for us to be going out there and teaching it. I wish I had more of me so that we could go out there and we could be teaching classes like this, but we don’t have time to do that.
The reality is there’s a lot of great art and design schools in this country. Industrial design in particular, not that you have to be an industrial designer. There are many different artists and designers who can get into this industry.
I’m a textile designer. I’m not an industrial designer, but I’m a practicing product designer. I’ve been doing it my whole life and my whole career.
What I’m trying to say is your education is only a foundation and any art or design education is a great foundation. You can decide to pursue your career and practice product design if that’s what you want.
If you’re studying 3D printing and you’re getting your CAD and technical skills in there, take an art class. That’s my best suggestion. Some art principles would do some good. It doesn’t matter that it’s 3D art or not. Getting to understand line, form, how all that relates, and good color would be helpful.
Color is important.
They don’t teach that enough to industrial designers.
Color is all too often an afterthought in the development of a product and it shouldn’t be, but it’s a tough thing. The good news is clearly without a lot of artists and designers involved in the 3D printing industry, look how far it’s grown already.
This is why my example comes back to this Bridgette Mongeon, one of my favorite podcasts that we’ve done. Her book has come out and I started reading it. I’m going to finish it and I can give her a great review already because it’s good. Bridgette was an artist before. She had a compelling physical need that forced her to have to try to find another way to keep doing her art and 3D printing answered that for her, so she wouldn’t have found it otherwise. Maybe she would have. I don’t know but she interviews in her book and talks about a lot of artists’ techniques and things like that. Artists use a lot of case studies where they found 3D printing and how to change their art, but they already had art to start with.
The 3D printing for Bridgette is just one of the tools in her art studio. It’s not the only tool and it’s one of the tools we use in product design, it’s not the only tool. I happen to enjoy it, I love it, and I want to do more of it. A lot of the media has been saying in the hype that 3D printing is the next Industrial Revolution. It’s maybe a cliché, but it’s true. It’s going to change manufacturing to be more local, bringing a lot of manufacturing back to the United States, but who is going to design all the stuff that people are printing locally all over the place? The good news is if you’re an artist or a designer and you have any interest in designing products that people are going to want to buy, you’ve got a job. You’ve got major job security.
You’ve got a lot of free tools, free courses, low-cost courses, and a lot of stuff to get technical skills, so you should get it right now. If you want a job, that’s the number one place to go.
If you are not one of those people, if you are just starting a business using 3D printing or you have an existing business, and you’re going to use 3D printing as a part of it, if you don’t already have designers involved in your business, go and find them. You can hire them and bring them into your business so that your products do address all those issues. Not just another plastic thing that some person without a lot of care for the appearance of the product. Think about it. You’re putting out a product that you want someone to buy. You need that product to make an emotional connection with the person that’s going to buy. It is probably a woman more often than it’s a man. You better have a designer on your team in some way that has an idea of what people want to buy and what is going to make a product make an emotional connection with a consumer.
That artistic skill is not easy to teach. It’s something that you honed over a lifetime. It’s a creative spirit that you already have in you. Finding that right person to be on your team and then giving them technical skills is a whole lot easier, just as we said with collating.
It’s rather than taking a technician and trying to have them understand art.
You can’t expect that. It’s too much. We hope that helps you as well. If you have any other questions, you can find us on social media @HazzDesign. Send us a tweet or a Facebook message. Most of our questions have been coming via social media, which I love. Just a reminder that the podcast has moved. It’s WTFFFPodcast.com or 3DStartPoint.com.
Most of you are probably getting it through iTunes or Stitcher or one of those places, and that’s great. Do you want to see the kind of design and quality of a website? Go to HazzDesign.com. You’ll see that’s the quality level of the website that we expect and put out. 3DStartPoint.com and WTFFFPodcast.com will be there. Give us a little more time.
Thank you for reading.
- Kelechi Ojinnaka – LinkedIn
- Bridgette Mongeon – Past episode
- @HazzDesign – Twitter
- Facebook – Hazz Design
- iTunes – WTFFF?! 3D Printing Podcast
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