I'm a sculptor exploring the space between art, math, and life. My work is about living in three dimensions, finding symmetry and balance, feeling for the tension between pure geometry and natural forms.
I like to think about shapes and sometimes I think of a new one. It's something I do without wanting very much to explain it.
I've studied more math than most artists. I no longer use it very directly – my current designs are drawn rather than computed – but it's plain that my creative engine is very interested in symmetry and topology.
3D printed steel is my main medium, and I also work with subsurface laser damage in glass. These choices weren't because I love gadgets, but because the shapes I want aren't moldable, and I want to make a lot of them. This turns out to be remarkably constraining: most artmaking and manufacturing methods don't work, or become very expensive, for reproducing un-moldable objects. Thus I became an early adopter of 3D printing.
My business model is simple: I sell metal and glass. I don't limit editions and I price as low as costs permit. I sell mostly through this site and Shapeways, without galleries or brick-and-mortar retailers. It's more like self-publishing than like traditional art marketing, which works by creating scarcity and using gatekeepers to assign arbitrary valuations. But we don't feel that a book loses value because many people own copies: in fact it gains value as its cultural relevance and penetration grow. Now is the first time in history that sculpture can be, in this sense, published. I'm excited about that.
At present I'm happy to say that this is my job. I've worked as a programmer, teacher, tech writer, typist, web designer, but in the last years of the 20th century 3D printing got cheaper, and quite suddenly I began to be an artist. That was satisfying of course, and it continues to bring challenges as I drill into new design space, make expensive mistakes, and float through the market changes that the massive popularization of 3D printing has brought.
I hope you'll enjoy my designs. They're visions of order in the universe, my peaceful places. I feel calm and hopeful in making them, and I hope they will bring some of that satisfaction into your life.
In the News
What's the impact of all this? More than one might expect. My work has appeared in the New York Times, the London Times and Der Spiegel, as well as Wired, Discover and Make magazines. One of my lamps was among TIME Magazine's Design 100 in 2007. My sculptures have appeared in two hit TV shows, Second Life, and a Japanese videogame commercial. John Conway and Douglas Hofstadter have used them as illustrations. They've been shown in Italy, Korea, New York and Cleveland. An unironic Wikipedia entry was started in 2004.
As one of the first to do much art and direct-to-consumer selling with steel printing, I helped to popularize it as an art medium. My work inspired other artists to experiment with the technology; meanwhile on the supply side, my sales encouraged machine manufacturers to consider art as a market worth pursuing. As more artists began to work this way, and as Shapeways and other marketing platforms emerged, suppliers have improved their processes and postprocesses -- dyes, sealants, patinas, castings -- to give a great variety of aesthetically improved prints. This was my plan all along: my purpose in evangelizing was to get better toys, and it's worked.
I never drilled far into the traditional art world, which is all right: long ago I made the decision to work for viewers and buyers – you – rather than middlemen. That's what the internet is for.
The logical outcome of this decision was that only few enthusiasts would ever take an interest in my work. It's been such a surprise that it didn't turn out that way.
Thank you for letting me have this job.
Metal – How I make sculpture.
Crystal – About subsurface laser damage imaging in glass.
Studio – A quick tour of my workspaces.
Pages I no longer maintain
Shows – I now announce appearances and shows on social media.
Press – This got out of hand.
Resources – Lists of this kind are deprecated now that we have Google.
And to Travis Alex Photo for the portrait above.