This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Stijn van der Linden, the creator of one of our most popular items on Shapeways: Gyro the Cube. He is an avid and prolific designer, and he also finds time to answer questions on the forum as one of our moderators.
Hi everyone! My name is Stijn van der Linden, probably better know as Virtox around here . I live in Tilburg, in the Netherlands together with my lovely wife and son. I am a work-at-home dad, so I juggle my time between housekeeping, changing diapers and late night sessions of tinkering, designing and programming. I have a college degree in Electrical Engineering and worked as a software engineer for several years, but shortly after discovering 3D printing and Shapeways, I switched careers to my life long passion of 3D Art & Design.
What's the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
Initial sparks often come from the intrinsic beauty found in nature, science and life: a twig, an atom or a kitchen sink. I have a particular fondness for using primitive shapes, such as circles, cubes and spheres and morphing them into the desired forms.
How did Gyro the cube come about?
I have a great love for trying to create the impossible and this is clearly visible in Gyro the Cube. At the time I had just discovered the real power of 3D printing and the possibility to make stuff with moving parts. So, while I was playing around with morphing cubes into spheres and vice versa, I noticed that two of these closely nested cubes could rotate freely about a diagonal axis. I could then repeat this and change the axis for each one and make this impossible looking gyroscopic sculpture, that could (theoretically) move and spin straight from the printer! I was quite anxious after ordering, whether I had made any calculation errors and if it would actually work. It did spin (phew!) and the ease of movement exceeded all my expectations! I still keep one handy near my desk.
How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I am mostly self-taught, as a young kid I started with simple 2D graphics and programming in C64 BASIC. This quickly went on to more advanced programming languages and working with 3D in PovRay, a very elegant scripted 3D rendering engine. During college I had access to more advanced software, like 3D Studio Max which had even more powerful scripting languages and programming APIs. All this evolved to the point that I stopped using off-the-shelf software and I currently make most of my work with home-brew software built in C++.
What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
In August of 2008 I saw a mention of Shapeways somewhere and I signed up for the closed Beta. At the time I thought it was mostly expensive and very complicated, but I kept a close eye on the newsletters and forum and started to learn about the wonders of 3D printing. I tinkered about on the site, uploaded some models and tried the shop feature. To my shock and amazement, I sold something within mere days! Someone had actually bought Holey, a model I had designed years before and now someone, somewhere, was actually going to hold something I had once designed to be impossible to make. And worse, they beat me to it! So this led me to quickly place my first order and ever since I've been hooked on 3D printing.
How do you promote your work?
It has never been my strong suit, and it's hard to find the time, but I try to post updates to social networks as much as possible, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, my own blog and occasionally to design blogs and websites such as Designspotter and Behance. But all things marketing, I learned from the Shapeways blog, as it contains a goldmine of tips, tricks and hints on how to promote your designs and shops.
Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
My all-time favorite artists are Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher and H.R. Giger. Their mind-bending work really sparked my love for art and I am very fond of surreal and impossible looking stuff! After four years of being part of this community, I must say there are so many great members helping and inspiring others, I could not hope to name them all! So a big thank you to ALL for making this place the success it is today! A special shout-out to Youknowwho, Magic, StonySmith and Stop4Stuff for driving the community forward and to Nervous System, Bathsheba, Unellenu and Opresco for making the most inspiring works. And apologies to all that escape my mind at the moment!
If you weren't limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
Oh wow, well just about anything and everything! I can't wait to sink my teeth into an impossibly shaped designer steak, sit down in a fully personalized chair and strap on that pair of extra robotic arms to get things done. But this technology is evolving so quickly I really do not feel limited. If anything, 3D printing just seems to be the ultimate addition to any toolkit.
Thank you to all Shapies for all your efforts to make the impossible possible, you are changing lives and the world with it!
Check out Stijn's incredible designs on his Shapeways Shop, his website, or hop onto the forums and chat with him and the rest of the Shapeways community.