Designer Spotlight: Ryan Kittleson

This weeks designer spotlight focuses on Ryan Kittleson, a local NY community member who has become well known for his realist sculptures and figurines of popular memes.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I’m an art nerd and computer graphics junkie. I currently live in Brooklyn but previously lived in Orlando where I was teaching 3D modeling at Full Sail. I work as a freelance artist and sculptor in a variety of industries like games, animation, visual effects, product design and prop creation.

What’s the story behind your designs? 
I really just make what I enjoy seeing.  Memes are fun, but I also like designing my own art and functional objects. When I saw Toy Story and Jurassic park, I knew that I had to get into 3D modeling. I’m drawn to new technologies and the power that they have to enable new kinds of art.
What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

My background is in 3D modeling for animation and games so I was always comfortable with just seeing my designs on a screen.  Then I went to a Shapeways meetup in Manhattan in 2012 and they opened my eyes to the many ways that I can turn polygons into atoms.  I’ve always been creating designs, objects, and sculptures and now with Shapeways that process is more accessible than ever.

How did you learn how to design in 3D? 
I’m mostly self taught. I’ve always been into sculpting and modeling by hand in the physical world. As far as digital goes, I started with Rhino and then moved more into Maya and Zbrush. I’m also really into free and open-source software like Meshmixer, Sculptris and Blender.

How do you promote your work?  

I let the internet handle that. I’ve found that by simply making things that are fun and interesting to me, other people pick up on that and share my work around the web.  Probably my biggest viewership is on my YouTube channel where I post a lot of my work and some 3D modeling tutorials. I do have a Facebook page and a Tumblr as well.

Who are your favorite designers or artists?  
As for art, I’m really inspired by M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, H. R. Giger, Jim Woodring, and Bill Watterson.  For design, I love it when I see an elegant solution to a problem that I didn’t realize I had. When I think “Why didn’t I think of that!” it’s an inspiring and yet frustrating feeling  :)
Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you? 
Todd Blatt and David Lobser. Basically anybody who subverts the traditional manufacturing model.
If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
I’d want to design my own 3D fractal house and then have an army of nanobots scurry around, forming the structure with their fearsome mandibles.
Anything else you want to share?  
I actually just finished creating a series of training videos about how to get stuff modeled and printed through Shapeways.  It’ll go live on in about a month.  I’ll be sure to send a link when it’s ready! (Ed: Sounds great!)

Check out more of Ryan’s creations in his Shapeways Shop and if you are joining us at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles this week, you can even meet him in the flesh by coming to our meetup tonight at the Sheraton. As always, if you’d like to be the next featured designer, email


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