Designer Spotlight: David Lobser

This weeks designer spotlight focuses on David Lobser of HiLobster, an animator who let his creations jump off the screen and into real life!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I’ve been living in NYC for 15 years, long enough to call myself a New Yorker.  Most of that time has been in Brooklyn. 
What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
I am an animator as an avocation and vocation.  I always wanted to be an experimental film maker like the Brothers Quay or Stan Brakhage.  I still love it but I’ve been thinking a lot about new mediums lately, I want to learn new things, do new things, and make art in new ways. Of all my designs I think a couple of them are successful.  The elephant, one of my friends remarked, is perfect (nothing is perfect, but let’s say it works nicely).  The elephant was actually the result of a few weeks of struggling with curves so it really was an organic process.  One thing about ‘photo realistic’ computer animation is that it looks like quite a lot of work, whereas with design, if you do it right, it appears nearly effortless.In the end the elephant can be reconstructed from scratch with very little effort using a birail.  The heart apple is also lovely, but not quite perfect. I also have a soft spot for ‘five horns’ – they are the elephant’s and bird’s little cousins (and they unscrew!).  All this is to say, you have to make a lot of stuff before you can make anything really good.I will say that making a good thing is one of the most wonderful experiences.  If you give love to your art, and you stick with it through the tough times, the rewards are as boundless as your heart and your imagination.
How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I taught myself by just plunking buttons until things started to happen! I’ve been working with 3D animation tools for twenty years (gasp), which puts me maybe one generation back from the leading edge of the field.  I’ve been working in the field for the last 12 years, mostly in NYC, and I’ve been exceptionally lucky in that I’ve had opportunities to pursue my own work and my own vision.  My dream was to make films, and I wound up making films on the computer.  Printable sculptures are a small step from where I was.  I love the idea of actually having a physical object in my hand, and I also love the idea of unlimited reproducibility.  Thirty years from now I can order one of the prints I made today, and I’ll be able to order it in a huge variety of materials.
What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
The service is great, the price is great, it’s tailored to artists rather than engineers, the quotes are instant, deliveries are on time, good customer service.  I love Shapeways! 

What intrigues you about 3D printing?

3D printing presents an array of issues to consider from a design standpoint.  For starters, what is the necessity of it?  Most of my sculptures could in theory be produced in other ways, so the only real necessity is that I want an object but don’t want the hassle and expense of mass manufacturing.  It’s good for prototyping of course, but I’m interested in figuring out what 3D printing will always be able to do better than standard manufacturing processes.  The structural possibilities blow away casting techniques, the ability to print something inside of something else is huge in terms of expressive potential.  Aside from that I really think that the ability to customize objects is really where 3D printing will shine.  The models in my shop represent a large investment of time, so over the course of a year I’ll only be able to add so many different works.  If I can come up with a tool that would allow users to alter my work then it would become a collaboration.  This is the most exciting aspect of printing to me right now and I’m presently immersing myself in code so I can learn how to make that happen.  With tools like processing or open frameworks and the libraries available within them it seems like not such a huge stretch to get to that point.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
A shiny new brain, maybe just a little one to augment my own … or a monkey that would type for me. 
Check out David’s colorful designs at his Shapeways Shop or his website. You can also come and see some of his designs in person at the Shapeways booth at MakerFaire this weekend in New York!
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