Designer Spotlight: Joshua Harker

This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Joshua Harker, a sculptor, who has worked with 3D printing in one form or another since the very early 90s.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?

I’m in Chicago. I’m a sculptor and have worked with 3D printing in one form or another since the very early 90’s. I started using it as a fine art medium since 2000. I’m a musician, I like motorcycles, beer, dogs, loud music. I’m the world’s most grateful husband, proudest dad, and I’ll be friends with anyone.

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you? 

Stemming from 2D linear automatism explorations (pioneered by André Masson and practiced notably by Joan Miró, André Breton, Salvador Dalí, Jean Arp, and Pablo Picasso), my “Tangle” series are intended to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye but that cannot otherwise be described. My intent is to explore and give form to the architecture of the imagination. By disengaging the conscious mind I am able to examine esoteric visions before they submit to a recognizable metaphor. I am then able to capture and refine them into the forms I command offering the opportunity to study their identity and structure.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

It was a very novel idea from the get go. I mean the whole online service bureau and interface of Shapeways. So I was intrigued and really just started trying it. In late 2011 I did my first major production run with them: nearly 1000 pieces for a Kickstarter project I ran. Until fairly recently I’d only used Shapeways as a service bureau. I now put a bit more attention into it as a marketplace. It’s come a long way relatively quickly and I look forward to it growing further. 

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

Osmosis basically. I really just worked with more and more aspects of the technology over the years. I founded a design and development studio in late 90s as a commercial sculptor. I increasingly was brought in by my clients earlier and earlier in the projects and started to do CAD so I could help troubleshoot and design more mechanical aspects of the projects. Eventually I was doing full on industrial design and mechanical engineering using Solidworks mainly. Everything’s gotten much easier.

How do you promote your work?

I’ve used Kickstarter with great success. Also Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’ve been doing more and more shows and gallery type things recently which seem to be productive. A lot of it is this organic internet kind of thing where people are just becoming more familiar with my work and starting to recognize me as the artist.

Who are your favorite designers or artists?

I’m quite partial to surrealists particularly Magritte, Ernst, and Dali. Also big fan of Escher’s work. Bernini and Rodin as sculptors. Also have a soft spot for hand drawn and stop-motion animation.

Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?

Definitely Peter Weijmarshausen and Duann Scott. Kudos to them for being awesome.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?

I’d like to get my hands on a bioprinter and do some real Frankenstein stuff… not kidding. Work photosynthesis into powering muscle fiber. Even if it was just some kind of twitching wormlike abomination. It would be great if in the future I could get some wooly mammoth DNA off Ebay and print my own little 12-inch tall herd that would stampede across my backyard to greet me every time I came home. I can just see them chasing my dog around in the snow. Also wish we could print models with luminescence that could be animated like cuttlefish skin. I’m 1000% serious about all of this.

Wow, that would be amazing! To see more incredible work from Joshua, head over to his Shapeways Shop or his  website . Discover more talented Shapeways Designers on our blog, or submit one of your own by emailing aimee@shapeways.com.

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