Designer Spotlight: Zach Tsiakalis-Brown

This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Zach Tsiakalis-Brown, a young Shapie from the northwest, with a shop full of imaginative, original prints that remind us how fun 3D printing really can be.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
My name is Zach, and I am (possibly) the youngest Shapie ever. I am 13 years old and live in Seattle, Washington, where I am in eighth grade. I have experience in 3D modeling, basic game design, digital art, and movie making.

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
I am inspired to create my designs in many different ways, usually just thinking, “Man, now wouldn’t it be cool if there was a… ” This applies to things such as my Finger Viking Helmet, my “Mini o Marble o” sets, or my elephant mug. Some are created as personal gifts to my friends depicting their character in some way or another.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

Several months after learning 3D printing, I still had not seen one of my designs in the real world. As I was browsing the CG site CG Cookie I randomly found a tutorial for setting up blender models for 3D printing with Shapeways. I immediately looked up Shapeways and found the wonderful community that is us!

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I taught myself! I have never taken a formal lesson in 3D modeling. At about age 9 or 10 I was begging my dad to find a 3D modeling program for me that was not terribly expensive. With Blender, a free and open source program, I was able to fulfill my dream! With YouTube, containing its thousands of blender tutorials, I taught myself the basics, then experimented from there, and am still learning today.

How do you promote your work?
I promote my work by sending emails to all of my gmail contacts with links to my shop, telling all my friends about my stuff, showing my printed items to people… Basically all the stuff that is not going to benefit my shop in the long run. As a designer my age, people are fairly likely to just be impressed with a kid with a skill set like mine and pat me on the head – then walk away. So it is hard to really be taken seriously. (WE think you are seriously amazing, by the way!)

Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?

Some of my favorite designs are mathematical artwork pieces, in fact these designs triggered an obsession with Möbius strips that started about two months ago and is just dying down now. I found them surprisingly easy to 3D model (I also tried my hand at making one out if clay… Let’s just say less satisfactory results…).

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
If I was not limited by current technology (and prices) I would design myself a giant robot suit (made of royal blue strong and flexible, of course. Oddly, this is exactly how I imagine it in my head).

What is your favorite book?
Some of my favorite books are the Tintin graphic novels by Herge. As a small child, I always pronounced Herge like “herj.”

Anything else you want to share?
I would love for any other young Shapies to contact me, because I feel a bit alone as one of the youngest 3D modelers in the world.

P.S. I love Shapeways and think it is the coolest thing in the world. (You’re the coolest too, Zach!)

Zach also gave us the pleasure of making an amazing video about our favorite Finger Viking Helmet

Check out Zach’s shop here – and keep up the great work, Zach. If you’d like to be featured, feel free to email aimee@shapeways.com. 

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