Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Carisa Swenson

-by Ryan Friant

Since 2006, Carisa Swenson has been creating art dolls which have been exhibited in numerous galleries from New York City to Los Angeles, as well as published in Spectrum 17.  She currently resides in New York.

W3D:  Can you describe your working process from start to finish?

Generally, I start right in with sculpting the head, hands and feet of the doll; only once finished with sculpting and painting the head and limbs do I begin creating the armature.  The armature consists of aluminum wire, with quilt batting wrapped around the wire to fill out the form.  A layer of foss shape is then sewn on, which when heated (using a heat gun), provides greater stability and keeps all the batting in place.  Usually at this point I have a pretty good idea as to what clothing the doll will be wearing, and swatches of fabric are cut out and pinned to the doll to get a sense of whether the colors and patterns will work or not.  Once the clothing is finished, details are added, such as buttons, whiskers or hair.

W3D:  What are the tools do you typically use in a piece?

Fingers, small paintbrushes, dental tools, needles.

W3D:  How do you recharge your "creative battery"? 

Whenever I need to fill the creative well, I head to the woods.  It doesn't matter how long I escape for- it can be an hour long walk, or a day-long hike; any time spent away form the city and surrounded by trees helps to refresh and inspire.  Wandering around museums, or used bookstores also helps. If none of those options are available, I'll settle for an hour or two of video games.

W3D:  If you weren't an artist, what else could you see yourself pursueing?
Something in the field of ornithology, perhaps an avian biologist.

W3D:  Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Don't be afraid of constructive criticism.  Set aside time every day to practice or advance your craft. Even if you only have 15 minutes, MAKE TIME.  Don't fall into the trap of thinking you'll only improve if you set aside huge swaths of time to devote to your art.  Most likely those opportunities will be limited, so work with what you have.  I often wake up early before heading to my day job just so I can squeeze in an hour or so of sculpting time, since I tend to be most productive in the morning hours. Knowing I have to stop at a certain time helps me focus on the task at hand.

W3D: What do you do with the sculptures you’ve created?

Many of my dolls are looking for good homes and are up for sale at galleries in Los Angeles, most notably Cactus Gallery and The Hive Gallery, as well as Dollirium Art Doll Emporium in Canada. Dolls which return to me from shows are carefully packed up in boxes and kept in safe places within our home. Ideally, the dolls would be on display, but I just haven’t found the perfect cabinet yet!

Working in the 3rd Dimension would like to thank Carisa for sharing her art with everyone.  Below you can find a link to Carisa's website as well as a few of the galleries that she mentioned.
www.goblinfruitstudio.com, e-mail:  info@goblinfruitstudio.com
All images © Carisa Swenson 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Tinkertown Museum

-By Ryan Friant

My girlfriend and I have recently relocated to Albuquerque, NM and one stop that ranked high on our list of places to visit was the Tinkertown Museum in Sandia Park, NM. The museum is a collection of vibrant dioramas, often augmented with motor animated elements to further add to the fun of these densely packed scenes. Often times while visiting this site, I had the sense that this was the precursor to the "Eye Spy" book series. Admission is $3, which is absolutely worth it, and you will want to bring a handful of quarters for a few of the coin operated automata and the vintage carnival machines like automated fortune tellers and an Uncle Sam you can shake hands with (and then Uncle Sam judges your moral character).

Tinkertown was crafted, collected and assembled for over 40 years by mid-western artist Ross Ward. Ward was a self-taught artist who spent the majority of his career as a carnival painter and created the beginnings of Tinkertown in his spare time. Ross Ward was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in February of 1998 at the age of 57. The Ward family continues to maintain Tinkertown in his memory and the museum is currently in its 21st season of operation.

You can visit the Tinkertown Museum online here.
All photos were taken by Ryan Friant and Jen G. Benson.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jocelyn Marsh

-By Ryan Friant

First off, I'd like to welcome everyone back to the Working in the 3rd Dimension blog. My name is Ryan Friant and I create dimensional illustrations under the alias of illworx. I will be helping Liz maintain the blog by co-curating the artists and features. I'd like to get right into it and kick things off with the haunting work of Jocelyn Marsh.

Jocelyn Marsh began her career in the arts with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Washing State University. From an early age she wrote fantastical fiction stories that eventually translated into mythical creatures and tales told through sculpture. In 2001, Marsh traveled from Southeast Asia to Western Europe and eventually settled down in Brussels, Belgium where she continued to write and collect discarded treasures. It was in Belgium that a taste for the macabre and a love of science and historical fictions took hold for Jocelyn and by the time she returned to Los Angeles in 2003, a serious study into assemblage art ensued with the small collection she had started abroad. For eight years Marsh has been collecting skeletons, vintage toys, and other oddities bringing them together to form creatures yet unseen to tell stories she once put down on the page. Marsh currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

W3D: How did you start working dimensionally?

I started working dimensionally by making dioramas with found objects. I was doing primarily landscapes that included animal figurines, old necklaces, fabric, old photographs, bones, teeth, and any number of odds and ends. Slowly, I started combining the found objects in such a way that they became more sculptural and finally, I found ways to create my own parts to take the place of found objects so that the creatures themselves were the primary focus of each piece.

W3D: Can you describe your working process from start to finish?

I usually start with an image or a single thought that I want to expand on. My second step is usually to do a character study and write out a narrative to bring the world I’m about to create to life on paper. I started out in the arts as a fiction writer and find myself drawing from that part of my life quite a bit. Once I have a plan, I start gathering all kinds of materials from paint, epoxy clay, hardware, and cast metal objects to fabrics and resins. I also spend a lot of early Sunday mornings at the flea markets of Los Angeles in search of interesting objects to cast and old picture frames. When I have what I need to get started, I start assembling. Depending on the project, this can mean having a soldering station going in one room while paint is drying outside and clay is curing in another room. By the end of the construction process, I like to have things very tied off and tied together. I tend to create narratives with each series of pieces that work together to tell a story.

W3D: What tools are typically used in your pieces?

I use anything I see in front of me to get the job done. Since I work at a fast pace and focus so intently on each piece, I often find myself unprepared when it comes time to do certain little tasks. For example, I’ll be holding a wing on which I’ve just applied a quick-drying adhesive without securing the body to its mechanical arm first. I end up just holding the body with a pair of pliers and waiting for the whole thing to set before I can position it properly. The process can become a game of Twister and is something I’m actually trying to improve. Typically though, I use Dremels, a Foredom flex shaft tool kit, homemade soldering tools, blow torches, glue guns, surgical tools, watchmaker’s tools, every kind of adhesive known to man, and a basic handyman’s tool kit. But honestly, my new favorite multi-purpose tool is the safety pin.

W3D: What do you do with the sculptures you’ve created?

There are a few different retail locations in Los Angeles that carry my work including Gold Bug, Beau & Aero, Dialect, and Gather. And, coming soon to New York City, Condor. My pieces can also be inquired about through jen@artduet.net. Sometimes though, if pieces are just coming from a show, or waiting to go to a show, they can be found pouring out of every room of my house.

W3D: If you weren’t an artist, what else could you see yourself pursuing?

Apart from being an artist, I have also been working on an artistic career in the film industry in Los Angeles for 8 years. So, simultaneously while I do this, I am always working toward production designing for some of the great macabre, quirky, stylized, enchanting directors of our time. My dream is that one day, all will flow together and I will get to bring some of my tiny worlds to life in a big way on the big screen.

We here at Working in the 3rd Dimension would like to thank Jocelyn for her time. Below you can find a link to Jocelyn's website as well as links to some of the retail outlets she mentioned.


All images © Jocelyn Marsh 2011

Saturday, August 7, 2010


This year has been incredibly busy with one tough deadline after the next. I apologize for not being able to post since February, but I've literally had no time. Now that things are a little calmer I'm going to try to get back in the swing of posting about great 3D artists and their news... so here's some news to start you off with:   Back in early February I posted about Brixpix, an artist in Florida who works in 3D making really cool toys. He's having a show later this month so please check it out if you can!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Matei Apostolescu

Meet Matei Apostolescu, an artist in Romania working dimensionally. Born in 1983 in Bucharest Romania, Matei is a self taught freelance illustrator and proud member of the DepthCore collective. He has worked for various clients and had exhibitions in London, Berlin, Bucharest, Istanbul.
How or why did you start working dimensionally?
I started as a kid, when i was about 6 i was making fleets of planes out of dirt because there was a terrible lack of toys in communist times. We had lots of fun with them because, unlike real toys, if you broke one it could easily be modeled into something new. I rediscovered modeling when a friend showed me polymer clay and what people were doing with it and since then i've been having lots of fun with this stuff. 
What or who has influenced the way you work?
At the moment i try to translate characters from my illustrations to real life objects so my influences come mostly from illustrators, H.R Giger remains one of my favorite. He is an incredible painter/illustrator but an awesome sculptor too. 
Please describe your working process. 
I use polymer clay and it's pretty much about experimentation, right now i'm working on larger and more complex models. I use pressed aluminum sheets to created the skeleton and cover them in polymer clay, the rest is pretty much usual modeling :) 
What do you enjoy most / least about working dimensionally? 
Well, the fact that it really changes the way you draw and perceive illustration. I started working recently but I can feel it has a major impact in my drawn stuff, I draw more easy in a way. Perhaps an inconvenience is the fact that I now need to find a much larger space but apart from that I'm looking forward to creating more polymer clay toys.
Matei Apostolescu
All images and content © Matei Apostolescu

Friday, February 19, 2010

Eric Lewis

When was the last time you made art out of your garbage? My friend Eric Lewis, famous for his clever New Yorker cartoons, does just that!
"I was born and raised the son of two psychiatrists (kinda explains a lot?) in New Haven, CT. I have lived in NYC since my undergrad days at Columbia University. After that I went to film school, designed t-shirt graphics for a resortwear company, was a room-service waiter at a posh hotel, designed garden products for Martha Stewart, and finally went back to school for Industrial Design at RISD. I love Star Trek (The Original Series), the Grateful Dead, Barack Obama, and cats (I own two - Oliver & Daisy)."
How or why did you start working dimensionally? 
Not sure when it started, but I should probably credit art teachers in kindergarten as well as my mom, who always encouraged my artistic endeavors. The above image is a recent drawing of a kindergarten art project that coincidentally involved using recycled products.
What or who has influenced the way you work? 
Tibor Kalman, the late, great graphic designer was a huge influence on me - I had the pleasure of being his personal assistant for a summer. His best two lessons: 1. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Then, just when you think your design is as simple as it can possibly be, make it even one step MORE simple. 2. As a designer, look for opportunities with the minimum number of assholes between you and your audience/consumers.
Please describe your working process. 
When I'm working with garbage, I will collect stuff even if I have no idea what to do with it. But I try to keep it on view in my apartment, and let its presence slowly inspire me. I kept a junk bicycle in my bedroom for several weeks before one day it dawned on me how to make it into a functional stool (image below). Besides that, I like to wait until a couple of days before something is due - deadlines really get my adrenaline and inspiration moving! :) 
What do you enjoy most / least about working dimensionally? 
I love it when my 3D creations work from several angles - i.e. a sculpture that one can walk 360 degress around and always find interesting. That's sometimes how I know whether a garbage flower will work or not - if I have to worry about which way the leaf is pointing, it's probably not such a great garbage flower to begin with. And I love forgetting all my troubles as I engage in an aesthetic/design exercise. Joy. Enjoy least?...hmmm - finding space in my apartment to build stuff - it's impossible! Guess I need a studio.
Eric Lewis - Garbage Flowers
All images and content © Eric Lewis

Friday, February 12, 2010

Miss Pearl Grey

Meet Miss Pearl Grey, an artist in the UK working in 3D! 
"Hello! My name is Kellie, but you can call me Miss Pearl Grey, if you like."
How or why did you start working dimensionally?
I was always drawing and became very interested in making minatures as a child. My Grandfather built me a beautiful Doll's House that I was able to furnish with little objects I had made myself and people I crafted from pipe cleaners, cotton wool, tights and material. I eventually ran out of rooms for them all to live in, so it became more like a Hostel for tiny people!
I have a rather short attention span sometimes, so consequently I tend to ricochet back and forth between 2 and 3 dimensional illustrating when I temporarily tire of one or the other (it is usually on the break between each that my interest is reignited!).

What or who has influenced the way you work? 
I am constantly in awe of the sheer talent out there! I have a wide range of inspirations which include (but are not limited to) Aardman, FaultyOptic, Red Nose Studio and Liz Lomax. I also consider myself very lucky to have a supportive cast of family and friends, who are invariably willing to endure my antisocial tendencies when working on new pieces.
Please describe your working process.
I always start with sketches. Each character is visualised on paper from a variety of angles in order to provide accurate viewpoints later on. Once I have started sculpting I find it very helpful to have my own drawings on the desk so that I can see exactly how much curve the chin needs, or where a particular wart should be. This said, however, my models are rarely the same as the initial sketch by the end! 
I usually start with a wire or tin foil armature and build onto this with Super Sculpey. I fire the initial sculpt in the oven and then each subsequent layer is fixed with a very hot hairdryer (my models are usually small enough that this is sufficient). Occasionally I pad out some of the bulkier characters with upholstery wadding to save using so much Sculpey, these are just fixed with the hairdryer. I use children's plasticine modelling tools, scalpels and cocktail sticks to sculpt faces and details. Some of the features are just about being resourceful with materials. I am a bit of a hoarder so I tend to hang onto scraps of old material and things most people would throw away- I know they will come in handy sooner or later. I usually paint with acrylics but learned the hard way that you should always seal the paint with varnish (I use the Matte variety). Once the characters are ready I arrange the props and backgrounds accordingly and photograph, editing afterwards in Photoshop where necessary.
What do you the enjoy most / least about working dimensionally?
I would have to say that the most frustrating thing for me is overheating my models, burning them to a crisp when I wander off to make a cup of tea. When I overheat them they shatter a lot more easily and this can be very time consuming to fix! Materials can be very costly, too. But the overall satisfaction I get from seeing the final images and from other people's reactions makes it very rewarding. I am also a tremendous perfectionist, but I don't think that ever really leaves you.
Kellie Black
Pearl Grey Illustration
All images and content © Miss Pearl Grey

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bent Objects by Terry Border

The other day Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio fame sent me a link to this amazing blog incase it might be of interest for the 3D blog... was it ever! I was blown away and immediately got to in touch with Terry Border of Bent Objects.
How did you start to work dimensionally?
I've always been more comfortable working in 3D.  My drawing skills never get out of the realm of the doodle.  I also like to tell the story of how I started working much larger, making mobiles and sculptures, and after I failed to sell several of them, I decided to start working smaller. As I started working smaller, I got more relaxed, and started to have more fun. My work really took off shortly afterward. 
Who is your biggest influence?
Easily Alexander Calder. His early wire work is what I strive to match in joyfulness, and simplicity.  I got to see the "Alexander Calder: The Paris Years" last summer, and could have died of happiness as I walked through and took it all in.
Could you describe your  working process?
It depends. Sometimes I see an object, or think of a concept that is already fully formed, but that doesn't happen nearly as often as I would like. Usually I start with an object and try to anthropomorphize it.  What kind of life would it lead?  What things would it have in common with us? Hopes and dreams, fears and failures?  
The next step is to probably make some wire arms and legs for it. It's funny, I started out doing everything in wire, but it's dwindled to mainly arms and legs at this point.  If I need props, I gather those up. Sometimes I make the props, a lot of times I'll find them in my daughter's old Barbie accessories, or buy them from a miniature store- whatever is best.
The third step is deciding on the setting.  Does the image need more than a seemless background?
Finally, I'll spend anywhere from half an hour to all day lighting the image. Sometimes I'll take 40 or 50 shots, making changes in posing, and lighting. 
The real final step is after the shot is done, and I'm happy with it all, I have a nice cold beer or glass of wine.
What are you working on now?
My book "Bent Objects: The Secret Life of Everyday Things" came out in stores last October and seems to be doing well. I'm now keeping my blog fed, trying to find some more commercial work, and hoping and praying that I get another book deal going very soon! 
Terry Border, Bent Objects
All images and content © Terry Border

Monday, February 1, 2010


Meet Brixpix, an artist in Florida who works in 3D!
"I started as one of 4 siblings, all dabbling in one type of art or another. Being the youngest it seemed like I was always competing in a land of superior artists. My father, too was a great painter and mentor. After graduating college in 1978 with a degree in Graphic Design, I moved to Los Angeles to seek my future in the arts. Somehow, I took a wrong turn and wound up in the customer service machine for a good 24 years. All major players: Xerox, Capital One, Time Warner. In 2004 I was rescued by Bic Graphic USA where I continue to work in the art department to this day. I have been a freelance illustrator, painter and toy designer. I have successfully shown at the Art Center of St Petersburg, Florida and currently show at both the Hard Rock Store in Tampa, Florida as well as the Creative Native Gallery in Tampa, Florida."
How or why did you start working dimensionally?
Back in 2006 a coworker of mine introduced me to munnys as a viable "canvas" and I quickly found the perfect meld of illustration and paint. I didn't have much experience with the new medium, but soon entered my 1st munny contest (Munnyshow2 at Uberbot Winter Park, Fl on 7/8/06). I came in second place out of 140 contestants. The experience reminded me of my artistic roots. I have to say there and then art was no longer a hobby. It became an obsession. In working hard and raising a family, you forget your roots. I rediscovered mine.
What or who has influenced the way you work?
I'd have to say that from an early age, I have been influenced by Robert Crumb, grand daddy of underground comics. Being born in the 50's I have a unique perspective of the art on and before that time. It was realistic, detailed, linear. I love the details in art. I don't care how long a piece takes to make. It's finished when it's finished. Crumb draws the way he sees. Carrying a sketch pad helps me stay tuned in to what I see, like a camera, but with a creative slant. Currently, I am influenced by modern heroes of the art world. Mark Ryden, Todd Schorr, Gary Baseman and Joe Ledbetter, to name a few.
Please describe your working process.
I like to grow as an artist. So the tools I use today may not necessarily be used on my art tomorrow. I am a big proponent of using 3D art objects that are cast aside at garage sales, giving them a second life. I love vinyl and resin and sculpey. I use prismacolor pencils and a set of Kohinoor rapidographs for inking. Using am angle grinder making wood sculptures lately. I also started painting Coke Cans in the hopes of creating a trend, making them collectable as opposed to recyclable. Portable art, art that can be carried with you, is another niche I am trying to create. No longer imprisoning art to the confines of 4 walls. Toys are the perfect vehicle to get art out. The designer toy market is over 10 years old. Still feels like it's in it's infancy as it has hardly hit the mainstream yet. It's an exciting time to work with other young designers and see their creativity shine.
What do you enjoy most / least about working dimensionally?
As a cartoonist/illustrator, I could only dream of my characters moving in a 3D world. Working dimensionally makes one think differently when approaching the medium. The personality of the character leaps off the toy. Vinyl can be expensive though. I megamunny can run you back $200.00. If designed properly, a good designer can sell the piece for over $1000.00. Urban toy designers started out getting little recognition. This is changing as some established artists are designing toys as a way for most people to afford their work.
All images and content © Brixpix