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

Monday, January 25, 2010

Danielle Buerli

Danielle Buerli is an illustrator living and working in Los Angeles. 

How or why did you start working dimensionally?
I have always loved to make things. I'd knit hats for everyone I knew. It was a way to relax between school assignments at art school. So then I came up with ways to incorporate making things for my assignments. Everyone was painting and sketching and I wanted to do that too but maybe knit a little bit on the side. And then it hit me I can.  

What or who has influenced the way you work?
So many artists and they are are all so talented. I guess I just wanted it all and this was the best idea I could come up with to show that. 

Please describe your working process. 
I like to experiment with materials and see what happens. Sometimes something really great happens, other times it just goes to a box under the bed. But usually I will find a material I really want to use or have an idea for a character and see where it takes me. I try and slip some knitting in every time. 

What do you the enjoy most / least about working dimensionally?
I get to try new things all the time. It never gets boring and every time you make something it is better than last. I guess that down side is time. There never seems enough of it to make everything you want.

Danielle Buerli
All images and content © Danielle Buerli

Friday, January 22, 2010

Margaret Cusack

Check out Margaret Cusack, an artist in Brooklyn who creates unique stitched artwork! Margaret told me, "Since I was a child, I have always enjoyed creating artwork. I had minimal art training in grammar school and high school, but was accepted at Pratt Institute and graduated in 1968 with a BFA cum laude degree in graphic design. In 1972, after working for four years as a designer/art director in advertising and publishing, I began exploring fabric collage--doing portraits, pillows and hangings. As an illustrator with an unusual technique, I had an agent for the first six years, However, since 1978, I have represented myself. My clients include AT&T, Aunt Millie's Spaghetti Sauce, Harcourt, Macmillan, Random House, Absolut Vodka, The Village Voice and Vanity Fair."

How or why did you start working dimensionally? 
I have always been intrigued with dimensional artwork and I am delighted to have been able to create a career with my appliquéd, embroidered and soft sculpture artwork.

What or who has influenced the way you work? 
I have always been interested in realism. Artists that have influenced me are: Norman Rockwell, Edward Hicks, Milton Glaser, Toulouse Lautrec, Edward Hopper, Grandma Moses, etc.

Please describe your working process.
With both my flat appliquéd artwork commissions and my dimensional soft sculptural images: I discuss the concepts and the project itself with the art director. Then I create pencil sketches and we discuss them. Once the sketch and the direction is chosen, I do a line drawing, which becomes my pattern.
For the flat appliquéd artwork: To show the juxtaposition of the fabrics, I create a "rough color paste-up" of the fabrics chosen for the image. I prepare the fabrics (ironing them and adhering iron-on "paper-backed fusible webbing" onto the back of the fabrics). I trace the outlines of the pattern's shapes onto the back of the fabrics. Then I cut out the shapes, peel off the paper backing and spray the back of the shapes with spray glue. Using the light box I position the fabric shapes onto a backing fabric and then iron them in place. I stitch them down with a zig zag stitch on my Bernina sewing machine. Usually, the image is stretched on canvas stretchers. Throughout this process, the art director can have input.

For the soft sculpture images like the "Bill Gates Voodoo Doll," I show sketches and fabric swatches to the client and then stitch the image and stuff it as needed. In some of the soft sculpture images, I include embroidery and or/other elements.  All of these techniques are included in my book, "Picture Your World in Apppliqué".  The photography is very important. 

My flat stitched artwork is photographed either digitally or as an 8 x 10 chrome (usually by Gamma One Conversions in Manhattan. Their process captures all the detail of the fabrics' texture and yet their lighting technique does not create harsh or uneven shadows).  I also work with my husband Frank Cusack and Brooklyn photographer, Michael Hnatov, who both shoot my dimensional images (soft sculpture, pillows, etc.) and some of my flat appliquéd  artwork.

What do you the enjoy most / least about working dimensionally?
Most: I enjoy the challenge of working with fabric--its instant color, texture, pattern. In many cases, my fabrics connect the viewer to nostalgic moments in their past. I like the fact that dimensional artwork will stop the viewer for a moment longer than traditional illustration or computer art.
Least: Fabric can be quirky and difficult at times. And though most of the time I have enough of a chosen fabric, there is always the chance that, at midnight, I might run out of a particular fabric or thread color that is crucial to the project.

124 Hoyt Street in Boerum Hill
Brooklyn, New York 11217-2215
phone: 718.237.0145
cell: 718.909.4402
fax: 718.237.0145

All images and content © Margaret Cusack

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jayme McGowan

Jayme McGowan (aka Roadside Projects) is a freelance artist and 3D illustrator cited for her whimsical imagery and unique methods of working with cut paper. She is based in Sacramento, California. 

How or why did you start working dimensionally?
I started working dimensionally during college, but separately from my studies. I went to a state school with a general studio art program where you had to take a certain number of classes in each department, learning a little bit of everything. But the focus was on “fine art” and sadly there was no room in the curriculum for traditional crafts like papercutting, and no illustration courses, so I’m self-taught in those areas.  I started cutting paper while trying to quit smoking. I needed something to occupy my time (and bide my hands) and was looking for an art project where I could just sort of obsessively play with the materials. My earliest efforts were relief, on wood panels or mat board just as I continue to work today, but the imagery was more abstract and I was primarily focused on just finding different ways of laying down the paper. Most pieces were made from cut-up pages of old thrift store books. I found the construction method of cutting and gluing, cutting and gluing, over and over - requiring extended periods of focused concentration - to be pleasantly meditative. My very first instinct was to work dimensionally for some reason, maybe stemming from a love of dioramas/shadowboxes.

What or who has influenced the way you work?
In 2007 I saw a Joseph Cornell retrospective, a massive collection of 150 or so of his box constructions, at the SF MOMA right around the time I started working dimensionally. Those were a huge inspiration. I remember there was a quote in the exhibition catalog stating that it was his goal as an artist “to inspire others to pursue uplifting voyages into the imagination”. I just love that – it’s what I aspire to.  As far as contemporary artists go, Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio was one of the first 3d illustrators I discovered and still a favorite. Elsa Mora is an artist I just found fairly recently, who does a wide range of dimensional work, with paper, clay, and even plants - all of it amazing. 

Please describe your working process.
I start with a sketch to get the basic composition down before I begin. Since there’s no going back after the paper is cut, this helps eliminate waste. Next, I spend some time sorting through materials (an ever-growing collection of new and re-purposed paper) to find the right palette for the piece. Having to decide on color at such an early stage is something that I’m still getting used to. There’s a lot of trial and error - making things, destroying them and starting over.
Everything I do is cut by hand with an X-acto knife and a few different sizes of scissors. I use a quick-drying glue to assemble the piece, building up layers slowly and adding dimension with handmade paper supports. My work tends to be pretty tiny and I often use tweezers to place the individual paper pieces.
When the dimensional cut paper work is done, I photograph it digitally and bring the image into Photoshop.  I try to keep the digital manipulation to a minimum though, and all of the shadows in my images are actual cast shadows from the original photographs. 

What do you enjoy most / least about working dimensionally?
Least: It’s really labor intensive! And I’m still at an early stage in my career where I haven’t quite figured out how to create the images as I envision them. I’ve got a lot to learn about photography, which is an (often frustrating) endeavor I hadn’t anticipated when I set out on this journey. I look forward to a day when it doesn’t take 200+ shots to get a usable image.
The only other downside I can think of is that storage is becoming a serious problem. No more throwing old work in a flat file.
Most: Working in 3d creates a unique look that can’t be achieved with drawing or painting (and working with just paper means much cheaper materials). Also, I’m constantly being challenged with new problems to solve, which keeps it interesting.

Being a self-taught illustrator, it is nice to be part of a smaller niche community of 3d artists; it’s made breaking into the field less intimidating and more welcoming. I also feel like there’s still a lot of territory left to be explored with dimensional illustration (as opposed to the feeling that “it’s all been done before”) and nothing beats that sense of discovery.  

Jayme McGowan
images and content © Jayme McGowan