3D Printed Art: How 3D Printing is Empowering Artists’ Creativity
At 3DSourced we’ve covered everything 3D printing and 3D since 2017. Our team has interviewed the most innovative 3D printing experts, tested and reviewed more than 20 of the most popular 3D printers and 3D scanners to give our honest recommendations, and written more than 500 3D printing guides over the last 5 years.
Artists using 3D printing for their various works has led to a huge change in how creators can tell their stories and share their visions with the world.
Newer technology has a history of finding its way to creative pursuits, and 3D printing is no exception. Here we’re going to look at how some of the coolest and most imaginative ways artists have been using 3D printing technology to further advance and reshape their various mediums.
Fluxaxis: Making Blood Cancer Visible
Fluxaxis, a 3D printing company turned 3D printing artist, were asked to be involved in an art installation to raise awareness of blood cancer. Their client, Windsor Workshop, wanted to produce a series of life-sized human statues for the UK’s 2018 “Making Blood Cancer Visible” campaign.
Fluxaxis 3D sculpted and printed two statues as the installation’s master molds. Windsor Workshop then used these molds to create 10 transparent polyester resin statues. When displayed, these ten statues were fitted with LEDs, so they glowed internally.
By using 3D printing, Windsor Workshop created these 3D printed sculptures faster, and for cheaper.
It only took Fluxaxis 8 hours to print each master sculpture, whereas most life-sized statues take weeks to hand sculpt. While the 3D printed sculptures weren’t cheap, hand-made sculptures are far more expensive and rarely cost less than $30,000 each.
2. Palmyra Sculptures
Outside of creating original art, 3D printing has found use in reproducing existing artworks.
A notable example of this occurred when ISIS controlled Syria’s Palmyra region in 2015. They severely damaged two ancient busts in their efforts to destroy the city’s heritage sites
Using 3D printing, the busts were repaired in Italy, and were successfully returned to Syria in 2017.
3. VerusArt: 3D Printing Paintings
While 2D paintings are beautiful, 3D printing artists have been creating new paintings that you can touch in three dimensions.
In 2016, art print company VerusArt began 3D printing classical artworks in collaboration with the National Gallery of Canada, drawing much attention.
Their process is much like any other 3D printing reproduction:
- A detailed 3D scan of the original painting is made
- These scans are converted into 3D models
- The 3D models are 3D printed.
- Then, these 3D printed artworks are taken to a museum curator to be compared to the original, and ultimately approved.
Paul Lindahl, CEO of Arius Technology, a company within VerusArt, stated that “we are ready to lead the transformation of the multi-billion-dollar fine art reproduction industry from its 2D past into a 3D future, changing the way people from around the world experience art.”
VerusArt has produced multiple projects since, with their prints available for purchase online. So, if you have a couple thousand dollars, you can own a version of Monet’s “A Stormy Sea” that you can actually touch!
4. Gilles Azzaro and 3D Voiceprinting
Gilles Azzaro is a digital artist most famous for his “Voiceprinted” creations. He takes an audio recording, then 3D models a digital sculpture based on its waveform, and 3D prints this to create a voiceprinted sculpture.
The final sculpture incorporates a built-in laser that will track along the waveform whilst audio is played.
Gilles’s work has been criticized for not actually being able to playback the waveform as sound. The tracking laser could give audiences the impression that it was scanning and playing the waveform in real-time, when in reality, the original recording is simply being played through a speaker in time with the laser.
Despite this, Gilles’s artwork is still highly praised for the accuracy with which it captures and presents audio, something he credits to his use of 3D printing. Gilles has stated that recreating these voices so precisely wouldn’t have been possible conventionally and could only really be achieved through 3D printing:
5. Joshua Harker – 3D Printed Sculpture Artist
Respected American artist Joshua Harker is a well-known incorporator of multimedia techniques in his work, including 2D image design.
3D printed sculptures are a part of his impressive repertoire, with his ‘Tangle’ series of sculptures earning him renown as a pioneer of 3D printed art.
Joshua himself describes the Tangle series as indescribable shapes representing the mind’s eye, giving a physical architectural representation of the human imagination in forms difficult to put into words.
6. Hypnerotomachia Naturae – A Beautiful Chaos
Powdered 3D printing by Concr3de enabled the many artists and designers responsible for the 3D printed sculpture Hypnerotomachia Naturae to create an almost impossible blend of traditional sculpting techniques and imagery and modern day pop culture.
Featuring C3PO of Star Wars fame and Groot from Marvel, this 3D printed sculpture is an intense but beautiful look at the natural world evolving around manmade machinations, combining mythos, fiction, and natural aesthetics into an impressive mix of the easily recognized and the brand new.
7. Peter Lang – Silent Orchestra
Peter Lang is an artist who usually works with paint, but when he decided to use 3D printing to branch out into colorful sculpture, he created one of his best-known works, the Silent Orchestra.
Collaborating with Additive Tectonics, Lang made the entire sculpture from original, hand-drawn, and scanned designs
He created the whole thing with only natural materials and binding agents, which is becoming a popular method for many artists who are conscious of their work’s carbon footprint.
8. Alan Phelan – Hold Your Nose
Irish artist Alan Phelan has used a lot of different materials and media in his work, and in 2021 he added 3D printing to his process to create RGB Sconce, Hold Your Nose, which provided Dublin with a symbol of hope for the future.
Moved out of museums, the sculpture is now on display in the Technological University Dublin, and remains a feat of engineering as well as a symbol of Ireland’s continued march into the future with ever-evolving ideas and technology.
9. Jacolby Satterwhite – Black Luncheon
Brooklyn-based multimedia artist and designer Jacolby Satterwhite included Black Luncheon as part of his Spirits Roaming on the Earth exhibition, which used different artistic techniques to show black and queer culture.
Black Luncheon, in particular, featured hand-painted enamel on 3D printer resin to achieve the desired effect, and you can explore what you can from the rest of the exhibition, a collection which we highly recommend you check out and discover for yourself.
10. Nicolas Touron – Machine-Molded Clay
The 3D printed artwork combines fantastical shapes and themes with interpretive models to create something truly eye-catching.
His work is so celebrated that he still offers workshops in 3D printing ceramics at Harvard University, which you can sign up for today.
11. Sandra Canning – Photographer Expands into 3D Printing
Professional photographer Sandra Canning became fascinated with 3D printing, and used it to expand her already impressive portfolio by taking the chance to explore outside mediums.
She now uses 3D printing to create 3D representations of real people and things just as a traditional photographer would, but in a way you can see and hold beyond a simple portrait.
3D printed selfies are a popular alternative to family photos, and they make for a great way to capture precious memories in a unique way, which is exactly what Sarah Canning now offers with her work after incorporating additive manufacturing to expand her portfolio.
12. Bathsheba Sculpture – 3D Printing Steel
Bathsheba, a professional sculptor and designer, has a less standard method for creating 3D printed art by mainly using 3D printed steel as their main medium, a far cry from the PLA and other plastics used by most other 3D printer artists.
Their work ranges from abstract to practical, and everything in between, and their laser etching collections are something to be admired too, and we highly recommend checking them out if you’re interested in both 3D printing and laser engraving art.