Pinshape featured designer of the month, Eileen Bowen (a.k.a, Silverbeam), talks about her journey from 3D effects school to 3D printing, how she got into 3D printed ball-jointed doll design, and more!
Pinshape: We love the figurines and doll accessories that you have on our site. What inspired you to start designing these types of 3D prints and got you into 3D printing?
Eileen Bowen: I actually got into making dolls and 3D printing at the same time. I had finished my very expensive 3D effects school and just could not find work. It seemed the only option was to move out to Hollywood and go from gig to gig till I built up connections and experience but, with my poor health and resources, this was not an option.
Lucky for me, it was at this point that the two ideas of 3D printing and dolls crossed my path. The dolls are a special kind of doll called “ball-jointed” dolls or “Asian-ball-jointed” dolls, as they originated in Japan. The dolls are really interesting, because they encourage you to be creative and have a wide range of movement with their ball joints. These dolls are really pricey though, and there was no way could I afford one easily. So, I thought I would look into 3D printing (something I heard vaguely in passing at my school), and I wanted to see if I could make a doll using this technique.
Once I had started creating and got my first printed items, I was hooked. I started designing dolls and doll accessories as a way for me to be both creative and productive – with a big emphasis on the creative part. I love fantasy and tiny things, so with 3D printing I am able to let my imagination run wild.
You always have such great interactive elements incorporated into your designs (e.g., the moveable elements of your Steampunk comb and the do it yourself coloring of your iPhone 6 case). What inspires you to add those interactive elements and how do you come up with the concepts behind them?
I always try to go that extra step in a design, especially on something that is already seen everywhere in the market. A phone case or a hair comb are hardly new concepts, so I try to think how I can make them fun and interesting. Being unique will go a long way into making you and your products stand out and to help show the world what kind of artist or designer you really are. It is worth it to sit and think or play around with an object until an idea hits you.
A lot of times I will just sit there and play with an object, try different tools and do several different variations until I get something that I like. For example I was playing with the phone case and used a bevel tool to build tight rows of raised squares on the back. It reminded me of coloring blocks, so I played with the tool a bit to get the amount of blocks I wanted and the right shape to get it simple enough for buyers to have fun designing their own 8 bit graphic to personalize it and make the case their own.
Do you have any advice for other designers who are trying to get started in 3D printing?
It is so easy to become overwhelmed. You want to make and create everything because you can! Don’t let yourself get pulled apart and find an area or category that you enjoy and suits your needs and let that drive you forward. I tend to spin off on different things anyways, but keeping to my own special niche of creating doll and doll accessories helps to keep me focused and my objects are better because of it.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to, not only your fellow 3D printers, but different companies as well. Learning about different procedures and types of 3D printing will help you in the long run. Most of my learning was trial and error, so I still feel that I have a lot to learn, even with my 5 years of experience.
Do you have any tips or tricks that you can pass on to other 3D designers?
3D printing is exploding into the industry of manufacturing. Keep looking into different machines, materials and techniques to help you keep on top. It will also help to inspire ideas.
With the economy of the world today so many of us are struggling to keep afloat. 3D printing can also be an opportunity for just about anyone, not just the crazy 3D artists like myself so don’t be afraid to give a it a try!
What design tools do you use most often?
LightWave (the 3D modeling software I learned at school) and AccuTrans to convert my files are the two big ones. I also use different 3D printing companies like Shapeways to help double check my files for me, as they have such great built in tools to help look over your model.
What are your favorite blogs, tutorials, magazines, and other resources to help to keep you up-to-date on design and 3D design?
I like to read articles from 3D Printing Industry. I also poke around on places like Kickstarter/Indiegogo, oddly enough, as it is fun to see what boundaries are being pushed by new printers and what new 3D-printing-related companies are doing.