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An Interview with the Kasia Wisniewski, Collected Edition

Continuing on today with our Expert Interviews, we shift our focus back to 3D printing with another fascinating interview with Ms. Kasia Wisniewski. She is another great example of someone who is using 3D printing as a design for her own artistic expression in the making of her own jewelry and other fashion accessories. Her company is called Collected Edition and the craftsmanship of the pieces pictured there are quite exquisite to say the least. The interview with Kasia was conducted via email and our questions with the her answers appear below:

1) Typically when people think of 3D printing now, it seems it is most often tied to STEM education. Your work, on the other hand, seems mainly focused on artistic opportunities created by 3D printing. What kinds of barriers, if any, did you face when learning about the technology?
I think it's a mistake to limit the applications of 3D printing to traditional STEM fields, as well as to underplay the importance of design and aesthetic considerations and their symbiotic relationship with technology and science. Any barriers to fully utilizing the technology were and are temporary- the vast array of educational tools, online tutorials, etc. have made learning these skills more accessible and easier than ever, and it's essential for designers to learn at least the basic mechanisms and skills behind this and related technologies.

2) When did you get your start in 3D printing? What prompted it?
I started transitioning from more traditional and hand-made processes to 3D printing in early 2015. It was prompted by a desire to build better and more complicated jewelry and accessories that both took advantage of streamlined production and manufacturing techniques and stayed true to my vision as a designer. 3D printing allowed me to meet those objectives, and because of my design background, the learning curve was relatively short for me.

3) What was it from your educational background, if anything, that has helped you on your way?
My education and background in apparel design has provided a solid foundation and understanding of how two-dimensional surfaces transform into three-dimensional volumes. But more importantly, having a strong background in design and visual language is transferable to any medium. I think one of the most glaring issues in 3D printed design is relying too much on the novelty of the medium and not on the aesthetic qualities of the final product. Having a strong sense of myself as a designer has allowed me to avoid getting caught a similar trap, and that absolutely comes from my educational background.

4) What type(s) of printers, materials and software do you currently use for your design work? Do you have plans to switch or add in the near future?
I currently use AutoDesk products for my modeling, Delta Printr and Ultimaker for occasional in-house prototyping, and Shapeways for everything else. This workflow and supply chain currently works well for me, although I am never adverse to exploring new avenues of production.

5) From an artistic perspective, what do you think someone has to keep in mind when they decide to make the switch to this technology from another more "traditional" one?
Individuals coming from very hands-on, handmade backgrounds might initially struggle with the rigidity of digital modeling and design. There is also a learning curve when you're used to working in the "real world' versus a set of virtual planes- it's a different set of rules and a different approach. However, these issues just require a bit of practice and are easily overcome- I, too, initially was frustrated, but once I began to see the incredible things I could make with these tools, the transition became much easier. It should be viewed as an interesting puzzle or design challenge rather than a barrier.

6) What advantages does your uses of this technology provide in your creative process and designs as you make jewelry?
The advantages of 3D printing for jewelry and accessory design are myriad. Many of the pieces I make now would be impossible, extraordinarily labor-intensive, or cost-prohibitive to make using traditional jewelry-making techniques. 3D printing also allows for an incredible amount of variation and potential for customized works- I love how accessible high design can be with 3D printing.

7) We read online that much of your design aesthetic is retaining a sense of human touch How difficult was it for you to find ways to take what inspires you and incorporate this quality in the pieces you have designed?
I will admit that the sense of the human touch is more challenging to convey digitally than it might be to do by hand. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and effort to make a convincing flower, for example, but it's also an exciting design challenge to break it down to its core elements and to understand the hidden geometry behind a very organic structure. Ultimately, approaching the work while keeping in mind the human touch is what makes people respond to the finished pieces- I always want to avoid the static and staid.

8Also, as someone who is a designer, we would imagine that there is at least a fair amount of detail that goes into the pieces you create as can be seen in photos of your work online. How are you able to create more sophisticated items with the tools you have available? Does it require the use of other equipment like a finishing tool?
As with any design process, the final product is simply the result of how you manipulate the tools available for you. Because I use Shapeways for my cast-metal pieces, the casting and polishing is completed by their partners; however, I also incorporate some post-production processes such as stone-setting or the addition of fabric elements. Adding these type of elements both add value to the finished piece and challenge me creatively- going forward, I continue to develop a mixed-media approach that incorporates both 3D-printed and handmade components.

9) What would your advice be for any new artists or designers seeking to get started in the field? Also, what would you tell younger students, especially girls, who want to shape their education and learning to prepare themselves for what would be expected in your field?
My advice would be much the same as what I would recommend to anyone coming from a more traditional field (above). However, I would especially emphasize to girls that this technology doesn't "belong" to boys and men- the opportunities and potential for it have no gender. 3D printing can be applied to virtually any career in the arts and sciences, from medical fields to fine art. The most important thing is learning how to apply it to the things you love- find the things that interest you, and never apologize or ask permission to pursue them.

10) Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years and where do you see Collected Edition? What would you like to accomplish in 3D printing that you haven't already?
In the next several years, I will continue to build our business, both with 3D printing manufacturing and with other emerging manufacturing technologies. I hope to continue to push the boundaries of what people imagine when they think of 3D printing, and I'll always advocate for inclusion and education for women and girls within this field. I can't wait to see what technologies develop in the next several years, and I promise you that Collected Edition will be there to explore each and every new development!

You can see more information about Collected Edition and Kasia by looking at their social media sites.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/collectededition
Instagram: http://instagram.com/collectededition
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kasiawisniewski/