Q&A: André & CJ

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CJ & André (or Masters and Munn as they are known professionally) are sculptors and model makers known for their blending of ancient techniques and modern material technology. Instead of shying away from technology, they have taken a proactive approach by learning the latest 3D software and 3D printing techniques to add to their existing traditional tool-set. As a result, their recent 3D printed artwork is winning over new fans and receiving critical praise. In 2013, they won the global 'Rising Star Award' at the 3d Print Show (at London, Paris and New York) for their work on 'Icarus had a Sister'. Mold3D had the lucky opportunity to interview this inspiring couple, enjoy!

Mold3D: Hi Andre and CJ! Thank you for taking the time to talk to our audience! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Morris Collection - Lifecasts made from a traditional gypsum stonecast plaster and hand painted to the client's specifications and finished with a natural milk glaze.

A&C: Hi and thank you for inviting us to talk about our work. We are professional artists living and working together in the UK. We generally make interior and exterior figurative sculpture for private and corporate clients. This can mean anything from creating a personalized piece of sculpture for someone's home, to casting live elephants for conservation projects to making bespoke puppets for pop stars. Prior to working in the arts, André worked as a model maker in the film and television advertising industry and CJ worked for the BBC as a producer and scriptwriter, but our true passion has always been for the arts. We met on an online life-casting forum and later collaborated on a few ambitious projects which lead to a blossoming personal and business relationship where we now concentrate on making beautiful sculptures together. 

Mold3D: Both of you come from a traditional art background. What made you want to try 3D printing?

A&C: The increased use of computer graphics within the film and television industry over the last ten years has made a significant impact on practical effects and also traditional handmade crafts so we are constantly adapting to the changes in the commercial industries and learning new skills to enhance our personal work as artists. 3D printing is an extension of that process into another realm of fabrication possibilities. Put simply, it's a case of adapt or fade away.

CJ was pretty scared at first of the possible impact 3D printing might have on her work, but soon became as inspired as André to get stuck in to this new area. We love to learn and feel so passionately about the sculptures we make, that we owe it to our own artistic integrity to make the work as good as it can be whilst keeping everything fresh and exciting - which often means trying something new and taking risks. As creative individuals, if we feel inspired then it's easier to make art that inspires other people.  

Mold3D: What are the advantages of 3D printing techniques?

Icarus_Figure - This is the original lifecast of the female figure. It was remoulded in silicone and fibreglass and recast in a quartz, marble and crushed pearl aggregate which shimmers with tiny crystals.

A&C: As we found with making 'Icarus', the 3D printing format allowed us the opportunity to model and print something that was up until that point, far too complex, detailed and logistically impossible to make in any other way. For nine years the sculpture was a haunting figure in our imagination, waiting for the right time and technology to help bring it into being. Since its conception we had tried to sculpt the feathers in a traditional way, making them out of clay or as a direct build process in metal by etching or laser cutting them but nothing came anywhere close to the type of finish we were looking for until we saw the capabilities of 3D modelling software and printing.

Additionally, we're excited about using 3D modelling and printing to create small concept tests before we or our clients invest in large scale sculptures. For us, this will revolutionize the way art pieces are made and commissioned - you can see the potential pitfalls in any design and work them out before you need to spend money on the final version.        

Mold3D: How does 3D printing fit into your personal brand building?

A&C: We have always prided ourselves with creating works of art that go beyond our clients' expectations. Whether that means researching ancient fabrication techniques and applying that knowledge to make items from glass, leather or forged metal, our artworks are an extension of our imaginations and passion of expression. In essence, we want to create treasures to be utterly cherished by those who own them.

3D printing offers us the opportunity to realize designs that before may have been too time intensive or structurally intricate and therefore cost-prohibitive to manufacture. We're already known for the attention to detail in our work, whether that be hand painted finishes, engravings or etchings - so 3D printing allows us to take that same intensive level of detail and convey it in another three dimensional format. We feel it's taking our work to the next level, but at the same time our new 3D printed work doesn't look out of place with our other collections.

The transition may be a jolt to our systems in terms of the steep learning curve and method of construction but to the viewers looking at our work the visual transition appears as a seamless and natural artistic development. 

3D printing offers us the opportunity to realize designs that before may have been too time intensive or structurally intricate and therefore cost-prohibitive to manufacture.

Mold3D: It seems that 3D Printing has the potential to change the way sculptors work. Do you recommend traditional sculptors learn 3D modeling?

Icarus_ZBrush Feathers - Digital 3D feathers created by extruding  an alpha created in Adobe Photoshop which was then imported and modelled in ZBrush.

A&C: Learning any new skill is a challenge, so first you have to fully commit to the mindset that there really isn't going to be any kind of fast track, short cut approach that halves the amount of work necessary to complete the task at hand. You have to immerse yourself in what you are trying to learn, practice constantly and do not allow any preconceptions to cloud your potential for future creative growth which could adversely cap your imagination.

Don't be too proud to be a clueless beginner and make mistakes - that can be hard for seasoned artists who already have a good reputation in their previously chosen field. But there are so many advantages to working digitally, such as the ability to create detailed mockups as mentioned above, and even 'see' them in their proposed final environment by superimposing them into photographs of a chosen location at the required scale.

On a personal level, having traditional fabrication skills also meant that we were able to take the 3D prints and evolve from that point to something else entirely - working on our feathers using traditional hands-on techniques to accomplish the final copper finish.

Mold3D: Is 3D printing helping your personal art brand?

A&C: We are definitely reaching new audiences with this sculpture both in terms of the interest from the commercial industries and the artistic impact it had by breaching the gap between two artistic camps. There seems to be added media interest in 3D printing at the moment so the timing couldn't have been better for us to enter this exciting and constantly expanding industry. With 'Icarus' being our first sculpture in this medium, it's gained considerable attention worldwide from all sectors - some are fascinated by the way we've used the software and others simply like her for the classical symbolism that's so easy on the eye.

Mold3D: Your 3D printing masterpiece " Icarus had a Sister" won the global 'Rising Star Award' at this year's 3D Print Show (at London, Paris and New York). What is your next 3D printing project?

Icarus Had A Sister - The final sculpture as seen at the London/Paris 3D Print Show exhibition, 2013.

A&C: Winning the award was a wonderful surprise and a very special occasion for us to have had so much support in this new venture. We have plans to expand our 3D printed collection and at the moment there are currently two other large sculptures which we aim to finish and exhibit this year. The designs are a closely guarded secret at the moment although they are at least equal to, if not better than our previous Icarus sculpture. They are large scale pieces and we're looking for just the right venue to display them to best advantage. 

Mold3D: Thank you Andre and CJ for your time and sharing your art. We hope your story will encourage more artists to experiment with 3D Printing and we look forward to seeing more masterpieces from you in the near future!

website: http://www.mastersandmunn.co.uk