Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TLC Interview: Christopher Thompson

I first found out about Chris though Thingiverse and his owl... And I am assuming that he is the one with the rabbit on his head - not the rabbit - I don't think rabbits can work a laser cutter because their attention spans are not long enough.

Anyway, Thanks Chris and enjoy!

The Laser Cutter: So, Where are you from?

Christopher Thompson: I grew up in Hillsborough, NJ, but I have lived in Philadelphia for 5 years. I just bought a house!

TLC: Congrats! And how long have you been making stuff?

CT: I've been a designer/artist/maker for as long as could be. When I was a kid I made amazing things with Legos and wanted to be an inventor. Then I went to Lehigh University to be an engineer.

TLC: Do you have any formal training?

CT: Engineering at Lehigh didn't quite work out for me, so I switched to the new Design Arts program where I got to learn industrial design, furniture design, graphic design and studio art. I got my BA in Design Arts in 2004.

TLC: Was it at Lehigh University where you first began using a laser cuter?

CT: After college I spent 3 years as a stained glass artisan, but left for my current job doing boring graphics stuff. But they have a laser cutter! So I've been playing with that for almost 2 years now.

TLC: How do you set up your files?

CT: I mainly use [Adobe] Illustrator, but I've been getting better at SketchUp as well. There are a lot of FOSS programs out there for design that I need to get familiar with. But of course, you still have to run it through clunky old CorelDraw to print anything to the laser.

TLC: I’m lucky – I just hand off my Illustrator files and the tech takes care of everything else.

Do you have a favorite material to laser cut or etch?

CT: I would love to use more wood in my stuff, but my work has a large supply of scrap acrylic that I try to use up.

TLC: Do you have any laser cutting horror stories to tell?

CT: I've been pretty good about careful setups so nothing gets ruined, but I've had some nightmares trying to get high res images to print to the laser and clipping paths in Corel are really confusing.

TLC: Where do you get your inspiration?

CT: I really like the tenets of Henry Dreyfuss and his simplicity and streamlining. Of course the Owlwrap design is 100% form following function. I made all the working parts fit together first, and then noticed it resembled an owl before adding decoration.

TLC: Do you have any future laser cutting plans TLC may be interested in?

CT: I will own my own laser cutter one day and it will be awesome. In the meantime, I have been working with some friends making meatcards.com: laser–etched, beef jerky business cards. We are now accepting alpha-testers, if you can complete the challenge.

TLC: So where can the readers reach you?

CT: My site is eagleapex.com, and you can reach me by the name eagleapex wherever good internets are found.

TLC: One last question… Is there any smell better than freshly laser cut wood?

CT: Maybe, freshly etched beef jerky? Maybe.

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