3D Printers

$100,000 backing for Canadian artists

Two Canadian artists have been awarded $50,000 each to produce 3D printed works that will go on show at the National Gallery of Canada.

Geoffrey Farmer and Duane Linklater will both get to share the substantial fund. It is a joint venture between Ryerson University and Toronto-based 3D print house Think2Thing, which is owned by photographer Edward Burtynsky and designer David Didur.

From the Moose Factory to the print factory

Linklater is a celebrated artist, who has had his works displayed in New York, as well as a variety of locations in his native Canada. Born in the improbably named Moose Factory, Ontario, he stayed close to home and true to his roots.

A First Nation descendant of the Omaskeko Cree tribe, Linklater won the 2013 Sobey Art Award and is now looking forward to bringing his work to the 3D printing crowd. He has already worked with 3D printers, having created copies of a number of First Nation artifacts, so he’s up for the challenge.

“For me, 3D technology seems really promising in terms of its uses for museums and, in particular, in the exhibition of certain cultural objects,” Linklater said in an interview with Canadian Art. “This is where there is an interesting area for me to investigate what is possible, and how I can articulate some of those interests I have in collections—particularly Native American objects in collections.”

Farmer’s 3D market

Farmer, meanwhile, is new to the genre. He is best known for his work with cut paper, which is another unusual medium for an artist.


His work has appeared in the Louvre in Paris and the Tate Modern in London, including the iconic ‘The Surgeon and the Photographer’.

This was an intriguing collage project comprising hundreds of puppet-like figures made from fabric, with images cut from old newspapers and magazines.

So Farmer is a recognised master of 3D space, but this is his first public outing with 3D printed material. “As an artist, I’m still trying to understand what 3D printing means,” Farmer said. “I think it will take us time to understand how it’s going to change our world. But we definitely know it’s changing it.


“We’ve always been making reproductions of things in the world, so these things aren’t necessarily new. But the way the technology is able to do it now is different. I’m able to go out into the world and if I see something, I can scan it and bring it back into the studio and work with it within the studio.”

Express yourself

Canada’s leading lights are clearly keen to push 3D printing as an art form, as well as merely a rapid prototyping and manufacturing tool. As an industry we have become so focused on the scientific and economic potential of the medium, but it is still a powerful form of expression and capable of producing truly stunning work.

There are a number of artists making a name for themselves with 3D printed sculptures. The likes of Shane Hope, Eric Klarenbeek and Valeria Promokhova have made a major impact and now Farmer and Linklater have the time, money and motivation to produce a truly unique piece.

We need more star artists

If the art world, or even the 3D printer companies, can bring in established masters, then it will increase its credibility with the arts community.

The level of control that modern 3D printers offer an artist, means that almost anything they can conceive can be made real. Fashion, jewelry and furniture designers have all turned to 3D printing of late. We’re at the start of a well-publicised industrial revolution, but additive manufacturing could change the art world, too.

So it will be fascinating to see what Linklater and Farmer come up with. We just hope that the sponsors think they’re getting value for money.