(Q&A with Matthew Beckwith, partner, Photonic Studio)
Why did you decide to go to school at Cleveland Institute of Art?
I originally wanted to be a car designer. CIA was a better fit for me than other schools focused on automotive design that were located in Detroit and San Francisco. After trying cars for a year, I decided product design was a better fit for me.
What is your best memory of CIA?
Some of my best memories from CIA came from classes taught by Richard Fiorelli. His classes had a hands-on approach to working with materials that delivered results I would otherwise not think to sketch out. This hands-on concept of “play” to iterate concepts is something that has stuck with me throughout my career.
Do you consider yourself an artist or a maker?
I guess I would say “designer.” For my day job (creative director /partner at Photonic Studio), I make things for other people to communicate and visualize their ideas. I suppose that I am a “maker” as a hobby because I love to tinker and experiment.
[editor’s note: Photonic creates 3D architectural renderings, product renderings 3D illustration, animation and interactive environments. These photos showcase some of their work.]
What do you make and with what types of materials?
With materials from HGR I have made some various sculptures. I have worked with everything from charts and thermocromatic graph papers, to conveyor belts and giant rubber bands. Often the bulk nature of materials at HGR lends itself to play and experimentation. I, generally, like to look for unique things that are on their way to scrap and can be purchased for as little as possible. I like the idea that we can upcycle things that were on their way to the landfill or scrapyard.
How long have you been an HGR customer?
My first trip to HGR was in 2005ish.
What have found at HGR that you incorporated into your work?
Unique chart and graph papers, thermocromatic papers, robot parts, conveyor chains, giant drill bits, refractory bricks. Too much to list, honestly.
Would you recommend HGR to other artists and makers?
Always. Aside from being super interesting to look around, it offers all sorts of things you just wouldn’t find at Home Depot or an arts store.
What do you do when you are not doing your personal work?
I am a designer at Photonic Studio. We are a creative and visualization agency that focuses on 3D modeling for animation and interactive. Lately, this means we are working on lots of exciting projects in augmented and virtual reality. Traditionally, we have worked with clients in design fields, as well as marketing and communications teams at all sorts of companies.
What inspires you?
I love being optimistic about the future. The ability to work with new technologies and create interactive experiences that could not happen in the physical world is exciting. I also have a love for manufacturing and find the process and tools of production to be beautiful. Often the limitations of a process or technology give me something to reach for as I develop concepts. Also science. I love NASA, SpaceX, JPL, LHC, NIF, and all sorts of amazing machines built for science.
Where can we find your work?
My day-to-day work can be seen at www.photonicstudio.com.