Interview with Kasia Winsniewski
I'm very excited to bring back our monthly artist spotlights and interviews! For May we have Kasia of Collected Edition. Instead of speaking too much on her work, I'm just going to put this photo right here and let you dive into the interview...
Kasia Wisniewski: Hi there!
Grace Gulley: Hello! How are things in Taipei?
GG: Oh yes! Hah. Well thanks for doing this!
KW: Of course!
GG: I'm really, really excited to get the chance to chat though and share your work!
KW: Me, too! Thanks again!
GG: Okay I'll start straight away, so I don't hold you up too long! When people ask you 'what you do', how do you reply?
KW: Ah yes- this can be a challenging one. I usually just say, "I'm a designer." When the inevitable follow-up comes, I say, "My background is in fashion, but I'm currently focused on 3D printed jewelry and accessories."
Because my design interests are so varied, and because this field is so quickly changing, I never want to pigeonhole myself as just one thing.
GG: Which is a great approach to take! There isn't really a simple answer to that question, and I never expect one. I'm curious how exactly you were exposed to 3D printing? It's such a new and exciting thing!
KW: My first intro to 3D printing came from my boyfriend (now husband). He was the one who introduced me to Shapeways years ago, but at the time, 3D modeling software and printing technologies was much more limited, and I had a hard time seeing how it could possibly apply to anything I wanted to do.
Starting in college, though, I used lots of laser cutting for my apparel work (and eventually product design).
Although the two methods are very different, they share some similarities, especially in how you have to approach artwork generation and design.
When 3D printing platforms starting rolling out the ability to print in metals, things became much more interesting to me, because the ability to make these very complicated metal forms had eluded me with laser cutting, as well.
GG: That's so fascinating! I wish I could take lessons from you. In Taipei or otherwise! What other things do you see yourself doing or ways do you see what you are currently doing with 3D printing evolving?
KW: It's funny you say that, I've actually recently started a blog, beulah.io, focused on more practical applications for 3D printing for women and girls coming from outside the tech sphere.
As I immersed myself in this world, the most striking thing I've noticed is the lack of design-centric tutorials and practical entry points.
A lot of 3D printing is still dominated by male hobbyists- it's quite evident if you poke around 3D printing forums or open source model websites like Thingiverse.
When I started getting involved with 3D printing, I was very intimidated- because I DON'T have technical training and am self taught, I felt like someone was somehow going to find out and kick me out- like somehow, this technology didn't belong to me.
The more I worked with it, though, I realized it's just a tool. You don't have to be an engineer or a coder or developer to use it. And I think that's really the biggest thing I've taken away from these early explorations, and what I want other women to know- this is just a means to an end, and it's applicable to so many fields- not just mechanical engineering.
In a lot of ways, this sort of 3D printing/digital tool evangelism is as important to me as my physical design work- although I absolutely will continue to build and expand my collections and the scope of Collected Edition.
I think the most exciting thing about 3D printing is how nascent it is- we're going to see such tremendous changes in the next 3-5 years- maybe even sooner- and I want to be positioned to be able to take advantage of those changes when they come.
Sorry that was so much!
GG: No! Not too much at all! That's great!
I'm very excited to watch this world evolve and to see you as a part of it! So all this aside, outside of work, what do you for fun? (Which is sometimes a foreign concept to us small business owners!)
KW: Haha, YEAH, that's the challenging part- allowing yourself the time to ENJOY those things and not feel guilty. My favorite non-work activities are running, cooking, eating, and travel.
I also love any opportunity to work with my hands outside of 3D modeling- paper flowers, sewing, embroidery...
They're all tangentially related to my work, but I really find them relaxing and I actively look forward to chances I get to do that type of work.
GG: Yes. Key is NOT feeling guilty for enjoying things. As hard and silly as that sounds! That's great that you have other creative interests. I find it so important to dabble in various mediums. It also does nothing but good for our primary craft! I know you are currently in Taipei, I don't think I asked what for! Business travel? Or that elusive fun!
KW: A tiny bit of both- my husband cofounded a company that makes bike-sharing systems and there are two big cycle conferences in taipei this week. I'm also meeting with some possible partners in Asia. We're heading to the Philippines tomorrow, and that is purely recreational.
When I travel, the work is never far behind.
In my earlier career, I worked some very high-stress, long hours as a designer in luxury fashion, where I rarely got to take vacations or even have many weekends.
the best part about becoming my own boss, even if it's terrifying, channeling, and I'm constantly thinking about work, is that I've had the freedom to take advantages of some of these opportunities to travel and be more flexible with how I work.
That's a beautiful thing about 3D printing, too- I can be doing the same thing, whether I'm at home in NYC or in Taipei!
GG: That's amazing! You are living the dream and giving back! Also so happy to hear there is pure recreation time, and in such a beautiful place! I'm sure in a place like that, it's not hard to find inspiration. What other sources do you find most of your inspiration from?
KW: Well, I don't know about living the dream... haha... but yes, everywhere I go, I'm always snapping pictures of plants, colors, buildings...
Some recent inspiration I'm hung up on is the work of Karl Blossfeldt, the photographer, and antique flower dictionaries.
I'm so fascinated by our relationships with plants and flowers. I'm especially interested in their symbolism at the moment- like the way Victorians would assemble bouquets that essentially told a story.
I'm definitely a magpie and a collector, too, so I'm always scooping up rocks, tiny trinkets, scraps of fabric- I basically keep little piles of inspiration on my shelves.
I've also always been drawn to historical sources of inspiration- paintings, antique jewelry- I love trying to take some of those elements and make them applicable to the 21st century.
GG: Blossfeldt does great work, and I can't tell you how many old flora/fauna books I have. Always full of inspiration! I've been going through this minimalist/purging period, and really feel as if instead I need to do more traveling and start little collections to surround myself with inspiration. I think you are on to something there! Okay, last question! And possibly the most serious of them all, if got to meet any one historical figure, who would it be and why?
KW: Hmm, that's a tough one...
You know, I think I'm going to have ti go with Beulah Louise Henry, the namesake for beulah.io.
She's not a hugely famous figure, but she was a self-made woman who was respected in a male-dominated industry, financially successful, and industrious and innovative in a time when that surely was a tremendous challenge. She didn't have anyone to bankroll her, and she lived her life the way she wanted to live it.
I also love that her biggest successes were with woman-centric products- innovations that made the lives of her fellow women better at the time.
I think it just goes to show the huge collective purchasing and cultural power that women have, even in times when the deck is stacked against them.
I suppose meeting Beulah would be a good time to make sure she's cool with me co-opting her name, too!
GG: She sounds so fascinating! And definitely inspiring. Perhaps I need to use her as a little example or case study for CYL members. Also, very appropriately chosen! Thank you so much for answering all my questions! What you are doing is not only beautiful, but so important! I'm thrilled to get to share you with the CYL community.
KW: Thank you so much! It was a real pleasure chatting with you.