The Many Faces of Scott Camazine
Dr Scott Camazine from Pennsylvania, USA wears so many hats, you’d think he can’t possibly have time for 3D printing. Yet his signature collections of animal and bird skulls, geometric and organic 3D designs are found in platforms such as Ginkgo3d, Shapeways, iMaterialise, Etsy and elsewhere. Ginkgo3D’s Andrew Loh finally pinned him down when he returned from a trip to Tanzania and got him to answer a few questions.
Andrew: You are a medical doctor, nature lover, author and photographer, with interests in 3D printing, woodturning and crafts. What are you primarily, and how does 3D printing come into it?
Scott: What am I primarily? A casual observer may see someone “admirable” who gets so many things done, but the somewhat sad truth is that I am a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. My mind and personality is such that I find myself doing so many things and it has been difficult to stick with one thing long enough to be really an expert.
So what am I primarily? I think the answer is this: “I am an enthusiastic, intelligent person with an enormous passion for the natural world. I have been interested in living things since I was a toddler, and have pursued my explorations of our natural world in every way I can. All my interests converge around this theme. Whether it is honeybees, medicine, skeleton, photography, 3D printing, gardening, woodworking, or computer simulations, all these interests relate to the natural world.
Andrew: Your signature works are 3d printed animal bones and skeletons, but you also display a line of more feminine and romantic products. Is that you or is that the collaboration between you and your wife?
Scott: Haha! You are a keen observer! I have to admit that I have a feminine and romantic side that I usually only reveal to my wife and daughter. It is my little secret. In my late teens and twenties, I was a sculpture counselor at an arts camp. I made a few sculptures of women, and even now I do some painting and am trying to develop some skills at figure drawing.
I consider the female body another of nature’s beautiful creations, along with butterflies, flowers, animals and all the other beautiful things that have evolved and exist in our world – sand dunes, mountains, lakes, etc. I would also say that in great part, that is something that has been genetically programmed into our being. Just as a female cardinal bird considers the bright crimson male cardinal attractive, it is probably the same with us – it is an evolutionary device that perpetuates the species.
Andrew: How does the husband-wife collaboration work?
Scott: Hahaha! You better ask Tiina about that! But the short answer is that Tiina has an excellent artistic sense. And I am the kind of person who needs constant reassurance and encouragement! So it is great to have Tiina as my sounding board and advisor. I show her all my works in progress and elicit all her wonderful criticism!
Andrew: Would you consider yourself as primarily a curator of archaeological bones or more of a 3D designer?
Scott: I spent my youth making collections of things: insects, bones, skulls, plants, seeds and flowers. But later, I decided to make my “collections” photographically. It is so nice to have a “collection” that fits neatly on a hard drive. Plus, I have tens of thousands of photos online for use in textbooks and magazines: www.scottcamazine.com/links.html. My stock photos can also be seen at Alamy.com.
As for 3D printing, I can hold an entire skull collection in the palm of my hand, in the form of 1 inch bronze pendants.
Andrew: Do you have any special hardware/software do you use for 3D printing?
Scott: Short answer – I have no special hardware. I use Blender, various radiology software, and zBrush to make skull models from CT scans. And I do some geometric designs with Blender, and other programs. It has taken me a couple of years to develop my techniques.
Andrew: Who are your favourite 3D artists and muses, if any. I noticed Bathsheba Gossman and Nervous System among them – my favourites too.
Scott: Bathsheba Gossman stands out as someone who started doing 3D printing in metal of her geometric designs when 3D printing was just becoming popular among artists. She stood out as a pioneer and creator of elegant mathematical designs.
And Nervous System is another “hero” – a generative design studio that works at the intersection of science, art and technology. http://n-e-r-v-o-u-s.com
I do not know these folks personally, though I have corresponded with Bathsheba.
Some other people doing things that I admire include Kimberly Falk, of Ontogenie on Shapeways, whose designs are based on microorganisms, and the Israeli designer Dizingof, also known as Asher Nahmias, who is another great designer with a great collection of math art models.
Andrew: Do you think that your works have different themes over time? Where are you going next?
Scott: I have no idea what will be next. I do have what I consider “10-year plans”. I like to try to stick with something for about 10 years. That is long enough to learn a lot, and to attain some level of expertise. My previous 10-year plans included Honeybee biology and behavior, Medicine, Photography and lately, 3D Printing.
Tiina and I are now trying to develop some expertise in watercolour painting. This is probably the most difficult task I have set myself to do. I have always wanted to be able to draw and create an artistic visualisation of the natural world. I turned to photography in part because drawing and sculpture were so difficult and slow to master in any way. Decades ago, I told myself that later in life, I would try to see how far I could get with painting. This may be my final 10-year plan! I just turned 64 recently.
Andrew: What would you say is your best 3D printed work?
Scott: Haha! Best 3D printed piece. Hard to say. None of my geometric objects compares to those of Bathsheba, and my organic designs don’t compare to Nervous System or Dizingof. I really don’t think any of my pieces are so great, but I really enjoy making them.
Andrew: Do you have a fan following who like your work, or are your ‘likers’ and buyers just the general population?
Scott: I am very fortunate that I can follow most of my passions in life without having to worry too much about whether they pay off financially. Nonetheless, I have a personal standard that I apply to my endeavours. In each arena I enter (photography, biology research, medicine, 3D printing) I try to achieve a level of expertise such that my skills have some “commercial value”. I have been able to make a living as a medical doctor, photographer, biological researcher, etc. Regarding my 3D printed designs, I am still trying to push to the next level. Toward that end, I have been working on particular collections of skeletal designs to target specific audiences.
Andrew: What kind of specific audiences?
Scott: I love snakes. In my Instagram@skulptures I made an effort to reach out to herpetologists (reptile lovers). There is a huge group out there who love lizards and snakes. Herpetologists are really passionate about their animals. I posted a few reptile skulls on Instagram and had loads of people ask me if I could make a pendant of their favorite reptile (burmese python, chameleon, bearded dragon, etc). It has been great fun working on these reptile models, and I now have a small following here. My most recent project is to try to get a large collection of dog skull CT scans. Dog lovers are also passionate about their particular breed, and I hope to create a collection of pendants featuring as many dog breeds as I can. My first is the pug, shown in the photo above.
Andrew: You also seem to travel a lot. Do these trips influence your 3D printing work?
Scott: I try to travel as much as I can manage. But I still have a son in high school, and a daughter who is a sophomore in college nearby. Travel only comes occasionally, but it is a great way to get outside your “Bubble” and immerse yourself in a new environment with new discoveries and to separate yourself from your usual day-to-day routine. It is far too easy to get in a rut, even without knowing it. I often go to Tiina and exclaim, “What am I doing with my life? Maybe I should be doing something different.” Travel is a good way to get a new viewpoint on life, especially if you are willing to travel to someplace like Tanzania to do medical volunteer work in a completely different culture.
Andrew: Wearing so many hats, how do you manage your time – do you sleep at all?
Scott: I need eight hours of sleep a day. I try to go to sleep around 10pm and wake at 6am. If I find myself tired during the day, I immediately lie down. It can be a couch or even on the ground. I can fall asleep immediately and wake instantly after a nap of about a half hour or so. Then I get up and go at it again. I am most happy when, at the end of the day, I am exhausted.