Artist Ricardo Martínez Herrera spends hours creating sculptures with the 3Doodler 3D printing pen, an emerging art form that is becoming a beloved medium for talented minds. Inspired by his own Mexican culture, global trends, and human anatomy, the Belgium-based artist shares his passion for producing cutting-edge, contemplative works using 3D technology. His innovative vision has led him to make folk art, 3D drawn clothes, anatomical models and even a tribute to the popular Sony game for PlayStation, death stranding.
Usually found experimenting with new media and combining materials in unique ways, Herrera has sculpted some truly eye-catching pieces to recreate iconic and traditional brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures called alebrijes, from the Oaxaca region. For his series, colorful ABS plastic threads intertwine to create fantastical creatures. Each sculpture is the product of at least eight hours of work, but, like most artists, Herrera has described how time is completely ignored when he is deeply involved with a piece.
On his blog, the 31-year-old contemporary artist revealed that he had to leave his native Mexico many years ago due to extreme levels of violence, a major push factor for many people who emigrate from Central America in search of safety in other countries. After finishing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium, where he specialized in sculpture, he became an entrepreneur and activist, founding several startups related to technology and digital art.
Herrera learned the techniques of 3D pen art in 2016 when he was an artist-in-residence for LIX pen, a maker of small, elegant 3D pens, at its headquarters in Belgium. But it wasn’t until he found 3Doodler Create that he started churning out art. Drawn to 3Doodler for its ability to outperform competitors, he has given the artist continual use in producing sculptures. Since their launch in 2013, 3Doodler pens have allowed users to draw in mid-air, producing freehand creations by heating solid plastic to 230°C, forcing it through a small nozzle as it cools.
To keep busy during the long months of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in 2020, Herrera decided to pay homage to the action game. death stranding, created by legendary game designer Hideo Kojima. The result was an impressive sculpture of the death stranding baby. In the game, the boy, nicknamed BB, remains helplessly trapped in a jar, where he serves as a bridge for the main character, Sam, who alerts him to ghostly apparitions from the “dead world.” Often described as a creepy element of the game, the kid plays nicely with the catastrophic world the characters live in.
For the sculpture, that meant equally dark colors and a creepy vibe enhanced by the thin interlocking strands of plastic extruded by the 3Doodler pen. For this piece, the artist chose transparent and black plastic, a wax base and a steel wire that supports the death stranding baby in the air After he finished creating the baby, who is in the fetal position, he tied plastic strings around the steel cable, making it look like an umbilical cord, like the yellow one the baby has in the game.
The artist has a deep passion for exploring the human anatomy, something that has repeatedly appeared in his work. 3DPrint.com spoke with Herrera to understand a little more about this phase of his art. He explained that his interest has led him to create outstanding sculptures that are a combination of human anatomy and mathematical or geometric perfection. In fact, much of his work deals with the contrast between the two.
For example, Herrera used a 3Doodler pen and the 3Doodler STEM Kit to recreate a realistic-looking hand. All joints in the hands are movable, and the tissues and veins were made from FLEXY DoodleStrands, allowing them to flex and bend. Likewise, he used different colors and materials to distinguish bones, cartilage, muscles, veins, arteries and nerves. The hand was featured on the 3Doodler blog, including a full step-by-step guide on how to create the part. Following the articulated hand, the artist created a skull with the 3D pen and ABS plastic, but this time, once the original shapes were completed, he decided to cast it using a lost-wax bronze technique. Called “Memento Mori”, Latin for “remember that you must die”, the piece quickly sold to a private collection.
After his work became public, Herrera was approached by Brussels University Hospital neurosurgeon and researcher Frederick Van Gestel, who is developing a new version of neuronavigation to give surgeons a 3D view of a patient’s anatomy. . The expert sees potential in Herrera’s 3D anatomical sculptures, and the two hope to work together soon to provide more tools that can improve learning and training for the medical community.
The artist has plans to expand his work to create realistic sculptures of the brain and internal human anatomy using 3Doodler or other 3D printing technology. In fact, in December 2020, he received his first grant from the Wallonie-Bruxelles Federation, which funds critical research for French-speaking Brussels residents. The funds will be used to create art and explore the human anatomy through bronze and 3D plastics in collaboration with doctors.
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