30 Apr Make: Interview with the RGR Lead Artists
Maker Faire Bay Area, the world’s largest DIY festival, is right around the corner, taking place at the San Mateo Fairgrounds on May 22nd and 23rd. One of the biggest new projects coming to the Faire this year is the Raygun Gothic Rocketship, pictured above and hand-crafted by a large and dedicated crew. We sent seven questions to the crew’s three lead artists, Sean Orlando, Nathaniel Taylor, and David Shulman. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Tell us about the project you’re bringing to Maker Faire.
The Raygun Gothic Rocketship is built upon a future-rustic vision of yesterday’s tomorrow. Aesthetically based on 1930s – early 1950s science fiction, the rocketship is a 41-foot-tall immersive environment, designed to carry explorers into the realm of rayguns, strange planets, and aliens, friendly or otherwise.
With 3 habitable decks, visitors can view and interact with a variety of ships systems and alien specimens. Visitors can enter the ship via the Engine Room & Life-Sciences Bio Lab. Once inside the engine room, look down into the engine compartment to see The Uira Plasma-drive engine. Cases and cages on the walls contain various creatures we’ve collected in our travels. Check on the ships status with the Systems Monitor, or speak to the Pilot via the tele-com.
Moving up a deck, you’ll find Crew Quarters, Navigation, Communications & Remote Sensing. Check our approach trajectories using the Neutronium Scanner, confirm our location using one of several navigational devices, or deploy a remote probe via the Hollis 9000 Remote Science System. Finally, you can climb up to the flight deck and pilots chair. Take command of the ship and prepare for launch!
2. How did you hear about Maker Faire and why did you decide to participate?
As a group, we have been fans of or involved with the Maker movement and Maker Faire for many years. Many of our crew have shown other works, both large and small, at past MAKE events in association with such groups as The Crucible, Applied Kinetic Arts, Kinetic Steam Works, and SRL.
3. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started making things and who are your inspirations?
The three of us all have different stories.
David Shulman: I began making things with my father as a kid — mostly simple furniture. He inspired me in that he was an attorney, yet was not afraid to get his hands dirty, or try new things, and I have followed a similar path.
Sean Orlando: I’ve been tinkering and inventing for as long as I can remember. Creating three-dimensional artworks resonated with me more than any of the other art practice that I experimented with. My father was an aerospace engineer and exposed me to airplane and rocket engineering at an early age. The engineering challenges, collaborative creative process, and immersive potential of large-scale installations allowed me to explore a whole new level of art making… with friends.
Nathaniel Taylor: Nathaniel was born with a tool in his hands. He is the Chief Operating Officer and creative mind behind Radio Robot.
4. Is your project strictly a hobby or a budding business? Does it relate to your day job?
Our project is both. Through the RGR and past projects (such as the Steampunk Tree House), we are exploring the concept of cooperative art as both a focus for creative community, and an opportunity to generate income for our member artists. The Five Ton Crane Arts Group was formed as a direct result of these successful collaborations.
5. What new idea (in or outside of your field) has excited you most recently?
We are constantly inspired and motivated by artistic invention, clever engineering solutions, and creative collaboration. We strive to create immersive environments that combine sculpture, kinetics, performance, interactivity, and creative collaboration. It’s exciting to see the latest inventions coming out of Europe by such groups as Royal de Luxe and La Machine.
6. What is your motto?
“Art is better with friends.”
“We aim to be rather than to seem.”
“Just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.”
7. What advice would you give to the young makers out there just getting started?
Just do it. Don’t hesitate for fear of challenge or failure. Don’t get caught up in what “seems” to be impossible. Just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The benefits of your realized ideas are not only experienced in the end result of your experiments. There is so much fun to also be had through the process of invention, creative problem solving, overcoming challenges, and working together as a team.
Thanks, gentlemen, words of widsom for sure! We’re excited to see the Rocketship in its full glory at Maker Faire. You can still get discounted tickets until May 12. For all the information you need, head over to the Maker Faire website.