The Brown Design Studio, chock filled with industrial sounds and industrious ideas, brought Sam Title to laser printing. Sam, an engineering student, calls his work “an entirely digital medium, even though it’s very physical”. This duality creates an unapologetically witty product that combines science, art, and pop culture. The inspirations come instantly: funny things his friend says, upcoming birthdays, or current events. Sam eagerly showed me his portrait of Bernie Sanders, outlined with the quote, “Feel the Bern”. He explains the irony: “if you interact with the art, you’re literally feeling the burn”. Indeed, the burnt smoky smell emanating from the final product is one of Sam’s favorite aspects of the medium.
Sam’s first project in this medium was a portrait of Salvador Dali outlined with the quote, “I don’t do drugs, I am drugs”. This is the project that sparked the motifs evident in his work: hilarity, satire, and science. In addition to his many portraits, Sam creates mathematically and inspired pieces. The one that baffled me most was his laser-printed image of a fractal. He explained to me that a fractal is a never-ending pattern with infinite smaller replicas of itself inside its area. While this is near impossible to portray on a piece of wood, Sam showed me a computer diagram of this phenomenon, and was evidently enthusiastic about the concept. These ideas propel his artwork forward, resulting in a product that explores the novelty and constant evolution of the scientific world. Indeed, this can be connected to the pop culture icons that Sam prints who exhibit constantly evolving images of themselves, as well.
The technological nature of Sam’s medium is in itself an expression of progression and growth. The studio in which he works is quite large and encompasses multiple areas of technological experimentation. A few yards away from the laser printing machine, Sam describes a space where drones are being 3D printed and test flown. In the space behind Sam’s students work with metal, the sounds of which are enough to pique one’s curiosity. This space is perfect for a budding engineer looking to build and create.
The efficacy of laser printing can get ideas down quickly and with pinpoint precision. In fact, during my time at the Brown Design Studio, Sam spontaneously laser-printed an image of the characters Rick and Morty, from their self-titled sci-fi cartoon. First, Sam starts with an image on Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, which then translates to the laser printer. The laser runs side to side very rapidly, shooting a laser with a preset force onto certain parts of the wood to create the image. This process can work with other materials as well, acrylic being one that Sam would like to work with more in the future. When not at school, Sam is left without access to the laser printer. Yet, he still enjoys doodling, especially in a cartoon-like style.
Sam hopes that his work will appeal to those who want a good chuckle, but also to those who are more analytical in their art appreciation. Perhaps, he says, one could see his quote portraits as a testament to the ways in which our words define and create our image.