Michael Takeo Magruder, is an international recognised visual artist, with over 20 years industry experience, showcased in over 280 exhibitions in 35 countries. In line with his latest and most recent commission at The British Library, Michael approached FabLab Coventry initially just to use the laser cutter to prototype and fabricate his project idea regarding the transformation of the British Library’s online collection of historic urban maps, called “Imaginary Cities”. Upon heating about the Collaborate to Train (CTT) project, Michael was keen to gain additional design support in relation to the exhibition space itself. Excited by the opportunity to work alongside an international artist, FabLab’s Digital Fabrication course alumnus, Ursa, took on the opportunity to develop her graphic design skills further and gain valuable experience.
Michael has been in regular contact with FabLab Coventry since its early days, using the facilities to work on a variety of different projects, excited by the opportunity to be able to explore and test his creative practices. During the process of experimenting with his latest commission project, Michael was introduced to the CTT project and the additional support available to him as an artist.
Due to the scope of the project, FabLab recruited Ursa, a highly skilled graphic designer with a keen interest in further developing her skills and design portfolio, as the lead for the fabrication process.
Ursa worked alongside Michael and his producer, Martin, to carefully develop the type face for his exhibition title. Meticulously constructing each letter shape and scaling accordingly to be able to produce a final product which encapsulated three dimensions. Once the design concept had been created and finalised each of the 45 individual pieces had to be precisely laser cut, sanded, painted and assembled, with extremely close attention to detail.
Overall, the project took a week to complete from start to finish of the design and assembly process, spanned over a 3 week period, with ongoing communication between Ursa and Michael to ensure his vision was represented accordingly.
While, originally this was an opportunity for a Michael to explore his digital artistic possibilities through different prototypes with different materials and machine settings, the CTT programme enabled us to expand graphic design and fabrication skills of our placement to heighten her work portfolio.
This Collaborate to Train project proved highly successful on a number of grounds:
- The business obtained valuable support in creation of the title text ready for the exhibition opening.
- The placement has gained beneficial experience in design and fabrication to add to her work portfolio as a showcase of her experience.
- The project fell nicely into FabLab’s goals of connecting local communities together with businesses.
There are so many other people that interfaced and gave other contributions to the project, the laser etching work was done at FabLab in Coventry, and those organisations actually let me play with really expensive equipment and they allowed me to as an artist to experiment to actually make and that’s an important thing. FabLab Coventry had an intern, Usra Cuk, who spend a week’s worth of time making the title – the contribution that everyone that comes into the space points out, and says “wow, that’s special”. Without her, that doesn’t happen.Michael Magruder’s opening speech at the Exhibition Launch
Working with FabLab team and Michael was a great experience for me. I gained new knowledge about Digital Fabrication, which gave me new inspirations for my digital design work. I really like to explore different types of design and art, and this was an amazing journey for me. I am happy to hear that my work was appreciated.Ursa, CTT Placement Lead
The making of signage seemed like a simple take. But if you are a little bit obsessed with details, like me, the work is never perfect enough, so is never finished.
When Michael and Martin sent me the first photos of installed letters, I was amazed. I was happy that everything went smooth with the fabrication and installation.