The Visual Art Foundations class has given rise to many fantastic artists, sparking passion in students who otherwise were just looking to fill their art credit. Sixth Former Drew Paradis, one of Haverford’s finest 3D designers and woodworkers, discovered his passion in Foundations during his Third Form year.
Although encouraged by his parents to take theater, Paradis decided to take studio art instead. Enjoying Mr. Ressler’s class, he decided to continue taking similar 3D art classes during his sophomore year. Paradis has loved it ever since, now working mainly with 3D modeling and design, woodworking, and product prototyping — anything to do with “maker culture,” a culture based around the creation of new devices, tinkering, engineering, and the learning and sharing of practical skills.
Most of Paradis’s works are physical creations, ranging from large woodworking creations to 3D printed trinkets, and even custom resin tool parts in between.
“I love experimenting in a lot of different styles,” Paradis said. “I like getting whatever skills I can under my belt. A lot of my projects tend to take me out of my comfort zone, and it’s important to learn all the new skills that you can.”
Some of his most challenging works often turn out to be his proudest ones. Last year, Paradis created a 3D Porsche replica steering wheel mold and cast. The project covered a wide spectrum of skills, ranging from creating a CAD (computer-aided design) model with help from area professionals, printing, sanding, and priming the model, making a silicone mold and plaster master-mold, to casting the wheel with plaster with the six-part mold.
“There were a ton of problems along the way I had to work really hard to resolve and find a creative way around. It was probably my toughest project and the one that took the most new skills and grind to finish,” Paradis said.
Currently, Paradis is working on preparing a portfolio to apply to some art schools and is experimenting with different projects.
“Just recently, I made a video about myself making a wooden box because I spend my time on YouTube watching other people make things,” said Paradis. “I figured I’d give it a go, making a video. And it was a good learning experience. I got to learn how to do some editing, which I don’t usually do.”
“I pick up so many new things that I can use towards future projects. That’s the valuable thing in it all, instead of just the physical outcome itself.”Drew Paradis ’20
“I get more out of the process of making them than the actual turnout. Along the way, I pick up so many new things that I can use towards future projects. That’s the valuable thing in it all, instead of just the physical outcome itself,” said Paradis.
This summer, he completed a two-week program at the University of Michigan studying digital fabrication. “I was able to work with laser cutters, CNCs [Computer Numeric Control], and 3D printers, those kinds of things,” Paradis said. “It might be going outside of the Upper-School office, so stay tuned for that.”
Outside of school, he hones in on his computer skills with 3D modeling. Many of his creations are based on functional designs. “Anytime I’m sitting around, I’m like oh, I wish I had something that would hold my wallet and keys for example. I try to tackle that problem with a design mentality and try to model something to solve the issue,” Paradis said.
With 3D design, he utilizes CAD through a program called Fusion 360, made by the company Autodesk, which is free for students.
“I encourage people to go try it out,” said Paradis. “I got into the 3D printing thing one day — I was just kind of intrigued by it. I went on Amazon, looking at 3D printers, and then I somehow convinced my parents to get me one.”
Paradis’s 3D modeling skills have been mainly self-taught. With the right software and tools, he began to learn online, through the vast amount of guides and tutorials from the maker community.
“I have been using it mainly as a tool to plan out projects that I make in wood,” said Paradis. “So I plan out the whole thing in the computer, and then I can separate it into pieces, and I can manage everything that I need to do and kind of break it down step by step.”
Although he is often an independent learner, many of his skills are not self-taught, including woodworking, ceramics, artistic design, etc. Paradis is extremely grateful for the mentorship of his art teachers.
“I was always wondering how things are made. But now, like every car that passes me on the street, every product I see, I’m always thinking about the steps that they went through to make it, the design choices that they made, and how it fits ergonomically.”Drew Paradis ’20
“Mr. Ressler, Mr. Raeder, Mr. Fox, they have really got me through all my projects here. They try to have me do any work that I can, but whenever I get stuck, they’re always there to help me through it or lend their advice,” Paradis said. “But they really push students to figure things out on their own and learn through the creative process.”
Paradis has recently created an Instagram page for his art under the handle @_apdesign_. Paradis said, “I wanted someplace to put all of my art so I can kind of track my progress. It hasn’t taken off yet, but I’m still posting up there and a few people check in on it. You can see my progress and some of my projects, how they went, and the turnout.”
He has given away most of his works as gifts to his grandparents. “This past box that I just made, it’s gonna go to my grandfather. I’ve made a few cutting boards that have gone to various grandparents as well,” said Paradis. “A lot of the times, for example, I personally don’t really have a use for a cutting board — I don’t do much cooking — so I might as well give one back to them.”
As of now, Paradis plans on studying industrial design, which focuses on product design and development. “But I also have a huge car obsession, so if I could get into the automotive design world, something like that, that would be amazing,” Paradis said.
Ever since taking his first art class, art and design have become an important part of Paradis’ life. “I feel like it might have come from my grandfather and my dad — they are both engineers,” said Paradis. “Although before art, I was always wondering how things are made. But now, like every car that passes me on the street, every product I see, I’m always thinking about the steps that they went through to make it, the design choices that they made, how it fits ergonomically, and all that kind of stuff.”