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Jared Tarbell Laser

Jared Tarbell, Artist and Programmer

Jared is a Flash programmer and co-founder of Etsy finding interesting ways to use the laser

Jared Tarbell is a programmer and co-founder of Etsy, a web site devoted to all things hand-made.

He first became fascinated with computer programming by watching his father write choose-your-own-adventure text games in BASIC, and for the past 20 years he’s been programming computers in some form or another.

He began to focus on computer graphics as hardware became more sophisticated – offering high resolution displays, fast frame-rates, and an abundance of colors.

Simply put, Jared writes mathematical codes to create images on screen.

“It is an amazing process to watch something being created using only instructions written to your computer,” Jared said.

“My interest in patterns and repetition are well suited for computer programs,” Jared said. “Now, I write computer programs to create graphic images. With an algorithmic goal in mind, I manipulate the work by finely crafting the semantics of each program.”

Examples of Jared’s images can be found to the right. These graphic images were all created using different mathematical codes that instruct the computer what to display.

The Challenge:

Finding a way to create “permanent” algorithms “As an artist, using the computer as a tool is sometimes disheartening. All it takes is a power failure, some change in the hardware (or any other number of places) to render your computer-based work obsolete. The laser, to me, represented a way to make my computer generated algorithms more permanent.”

The Solution:

“I saw my first Epilog laser engraver at Maker Faire in San Mateo, California in May 2007. I was blown away by the precision and versatility of the machine. Immediately I knew that I must begin generating work for the laser.”

“I researched laser equipment fanatically for months leading up to my purchase. It was a huge decision for me. At the time, I was prepared to invest a significant amount of money, so I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision. In the end, it was clear that Epilog’s hardware was superior, in terms of features, precision, and reliability. I also liked the Epilog company history, and the fact that, since I’m in New Mexico, we’re essentially neighbors.

I selected the Mini 24 for its 24-inch by 12-inch worktable. I opted for the slightly more powerful 45-watt laser because I wanted to be sure I could cut through a quarter inch of solid wood, which the machine does beautifully.”

For the first four months, Jared used the laser primarily for experimentation on different materials.

“I needed to determine how different materials reacted under the laser, the best settings for cutting and engraving. I knew I needed to have a strong understanding of these questions before I could begin serious work.”

Now Jared uses the laser for all kinds of artistic projects. “My favorite materials to work with have been paper and mat board.

The Results:

The intricacy and ornate detail I’m able to produce is incredible,” Jared said. “I am actually just one of many participants in the emerging field of digital fabrication at home.”

Click here to see more of Jared’s intricate creations.

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