Eric van Straaten (Featuring Range Murata and Mark Ryden)

Eric van Straaten (Featuring Range Murata and Mark Ryden)

This is going to be a rather unusual post, in that it relates to a full-colour printed 3D artist – and not a 2D photographer – and also that the “girls” portrayed are a strange mixture of young girl and post-pubescent adolescent. It’s important to note that the artist, Dutch sculptor Eric van Straaten, sees his works as portraits – and in fact the header is a 2D print version of one of his sculptures (Pietàyours for €295). To give an idea of his strangeness, here’s a very recent Instagram post:

This actual 3D printed piece has turned out very beautiful and can be seen at @markpeetvissergallery It consists of three separate 3D printer pieces. Title: THE KEY Part of series: Girls With Guns Material: multicolor composite 3D print Print height: 70 cm Edition: 8 unique pieces Extra: A girl is standing on a chest, adorned with elements of the garden of Eden. I one hand she is holding the key to the chest. In the other hand, she is holding a flintlock gun. GUILT The fall of man, or the fall, is a term used in Christianity to describe the transition of the first man and woman from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience. Although not named in the Bible, the doctrine of the fall comes from a biblical interpretation of Genesis chapter 3. At first, Adam and Eve lived with God in the Garden of Eden, but the serpent tempted them into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden. After doing so, they became ashamed of their nakedness and God expelled them from the Garden to prevent them from eating from the tree of life and becoming immortal. In Gnosticism, the snake is thanked for bringing knowledge to Adam and Eve, and thereby freeing them from the Demiurge’s control. The Demiurge banished Adam and Eve, because man was now a threat. Many Christian denominations believe that the fall brought sin into the world, corrupting the entire natural world, including human nature, causing all humans to be born into original sin, a state from which they cannot attain eternal life without the grace of God. The Eastern Orthodox Church accepts the concept of the fall but rejects the idea that the guilt of original sin is passed down through generations. Calvinist Protestants believe that Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice for the elect, so they may be redeemed from their sin. Judaism does not have a concept of “the fall” or “original sin” and has varying other interpretations of the Eden narrative. #3dprinting #3drender #3dsculpting #3dmodeling #sculpture #popsurrealism #lowbrow #contemporaryart #art #figurine #cute #kawaii #girl #humbelles #collectables

A post shared by Eric van Straaten (@ericvanstraatendotcom) on

……and, as you can see, physically she’s represented as a girl of about nine with improbable breasts attached. Apart from the fact you can tell he’s an erudite, educated man who isn’t making sculptures just for fun or money – his tags still include #cute, and #kawaii, as well as #popsurrealism and #lowbrow – which form an actual art movement, to which he belongs with luminaries such as Mark Ryden (more of him anon). He’s very open about this:

Although my tastes are a bit old fashioned, I am a child of my time, so content wise I am inspired by let’s say pop-culture in general, and I think the youth culture in Japan nowadays, the USA from the seventies and Europe from the eighties/nineties provide the most powerful imagery.” (i.materialise.com)

One reason I’m interested in him is because of the posing similarities I notice with one of my favourite Japanese artists – Range Murata. Compare these – first Eric:

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…..far more young woman than girl-plus-add-ons, I’d agree – and Range:

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…which are the Alvis and Lavie characters made to his specifications by Alter in boring old PVC – and available from Amazon for an eye-watering price (the two together plus bench at 13 cm high for about $144). Range is into Art Deco-meets-Steampunk-meets-Kawaii (more or less), and aesthetically-speaking has a more “cute”, anime style than Eric’s often hyper-real/surreal scenarios. They feature oversized animals, girls in cages, Smurfs – you name it – and while for Range the 3D characters are a spin-off from his illustrative work, with Eric the opposite is true.

Another relationship I’ve noticed is an apparent awareness of contemporary girls’ fashion photography tropes:

Eric van Straaten - 3D printed sculptures

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…….tho’ obviously I’m not saying that he ever saw this particular portrait – it’s reasonably obscure (Vasilisa Suslikova and Yolanda D by Alexandr Lab for Mari Axel Kids: here for links) – however his grouping of girls in short matching dresses in a typical fashion pose isn’t one you’d typically come across in anime, manga, or Western popular-culture media in general.

Before launching into a gallery, I’ll get the technical stuff over with (the two YouTube vids below being particularly useful for visualising the difficulties involved). This is from an interview with a Belgian gallery:

Eric van Straaten (Haarlem, 1969) allows only full-colour 3D printed images. The digital domain has infinite possibilities and the computer takes us ever further away of manual labour. One might therefore think that the hand of the maker has lost its importance. With full-colour 3D printing, however, currently the opposite is true. According to Van Straaten, creating these images presents such a technical challenge that the journey from design to finished product can be described as a highly labour-intensive ‘craft’. “As far as I know,” he states, “I’m the only artist working at this level, with this particular technique.”

In my work, I’m inspired by pop culture and I try to combine elements that cause alienation. I strive for physical expressiveness, while maintaining a degree of digital sense. The extras in my work are completely virtual. Like Barbie dolls, they will never be real humans, nor are they based on real people.” (markpeetvisser.com)

……and his Instagram feed and interviews in general are full of details of the difficulties he still encounters in what is initially a fully hands-on, creative process – for all the ultimate possibility of reproducing the finished product automatically.

The following gallery is restricted to the sculptures that I feel represent younger girls – despite the desire he has to give them at least the semblance of breasts:

His theme is girls, lovely young girls of an uncertain age…..”For me, the focus on girls on the threshold of adulthood reflect both my own obsession and that of contemporary western cilvilization with (frozen) youth.”” (ifthenisnow.eu)

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……and he does some prints – like the header – this is called Rebels:

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….which show that 3D colour printing is just a means to an end – he was dealing with the same artistic preoccupations before he took to that particular technology. One of his works in fact celebrates the aforementioned Mark Ryden, another pop-surrealist often with disturbing (and disturbed) girls as his subject:

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….the “frame” being a tribute to Mark’s obsession with ornate, figurative frames for his own art (plus his trademark objects, including bees). This is Aurora:

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….and framed in a gallery, with the artist:

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….and given that Mark has started casting 3D works in bronze, their convergence just keeps getting closer (and yes, that is Katy Perry with him in front of a painting featuring her…..)……

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9 thoughts on “Eric van Straaten (Featuring Range Murata and Mark Ryden)

  1. It’s easy to see the industrial, practical, uses for 3D printing, there’s even a 3D printer on the ISS, but this is fantastic. Like the people that use blowtorches and steel, people are so damn creative. And it’s just a digital file, he could email it to you and you could print your own. What a great time to be alive.

    I think I saw that flowered dress at Zulily. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure – he seems to encounter a lot of snags along the way – and the list of software that he needs makes your head spin. Anyway, he says he’s a perfectionist….better him than me!!
    The Mari Axel dress is amazing: it’s a mini-me concept where the mummy version seems to be even shorter than the daughter’s….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article! Being a big fan of Japanese pop culture, I’m familiar with the wonderful work of Mr Murata, but I had no idea that someone was producing such interesting 3D-printed sculptures. 3D-printing is steadily becoming more and more affordable and at the same time, the final results are becoming more and more impressive. I’m sure 3D-printed artists of this nature will become more common in the future and I myself would like to dabble in 3D-printing one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,
      he’s probably the only artist working with colour 3D at such detailed, complex levels – well, he says he is, anyway 😇😇😇 Personally I’d rather have one of Range’s PVC marvels than one of Eric’s printed ectomorphs: if you could do your art in 3D I’m sure there’d be a market – but I’d keep it simple…..!!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ve checked into printers for a while now, since the were $2,000 a pop. But now you can do 0.2 mm tolerances in a full size machine for $500 and up. And up and up and up! Not quite in the ‘toy’ excuse range, but pretty darned close.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have to admit I haven’t really researched 3D-printers as much as you obviously have, so I guess I’m not seriously thinking about making 3D art just yet. Bur I’m sure I’ll try it in the future.

        Liked by 2 people

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