Student creates ceramic work at the intersection of technology, art, and design

Mickey Gambino combines modern technology with ancient ceramic art. Gambino is from Mount Prospect, Ill. A fifth-year student here, he double-majored in industrial design and studio arts with a ceramic option. He applies industrial design techniques and a customer-centric mindset to enhance his artistic work in ceramics.

“People have always used tools accessible to them and influencing what they do and what they do and how they think. I’m not different here,” Gambino said.

He is focusing on integrating 3D printing into mold making that he envisions and speeds up the traditionally long mold making process. He explained that the traditional process required several steps to make a smooth, usable plaster mold. But he’s experimenting with speeding up the process by 3D printing a master mold that can be used to create multiple plaster molds that are each immediately usable.

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3D-printed molds help Gambino create the specific shapes he wants in his work. “I’m big on geometry,” he said. “I try to get that kind of geometry in my wheel throwing work, but it’s not as precise.” In addition to 3D printing, Gambino has used laser cutters to make tools with extremely precise shapes. He uses these tools to create the precise and clean geometric shapes he desires.

With these geometric forms, Gambino strives to create functional, utilitarian pieces. “I want to make it practical and beautiful because there’s no reason it can’t. And I want my work to serve a purpose. I want people to interact with it.”

When he first started at RIT, Gambino worked exclusively in industrial design. However, ceramics was his longtime passion. His father had a lifelong passion for ceramics, and when Gambino developed an interest in art in high school, he and his father took the opportunity to build a small ceramics shop in their basement to further their mutual love of the craft.

Upon entering college, Gambino turned to industrial design as a field that could be more practical while allowing him to be artistic. However, this did not satisfy him. “I realized that if I didn’t study ceramics at the college level, I would forever regret it,” he said.

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Gambino is in his final year at RIT and is working on his capstone projects. He doesn’t have concrete plans after graduation, but knows he wants to continue using his skills in technology, art and design. “Over the years, I have realized that ceramics is a passion. It’s something I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.”

Watch more about Mickey Gambino in the short film “Throw Your Own Way” by Heather Shields, second-year new media design student.

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