Without a doubt, the most alluring facet of the "Mona Lisa" is her famous smile. What's behind that coy grin of hers? What does she know that we don't?
Now imagine gazing at that iconic portrait sans the smile? You would have to think about that for a minute, wouldn't you?
Then remove much of the pictures detail so it's reminiscent of those old Atari games you grew up with. Then make it 3-dimensional, and you just might have the most captivating likeness you've ever witnessed.
That is exactly what artist Adam Lister and 3D printing specialist Isaac Budmen were going for when they teamed up to create 8 Bits, 3 Dimensions.
Lister paints iconic images like Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" or Grant Wood's "American Gothic" in acrylic paint or watercolors, but reduces them to the familiar cubic style of first-generation computer and video game graphics.
"It does have kind of a retro feel to it, that was definitely what I was going for," Lister said. "It includes that 8 bit style from the 70s and 80s and blends with the cubist style from Picasso, going back 100 years ago."
Then Budmen shoots it straight into the 21st century. He photographs each of Lister's paintings and then hand renders every pixel in the picture before converting the image into an .STL file and sending it to Shapeways to be 3D printed in colored sandstone.
The pieces are relatively small at about 3 inches square and run between $90 and $125. The team will also do commission work, if you have something in particular in mind. They plan to increase their repertoire of famous portraits and offer larger prints in the future as well.
The partnership began about a year ago when Budmen contacted Lister through Instagram.
"Someone else had one of Adam's paintings as his profile picture," Budmen said. "I saw it and was like, 'Wow that's amazing! who is that artist?' I love what he does with perception. I am one of Adam's biggest fans."
Lister's blending of the digital age with ancient techniques compelled Budmen to contact Lister.
"When I saw his work, I immediately said, 'That has to be 3D printed!'" Budmen said.