Fort Frances resident Ryan Daw performs precision laser engraving on surfaces like tile, wood or metal. He says he has around 45 works on display at the Fine Line Art Gallery.
“People like to think of me as an artist, I like to think of myself more as an engineer,” he says.
The 36-year-old says he has been engraving for about a year.
“I just experimented,” he says. “It took me about six months to get good.”
When Daw started, he said the experimentation phase was profitable because he had a lot of scrap lumber and the tiles were cheap.
“It wasn’t a problem to just go back to the drawing board and see what worked and what didn’t,” says Daw.
He says it was 3D printing that got him interested in printmaking.
“I bought a 3D printer to make spare parts,” he says. “And then as soon as I figured it out, I was like, ‘That would be really cool if there was a laser on it. And then I started looking and I was like, ‘Yeah, there are lasers on these things.’
Daw says the image is drafted through various programs, then pushed onto a machine and laser engraved. He says some laser engraving machines can cost $10,000.
His pieces are usually animals, but Daw has done all sorts of other things as well.
“Really, anything your imagination can imagine,” he says. “I do a lot of different things.”
It can do multi-layered perspective engravings. Some of his pieces are 12 layers thick, with lots of dynamic range. They are stacked on top of each other like a mosaic. Some of her favorite projects include multi-colored tiles, backsplashes, and all kinds of custom work. Daw says he likes doing personal portraits.
“My favorite thing was just seeing people’s reactions,” he says.
While these artworks aren’t paying his bills at the moment, Daw says that might be a possibility in the future.
“I wouldn’t mind starting a full-time business in the future,” he says. “I think there’s a market for this, and there are people who want to consume this and have images of their loved ones in tiles or some kind of object forever.”