Making @ SIGGRAPH: Q&A with Andrew Glassner

by | 14 July 2015 | Conferences, Design, Hardware, Industry Leaders

Image Credit: All images copyright Andrew Glassner, 2015

This Q&A is part of a series where we sat down with innovative makers across disciplines to both celebrate the launch of the conference’s brand-new Making program and to highlight the impressive work of the making community. Making @ SIGGRAPH 2015 is for all those who seek to be inspired and those who want to inspire. Featured work within this program was submitted in response to a Tinker. Make. Innovate. challenge that will show off inventions that could change the world.

Dr. Andrew Glassner is a writer-director, and a consultant in storytelling, interactive fiction, and computer graphics. Full Bio.

SIGGRAPH 2015 (S2015): Tell us about the moment you got involved in Making and what that has meant for both your personal and professional growth.

Andrew Glassner (AG): I’ve played with construction toys since before I can remember. Two stand out as favorites. Fischertechnik was a collection of small plastic blocks, each with a stubby connector on each end, along with gears and wheels. Plasticant offered hollow, blue plastic tubes, Ts, and a few more shapes, which I joined together with little yellow plastic stubs.

It was by playing with these toys, among many others, that I learned to love the pleasure of building with real things. Ever since then, working with real, physical materials been a part of my creative life.

Millions of years of evolution have given us a wealth of ways to directly perceive the world. Using touch, smell, taste, sound, vision, weight, texture, heat, balance, and dozens of other qualities, we can quickly develop a complex and intuitive understanding of a physical thing. Compare looking at a picture of a dog to stroking one while the two of you lie in the sun.

S2015: How do you see Making fitting into the “Xroads of Discovery” that SIGGRAPH conferences are known for?

AG: SIGGRAPH has always been about sharing ideas and creating stuff from them. We are all tool builders and tool users, inventing ways to bring our imaginations to life in a bouncy castle virtuous cycle of enabling and creating. SIGGRAPH is a place where we can share experiences, stories, and ideas, and let them mix and combine to become even better.

S2015: What are your top three tips to being successful at the “think with your hands” approach to learning that is Making?


  1. You can’t break something that’s already broken. Start with busted stuff and try to make it do something. It’s even more fun to turn it into something completely unrelated to its original purpose!
  2. Don’t install your power-supply diodes backwards. The sparks are pretty but the room smells terrible for days.
  3. Most stuff you make will not come out as well as you hoped. Sometimes things are utter disasters. But if you’re paying attention, you can learn from those mistakes.

S2015: With SIGGRAPH 2015 taking place in Los Angeles this year, tell us what you know about the Making community in the City of Angels.

AG: As I imagine them, the community’s motto is, “Fingers Grow Back, Right?” summarizing their fearless attitude towards sharp, high-speed motorized metal, high-current coils guided by open-loop AI, and igniting pure hydrogen as a party drinking game.

S2015: Share 2-3 of your favorite Making tools/resources.

AG: Never be without:

  1. Gaffer’s tape. Not as strong as duct tape, but often strong enough, and comes off cleanly.
  2. Friends. Rely on your friends to help you, and in turn, help them.
  3. Toothpicks. Seriously. They are useful in almost every project I do.

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