Lasers and their never-ending applications for use are becoming an increasingly popular medium for artists and designers to make and leave their mark. Fusing art and science across pretty much any material imaginable, lasers are masterful in their precision and inspiring in their possibility.
When Jason Lefton first witnessed a laser etching a design into metal, he saw the wave of possibility and immediately began saving up to buy his own laser engraver. Shortly after, he opened his shop – BIG SECRET – and has been making remarkable, seemingly impossible engraving dreams come true ever since.
After seeing some of BIG SECRET’s beautiful and incredibly detailed projects online, I had to be let in on the secret.
1) Tell us a bit about the equipment you use, the types of projects you do, and the clients you work with.
JL: BIG SECRET uses lasers to collaborate with artists, designers, advertising agencies, and other creative friends. We etch, cut, and mark a wide variety of materials such as wood, paper, acrylic, glass, and fabric but we also enjoy experimenting with non-traditional mediums such as leaves, shoes, and food. Because every job is a bit different, there’s always a pre-production and post-production phase in which we’re using other tools – traditional woodworking tools, routers, painting, and all types of finishing work – before or after a project has been lasered. It’s been great to work with local artists, global clients, and celebrities every now and then.
2) What makes laser etching so special?
JL: The level of detail you can achieve and the wide variety of materials you can work with make the laser really magical. It never gets old watching an invisible beam of light blast into a material with such intricacy. I’ve always been very detail-oriented, so the laser is the perfect partner for bringing the digital together with the tangible.
3) What is the strangest thing you have engraved? Any favorite projects?
JL: We’ve worked with a number of untraditional materials including ostrich eggs, cake, film stock, pop tarts, and human femur bones. All the weird things are definitely part of the fun. It’s hard to pick a favorite project but we were lucky enough to collaborate with a few amazing designers (Kevin Cantrell and Juan Carlos Pagan) on a baseball bat for Nike which involved the challenge of engraving it from top to bottom and all the way around the sloping circumference. The final result is stunning and the bat has gone on to win a few awards, which is fun.
4) I saw laser residency mentioned on your site. Sounds cool! What’s it all about?
JL: Occasionally we will invite an artist to spend time with us in the studio so we can educate them about the capabilities of a laser and then create a small body of work. Barcelona-based Joan Tarrago had an awesome show with us a few years ago where we made three dimensional wooden pieces, giant cork posters, and a coffee table. The residency is a way for us to work as closely as possible with an artist and help them explore the medium.
5) Does your furry mascot have a name?
JL: Yes! His name is Hans Theodore Gould.
6) What is your favorite movie scene involving lasers?
Definitely. Perhaps Val Kilmer-etched into popcorn should be added to the works? For more of BIG SECRET’s wonderful work, visit their website. Thanks Jason for your time!