Inside the mind of a CNC artist

Inside the mind of a CNC artist!

In conversation with Pierre-Luc Arsenu

Albert Einstein said,
“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” and in the case of Pierre-Luc Arsenu, we have enjoyed sharing his creativity with the Toolstoday community. In this blog, we are in conversation with Pierre-Luc to get inside the mind of a CNC artist.

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Concepts start in the thought process and we asked Pierre-Luc how his creative thoughts begin. He told us “The thought is very natural and usually I have a few per week that I like to jot down in my ‘million-dollar book’; a small black pocket journal that I’ve been carrying with me the past year. Whenever I get a good thought I jot it down and talk about it often to friends and family. I’ll determine the ‘doing’ by how well it is received or by how often I think of it and talk about it, hence how excited I am for it. If an idea keeps re-occurring in my head then it’s telling me that it needs to come out.  The intensity of a thought resonates with me as well, and that energy can only be felt by me so it’s hard to put into words.

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Often just doing a simple action that will place that idea from thought to material can make a world of difference. Layout your tools needed to make it happen or sketch it out and take notes. as long as it’s on paper or has hints of manifestation then all you have to do is carry that vision through the process no matter what it takes. There are too many people talking about ideas or telling you how your idea can’t work and not enough people doing things just to see what happens.  But a sketch or note regarding an idea and setting up your materials for it is a good first step to manifesting any worth wild idea. I try to jot down most of the “good” ideas on paper, it’s a good habit.”

As the affordability of CNC machines has reduced dramatically over the past few years, it has introduced what were once seen as traditional woodworkers and makers, who perhaps had a different creative thought process, into the world of CNC machining. We asked Pierre-Luc if increased popularity of CNC machines has changed the creative thinking of traditional makers, he said I don’t think It has changed the way they/we think but it certainly helps to bring new life to our ideas! When I first learned how to use CNC machines, 16 years ago, I had no idea the potential it had with my art, but slowly over the years more and more ideas keep popping up in my head on ways to use this technology. It certainly has opened up a new tier of creativity in my own mind, but it took me a few years to really wrap my head around the potential.”

Even today I find new and interesting ways to create, thanks to the use of CAD/CAM technology.  Not everyone knows about this process yet, but whether you do or don’t, the outcome is always amazingly striking, if done right. The energy I get from seeing an actual physical shape of a design I had originally thought about, then sketched out, then brought into CAD and now being carved, blows my mind each and every time! I live for this stuff now!”

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Like most artists, influential people play a big part in their development and thinking, Pierre-Luc talked about some of his greatest influences: “I’m influenced by artists and free thinkers. People who try to find solutions instead of excuses. People who dedicate their lives to production and creation.

Some of my favorite artists that have directly influenced me and continue to do so would be Swiss artist and maker, H.R.Giger, Salvatore Dali, Ralph Steadman, Francis Bacon (20th century British artist) and street artists such as Canadian legend Richard Hambleton and US’s Sheperd Fairey.

I’ve also enjoyed many comic book and even band art over the years from artists like Dave McKean (Sandman comic covers & music cd covers), Russell Mills (music covers for bands like Nine Inch Nails) & Sam Keith (comic book artist). I guess a lot of my creative influences have a dark tone to their art which I’ve always been drawn towards.”

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Pierre-Luc is a regular contributor to Toolstoday through social media networks and many of you will have seen his work in images and videos. The huge selection of Amana Tool CNC router bits is allowing the CNC artists to get more and more creative. The engraving and carving tools in particular are allowing some incredible detailed work. When asked about some of the Amana Toll bits that he uses, Pierre said “All of the Amana tapered ball nose bits have been my go to bits of choice to carve out all my relief work. I love how deep they go and the resolution I’m able to achieve from 1/8″ all the way to the 1/32″ for all my smalls and they last for ever when using pine or other soft materials!”

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One of the benefits of choosing from the huge selection of Amana Tool CNC router bits from Toolstoday, is the versatility it offers to work with almost every material available today. However, usually artists prefer their own ‘genre’ of material to work with, we asked Pierre-Luc his material of choice and why. He stated “Some woodworkers shake their heads at me online but that has never stopped me from going my own direction…I like working with pine, the softest most dent absorbing wood out there, I don’t consider myself a woodworker as much as i do an artist. The CNC machine is more part of my pallet then my tool belt and one of the things I love best about pine is that it’s malleable and absorbs paints and pastels nicely. Before getting into CNC and CAD I’ve always enjoyed drawing and doing paintings using oil pastels and rubbing it against the canvas.”

I worked with relief canvas before I even knew about CNC so I’ve always combined colouring relief depth by hand with oil pastel and have developed a fun style rubbing the oil into the textured surface of my art. Pine is a great surface to use for this technique and the oil pastels works nicely with it. Also, I’m able to quickly sand or hand carve the design if I wish to edit it by hand after it’s carved giving me more flexibility with my art. Pine is very forgiving but it does dent easily so you have to be extra careful!   That being said I’m always experimenting, particularly for ToolsToday videos, I’ve tried aluminum, glass, plastic, foam and woods.  They all have their place and use depending on what you’re planning on making.”

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View more of Pierre’s work by clicking the following links.


Shop the ToolsToday website here.

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