Interview with Athey Moravetz of WarpZone Prints
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Athey: I’m 30, married, and have two kids, age six and three. I live in Central Oregon, where I’ve been for the last nine years. I moved here from Seattle, where I went to college. For eight years, I worked in the video games industry as a production artist. My husband also works in the video games industry, and for the same studio I did. When you’ve got two people, both working full-time for a game studio with yearly crunch hours, it can make things overly complicated, and after a series of events, I ended up at home instead.
What inspired you to a career in 3D art?
Athey: Long long… long, ago, when I was in middle school, a friend of mind got me a pirated copy of 3D Studio for DOS, that his friend’s father had brought back from a business trip to China. This was long before the days of bit torrent and easy software pirating – hah – so this was a huge deal. Half the people I knew didn’t even have a computer at home.
So, I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved it anyway. Looking back, I know I did everything wrong, but it was a learning-blind self-taught sort of experiment. To put things into perspective a bit – There was no Undo option in this program. There was no shaded view, only wireframes, and there was no back face culling. You saved every thing you did, just in case something went wrong, but if you didn’t realize you’d messed up until sometime later, you’d probably already saved over any opportunity to back up before the mistake because the hard disk was so small that you couldn’t afford saving even a half-dozen iterations of your file. And if you wanted to edit a texture map? You had to close the program, exit out of DOS, boot up Windows, load up your graphic editing program, make whatever changes you needed to make and save it – shut windows down, go back into DOS, wait the excruciating long time it took to do all this and load up 3D Studio, and then hope and pray you got everything right.
Despite all this, I was hooked, and years later, when the guidance councilors were pressuring all us high schoolers to decide what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives and apply to a bunch of different colleges, I decided I wanted to go into 3D Animation.
Originally the goal was 3D art for movies, but that eventually morphed into 3D art for games. There was definitely no plan, way back then, to be 3D modeling for a home 3D printer. Definitely never saw that coming.
Warpzone Prints happened mostly because of a guy at my old work named James. James is a mad-scientist kind of guy. He likes to build things. He’s very into DIY stuff, and he built himself a 4ft x 4ft CNC in his garage a few years ago. He’s also made an Egg-bot, and a number of other crazy things. He’d been eyeballing 3D printers for a long while and ended up deciding that, this time, he’d get one that was pre-built, rather than building it himself. He bought a Makerbot Replicator when they were pretty much brand new.
My husband and I had printed things through Shapeways for years at this point, but we’d sort of disregarded the at-home 3D printers because the quality just wasn’t good enough yet.
When we saw the stuff that James was able to make with his Replicator, we caved in and ordered one of our own.
It was, quite literally, nothing more than a toy in the beginning. We thought it was really cool, and wanted one. That was all there really was to it. But we told ourselves that maybe we could make it pay itself off a bit, by printing things for other people, and maybe even selling stuff on Etsy.
At this point, we were both still working full-time in the games industry, so anything done on the bot, was done in our free time.
After my job in video games came to an end early this last fall, I had a lot more free time on my hands and ended up putting a lot more time and effort into the Etsy store and the one item that seemed really popular – cookie cutters.
I made a ton of new designs and started taking custom orders, and things just kind of exploded from there.
Do you have any geeky obsessions? If so, what?
Athey: Oh… so many. Let’s see – for a 30-year old mom-of-2, I’m probably unhealthily addicted to Harry Potter. I even made my own full set of Slytherin Robes for Halloween a number of years back.
I love Portal, and 3D Printed my own Portal gun last summer. I started working on the model for making a Wheatley core, but then I got busy and it was kind of a hugely intensive project to figure out how to separate it into pieces small enough to print and then to assemble together.
I -Love- Game of Thrones, and thing Peter Dinklage is absolutely amazing.
All three of my cats, and my daughter, are named after characters from One Piece. My son is named after a character from Final Fantasy 7. Both my kids have the middle initial D, because of One Piece. I intend to wait until they’re much much older, and in a forgiving mood, before I tell them this.
My husband’s ‘man-cave’ is a Retro-Gaming wet-dream of collectables and rare games and consoles, including an actual Neo Geo arcade cabinet that was an outrageous struggle to get up the stairs because it weighs a ton, and is huge.
We have a life-size Master Sword and Shield mounted on the wall of one house along with a huge framed map of Hyrule. We also have a life-size Buster Sword. It is very very heavy.
If Kirby were to swallow you, what power would he get?
Athey: Probably the power to speed up time. I seems like every time I start working on something, I blink, and its been five hours.
If you were on a deserted island, what video game, comic/book, movie, TV show would you bring?
Athey: I’d probably bring all of One Piece. It’s very… very…. long. It would last a while. Although, I would magically have it be finished, too. Maybe I’d just bring Eichiro Oda with me.
Where can we find you in the web?
And, as for social media –