Posted on August 5, 2016
20 Questions with John Biehler
20 Questions with John Biehler
John Biehler is one of those people seemingly unafraid to tackle any passion in life that he discovers. In recent years, he has made a name for himself through his innovative approaches to a wide range of technology. Blending the tech science with his creative forces, John’s art has widened the scope of what’s now very possible. As a friend, it has been extremely cool to see the successes he has achieved by being both a thinker and a doer. John is a photographer, 3D printing guru, author, speaker, and someone who never stops learning. I’m excited to feature him in this week’s 20 Questions.
1. What are you really excited about these days?
Making art using technology.
2. What was the last picture you took on your phone?
I’ll let you know when my iPhone 6s+ finishes rebooting from installing the latest iOS beta… but probably of my cat, Pixel.
3. Making yourself accessible through social media (and/or blogging) opens the door to admiration but also criticism. How do you handle criticism?
I think I’m fairly careful about what I post everywhere… like many people, it’s only a small piece of who/what I’m about and is heavily curated rather than a pure stream of consciousness. I haven’t encountered a lot of criticism online but when I do, I try to understand their perspective and try to address it head on. I tend to take the smallest things very personally so the only way I can deal with those things is to tackle them as soon as possible so that I don’t let them fester.
4. 3D printing has rapidly become a dynamic force and is changing the way the world produces and uses three-dimensional products. What aspect of 3D printing still has you “geeking out” over?
The main thing that I’m still “geeking out” over is the materials that can be used with 3D printing. It’s gone way beyond plastic (which in itself is harder to describe because of the variety of plastics being used today) but metals, various fibres and blends of materials that take 3D printing to heights never imagined.
I’m also obsessed with the myriad of unexpected users of 3D printing that are incorporating the technology into their products/designs/workflow that complement their traditional processes rather than replace. For example, fashion designers have embraced 3D printing to print embellishments directly onto fabrics literally adding a new dimension to their traditional designs.
5. You have a lot of credentials under your belt – everything from book writing to photography to consulting and speaking. What’s something else you hope to tackle or achieve?
I have a habit of turning my hobbies into something more and I’m always learning something new. I’m currently exploring the fascinating world of modular synthesis – the art of designing and building your own musical instrument. Instead of buying a standalone instrument, I’m choosing the basic elements of a synthesizer and for the most part, building these (soldering parts together) and assembling these elements into something that resembles the controls of a spaceship that makes noise. I’ve still got a lot to learn about turning that noise into something musical but I’m having a lot of fun melding my interests in technology, electronics, DIY, and music into this hobby.
6. The Breakfast Club featured a rebel, a princess, a brainiac, an outcast, and a jock. Who were you in high school?
Definitely the outcast. I’ve always been a geek – especially back when it wasn’t cool to be one.
7. If I gave you $50,000 to expand the scope of something you’re currently doing, what would it be?
I’d like to travel more and 3D scan various landmarks around the world.
8. What’s your all-time favourite jam from the ‘80s or ‘90s?
I still regularly listen to The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld [listen to it here].
9. You’ve seemingly accomplished a lot in the last few years. Where do you see yourself in 2021?
I always have trouble answering these kinds of questions. I never in a million years expected to do what I’ve done in the last five years and almost every day I get to do (or strive to do) something new and different. I can only guess what I’ll be doing in five years so let’s just say astronaut?
10. If I was a highly-skilled bartender, what drink would you ask me to make for you right now?
I’m more into craft beer than craft cocktails but I like to let bartenders make me their favourite drink when asked since I don’t have a favourite… so you tell me! If I have to pick an ingredient, it must have pineapple though – interpret that as you will.
11. It’s now 2:00 a.m. and I’ve served you half a dozen strong Mai Tais. Where are you going for your greasy food fix?
Poutine or pizza… but usually whatever is still open also works.
12. In Port Coquitlam, what’s the one restaurant that no one has heard of but everyone should eat at?
I’m really fortunate to have some amazing family-run restaurants out here in the burbs. The place I keep going back to the most is Pho 51 – run by a family with a 50+ year history of making amazing noodle soup.
13. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you in real life?
They think that I’m only about “that thing that I’m known for.”
14. If you could star as any character in the remake of any movie, which famous role would you reprise?
A less-whiny-but-just-as-awkward Luke Skywalker. I actually attempted to do this in junior high. Fortunately, those videotapes didn’t survive the digital era.
15. If you could learn a new skill, language, or hobby, what would it be?
I try to do this everyday. Making music is my current skill/hobby project but I’m always learning something new.
16. Who are you most proud of?
Probably my little sister for raising three amazing kids (now adults) while being a single mom dealing with a lot of adversity.
17. Who is (or was) the single most influential person in your life?
That’s a tough one. If I had to pick one (there are many), probably my grandfather. He accomplished a lot of different things in his life and I seem to have gotten some of his genes at least as far as a curiosity about everything and doing many different things in my life. He gave me my first computer and wanted me to explore technology and art which I’ve found a way to make a living from combining those two things.
18. I’m throwing a dinner party next weekend. You’re invited and can bring three others with you (dead or alive). Who should I set the table for?
Douglas Adams, Steve Jobs, and my grandfather.
19. What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you?
“What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?”
20. So what is the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Performing solo on a theatre stage for the first time back in my acting days.
All photos are provided courtesy of John Biehler.