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Meg Grant

Meg Grant

Meg describes herself as a creative technologist. This basically means to use technology, like electronics, in creative ways that might not have been thought of before.

Let's read what Meg has to say of her experiences.

Tell us a bit about yourself, where you grew up, which school you attended etc

I spent most of my childhood in a little Hawkes Bay suburb called Tamatea.  I went to school there and think I had a pretty typical '80s New Zealand childhood.  We didn't have loads of money for clothes, so I learnt to sew when I was about 9, recycling any fabric I could find into fashion.  After High School, I worked for a few years and then studied Fashion Design and Technology at Wellington Polytechnic.  The program I followed is now the Fashion Design Degree at the Wellington campus of Massey University.  It offered a fantastic combination of technical skills and creative expression.  It was great!

How did you first get into your line of work and what is your current title?

I got into wearable technology by first leaving fashion behind to become a self-taught programmer.  I love programming, but after a while I really started missing working with textiles and fashion, and that was around the time that the Lilypad Arduino came onto the market.  The Arduino is an open-source micro controller platform that makes it easier for designers and artists to work with electronics.

My current title (I'm self-employed) is Creative Technologist.  It basically means I can use technology, like electronics, in creative ways that might not have been thought of before.  This is happening more and more as electronics become more accessible to people outside the engineering world.

Who are some of the people who have influenced you in your work life?

I would say that Leah Buechley, designer of the Lilypad Arduino was the first to inspire me and then the community of people in the open-source maker scene, both online and in real life.  The maker/craft community is very sharing and supportive, and continually inspires me to try new things.  I am also really lucky to have met and collaborated with a wide range of people, from artists to electronic engineers, and even some people who are both these things! 

What are some of your major achievements to date?

Probably the exhibitions my work has been featured in, mostly in Europe.  One project I worked on with the Solar Fiber group, a glamourous solar sunhat that converts sunlight into energy, is part of a two-year long exhibition at the Amsterdam Science Museum.  Also, having my Apology Helmet featured in Wired Online was really cool.  But I definitely consider my most major achievement so far teaching myself about electronics!

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Travel, because it's a good way to get away from anything that will tempt me back to work.  The best way to do this is to go to another city or country and immerse myself in life there for a few days or weeks.

What are your goals for the short term? and long term what are your dreams?

In the short term, I'd like to start working on more wearable technology projects that connect to the internet.  Then I can really combine my two passions of programming and fashion.  For the long term, I'd like to dive into the science of textile-based components.  For example, it's already possible to print LEDs onto paper so I'd like to see that happening on fabric.

What advice could you give young people who want to get into your line of work?

If you're coming from the design side, don't forget that technology is your friend.  If you're coming from the technology side, remember that good design can mean a world of difference.  Learn to communicate with and respect other disciplines, because in a big project, you'll never be doing everything yourself.  Also, it's amazing what you can learn on the internet.

What is your favourite food?

I'm vegetarian, so probably a big piece of vege lasagne.

Do you have an embarrassing moment that you would like to share with us?

Hmmm... maybe arriving at Toronto airport for an exhibition with the TK730 knitting typewriter project.  Our luggage had been x-rayed and labeled suspicious, so we had to describe our artwork to the very serious customs officer.  “It's a knitting typewriter.” “A typewriter...  that knits?” “Yes.” “So you type something and it knits it?” “Yes.” “Why?” “Um, it's art?” :)

Thank you for your time today Meg.

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