Meet KCAI Graduate and Season 1 Winner Hannah Fine

By August 7, 2019General

Hannah Fine is not your typical inventor. As a Kansas City Art Institute graduate, Fine’s passions align more with the creative side of development, a rare find in a usually problem/solution based industry.

“I believe making art and inventing functional items for a market are two very different things, [but] the skills needed to do so go hand-in-hand!” said Fine. Also a former competitor of Make48, the first filmed season of the show was hosted at the Kansas City Art Institute’s brand new maker lab, the David T. Beals III Studios for Art and Technology.

“Since it was my senior year at KCAI and the first year of the David T. Beals III Studios for Art and Technology, Make48 seemed like an exciting challenge. I thought it would be a great experience to add to my last year as an undergrad student and push myself out of my comfort zone,” said Fine. The swan song of her college portfolio, Fine applied the skills in 3D printing, 3D scanning, digital modeling, laser cutting and etching, as well as CNC milling to the development of her team’s product.

At the end of competition, her team placed first with their sanitary cutting board idea, The Chop Guide, made up of CNC milled wood and 3D printed components. For her, learning how to use digital technologies and applying them to an art practice were a key component of her education. “These skills are so helpful because it has allowed me to make things I would have never been able to do otherwise, as well as, give me a wider skill set range, thus allowing me to become a more marketable artist and employee. Ever since being introduced to these technologies and applying a creative approach, new ideas and opportunities seem endless.” 

Fine utilized skills she already possessed, and applied them to the inventive process. “Understanding how to design digitally and see the designs come to fruition allowed for a wide range of possibilities. I found my art school background was very helpful in understanding how to analyze critically, problem-solve, determine and critique design choices, and create under pressure of deadlines.”

After graduating in 2017, Hannah worked as Karen McCoy’s Studio Manager until she was awarded the Block Fellowship with the H&R Block Artspace for 2018. “Currently, I am working with the Kansas City Art Institute as Assistant Coordinator at the David T. Beals III Studios for Art and Technology. I have also been focused on continuing my studio practice, making art, showing in exhibitions, taking classes, and attending residencies. Recently my studio practice has shifted to working and exploring glass and how to incorporate digital technologies with it.”

This summer, she was awarded a partner scholarship to the Pilchuck School of Glass where she took a ceramic 3D printing and glass blowing class that allowed her to explore new ways to use digital technology as a way to make tools and molds for hot glass. “Through these experiences, I have been able to consistently apply many skills that I used during Make48 and in school, such as problem-solving, digital designing, market research, laser cutting, 3D printing, CNC milling. I am very grateful for all these experiences and I definitely plan on continuing to explore more in the future.”

Fine is a brilliant example that anyone can be a maker, no matter your background or interest, and Make48 can be an excellent catalyst to jump start your big idea. “Make48 allowed for the opportunity to talk with and share ideas with many different people from different backgrounds like patent lawyers, business owners, engineers, designers, manufacturers, focus groups, etc.  The introduction to this process allowed for a peek into what it takes to bring a product to market, the difficulties that ensue, and the accomplishments that can arise.”


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