Neurodiversity and Digital Art


Signals’ Plug In Creatives is programme to supports artists and creative practitioners in developing their skills as workshop leaders and community project workers through an artist development programme.
Plug In Creatives artist Brad Rumble, has just completed his workshops as part of the scheme. Titled Introduction to 3D Modelling, the two workshops were designed for autistic young people age 9-18 and saw them designing their own alien and respective spaceship in 3D modelling software, Blender. We had a chat to him about how he’s found the process and what he’s learnt along the way.

About Brad

Brad is a Norfolk based multi disciplined artist who uses physical and digital mediums create art as a therapeutic practice to help overcome depression and anxiety. As both an artist and toy maker he seeks to imbue a deeper meaning, a value, a symbol to the viewer beyond the aesthetic or the novel. Inviting the audience to confront the conditions of their own suffering through practice, self-discipline, learning and creation.

Brad Rumble

I initially came into the project completely new to the world of teaching skills to others, and so I was a bit nervous to say the least, but with the support of Signals staff I was given comprehensive and invaluable knowledge of what goes into this type of work.

“One of the things I was most impressed with was the speed at which the participants picked up skills which had taken me months to develop, by watching online tutorials.”

I have just completed my second and last workshop for Signals and where I was working with a group of autistic participants aged 9-18 in order to teach them some of the skills involved in digital 3D modelling. During the workshops I taught them about a software, Blender, which is open source and free for all. Teaching aspects such as modifiers, materials and sculpting, and how they can all be used to create a myriad of creations.

When the participants came to the sessions, they were extremely eager to open up the laptops and get playing around right away. This eagerness and willingness to learn has been inspiring to me, as it shows an incredible amount of engagement. One of the things I was most impressed with was the speed at which the participants picked up skills which had taken me months to develop, by watching online tutorials.

On and Off Screen Activities

One of the aspects of the workshop that I setup was a technique known as automatic drawing. I combine this with a phenomenon called “pareidolia” which is seeing faces and creatures in patterns and places where there aren’t. I scribbled on a page and pulled out the faces and weird characters I saw within. Hearing participants laugh as I drew strange beings was one of the highlights of the workshops for me.

Due to the nature of Blender it can be experimented in with ease and it was through experimentation that I learned how to use it, and seeing the participants use the same approach was highly interesting, with most of them discovering aspects of the software that I hadn’t known about.  They taught me as much as I taught them in many respects, and most importantly we all had lots of fun!

Having never been part of workshops of this calibre before, all the support and training that Signals provided in the lead up, as well as during the workshops has been invaluable in building my confidence to do this sort of work in the future.

Best Practice

Signals’ Digital Producer Frazer Merrick supported Brad through the workshops, and commented that “it was really interesting to see how Brad introduced this professional and incredibly-complex software to young audiences in a way that was fun, exciting and accessible. Working with this technology does bring its own challenges, such as losing work when software crashes or not knowing how to achieve a certain goal with a new software. However, these workshops are an opportunity to introduce best practice like regular saving and how to use google for problem solving – which in turn touches on really important concepts such as resilience and tenacity”.

This project was made possible with support from

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