Interview with Mark Wrigley of Elektric-Works
Inspired by the Apollo moon landings, Mark Wrigley embarked on a career in physics in the early 1970s. Initially specialising in optics and infra-red pyrometery his social skills soon took his career into program management, sales, marketing and product management. He is a great communicator and can transcend boundaries with his ability to explain technically complex issues to a wide audience. Operating at the forefront of disruptive technological change, he participated in the explosive growth of the mobile digital communication industry. In 2011 he set up his own company; Elektric-Works which explores the way disruptive technology and making can empower individuals and startups.
Give us some background and how it has influenced your career.
Firstly, I like social mobility. When I was a child my grandfather was a coal miner. He had the ethos of education being the gateway to a better life. It led me to working in physics. With 3D printing I want to show people that technology is a great thing. I find disruption amazing as well. When I was doing my physics degree, digital was not heard of at the time. Throughout my career I have seen stuff that changes the game completely. It is amazing to see how these technological advances make changes to the industry.
What benefits do you see in terms of being creative in the artistic sense and tech sense?
When people say art it is a form of communication. It may be that you are communicating emotions. Art is a sophisticated way of communicating. If you leave some of us physicists to only communicate it may become too boring. I always gravitate to ultra realism.
Talk about some of your outreach work you do?
I started doing it 7 years ago. I do stuff with the Institute of Physics. We generally are at science fairs with various experiences. We try to make things oriented toward teenagers. We want to make engaging experiences. This is how we are able to incorporate maker events. People sit down and build projects and it is engaging. This gives people a tangible thought process on this type of work. We have an ethos of addressing people that are disadvantaged. About 3 years ago I became the chair of the Yorkshire branch. I was a trustee before this time.
What are your thoughts on the Maker Movement?
It is interesting. The term maker gets used for a lot of things. I came across it 4 years ago. To me I think of laser cutting, 3D printing, raspberry pi’s, and various things. There are two ways it has developed. Anyone who can make something thought of themselves as a maker. This refers to any type of artform. I have mixed feelings as it brings people in to a technical maker movement ideal as well. The word is getting diluted. I have to say that some maker events are just something to do with your kids. I think that dilutes things. I would rather be in a place where makers inspire people.
Pikon Device made by Mark
How important is passion to the work you do?
I was 25 years and I read the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The book talks a lot about gumption. It even talks about a gumption trap. It is important to be filled with quality. This stayed with me a lot. I see it a lot in society that people are not excited about things. I feel privileged as I have done my grind doing the 9-5pm work to be financially stable. There is a fear factor people have and it stops them from pushing for their dreams.
Moon Photo Taken by Mark
What are some things that you want all makers to know?
It is important to embrace disruption. Whatever is new can be used in a bad way, but it also can be used in beneficial manners. Because I am a physicist, I work on learning life and the universe. It is important to understand existence. There is an ethos that embodies exploration.
How did your science career fuel your sense of exploration?
I think it went the other way. When I got into physics I had large questions about consciousness. When I got into my career I got more into the application of my degree into specific things. This is what allowed me to appreciate disruption. I got into instrumentation at the time PCM and Digital became a thing. In the back of my mind, I am always impressed and in awe of scientific discoveries being made. I have started with large goals and then I have come down to certain specifics. If I look at my career in reverse, there is no way I could have predicted certain things like mobile communication. I just have a curiosity. I think the human species has multiplied due to this curiosity. This applies to science and new technology.