What is a Bubblegram?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

The bubblegram is best described as a modern incarnation of a time honored artistic technique. Employing the use of laser etching machines, bubblegrams are created with the strategic placement of points that are suspended in some sort of medium, allowing for a three dimensional effect. The underlying premise for the bubblegram is found in the discipline that is known as pointillism.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Introduced during the latter years of the late 19th century, pointillism involved the application of small points of color to a canvass. Paints that were employed as the medium for the paints tended to be composed of the primary colors of the spectrum. By arranging points of various colors into close clusters, it was possible to create images that appeared to be composed of a wide range of colors and shades. The style did not attract a large number of admirers or practitioners, although something about the art did seem to generate a lot of criticism. Still, the art form did enjoy limited appeal for a number of years before fading from public view.

The concept of laser bubblegrams took the old concept and updated it for a new day and time. Often the medium for a laser bubblegram will be a block of clear plastic. Utilizing a system that employs several lasers, tiny points are created within the plastic. Careful manipulation will result in the creation of an image that is easily recognizable, and has the appeal of a three-dimensional look to the finished product. A finished bubblegram may be rather simplistic, or the image can be quite complicated.

Images may be created free form, or from a subject or picture. In fact, there is currently technology available that allows a photograph to be converted into data. The data is then downloaded into a software program that drives the equipment used to direct the lasers. This technology makes it possible to take a favorite photograph and use it to create a keepsake that is ideal for gift giving.

Since the turn of the century, the bubblegram has continued to grow in popularity. Relatively inexpensive examples of the bubblegram have begun to appear, as well as more expensive pieces that are considered to be cutting edge art. As a memento of important occasions or as a way to create art for the home that is both eye-catching and different, the bubblegram shows every indication of remaining a viable art form for many years to come.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@nony - Well, not all art has to be accessible to the masses to be popular. Personally I think there are better art forms than the bubblegram and which can convey ideas more effectively.

Artists nowadays do a lot of abstract art and even work with holograms and stuff like that. They probably wouldn't need to resort to a bubblegram in that case, when they can mess with virtual reality. They can use bubblegrams only when they need the specific qualities of that art form.

I do agree, however, that the lasers throw an extra monkey wrench in the process, even for the people who can afford to use that technology.


How do you create the inexpensive forms of this art? It requires the use of lasers. This is hardly an art form that can be done by the average Joe. I suppose you could have scaled down versions of the real thing, but in that case what would you use to create the points?

You could go back to pointillism and forget the whole 3D effect, but then you would have a pointillism painting and not a bubblegram, in the truest sense of the term.

Someone needs to figure out a way to do a low cost version of this. Perhaps instead of lasers they can use printers that will print on sheets of cellophane that can be stuffed into the plastic block somehow. I don’t know; that’s the only thing I can come up with.

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