James Powderly is an artist, designer, and engineer whose work has focused on creating tools for graffiti artists and political activists, designing robots and augmented reality platforms, and promoting open-source culture.
Powderly studied music composition at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. After college, he received a master’s degree from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.
Powderly worked at Honeybee Robotics and was part of the team that worked on the Mars Exploration Rovers Rock Abrasion Tool.
As the collaborative team Robot Clothes, Powderly and artist Michelle Kempner, received an artist residency at Eyebeam for its project, Automated Biography. The project used small robots to tell the “personal story about a sick person and their partner”.
In 2005, Powderly became a Research and Development Fellow at Eyebeam, where he began collaborating with Evan Roth. Working at the Graffiti Research Lab, Roth and Powderly developed open-source tools for graffiti writers and activists, such as LED Throwies and L.A.S.E.R. Tag. They founded the Free Art and Technology Lab (F.A.T. Lab).
Powderly has won awards for his work on the EyeWriter project, including the 2009 Design of the Year in Interactive Art from the Design Museum, London, the 2010 Prix Ars Electronica, the 2010 FutureEverything Award, and featured on NPR and TED.