Who is 'sveva'?
Well, originally she was a High Elf Cleric in an online RPG called Everquest! Not sure where I got the name, but I played that game for years, and when I signed up here at Renderosity in 2003, the name came with me. I had no idea that the name would follow me this far and that I would be a Top Seller for 3 years now. I guess if I had to do it over again, I would probably pick something different, but it's who I am known as now and so it stays!
As for who is behind Sveva, well that’s easy, my real name is Susan Justice, and I have been in the arts field now for about 12-13 years, though into digital art for about 10. I started very young. I used to draw in my bedroom as a kid, mostly unicorns, horses, and Disney characters like the Little Mermaid. Instead of celebrities pictures or rock band posters, I had big unicorn posters, my head has always been in the clouds.
I started college a bit late, and only completed 2 years towards my Bachelors degree in Fine Arts. As a single parent trying to work, go to school, etc., its quite difficult. I felt after 2 years I was ready to move on, and so I did.
I went to work for a small Art Gallery in Florida for about a year, doing everything from making jewelry to promotions, art gallery openings, even providing the entertainment at one of them - I play the flute! I left for a manager position at a small art sales company, but left 6 months into it to move to SC, where I finally discovered digital art one day online and decided YES, THAT is what I want to do! So, I started in Paint Shop Pro, found some tutorials, and before I knew it I was off to a decent start. I signed up at deviantART and started posting work, from here I gained a lot of exposure and things just went up up up!
I am now a happily married, stay at home mom to my 16yr old daughter, 6yr old Autistic son, and 8 month old son. I work long long hours, as I know many vendors do. I am up and working very early with my 8 month old at my feet, it's hard, but it's worth it. My husband works full time too, so we are very busy people!
How long have you been involved in digital art?
About 10 years. I found much inspiration online, and it drove me to leave the traditional art world and come to the digital side.
What made you decide to become a Vendor?
Well, someone said to me "hey, you could make some backgrounds and sell them, since your art is really good, you could sell just the backgrounds," and so I did, and they sold alright, and I thought great, store credit, more products to buy! So, I put that little bit right back into the site, I don't think I actually had anything to pay out for a while! But, at that point, I did not need to be really working, it was more for fun. I was fully involved in my own art works, paintings, selling prints, posting in my gallery.
I also volunteered 2 years as a Gallery Moderator at deviantART, so I was very involved in the art community, but not really into selling yet, as far as products. I was more into commissions, book covers, CD covers, magazines, etc. I would spend 40 hours on one painting, and now I spend well over 40 hours on the creation of products to sell to the community, the role has shifted, but to me its just another form of my vision and my art coming through in a different way.
In 2008-2009, I made decisions in my personal life that would affect myself and my kids, and I suddenly found myself needing to make a living for myself, while still taking care of my kids at home. I turned to Renderosity. I made more backgrounds, and to my surprise they did very well, and so I made more, and more, and people started to notice me! I remember thinking in early 2009 - finally I will make a living from my art, even in the form of "products" and everything was falling into place. I set paycheck goals for myself and I met them, and then I exceeded them. I worked day and night, and I came into the Top Sellers list sometime around March/April 2009.
What are you currently working on?
Hmmm, let's see....well, in the immediate future I have some backgrounds to finish, some hairs to texture, a resource I want to work on now actually, some packs with others to work on, and some outfits to texture! So...LOTS of things! I keep an ongoing list on the ipad, and its always getting bigger, lol.
What software is currently in your digital toolset and why?
Here is the list:
Photoshop CS5 - For lots of 2D stuff, painting, texturing, etc. I recently upgraded from PSCS3 to 5 and love it.
Poser Pro 2012 - In my opinion its the best version yet, and I love it. A must have for any digital artist/vendor, I render all of my promos and artwork with this!
Vue 9 Esprit - scenes! I bought this and several modules last year, hasn't gotten a lot of use yet but in my spare time I like to pull it out and dust it off and play around.
Carrara 8 - scenes! Same as above, haven't really used it much, but there are times when I need to or want to.
MSN - because I have to have breaks and talk to my fellow artist buddies =)
I also have a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet (a biggie!) that I just replaced with a smaller Intuos 4 and I love it.
I have an Asus desktop and just bought an Asus laptop so I can be mobile and work on vacations, I must be nuts?! Also, so I can work in the main room of the house with the little ones.
I use a Canon RebelXS DSLR camera and I have a macro lens, all for stock photography to use in my work.
Plus, several other small programs that help along the way! I am also learning to use a few others, but I'll leave that to the imagination =) It's taking some time and it's a lot to learn, but I will get there. When I set my mind to something, there is no stopping me!
Where do you find inspiration for your products?
Everywhere. Yep, other vendors have said it, and I will say it too - EVERYWHERE! I find inspiration just looking around the internet, I find inspiration when I drive somewhere, I find inspiration from books, from movies, from just about anything, just look around you, it is everywhere.
Could you list any current favorites among the products you've created and tell us a bit about their creation?
Recently, I got back into doing clothing textures. I had done a few outfits a year or two ago and thought well maybe this isn't for me, but I decided to pick it back up and give it another go and I am really enjoying it. I look at it not as an outfit or template, but as a blank canvas for artistic creations, just as I would when creating a new painting. I think it's working well, people seem to be enjoying my sets a lot more now, and that is encouraging and helps keeps me going. Reading the reviews, getting requests and sitemails is inspirational, and I appreciate every one of them. I really enjoyed working on the Star Enchantress outfit, and the Gypsy Love outfit. My creation files are huge, and PS starts to get angry with me towards the end, but it's fun, and I love to see what I can come up with.
I also enjoy making my tutorials, which I started last year. I have gotten so many emails asking me how I do this, how I do that, how to get my skin like that, how to get hair like that, and so I like giving back some of my techniques to the community through these lengthy tutorials that show exactly how I do what I do to reach the final end result. The latest is the Magical Effects tutorial, which was a lot of fun to write!
I really enjoy making backgrounds as well, and I love to see what people create with them. To me, each one is like its own little artwork, and, I have to be honest, sometimes it's hard to part with them! I especially like The Wishing Trees and the Luna Fae backgrounds, and they went over pretty well!
Do you have any advice for aspiring Digital Content Developers?
Be your own person. Pull inspiration from everywhere, but in the end, be sure your product is your own ideas and creations. Promote yourself. Your broker, Renderosity, does help promote products, but there are so many vendors, it can be easy to get lost - you have to help yourself, you have to make use of the tools you have around you. You are responsible for your products and to help with their promotion. Look at what we have at our disposal around us: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and many, many other sites and galleries dedicated to art and artists. Make use of them. Make use of the Renderosity Calendar, run sales events and announce them. Create your own little niche that reflects you as an artist and individual. Come up with your own ideas and gimmicks to make your work special and make it stand out.
One of the most important things? Your promotional images. If you have a good product, make it look good. I am a vendor, but I am also a customer, and I look to the promos to see if I want to purchase an item, so make me want it. Your promos are a direct reflection of your product, they are the one thing that stands between your product and your audience.
Lastly, ask yourself this question, and answer it honestly - Would I buy this product? If the answer is no, then what makes you think anyone else would? You should care enough about what you do and your products to want to buy them yourself. Look at your creations, check your quality, and answer that question.
How has this online Community (Renderosity) enhanced your work, relationships, and learning?
I have really made a lot of friends here at Renderosity. Friends that go beyond just a working relationship and beyond just chatting about new products or collaborative projects. I have a couple friends from high school, but, having moved to SC after growing up in Florida for most of my life, I don't have any friends here now where I live, and through Renderosity I have gained several very close friends that I talk to on a daily basis and share ideas with, work with, discuss the latest things in our lives, our children, our husbands, and other happenings.
I am grateful for those I have met here, I enjoy the community even if I don't get as much time as I would like to participate in the forums or chat rooms. I am subscribed to certain forums so I can always read what my fellow vendors and friends have to say. I am very easy to get along with, I consider myself a nice, giving person, and I hope that shows here at Renderosity. I am usually willing to lend a hand, friendly advice, or help those who ask. I know I have grown and become a better artist/vendor because of those here at the site, the encouragement of my friends and vendors, and the requests of my customers. I have learned a lot through helpful friends and reading the forums. It is my belief that as an artist, you are always growing, always learning, and always improving. You can only get better!
Do you have any final words or advice for other digital artists?
Be prepared to put in long long hours if you intend to live from your work. Be prepared to learn all you can, and really improve your skills. You must always put in the work, to get the reward.
If you work from home, you should know that your "job" never leaves you and it is hard to turn your back on it and walk away and have a break. This is not a 9-5 with lunch time and smoke breaks. You probably won't clock out on time, and paid time off is out of the question. It can be hard to "leave your work at the office." My mind is always on creating - I see something out in the world and I get an idea and I want to work on it.
All that being said, in the end it IS rewarding. I would not want any other job... OK, being a marine biologist would be pretty darn cool, but that is not going to happen, and I really do love my "job." I am at home with the kids (who do not realize that mom is "working"), I work in my pajamas, I sit cross legged and get back aches, but this is what I WANT to do. Remember, it takes time, everything takes time, to build up your store, to earn the trust of customers, to build your skills, but it's not impossible.
I also appreciate the support of my loving, sweet, best friend & husband, Andrew. He also helps with our Candy Hair textures, if you are wondering “who is zzyzzx,” well that is my husband, and I intend to help him learn more things in the near future.
Be nice. My mom always said you catch more bees with honey or something? Well, I don't remember exactly how it goes, but stay away from the vinegar? Just be nice - it's always better to make friends than enemies.
I am very happy here at Renderosity, and I look forward to many more years at this site with the amazing people who staff it, the talented vendors who stock the store, my awesome friends who I would not know if not for Renderosity, AND all the fantastic artists/customers that fill the galleries with our work and make it look awesome.