It really is amazing what one can learn about fellow artists, if only it is thought to ask. That is definitely the case here, as I had the great opportunity to talk with one of Renderosity's talented Vendors, arcebus.
Full of humor and a dangerous looking fellow, as he himself is first to declare, he is a man of many talents. I was delighted to be able to get a look into what he does, and hear his views on what it takes to be a succesful vendor, and artist.
Who is "arcebus", and how did you come by that username?
"Arcebus" is just the translation of my family name into latin. I love dead languages, and I like the seriously sick ones, too. But I'm not an old roman. During my professional life I used to change my artist names depending on the kind of work I did - and sometimes even from one customer to another. Just like the ancient japanese painters. But also - I am not japanese.
Having talked about what I am not, maybe that's the point I could start to answer your question...
I was born a pretty long time ago, and was raised by two extraordinary good people - Mum and Dad - of whom the first was a tailor, the latter an old-fashioned craftsman (painting decoratives and lettering, doing stucco work), and both were working hard to raise me and my late sister. After finishing school (ok - they told me to leave...at once), I absolved an apprenticeship as a clerk in a leathergoods industry. That was boring, and it was the right time, so I became part of the pagan folk scene in continental Europe. For a couple of months, I actually was the continental european pagan folk scene.
Don't know how nor why, but I finished my apprenticeship with success. I started to study arts and design, with the goals set on photography and sculpture. At the same time, I started to work freelance in advertisement, mainly in the fashion industry - hey, I was young, and I needed the money!
At the age of 28, I launched an advertisement agency, which a decade later employed 35 staff and more than 20 freelancers. My marriage broke up, I lost everything I owned. So I intensified some contacts I already had - to publishers in the USA and GB, and worked free-lance, again, as a photographer. Besides this, I had several regular contracts as an academical teacher - sculpture and art-theory. In summer 2006 I started to look for something new.
And guess what - I found something new.
First, I have to say I absolutely love the Avril Lavigne sculpture you have pictured on your website. As a (new) sculptor myself, I'd love to know a bit about that process and how long that particular sculpture took to complete.
The Avril sculpture was mainly made from aluminium, a water-based modelling clay and plaster-of-paris. Bending and binding the aluminium mainframe, the skeleton, takes about two hours. Modelling the detailed parts - face and hands, in this case, as well as the boots - takes some 6 to 8 hours. Building up the torso and the limbs with pop (plaster-of-paris) is another five hours, including the mounting of the detailled parts. I am using dental pop, that dries up to a very, VERY hard consistency - it can even be polished.
Plaster can be "adjusted" concerning the hardening process, from 3 minutes to some 10 hours by adding genuine bone-glue. So the inner layers are pure pop without any additives, applied to fabrik strips for stability, hardening in 3 minutes, while the outer ones, where details are modelled, are a mixture that needs some 3 hours for hardening.
The time I spend actually working on such a sculpture has a lot of breaks in between - for drying, mainly, not so much for thinking. This increases the time needed to finish it in raw (whithout the painting, the laquer layers and the gold applications) to 10 or 11 eleven days.
Then the whole thing had to dry for a month, and within two more days the finishing was done.
How long have you been sculpting, and what kind of materials have you used? What do you like best to work with?
Well, decorative sculpting I've been into since the age of 16 - that was stucco work, when I also learned to work with leaf-gold. My first human sculpts were made during the academy. I worked with clay, plaster-of-paris, polyester, silicon, wood and marble. I like the workflow best that I used the last years - aluminium rigs, pop and modelling clay to build the sculpture up, laquers and leaf-metals for the finish.
What has been the most satisfying for you in regards to artistic medium: photography, sculpture, or 3D art? Do you still venture into photography or sculpture?
During the last 20 or so months, I didn't touch modelling clay, wood or marble. If I used a camera, it was for texture reasons. That doesn't mean that I will never ever be doing photos or sculptures again, but...3D art brings all my skills together - as my mother says "without all the dirt...".
Of course, the circumstances aren't the reason why I became addicted to 3D artwork. As a matter of fact, 3D art with nowadays tools is a shortcircuit between brain and result. This is an effect that doesn't come within the first months. But with growing skills (and, in fact, a growing hardware base) one gets the virtuosity that is needed to experience this "shortcircuit" feeling - and, man, THAT'S a feeling.
Since I was a child, I tried to reach visual perfection. I started drawing before I was able to walk orderly (no joke...). When I was 12, a teacher of mine told my father that "this boy must be sent to an academy as soon as possible". I washed bottles for months in every free minute at 13 to buy my first SLR, because drawings weren't "perfect" enough for me, and I switched to sculptures because they gave me the depth in view photography couldn't provide.
Then, in September 2006 I stumbled over Poser5 while looking for an application that would be helpful illustrating a storyboard. Even if I finally made my illustrations manually, I got kind of addicted to Poser. I started sniffing around, got some experiences with C4D, which I found too expensive for my intentions, got Vue, which I use now and then for fun or testing reasons. I found - and still find - Poser a ridiculously easy-to-use application which produces astounding results for almost no money. I mean - I had never worked with any 3D programs before, so that thing came handy.
It sounds like big words, but Poser opened up a whole new world for me. And the abilty to produce components that others can use to make their own visualisations of their own ideas, even to inspire them by creating such tools, is in fact the most satisfying work I have ever done.
On to software, what programs do you have in your toolkit?
|Thanks For The Warm Welcome.
At this time, I am working with Poser7Pro, have Poser7 still installed on my main workstation, and Poser6 on an older machine with nothing else in the runtime other than just V4.2 for testing. My modelling mainly is done in Hexagon 2.5. One of the most important tools is an older (free) version of the Komodo text editor. For texturing and postwork (which I keep as minimal as possible, not by religous reasons like so many other people, but to deliver a result in my promos that can be repeated by others without climbing mountains), I use Corel PhotoPaint X3. I've been with Corel since their very beginning, so I stick with them.
Also very important, is Steve Cox' UVMapperPro, because it offers some dirty tricks for grouping. For some time I also used some of PhilC's tools, as well as some from Netherworks. But these little helpers, even though very, very useful in the beginning, also can limit the technical and design possibilities. These tools are a great help while learning, but the more skilled one becomes, the more manual editing is required. It just leads faster to better results.
I also spent a lot of money for new hardware lately, after eFrontier announced network rendering. Their network rendering is somewhat different from what I expected, but at least the renderqueue turned out to be very, very helpful. I am now able to send jobs to the network and let my new machines do their work overnight - while I can sleep. Sound funny? It isn't, because during my "hot" learning times there were weeks with 15 hours sleeping time overall.
The network is running under Windows XP64, by the way.
Having worked in so many artistic areas, what can you tell us about what you have learned? Moreover, what best advice could you give in any particular area?
|Lazy, Rainy Monday Afternoon
Guess, whatever I'll say now will be used against me...
What I have learned is, to follow my own directions, no matter what it costs. It is for sure not the easiest way to go - times are changing, peoples minds are changing, the "taste" of the people is changing - whatever you do as an artist can as well be "wrong" as "right" to the public opinion. To be an artist can be a pretty lonesome business, because you will have to wait for people to gather around you. Because - if you "join" a group, an audience, a "school", a "fashion" or even other people's (including customers) opinions, you are no longer an artist, you are everybody's fool.
And as soon as the group that gathered around you is big enough - change your ways. Because you will begin to follow others' opinions, you will try to fulfill the expectations that others set in you. If you don't break up here, you are lost - you will begin to copy yourself, and this is not the beginning of the end, it is the end of the end.
There are so many examples of highly talented artists in every imaginable branch out there to explain what I mean. I will not mention names here - but there were photographers who started an entirely new way to view things, people, landscapes; there were painters that revolutionized their art after WW2, even one or two real good sculptors, architects, musicians - whatever it may be.
They started something new. They were successful. They copied themselves. They were history.
Also, there is an ever-growing amount of restrictions art is put under since the late 70's/early 80's. Half of my brain understands and accepts those restrictions, even if they seem to be against all social reality. The other half knows that art should be absolutely free, with no restrictions whatsoever. That's a thing that comes and goes through all of mankind's history - my generation has to deal with the fact that we were there when there weren't restrictions.
So, as far as I can imagine, the only advice to others can be: find your way, learn how to put your boots on, and then go. For good or for bad.
As a Vendor here on Renderosity, how has your experience been? Are there any tips you would give to members looking to start selling?
If you want to make a living from this market: keep in mind that this takes both time and resources. With resources I don't mean merchant resources, but technical equipment, software and skills. When I decided to try to make a living from this, the first thing I did was count my money and make a plan - on how long I could give it a try without being able to cover my expenses from the income generated here, and still be able to pay for health insurance, retirement plans, housing, some food now and then, and my two faeries (Duchess Nicotine and Princess Caffeine).
Both with the crew and the customers in here, my experiences were entirely positive. My first team contact in here was Clint Hawkins who helped my to make my "Rocksta'" character marketable - which wasn't the easiest procedure, me being such a newbie. Clint and his wife Lillian are now running Gothicblend.net, and I take some pride from helping them at least by sponsoring their art-contests.
Important for my work also, was Robert "Xenophonz" who tested a lot of my products and was very helpful. Jenifer and Jason are keeping the thing going in a fantastic way, and my new tester, KarenJ, also rocks. Debbie Montique simply is a pearl in a perfect mounting. All those people helped me lots and lots, and I wouldn't be where I am now, without those great guys. Sometimes I wonder if the owners know at all, what a perfect crew they have got here. I have worked with several teams where people were pulling the same rope - but at Renderosity, in addition they are all pulling at the same end and in the same direction.
At this point, I am having some 750 or so customers, many of them returning buyers, and 160 of them already own 3 or more of my products. Knowing that I am rather in a niché, it really makes me proud to be able to provide those people with stuff they like, and like enough to return and purchase new products. Some already made requests on special products, and I am just beginning to put the first couple of those requests to the market. Yes, and I admit that I didn't fulfill the most popular requests, but the ones that interested me most. Sorry...
If somebody seriously thinks about making some - or even "the" income from this market - (s)he should be prepared to go through a long, dark, rocky, rainy, frightening alley. There are already some three or four charactersets for Vicky 4 available, and I think as long as you don't have a really, really unique character, you should better start with some other stuff. Keep in mind that people are giving you their money for your product - so produce a value for them. Don't be cheap, set fair prices. Don't steal - especially not from me, or I will ...
And then - remember that it also needs a lucky hand.
Think about brokering with ONE company - being exclusive in one store helps the entire store (because that store becomes more and more exclusive). A strong store strengthens the vendors. So - if you are just mediocre or even bad, sell at xx and/or xxx, if you are really good, sell exclusively at Renderosity.
I see that you offer plenty of Free Stuff, both on Renderosity and on your personal website. How do you decide what you will offer for free? Does it depend on what it is, and does it help to support your MarketPlace products?
Most of the items that I give away for free were originally made because I needed them for a special image, or because I tried a special technique on them. They are either not "big" enough to be sold - like that squirtgun thing - or are given too little options - like the "Bronze" facade from Joss Whedon's Slayerverse that I needed for one image. It offers just the front of the building, which I think is not enough for a product, but it would have been a pity not to publish it. So it became a freebie.
A supporting function for my MP products - well, actually the stats say, there is some, especially because I promote my freebies on other sites, too, and I'm offering my newsletter opt-in, which people seem to like - it gives them an advantage of between one and three weeks when a new freebie is published. And even if that wouldn't be the case, I think it's a way to say "thanx" to my customers in a way useful to them.
In all honesty, what do you think it takes for a vendor to be able to make a decent living by creating digital content here on Renderosity?
I think, about the same things you need for every business - inspiration, patience, discipline and a good portion of luck. In addition, it will turn out to be helpful if one has got some financial resources or a very low level of regular expenses - it takes a while until the income is good enough to make a living from it (I'm far away from this point at this time). The weak US Dollar is an additional, serious problem for everyone who does not live in the States...like me.
The neccessary technical equipment is underestimated far too often. One cannot work on one computer, no matter how fast that thing is. A reliable redundancy is essential, and with P7P, the development process became much, much faster just by putting renders to the farm and being able to continue the work while the test renders are made elsewhere.
So, this is about independance - from cashflow for the first months (or years...) and from technical problems - if your big-boy-machine has decided to die.
There's another thing I think one must become independant from, and that's the market. Just speaking for myself now: a lot of people waste their talents and efforts on trying to "make stuff for the market". Creating products that come from the heart turns this method upside down: good products create their own markets. This is valid in general, not just here at Renderosity, or specifically 3D.
So - do what you do best and use it to create what you would like to buy yourself.
I always love seeing folks collaborating online. I noticed in your store that you have a few products from both you and "Propschick". Is this something that you may do more of in the future?
Counting all the money I make here... No - not really ...yet! What I enjoy most during this time of the year is to hate garden-work. And I have plenty to hate...
Working with Jackie "Propschick" was fun - unfortunately, the products we chose weren't very successful. The cooperation with others takes additional efforts, of course - the workflow must be managed, and there needs to be communication (the latter of which can be difficult, because somebody decided to make our planet a sphere, even though a disc would be easier to be managed when it comes to time-zones. It also would be more easy to get rid of some people, just push them over the edge...).
I don't know - collaborations have both advantages and disadvantages. With Jackie I was lucky, but one could also stumble over a less honest artist. So - it might happen, but I'm not going to force it.
Where do you get your inspiration, whether for your MarketPlace products, or other works?
Haven't you got it any smaller? Now, that's a complicated question.
Inspiration can come from so many things, people, situations. A neighbors daughter helping my mother with housekeeping became my "Alyson". A movie inspired me to make "JessInvisible". My old DocMartens Boots were the inspirative kick (and texture delivery base) for "TroublemakerBoots". The best female singer/songwriter was the trigger to get started at all with "Rocksta'. A very close and fulfilling friendship was the inspiration for "Lady2Be", and my nasty, rotten mind inspired me to make the "Rubberpet" series, in addition to a customer's request.
Concerning other works - well, money can inspire me a lot... No, I am very much in concept art. I have some of those little notebooks, Moleskine by name (you can have them in all colours, as long as it's black...) and whenever I see/hear/read/think something I might use some day, I write it down. Then, work is best on Sunday mornings, during my VERY early breakfast. I watch the sunrise, sit there with gallons of coffee, and read what I wrote during the last week. I transfer some of the notes to another one of those notebooks.
In such relaxed, almost timeless situations, I get what I call my "flow". Images are just coming up - some of them I like right away, some are kept in mind and worked at later (or never).
If the procedure of "being creative" could really be wrapped up in words, I would write a book about it, sell it at 25 bucks per copy and become rich, happy and famous within days.
If you could divulge such information, what are you working on now?
My next project is a NVIATWAS - a nude Vicky in a temple with a sword... no, not really...
Seriously: I am having a couple of charactersets for V4 stirring at this time, that have the 4 most important women in my life (besides my mother) as base. They are themed in a special way (which I won't talk about in public). They will go live in late summer.
I am working on some scenes and props, too. And I am working at my first standalone character - which will be a bit surprising, because there is already a nice publishing contract for calendars and postcards using renders made with this character. Sound mysterious? Makes curious? Good! With this character I am already busy with the rigging, but I need some more weeks for the tuning.
Of course, there will be more Poser stuff. First of all, two teen characters for V4 and some clothes for them. And I will finish the Rubberpets series with two more packs - even more tasteless than the ones that are already out...
When you are not creating, what do you enjoy doing?
|The 37 Bus
I am part of a group of totally insane "ripe adults" who gather up once a month for a "long Buffy night" - watching an entire season of the vampire-slayer in one session. YES - that's some 20 hours, isn't that just wonderful?
Then there's some clubbing, not as often as in those years long gone by. Most times I would like another dance, but I fear to have a stroke.
Music of course - listening, not making...
And if there's still some time left, I try to look as dangerous as possible.
Any final words or advice to fellow Renderosity artists/vendors?
Take care, and always suffer with a grin!
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