Renderosity is waxing nostalgically as it nears its eighth birthday. Comparable to dog years, the magical number eight is a milestone for online art communities. To start the celebration, Renderosity will be searching out and interrogating, [no, no, that should read, interviewing] memorable members of the community, in our new series: Where Are They Now?
The perfect member to begin this series is one of Renderosity's most beloved past Administrators—Asher Dudley [MonkeyLek]. Asher was the original multitask-masters and an indispensable member of both the SongRamp and Renderosity communities. Among his duties, this Superman Admin was an art director, artist, writer, editor, moderator, and diplomat ... best known for his mild-mannered Clark Kent disposition.
Come join me [in the phone booth] as we find out what Asher has been up to since leaving the rigors of Renderosity's Admin life to follow his dreams of becoming a professional CG artist/animator!
Asher, for those who may not have been around when you were a part of the Renderosity Admin Team, please give our readers a brief description of your Renderosity responsibilities.
I was responsible for the Front Page content as well as the weekly newsletter and moderating the forums.
It is impressive that you were on the ground floor of the creation of SongRamp's (Renderosity’s music sister site) since its conception in 2001. How did you first become involved with both SpongRamp and Renderosity's parent company, Bondware?
My stepfather initially introduced me to Tim Choate [founder of Bondware Inc.]. Over coffee Tim and I discussed his vision for SongRamp. He brought me on to assist in the office and to help realize that vision. Eventually I moved over to working with Renderosity as well.
You have been missed greatly since you departed Nashville for the sunny coast of Florida, eventually landing in la-la land. What have you been up to since you left?
I moved to Florida to study Computer Animation at Full Sail. I wanted to dive straight into an intensive training course, with the intention of moving here to Los Angeles when I was finished. While I wish the program I pursued offered more depth, I was introduced to many facets of the CG pipeline and met some good allies (a couple of whom are now in LA as well). I came to California last summer.
Home Sweet Home © Asher Dudley
How did you land your job on G4TV, and what was your official job title?
I had been out here in LA for a few months and looking everyday on various CG-oriented job sites, when I came across the listing (I believe it was either on Mandy.com or Entertainmentcareers.net). Even though the job description left me somewhat befuddled (I had never heard of "DekoCast" and "Deko 3000" before), I applied and got a call for an interview a couple of weeks later. Soon thereafter I was hired. I had a good interview, and I think they appreciated my varied background in different software and interests.
My official job title was, "On-Air Graphics Operator/Artist." I basically created, with a couple of other people, the promotional pop-ups and countdown timers that come up on screen. I also was tasked with running the info ticker for Attack of the Show, and the interactive on-air programs such as Star Trek 2.0 and X-Play 2.0.
During your stint with G4TV, who was the most influential person you had the privilege to rub shoulders with?
Well, I did often chat with Adam Sessler, the host of X-Play , but we just talked about video games. Honestly, at the risk of sounding overly sentimental, it was my privilege to work next to the myriad young men and women who toiled every day in Master Control: the graphics department, engineering, and the production departments to produce our television shows. Most of G4s original shows don’t run credits at the end, so they were truly the unsung heroes. It was above all, a fun and educational experience because of them.
With degrees in both Music and Computer Animation, which is your first love: music or computer graphics?
You know this is an impossible question, right? [laughter]
Yes, I know, but give it a try anyway.
I view them both as opportunities to express different sides of myself and my worldview in different ways. My dream has long been to join the two together into one mega-uberproject—but my ambition probably will outstrip my ability for a little while longer yet. That said, I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil, so the visual arts are probably a little nearer to my heart.
On the music side ... do you prefer to create your music via the computer, or do you enjoy the traditional route of non-virtual instruments (guitar, piano, etc.)?
I would like to become more adept at software-based recording and sequencing, but so far I’ve only played "organic" instruments, and recorded on portable HDD- and tape-based machines and in studios. I really prefer just being able to pick up my acoustic instruments and pluck away.
Turning back to art ... what is your preferred animation software?
For 3D, definitely Maya—although I haven’t really tried 3DS Max. I subscribe to 3D World Magazine, which comes with great software demos and freeware, but nothing comes close to Maya, in my opinion.
Not only are you an accomplished musician and animator, but your 2D and 3D artwork is outstanding. I especially like your "old-school" style of pen and ink character drawings. Have you ever thought of creating a graphic novel?
That was an old dream of mine, a possible career path I considered in high school, and definitely something I want to return to some day. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of money to be made there for most people, and I want to make a living doing this. These days I would probably be more inclined to create a sort of 3D graphic novel, combining comics-style sequential storytelling with simple animation and a musical accompaniment. My "mega-uberproject." Now if I could just find the time.
Russelbert Wardrobe © Asher Dudley
Excluding art and music ... what, or who, inspires your work?
My family has always been a big influence simply by virtue of being supportive. I’ve worn many hats over the years, and explored many avenues, and they’ve always stood by me. Maybe slowly shaking their heads in disbelief, but still standing by me.
I have to mention one of my oldest friends as well, Giles O’Dell. I’ve known him since we were both in the second grade, and we grew up exploring our creative sides together, through drawing, animation, and music. His work ethic, morality, and sheer talent always give me something to aspire to. I highly recommend checking out his website, zoonbats.
Lastly, I find a lot of inspiration in nature, in the patterns and chaos and diversity of expression. Animals, plants, the planets, the microscopic all amaze me. Whether aesthetically or emotionally, it’s a boundless wellspring of creative juice and fuel for the fire within.
That's a great philosophy. Keeping to the same vein of questioning ... do you have a favorite CG artist?
My mouth is constantly agape when I browse Renderosity and CGTalk; the talent on display from around the world is truly amazing. However, I must say I’m most influenced, even for 3D work, by artists such as Chuck Jones, George Herriman, Maxwell Parrish, Moebius, and Hayao Miyazaki.
I couldn't agree with you more about your favorite artists, all excellent choices. What about music? Who inspires your musically?
I would have to say that consistently over the years it has been Muddy Waters, The The, and Ali Farka Toure. Lately however I’ve been listening to a lot of 1960’s Cambodian rock music. It’s raw, raucous, alien yet familiar.
What words of encouragement can you give our readers when it comes to making money from their artistic talent?
There is more need now, than ever before, for asset artists in all kinds of 3D fields, from video games, to film and TV, to simulations. And the wealth of knowledge out there, on sites such as Renderosity as well as from in-depth books and online courses, is there for the taking.
Renderosity is actually a great place to test the waters by creating model and texture sets. Then, put them up for sale in the Marketplace and gauge the response from the community.
I moved to LA since it’s one of the prime locations for all kinds of 3D work, but a good amount of work is done remotely by freelancers as well. There is more competition but more opportunity than ever before. So, talk to everyone you can, soak up all the knowledge and technique as possible, continually hone your craft, and develop an original voice. However, I know there are people on this very site [Renderosity] that are better qualified than I to answer that question. I’m still at the beginning of a long, long road. [more laughter]
Moonlight Fisticuffs © Asher Dudley
Asher, I know I speak for the community, as well as for all the Admins past and present, that you have no idea how much you've been missed. Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down and play catch-up. Just one last question, what plans do you have for the near future?
I’m investing more time into updating my website, and adding more content to my demo reel and portfolio. My friends and I are discussing a short 3D project to work on.
I’m trying to cook better for myself. And I’m watching my neighbor's one-year-old child take her first steps. She may be a little wobbly, but she’s determined, curious, and happy to learn—as apt a metaphor as any for my current state of being.
Thank you to everyone at Renderosity for the opportunity to share a little bit of my world. I hope for the continued success of the site and best wishes for everyone behind the scenes and in the community!
We invite you to visit:
Asher's Personal Web Site
Asher's Demo Reel
Giles O'Dell's Web Site
All supporting images are copyright, and cannot be
copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the artist.
Get to know industry leaders and professionals
As they sit down and talk candidly with
Contributing Columnist Dee-Marie