August 2014 Vendor of the Month - DreamlandModels
August 2, 2014 12:42 am
Congratulations to DreamlandModels for being Renderosity's Vendor of the Month for August!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you've been up to.
My name is Tom Mitchell. I live about a mile from Lake Michigan, in the state of Michigan, USA.
I became interested in art when I was a kid in grade school. In middle school I took a drafting class, and in those days it was on paper. I found myself excelling in class. However, I never did do very well at school in general, as my mind was always wandering. I really wanted my parents to be proud of me, but I was lucky to get C and D marks in most of my classes.
Later, at age 40, I was watching a TV show that was talking about a relatively new syndrome called Attention Deficit Disorder. They named off about forty symptoms and I could relate to about thirty of them, so I got tested for it. At age forty I found out why I could never do well in school. It was a relief really, because I then knew that I was not stupid, I just had a chemical imbalance in my brain.
I purchased a computer in 1993 and started to get involved with a program called 3D Studio Max. From then on, I was done with paper and eraser crumbs. I found my true love, 3D modeling! It was my new hobby. I spent the next 10 years working as a master cabinetmaker and carpenter by day, and honing my skills in my spare time.
Around 2006 or 2007, I was making some products and using them for my own purposes, when my son told me to try selling some of them. In his words, "Dad, just do it!" So, I contacted the people at a site in France and started to make simple products for sale there, like a mailbox with a working door and flag, which I thought was just the coolest. I also started to sell at a couple other sites as well, but the work was starting to become a real chore, with all the different image sizes and requirements for each site.
In 2008, when construction started to dry up here in the U.S., and with the prodding of my son, I decided to give up construction and go full time as a commercial artist. Also at that time, I contacted the people at Renderosity and talked to the woman who was in charge of the vendors, who in a nutshell, convinced me to go exclusive at Renderosity. She saw something in me that I did not see myself, but I said yes, and as they say the rest is history. I have not looked back since.
What direction is Dreamland Models going these days?
Several months ago, I was thinking it would be nice to team up with another vendor and have poses in my products. And, as many of you may know, I started a partnership about two months ago with another Top Seller here at Rendeosity, Ilona Vozari. She lives in Brazil. She is an absolute nut case, so we hit it off very well from day one! Ilona is a very talented artist who makes excellent, very life-like poses, with a lot of class, and extreme attention to detail! But, what is the best part about working with her is, she makes me laugh all the time. Truly an adorable person. Ilona is one, who no matter what, plays fair and would never hurt anyone.
I'm glad to have her as a friend. Even getting lessons in Portuguese. So far, all I can say is "Calla Boa-ca," which means shut your mouth. :-) I really feel that teaming up with her has been a huge success! I don't think I would have been VOM without her.
Could you list any current favorites among the products you've created and tell us a bit about their creation?
I would have to say my favorite product ever has been Movie Sets, Country Home. It started a couple years ago when I was working with Bagginsbill, and it was going to just be a living room with a patio. As life goes, Ted was busy with his day work and we decided to stop working on products together. Ted taught me a ton about Poser, and especially about the material room. He is, and always will be, the man! Ted, thanks more than I can express!
After we stopped working together, I shelved the room to get back to city blocks. Then, I met Ilona and we wanted to do an entire line of furniture. I had a dining room table built with all the goodies, but we knew it didn't work having it in the living room. So, I said I would just add another room off the living room to make into a dining room. Before I knew it, I built a 4,500 square foot house with a sky dome and a swimming pool that ended up becoming Movie Sets, Country Home.
It is just that easy folks! Actually, all said and done, we had about two months of long, hard hours into that product, 7 days a week. It was my biggest project to date.
What software is currently in your digital tool set and why?
-3D Studio Max 2014, as I am waiting for the bugs to come out of 2015 first before using it in production. I use it to model, texture and map my products.
-Paint Shop Pro for image manipulation.
-Poser 2014 for the rest.
-I also use Phil C's PZ3 Editor for checking and making hide show poses. Thanks Phil for a great piece of software!
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Getting out of bed before noon, because talking with Ilona for a couple minutes can turn into 4 hours. Before I know it, the time can be 4:00 A.M. Phone calls or texts are my biggest challenge, really, because of my A.D.D. If someone calls me and I am dead in the middle of working, it takes a while to get back in the zone.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process, and are there any work-flow tips you might wish to provide?
My creative process is probably like most in that I start with a box, and modify it until it is a city block product. Really. When I am out of the house and see a detail on a house or building, I take the time to stop and take a picture or two, so I can use it later in one of my designs. Put it on my desktop as a reference. An overall mental image of all my city blocks is present when I am working and it never leaves me.
Also, my 40 years of construction skills comes in very handy because I build my buildings and homes the exact same way I did in real life. Not board-by-board, but by proportions and textures more than anything. It really makes me crazy when I see a product for Poser released and the casing on a doorway has the wood grain running the wrong direction. Let alone that the same texture is applied to a whole wall, and it is the wrong scale!
Do you have any advice for aspiring Digital Content Developers?
For those new vendors out there that think they will never make it in this business, don't think that way. Just remember that all the Top Sellers here started out just like you - last place. When I first started here 6 years ago, it was several months before I made enough income to be qualified to have a paycheck generated. Work long, hard hours and never release a product into the market place that you are not totally happy with. Ever! At first you may have the desire to give up, but remember that all the top sellers started out like you. Never try to force an idea. If it does not work, trash it and start again, because reworking a piece of crap just gives you a reworked piece of crap.
Also, always remember that the customers you have are smart and can see if you are cutting corners and trying to push out a product just for the sake of pushing out a product. Always give your work attention to the very small details. For example, a door without a doorknob is less polygons, but way less realistic and satisfying.
I also keep a note pad on my desk to keep a punch list of things to finish on the project. A very good way to keep you on track, instead of sitting there wondering what shall I do next?
When a customer sends you a site mail, remember they want to get things resolved ASAP. So answer ASAP. Be patient with them and remember to be kind. Otherwise you can say goodbye to that customer. :-)
What do you enjoy doing when you're not hard at work creating great content?
Do you have any final words for the Renderosity community?
Of course! I want to say thanks to all of you who have been loyal customers over the years, but also to those who are new to my store. Without you I would be in a soup line. :-)
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You deserve it big time Tom.. I know how you work.. I´ve seen you working, your dedication.. your lack of "stop" button that always makes your products top of the top. The quality of your work is second to none and working with you has been not only fun ( and I mean FUN, you're nuts like me!) but a learning curve. Now on the human part, you are a wonderful man , honest, patient to the bone to put up with me ...one of a kind, and one I am so proud to call my dear friend! MUUUUUUUUUUUUACKS... yours truly, the adorable one! hehehehe
Thanks to all of you for such encouraging words. Really means a lot coming from the Pros like Godlin, Studio Art Van, and Powerage! Have to say I especially love what you said Ilona. Working with you is always a treat, even when you are driving me nuts! :-) You are one of the most kind people I have met and I am amazed how you can work with 10 pets all around you while you work and still take the time to care for both of your parents, and then on top of that, put up with me. :-) I count you as a really good friend even thought I have only known you for a couple months. Looking forward to what the future holds. You really are a Peach. :-) So now, is everyone sick to their stomach yet? All this sugar is making me dizzy! Tom
Hello Tom!!!! I loved reading your interview, such honesty and strong hardworking will, should be rewarded! And what better way by being VOM. I am very happy for you! By the way I fell exactly like you when I see architecture models with wrong scale and bad textures, specially the scale, ahahaha! Anyway congrats! I admire the amount of of work you put on your models, it always surprises me.