Vendor of the Month - Sixus1
June 1, 2015 10:57 pm
The Vendor of the Month for June, 2015, is Sixus1 (Les Garner).
This stylish artist has been a member of Renderosity for almost 15 years. He has over 100 items for sale in his Renderosity store all of which are extremely well-crafted and quite striking. He works primarily with Poser, Zbrush and Maya and many of his themes are drawn from the Fantasy,Scifi and Horror genres. His characters are often in-your-face bold, however, his great sense of humor permeats everything he does.
I had a chance to speak with Sixus1 about his background and works. My thanks to Les for taking the time out of a busy schedule to answer questions.
Renderosity: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Sixus1?
Sixus1: Well, the name started out as just an online handle I used in the early days of the internet on BBS’s and the like, back in the DOS very early Mac days and came from a story I had written in high school. Over time, it became an identity of sorts that I was known as online, particularly in the pre-Rendo days of the old, old Poser Forum. Fast forward a couple of years from that, when Rebekah and I decided to talk all this tinkering I had done for years with Poser, combine with the professional work I had done in 3D and release original figures for Poser, Sixus1 was the obvious name for our business. Nowadays, it’s myself, Rebekah and now our son Killian works as part of our studio, though in the not too distant future he will probably be breaking out on his own at least in the content world.
Renderosity: How did you originally get started in this career choice? What made you decide to become a vendor?
Sixus1: Caveat here: this stuff goes waaaay back for me, so my memory is a little fuzzy on the timeframes, but somewhere back around when Poser 1 first came out, a friend and mentor of mine who was an freelance art director for some ad agencies let me start messing with it on his Mac. At the time, I was already using 3D Studio DOS, Ray Dream and Specular Infini-D at my day job with a sports collectibles company, designing products for them. I immediately had to get Poser for my system at home, and threw myself into the guts of the program as well as the couple of bulletin boards that existed way back then where some of us really old-timers traded the crazy stuff we made it do. That really took off with the next couple versions of the program. I had fallen in love with a lot of things about 3D, mostly inspired by Doom, Quake and the Star Wars re-releases (yeah, yeah... Han shot first... but dangit, we had Jabba in Episode IV!!!!!). I was hooked.
Far as the vendor thing, it really was a combination of things that pushed me into it, and maybe a little longer story than one might expect. From 96-98, roughly, I had been friend with some folks who started a website (novel thing in those days) called the Poser Forum, moderating some board for them here and there, making some really great online friends through that. I had been making and trading Poser content for almost as long as the program existed and that was a doable thing, but it had really been sort of a hobby that played well with all the other 3D stuff I was doing for agencies back then, mostly really bad commercials that would be hilarious to see by today’s standards, but it was something that supplemented and eventually replaced drawing comics and painting as my main income. All of that, though, ended up rolling into web and interactive media development around 2000, which sort of fell apart in the dot com bust from 2001-2002, leaving Rebekah and I with two very small children and not a whole lot of prospects. At that point, I turned my attention back to the online world of Poser to find that the site I had been involved with had become this thing called Renderosity and people were actually selling content, almost entirely as add ons for Daz figures. I saw, though, that there really wasn’t anyone to my knowledge making 100% original figures, which was kind of my forte in the years of tinkering with Poser. Rebekah and I agreed to sell some of the film/videography gear I had amassed to get enough money to float us for a few months while I tried this crazy idea I had to produce an original, stand alone figure and see if it would sell. Thus was born our first werewolf for Poser. It did amazingly well, even though by my quality standards today, I’d hate to even look back at it. Daz hadn’t yet gotten full bore into brokerage and approached us about bringing our original figures to them, which we did for a short while and I believe if we weren’t the first original figure producers brokered there, we were definitely among the earliest. In time, though, we came back to Rendo.
Renderosity: Fantasy and Horror seem to be a favorite theme in your work, do you read a lot in these genres or are you a fan of a particular series/film?
Sixus1: I have always been a HUGE horror nut. Fantasy as well, and sci fi, but even the fantasy and sci fi stuff I like best tend to have a sense of horror and the monstrous to them. We have an entire product line branded “Mythos” inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft and the whole Cthulhu mythology. I actually enjoy writing at least as much as making art, and most of my writing is very Lovecraftian. Growing up, comics were a big deal to me, and still are really, but I always gravitated toward the darker stuff. Sure, I read some superhero books, mostly Batman and X-Men, but it was comics like Swamp Thing, Heavy Metal, and art from guys like Frank Frazetta and Bernie Wrightson that made me say, “I HAVE to do THAT!”. 3D is really just an outgrowth of all that for me. And then there’s Star Wars. I can never stress enough the impact of Star Wars on me. Rebekah and I had our first date at the premiere of The Phantom Menace. Where I work, I’m surrounded by Star Wars move posters and toys. From the story, to the art direction, and then all those amazing creature designs, it probably influenced me more than anything else, even though I still tend to end up doing horror. As far as reading goes, there’s Lovecraft, obviously, Clive Barker, Brian Lumley, older Ann Rice, and of course the horror classics like Mary Shelley. I’m a big movie nut, too, especially for classic monsters. In a perfect world, one day I’ll be making horror movies, games and comics, maybe along the lines of Hellboy but a little darker. Really, though, my tastes are less about genre and more about tone: sci fi, fantasy, steampunk, dieselpunk, gothic, horror, even superhero or historical fiction... as long as it has that whole good vs. evil, fight for your life kind of tone to it and some good art direction, I’ll probably be into it.
Renderosity:: Demonia is one of my favorite of your pieces? How did it come about? What was your work like on this piece?
Sixus1: That’s a funny one, actually. Totally left field, though it doesn’t look it. Outside of art, I’ve been a guitar player most of my life, and was in a pretty nifty, female fronted metal band for a little over a year. I was almost finished producing our first album, and the singer/main songwriter had this concept for a character from a song of hers that she thought would work well for album art. So, I modeled up a version of it over what Scarlet was at the time (it was a couple years and a few iterations of her ago), and built it into a model I could animate for a video as well as use as reference for some paintings that would go into album art and promotions. Actually, I thought I had the two paintings done for that uploaded at Rendo, but it appears not... (here are links to them on our company site; feel free to snag copies of them for this if you like.. would be cool to see them next to the “Pillar of Light” piece I did for Demonia... http://www.sixus1.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Prodosia_Web.jpg and http://www.sixus1.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Ecclesia_Web.jpg) Eventually, though, as is the way with bands, things didn’t work out and pretty much all of that was scrapped except the artwork I did. I took the 3d work that had been done to use as painting reference up to that point, changed it, refined it and polished it more into something I thought would make a good companion piece to Angelic, as well as something that could play well in one of my comic book projects, thus Demonia was born.
Renderosity: Who are the artists that inspire you?
Sixus1: Hmm... above all others, it’s a tie between Frank Frazetta, Alphonse Mucha and Jack Kirby. To one degree or another, literally everything I do lives in the house those guys built. All the other artists I really admire are sort of the sons of those guys, too. John Buscema, Bernie Wrightson, Frank Miller, Neal Adams, George Perez... tons and tons of comic book artists... Todd McFarlane is a major, major influence, as is Joe Quesada. I’m also incredibly inspired by certain filmmakers: George Lucas, Robert Rodriquez, Zakk Snyder, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa.. old Hammer films... it’s kind of crazy the amount of stuff I have taken in just being a fan of all this fantastic, imaginative work.
Renderosity: What is currently in your digital toolset, and what could you not do without?
Sixus1: Obviously, Poser, but that’s really and end destination. Most of the work that I do leading up to that is in ZBrush and Maya. There are other little utilities along way, but those are really my bread and butter, especially ZBrush. The work that we do as a studio outside of Poser on things like the augmented reality app in the Anomaly graphic novels and other game engine or effects work is also pretty much all Zbrush and Maya. Outside of 3D, I have a mild addiction to Adobe After Effects for compositing and effects in video. I also am constantly producing 2d sketches, designs, paintings and comic book pages, primarily using Manga Studio. My Wacom tablets are absolute must have’s, and I recently, finally, after wanting one for so long now, added a Cintiq which was possibly the most life changing event for me as a traditional artist gone digital I could imagine. I don’t actually use the Cintiq for 3D at all as it just feels weird for that, but it is almost always on with a painting, my digital sketchbook or a comic book page there to be worked on while I wait for Poser or Maya to render something.
Renderosity: What might we find you doing when not at work?
Sixus1: Not at work? That’s a neat idea. I’ll have to try it sometime. Seriously, though, I spend probably 12-14 hrs a day at work most days. One of the real blessings about what I get to do for a living is that, being someone who is just constantly in creative mode, I have an endless outlet for that. Granted, there are parts of “the job” that are cumbersome and irritating, but it’s worth slogging through that stuff to be able to make all the crazy stuff I get to make. I do try to take an hour or two here and there to workout and keep my guitar chops in shape, and I have a strict no work on Sundays policy. Sunday is for family, church and maybe a little me time writing music.
Renderosity: What would you offer as best advice for those looking to get started in content creation?
Sixus1: Be disciplined. No matter your skill level, no matter your goals. Set attainable goals on a timetable and meet them. Daily. Do not let a day go by that you do not accomplish something, always knocking at least one goal off your list. Whether that’s studying anatomy for an hour, learning a new aspect of a program, finishing up a model or texture... have at least one attainable goal a day and meet it, whether it takes you two hours or twenty. Never be satisfied, and never punch a clock: work until the work is as good as you can make it and don’t stop until either it or you are done. Oh, and learn to have skin about as thick as the metal plating on a Sherman tank because no matter how good you are, you will need it. There will always be someone who gets their kicks ripping on your work, no matter what, so just get used to that up front. I mean, obviously you want to listen to legitimate criticism and learn from it, but that thick skin is what will let you keep your head up when people get nasty. In the end, even though it’s content you’re making for others to use in their art, it’s also your art as well and you have to love it and live with it before anyone else even sees it, then when you put it out there, there’s a vulnerability you have to be prepared to handle. Odds are, though, if you put your heart and soul into it, that will shine through and you’ll connect with people who appreciate it which is something beyond just making a profit from your work that I find really satisfying.
Renderosity: And, finally, how has being a member of Renderosity impacted your life and career?
Sixus1: Well... Renderosity has been part of my life since before it was even called Renderosity which just feels kind of strange, really. Looking back, it’s sort of been a place that grew along side my own early career, then at times through the years, I would sort of come back home to it, then venture off again to wherever things lead. Since coming back to focus on bringing Sixus1 products to the Renderosity marketplace a couple years ago, though, I’d have to say it’s become more of a partnership of sorts than ever before and I like that. Where folks like Jenn and Stacey have their heads at on things is right in the direction I had been looking for for Sixus1 for a long time, and with our return, things just seem to really click. As vendors, we’ve been pretty much everywhere there is to be in this business, and being at Rendo with it’s current management and direction has proven to be the most successful and rewarding position we’ve ever found ourselves in with this line of work. On a personal level, it’s just weird, but cool. Rendo has been part of my life for so long, it’s just sort of odd, but in a good way, like having a home that follows you around.
Make sure you stop in and visit Sixus1's Store, Gallery and Website:
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