What is Crypto Art?

So you heard about Beeple making 3.5million in a weekend with it?


Crypto art is an umbrella term for a system used to verify ownership of a digital piece of art. Image, video or gif.

The basic concept is: if you have extra money, you can now buy digital art ownership and brag to your friend that you are the owner. You can also re-sell it. with the bonus that the original artist gets a % of the sale if the art work rises in price when you sell.
There are 2 basic people who buy crypto art.

  • collectors/patrons. Who want to support the artist. Hang a plasma on the wall which shows off what art they own. Think digital picture frame. Friends come over, the owner can brag that they just bought this for $5.5k. Same as with physical art. Obviously no one is stopping you from just playing the images and telling your friends you own them. I’m sure they will. But it’s possible to log on to the websites that deal in crypto art and check who the owner is and how much it costs. Or you can directly check the block chain, which has a record of the whole life of the token. Who created it, who bought it, who big on it, who the last owner is.
  • Speculators. People who buy it in the hopes of selling it for more later.

There is a bunch of stuff like drops, basically “releases” some images have one edition, some have a run of 20. it’s up to the artist to decide. But you got to remember that the more you have, the cheaper they will be.

But so what?
The original problem is that all digital art is not distinguishable from the original, as you can have an unlimited number of identical copies.
This method, watermarks each digital file using blockchain, and “tokenizes” them, giving the same value as a signed artwork. In the past, you could own a limited reproduction of an artwork, for example in silkscreen, but only the ones with the original artist’s signature had any real value. Essentially, you are getting a digital signature embedded in your artwork.

The artist can chose to make more copies, but can’t duplicate that particular signature, just like with real art, where you can get a “perfect” fake that looks like the original, but isn’t.

This thing is verified by a public block chain. Which is basically like a public book that records all transactions. And it’s authenticity is verified by a large network of nodes, compromising the users of the network. Think of it like a wikipedia page, where when you make a change everyone else who has used it has to go: “yup all good” and then an offline copy is updated and stored on everyone’s computer.


Popular crypto art marketplaces:

Nifty Gateway

https://superrare.co

https://www.rareart.io/


Now remember that this is isn’t for everyone. Much of the crypto art is sold for a couple of dollars. But the concept has shown to appear viable. The main thing you need to know: This is a method to monetize art you make through collectors and sponsors. Think of this like making your own digital baseball cards. Where you can verify who the owner is and track sales of them.


Good Luck in this cyber world we are entering!
-Aleksey

Should you charge for project files?

In short? 

  1. If you are working with some other form of production company. For example a studio, agency, production house, then most definitely plan to hand them over. If you didn’t discuss this up front, take the hit this time. Next time include it in your rate. 

OR

2. If you are working with an End client. Like a shop, or festival or a band or something. Then no need to hand over stuff.  It can be charged separately, because you are charging them for the final product. 

In Long?

Biggest issue here in my opinion, is from a personal growth perspective. You should always try to move away from stuff that someone else can do in house or hire someone cheaper. Just charge to compensate for potential lost work from the start.

If you keep trying to do everything yourself, eventually you will be still beaten by someone who does it cheaper, and perhaps can re-make the project for less than what you are charging for the project files.

It’s not just for freelancers, every businesses ability to survive depends on it doing something that others can’t do or don’t want to do. So it’s in your best interest to avoid doing work that can be done by others for less. Use that time to learn a new skill, or experiment and gain experience so that only you can be hired for that job. Over time this all adds up.

Obviously everyone has different situations and often you really need that easy money from doing corrections, no problem with that. But i think from a mind set point of view thats detrimental to your personal growth in the long run.

If you are considering not handing over the files, just put yourself into the same position, if you are running a project and suddenly someone refuses to give you the files you need and is holding you ransom . Will you ever work with this person again? Or will you do everything in your power to avoid working with someone who took advantage of you when you had no other choice?

In the end i mean everyone knows about the project files discussion. Either factor it in by default or discuss it upfront. If you don’t know about it. Just decide if you want to work with this client in the future. If you do, don’t charge them, and take the loss this time. If you don’t want to work with them ever again, then it doesn’t matter, charge them as much as you think you can get away with.

But remember this industry is small, and everyone knows each other. 

Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments, let others benefit from your experience.

Bonus tip: If you factor it in by default, then you can offer discounts if they don’t have the budget but want to save some money!

Bonus tip No.2: Charge more, i wrote an article on how and why to do it: https://ace5studios.com/how-much/

Cheers,
Aleksey

types of jobs you can do in mograph vfx list

Things you can do in the 3D MoGraph industry

You remember those books you had as a kid which listed all the possible professions, like fireman, police man, doctor etc.. ? I feel like in the 3D Mograph area that’s a bit of a lacking resource. So i decided to try stick together a bit of a guide of possible directions you can explore.

Before i go through them, i’d like to point out a key difference between MoGraph and general VFX and 3D for games and movies. When you work in Mograph, deadlines are a much larger issue, and they are MUCH shorter. So one of the main points here, is making something that looks cool with the least amount of time/computer power.

I’m also going to list the pro’s and con’s I see in each of these areas. But as everything in this industry, they always change, and depend on your geographic location, who you know and your personal level of luck.

Bumpers and 3D bumpers for tv channels.
I think this is where mograph in general originated, tv channels wanted cool stuff to show people. I’d have to guess MTV was the main driving force for this. These are kind of like title cards you see on TV ( if anyone reading this still watched this). The stuff that comes on before the weather, or a news update. The range here is huge, from super technical russian stuff, to quite basic stuff that is more favored in the west. This also has overlap with youtuber content now, since they need similar graphics for their channels etc.
main con: youtubers generally pay little, getting gigs with dwindling tv channel budgets is harder than ever. Also places like videohive provide just a mass of pre-built ones, which can be real pretty and you have to compete with that. Large brands pay very little, because everyone wants to work for them.

Some great work from top tier talents over here, Phillip Pavlovs is more skewed towards Russia and Eastern Europe, and then you can see the start difference towards more western work of Capacity

Vizualization
I’m going to group architectural and product into one here. This is basically creating very realistic or hyper realistic representations of real products for video ads, or maybe print ads.
Things to look up and google: Unreal architectural vizualization. RTX graphics cards and real time reflections in game engines. if you are doing product viz, you will most likely want some kinda of fluid simulation tool under your belt too. It will let you making swirly liquid stuff around juice boxes etc..

Animator
Basically here your job would be to make stuff move in an realistic and appealing manner. This could be characters, cars, particles, crowds ( although crowds is a bit more of a simulation thing). Would recommend to read up on the 12 principles of animation, and then start applying that to everything you can. Start with small basic stuff, like cubes, post boxes, fridges etc.. then move onto stuff with more moving parts.
This can also be applied to just text and camera moves. And just abstract shapes.

Character work
This is also a very vast field, which has many sections in it. Modelling/sculpting/retopology, texturing, Grooming ( hair fur), clothes creating/simulation, rigging ( putting bones and stuff in), animating ( blocking, cleaning up, adding detail) Danny Mac Has a great video about the process and what it involves

Abstract stuff for animation
Think all those crazy nike adds with knitting and other fancy stuff happening. This is basically a matter of learning the tools and what they can do and then figuring out how to combine them in new and interesting ways. Parts of it are very technical, but also lots of lucky accidents while messing with the various tools provided.

Previz
Short for pre-vizualization. Basically it’s blocking in all the movements, for characters, products, cameras etc and figuring out the timing, the mood, sticking some music onto it. This is something that really should be done for all projects, and often done by artists doing other stuff or art directors, but there are people who just do this as a profession.

Simulation Expert
Simulating fluids and explosions is something that is getting easier with every year, but it’s still not something that is easy to pick up, and the simulations takes LOTS of time, so lots of waiting for you computer to calculate stuff. In this field technical proficiency with managing networks can come in handy, so you can figure out how to get your software to calculate stuff across multiple computers, potentially in the cloud and get revisions faster.
Software to look into: Xparticles for cinema 4D, houdini

Medical Vizualization
Animating various medical stuff with molecules and viruses, you will be looking to provide visual materials for various medical research companies who need to demonstrate how their products work. Also documentaries which explain how the human body works. If you have an interest in biology, this is a good field to look at, since to do this well you have to be able to understand what is being explained to you and then visualize it. The more you already know about biology, the less the client has to teach you, and the faster you create what is needed.

Software: Cinema 4D mograph tools set, hair tools, xparticles, houdini, sculpting skills might also help.

Mad Microbe do some amazing work in this field!

Environment artist
This is basically all about making backgrounds, which spans from making rooms, like in archviz, all the way to making epic landscapes for lord of the rings style stuff.

For this kind of work you probably need houdinin, but lot’s can be done in Cinema4D. This is a small video that i really like about this sphere of work.

3D modelling Hard Surface and Organic
Hard surface – this is i guess part of the vizualization industry, but again, this is also a separate skill and specialization. Here you would specialize in modelling man made objects. Think Blenders, vacuum cleaners, cars, planes and electric toothbrushes. In this kind of job you would be provided with sketches and drawing which then you would have to turn into 3D models. Vitaly Bulgarov does some amazing work in this field!


Organic – Basically the same thing, but here the speciality is more organic stuff, Plants, food, animals, human characters etc.. The main difference from Hard surface modelling is you have to know more about rigging and animation, because your models will most likely be handed off to riggers and animators and they have to be able to deform naturally, unlike hard surface, where each individual part moves on it’s own.

3D sculpting artist
This a type of procedure that can be used for generating both hard surfaces and and organic surfaces, and if you are a talented sculptor you don’t really need to worry about good topology. You would be hired mostly just for your knowledge of what things look like or your ability to design characters out of virtual clay. It is up to you if you want to delve into retopology and baking.
Software: Zbrush, 3dcoat, blender

Clothing Artist
With tools such as marvelous designer you can focus on clothing design. If you can retopologize it and then sell it even better. This is a good field to go into if you ever wanted to be a clothing designer in the real world. Lots of the skills are transferable and quite essential.

Retopology and Baking
This is the process of converting the very dense geometry generated by 3d sculpting into much more efficient and light geo in order for it to be usable in animation down the line. It’s not the most fun work, but some people really enjoy it. Also every day there are new tools coming out which can significantly increase the speed with which you can work. Most people in the Mograph industry shy away from modelling.
Software: 3dcoat, topogun, xnormal, substance painter, blender, modo.

Vehicle Artist
Design and model, rig, animate vehicles, ariplanes, skate boards. Lots of overlap here with industrial design and concept art. Being good at drawing plays a pretty large role here. when targeting the mograph field, you will probably be more likely to make a profit modelling stuff for yourself and then selling them as ready assets so other artists can use them in their animations. Currently in 2020, i feel drone like vehicles, med evac or delivery type stuff i think should be quite popular.

This Is a great youtube channel about concept art in general, he talks more about the design process, not so much 3D. I think it’s a must watch if you want to move in this direction.

Lighting Artist
As the name implies, you would be setting up lighting for various scenes. This is all about conveying mood and emotion through lighting. Think of this as the type of person who sets up lights in a photo studio, but you could be working on an interior, or vast landscapes. Good way to demonstrate skills in this field, is getting a scene and then lighting it in different ways, demonstrating your range. Dark and scary, mysterious and exciting, happy and inviting etc. A good field to combine with materials/texture artist.
Look into: hdri light studio pro

Texture/material/surface artist
Here you are responsible for creating materials for others to use. Sometimes this is painting textures on an ogre, or realistic faces, other times its texturing an old rusty fridge, or a cargo ship full of fridges. The 2 main tools you should look into are Substance designer. This is a procedural node based material generator. So basically it is used to create materials which look at the geometry its being applied to and then vary based on that. So a smooth part of a model can be automatically painted different to an area full of corners and sharp point. And dirt can be automatically generated in creases. The second tool is substance painter, this is used to paint on stuff in a more direct way, like with paint brushes, but substances made in the other applications can be used as bases, and then customized for your specific model.

And some character texturing

UI/FUI
stuff like iron man, but can also be used by software developers who wants some cool looking stuff in their applications. But mostly probably would be targeted towards films, and futuristic video ads. You would be creating fancy stuff with mograph and cloning etc…

Projection Mapping
This can encompass pretty much all the stuff listed above, but you specialize in figuring out and creating ways to project the animations you make onto real life objects, like buildings, cars, tunnels, etc.. To practice this stuff ideally you would need a projector at home, so you can practice small scale. But you should also figure out how to project stuff virtually and then see if the virtual projection lines up with the physical one. The style of animation here is often very different to the stuff you do for advertising, since it needs to be slower and more long form.

Rigging
Setting up virtual object to be easier to animate. Here is a great video about what is rigging, i might have to make something of my own though at some point.

Overlap
As you can see lots of these fields overlap, and thats how it is everywhere. You can generalize or specialize as you see fit. What you pick is a combination of a) you should pick something that you enjoy doing, b) you should specialize enough for people to be able to remember that about you. for example :” oh yeah, i know someone who animates fridges!”

Story Telling
I know this is technically not 3D, but don’t discount the importance of this. I myself struggle with remember that i need to practice this, but this ads soo much to whatever you do. Humans love stories. Add stories to everything, even if they are bad and boring stories, a bad story is better than no story.

Getting jobs
Go read my article on them here: http://ace5studios.com/jobs, but apart from that you have 2 main choices to consider. You can either go directly after end clients and offer them a full service. So for example if you do projection mapping, you can go after city councils or hotels or event companies which need this kind of stuff and provide the whole package ( keep in mind that you will need to also provide sound in many case). Or you can target studios and other artists who need help with projects. This depends on your personality more than anything. Do you just want to do the thing you specialize in? Or do you want to also manage people, and have more over all direction in your hands. You can obviously do both, but this decision affects how you market your skills. Do you focus on other people in your industry, or do you throw your net out to just the general public?

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but i’ll add to it as i go. Got any suggestions? list em below in the comments 🙂

how much should i charge for mograph vfx jobs

How much should you charge? – More.

When i was just starting out, i always strived to be booked, so that i would always be working. I remember I was doing this real shitty job. It was stressful and uncreative, it was a lot of cleaning up of scene files and watching renders. Would not call it rewarding, something very corporate. And I could only get $300/day out of them at that point. and then 3 days into the job, i got a call from another studio who had an awesome project Lindt, it involved animating chocolate rabbits and a whimsical world around them and they really wanted me to work with them. They actually volunteered the rate of $600/day to me, and then when I said that I already had a commitment to an existing project they actually offered me $800/day. At that point I realized it is important to keep your schedule free for the projects you actually want to come along. And to do that, i needed to raise my rates.

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while. There are lots of ways to figure out how much to charge, but most of the time the answer is: “you should be charging more”.

(quick disclaimer: these rates are US based, the rest of the world will have much lower rates, but the concept still applies)

Let’s say you are in a position where you are on the verge of burnout because you have been working so much, your clients are riding you, you don’t have time for your friends and family and personal projects are a distant dream. The only way this happens is if you are not charging enough money for your services.

Let’s say you charge $500/day and you are always booked. If you are not turning down any projects then you are probably charging the optimal amount to be always booked( that is a problem in itself, will cover it further down). Now there is a high likelihood that you have clients that are willing to pay you more, you just don’t know about it, because you gave them your rate and they agreed. If you raise your rate to let’s say $600/day let’s assume for a moment that because of this, you are only booked for 4 out of every 5 days. BUT you only make $100 less a week. ( 5×500=$2500, 4×600=$2400). Which means you have a whole day to spend with family, hiking, learning, working on personal projects etc.

BUT in reality you don’t know how much your workload will change. You might raise it by $50 and now you are only booked for 1 day a week. OR you might raise it to $1000/day and STILL be booked all week. And there is only one way to find this stuff out. It is to try it. You only learn by doing. In my example above, where you get one less day a week, might not sound like a lot. BUT over the course of a year that would be 52 days. That’s nearly 2 months off. And you only lose $5200, could you spend 2 months learning new skills? To offset that loss? But more importantly, you don’t know what your price could actually be. If you raise it $1,000 and are still booked 3 out 5 days, you are making more, and you have 40% of the year to spend on stuff where you are your own boss, you pick the projects, you spend time with family etc. And there is no way to know what you can charge until you try. And the thing is you have to keep trying, because the environment will consistently change around you. Your competition will change, demand for the type of work you do will change, your skills will change.

Minimizing risk

Obviously there is a lot of risk involved in doing this, and as humans we don’t like risk, we rather stick with a sure thing in most cases rather than take a chance. So here are some ways to approach this slightly more delicately than just rolling out new rates.

  1. Ask your existing clients how they would feel about and increase in rates. You’d be surprised often they will flat out tell you: “about time”. Pick the ones you are on good terms with. here though you introduce the risk, that they simply might not want to raise your rates. Especially if they are small shops. I would recommend, start with situations where you are working with producers who aren’t using their own money, since they might be more likely, to tell you “yeah, actually other freelancers we are working with charge way more”
  2. Raise rates for new clients. This is the easiest way. To make it even more effective. Give raised rates on projects that you aren’t very keen on doing.
  3. Start charging project rates. Instead of just working per hour, figure out how to package your service as a product. You can still charge extra hourly for revisions etc. But your core offering will be a flat rate.

Don’t try to be 100% booked

The world of computer graphics is moving at colossal speeds. There are new plugins and software packages and updates every day. Some of them have ground breaking impacts on the work we do. They flat out make many jobs redundant. Octane render and mixamo jump to mind first. The ability to do super faster renders with GPU renderers and using mixamo to quickly do rough rigs of characters and populate your scenes with the mocap animation provided is revolutionary. If you don’t know how to use either of these technologies you will work MUCH slower than your competition. The list of useful software is long. Xparticles, various auto retopo tools, and don’t even get me started on the potential of Machine learning for generating ideas and versioning. Substance painter and designer have also been revolutionary in texture workflow, saving many many hours of work.

The reason i go over these things is because, if you are 100% booked you don’t have time to learn all this new software, and the longer you put off learning new stuff, the more you will fall behind.

Furthermore, sometimes when we are always booked we end up doing jobs that aren’t really the direction we want to move our careers in. And while initially might not seem like such a big deal, right now we live in a time, where its never been easier to find someone who loves what they do and hire them. This means that no matter what you do, especially in the creative fields you will be competing with people who LOVE what they do, and they will do it better, faster and cheaper then you. So with every passing day it is becoming more and more essential to do what you love, otherwise people who Love what you are doing will take your job away from you.

 

Should I charge more for Net45 Net60?

Especially in the States many companies will pay your invoice Net30, which means 30 days after you send an invoice, some studios have net45, net60 terms in their contracts. These are important thing to find out during the negotiating period. Should you charge higher rates to clients who take longer to pay?

There are so many variables here. It’s like any business, it depends on how hard it is for them to replace you. Also consider that if net 45 – net 60 is a problem for you that you perhaps should reconsider how you manage your finances. As a freelancer, you should try really hard to get your savings up to at least 6 months of living expenses. That way net 30, net 60, doesn’t matter to you that much. just add it to your calendar to remember to chase it up. It’s very dangerous to run a business pay check to pay check. 

A good way to look at it is that basically until you have 6 months of expenses, you have to pretend that you are effectively in debt/broke, and your main priority is to pay back the debt. Which means eating vegetables and noodles, not buying anything that you don’t absolutely need.


Because if you have 6 months of expenses, Then you have leverage to negotiate terms, because you have the freedom to turn down a job, since you know you have 6 months to find a new one. If you are running out of money while negotiating, then they have all the power, and you are more likely to agree to any terms they dictate. So having the savings both makes you not care about net60, and also gives you the power to negotiate them down to something you like.

When establishing your rate, include the calculation that you might be waiting for 30-60 days for this payment. 

 

What is the Minimum I should charge?

Double what a McDonald’s employee makes in your place of residence 🙂 That’s the easiest way I can think of calculating it. 

Plan of action: 

  1. Charge double a McDonald’s employee
  2. Keep making stuff and upskilling yourself until you can fill your schedule at that rate.
  3. start increasing your rates until you don’t have enough clients
  4. again start upskilling yourself until you are filling up your schedule

And keep building your savings! It’ll make every other step that much easier. 

 

The rest of the world


I wrote this article from the perspective and experience of someone in a western country in a central city. These rates may seem high to you, but with rent and insurance prices of the cities in which they were charged they are not that high ( Sydney, New York, LA )

What you charge is completely up to you. If you live in an Eastern European country, and you make $2,000/month you will probably have a much better life than someone who makes $400/day in Sydney.

But something to encourage you. On this planet there are people who can pay up to $1000/day to graphics professionals, so if you are charging $100/day or $50 a day, it is going to be much easier for you to quadruple your day rate, than it is for someone who earns $600/day. Since there are simply very very few studio’s who would agree to $2400/day, but there are plenty who would agree to $400.

The main point of this article is to encourage people everywhere to charge more, and not be afraid to try. Because this way the free market will function better in delivering good to everyone. A company/studio or any employer, in general tries to pay the least and get the most. In the same way when you buy computer hardware, shoes or look for plane tickets. So it’s your job to constantly increase the amount you charge, so that you are not competing with the new entrants to the market.

I hope this article helps you figure out how much to charge and how to start increasing your rates, so you can have a better life.

How to get jobs as a Freelancer ( 3D artist)

For those who don’t know, this is how the process of hiring a freelancer goes. What follows is just my meandering experience and observation, your mileage may vary.

Pretend you have a project.

Lets say you need someone to design a Dinosaur character. First you will think if you know anyone. If you do, you will reach out to them. Then you will ask your friends, or freelancers that work for you if they know anyone. Then you’ll go to art station or some other portfolio site, or maybe straight to google and type in “Dinosaur character designer”, you will reach out to some of the people that you like, ask them their rates, and then if they are all too expensive you will go to fiver or upwork or freelancer.com or whatever other freelancing website exists. Nobody goes straight to a freelancing website, it’s usually a last resort. And it’s a last resort for people with small budgets. Because with the internet the way it is you can always find someone who does whatever it is you need to be done. Try it, try to hire someone who does what you do.

I remember when i was just starting out there was this guy at a studio i worked at who kept giving me After effects jobs. I could do them, i had the skills, but it wasn’t really my specialty, i was always a 3D guy. That’s what i did well, thats why i charged more. In after effects i worked slower than most people and really wasn’t that good. But yet this guy just kept giving me after effects jobs. So one day i asked him: “why do you keep giving me these jobs? I’ m sure there is someone who does this better than me, and cheaper” and his answer really changed the way i think about everything, he said “Because i like drinking with you, and if you have more jobs, we can go drink together more”. At first i was like: “awesome”, but then it dawned on me, how many jobs do i miss out on, because someone likes to drink with someone else, or plays golf with them, or has kids go to the same school. It has so much less to do with how good i am at what i do than i thought. To me it was a revelation.

Building a strong team, wooden blocks with people icon on blue and pink background, human resources and management concept. Premium Photo

So what do I do if I don’t know anyone who would hire me?

You get to know them or you get known. My career was largely built on alcoholism. Especially when i was in New York. People all over the place drinking making friends socializing, exchanging business cards inviting each other to other events. And there is no faster way to get to know a person than drinking with them ( if you want a guide on how to properly drink leave a comment, it’s also a skill that takes time to develop). Alternatively go to events that either related to your industry, or if they don’t have them in your area, go to networking events for other industries, you might find clients there. I knew people who bought shares in mining companies ( just whatever the minimal was) and then turned up to share holding meetings and made friends and then got jobs out of that.

Don’t like drinking? Get ready to do A LOT of work. Because building relationships with people is a very slow process if there is no alcohol involved, there are exceptional people which can make friends with anyone anywhere with everyone sober, but if you were one of those people you probably wouldn’t need help getting a job. So you have to start making a TONNE of work, and i mean a metric tonne. Start off with just volume, do a daily challenge. Post it on instagram, twitter, facebook, any platform that will let you. You have to get as many eyeballs on your work as possible. And it better be thematic, because people got to remember you for something specific. “oh i know a guy who makes dinosaurs” or “oh that guy who animates cars”. And you got to start posting it like CRAZY. For every 100 things you post, you might get one job out of it. This is not for the faint of heart. Which makes it even more important to pick a topic that you LOVE, because no matter what you pick, there will be people who LOVE doing that specific thing, and you will be competing with those people who will do it better and probably cheaper than you.

Then go onto forums/facebook groups and start helping people, start answering questions, start figuring out problems other people are having, giving advice where people ask for it. Join the community. But don’t just post random comments actually participate, this is yet another way for people to get to know you.

Also don’t forget to put together a proper website, you want a little piece of the Internet that is completely under you control. Go check out my article about small bussiness. It goes over how to set up a website rather quickly and what parts you need. Your website should convey to the visitor what you are good at and what kind of work you want to do as quickly as possible. Reels shouldn’t be longer than 1 minute, the shorter the better. Put your best work up top.

Freelancing websites are really the last resort in most cases, they have the lowest paying clients and the jobs that no one else wants to take on. I know programmers seem to do okay on them. But creative tasks are just terrible.

The most important thing to remember, that because this is hard to do, is the reason you will stand out. My favorite quote is “if it was easy everyone would do it”.

I hope this was interesting, what should i write next? How to figure out how much to charge? Let me know in the comments and have a good one!

Should i work for free?

This is a question that comes up a lot, and recently came up on a FUTUR livestream with Gary Vee.

As always the answer is: “it depends”. Some people think the answer should be a hard no. Others think it’s not such a bad thing.

I think the answer to this is pretty simple. If you want to do free work to get your name out there, pick the client yourself. Offer your services to a charity or any nonprofit organization that you care about. Or even if it’s a for profit organization, do it for them as a gift, but pick the company yourself and make like an homage to them. If someone comes to you and asks for work in exchange for “Exposure” that should definitely be a hard NO! That job is going to be hell, and going to drag on forever, and you are not going to get any exposure for it. So if you do free work, make sure it’s on your terms and you’ve picked something that will give you exposure. Make sure they have a large following on social media, and a large following that’s relevant to your potential clients. If you do character rigging, 13-18 year old fans of knitting won’t really help you.

For example recently I saw a Bee farming non-profit was asking on instagram about getting a character done, so they can educate children on the importance of Bee’s to the environment. I like the cause, i want to make a bee character for my portfolio, win win.

The other option is if you are doing something you have never done before and it’s something you want to figure out. Then perhaps thats a good deal for the both of you. BUT you got to remember the wider picture. If you agree to do free work, that means that company is 100% not going to pay someone to do that work. So you’re potentially either taking money away from your fellow workers, and maybe helping a business that has no business doing what it does ( since it can’t secure funds to pay you for your services).

There is also the option if you are working in an intern capacity, where you are not being paid, but you are actually learning valuable skills that you want to get. In these cases, remember you can always leave, don’t let them exploit you. Make sure you are still benefiting from this experience. If you’re just photo copying stuff and getting people coffee, you aren’t really learning. You might be building relationships for future work, but thats pretty hard to assess, so go with your gut.

So to summarize: Make sure you are benefiting from this free work. If you believe in the cause thats also great. DO NOT work for “exposure”.

Hope this was interesting for you. What do you think? Do you ever do free work?

Cheers,
Aleksey

Starting out as a freelancer in the 3D/VFX industry

More and more people are going freelance. Why? Well the simple reason is that there are more and more people who want to do the work, but the amount of full time jobs isn’t growing as fast. Also with the amount of different skill sets available, most studio’s don’t need a lot of these people full time. For example I mostly do character rigging these days. Most studios don’t need a character rigger full time. They need one just a couple of times a year perhaps, or maybe even just once ever. So freelancing in general a better distribution of labor.

There is a dark side to this trend though which everyone should be aware. A lot of studios hire freelancers because they know that most people are terrible at figuring out what they are worth and can be exploited, pressured and manipulated into doing waay more work for waay less money. Many studios will hire freelancers to avoid paying benefits or giving paid leave.

This is my advice to every budding freelancer. Don’t do it unless you have no choice. Freelancing is hard. Finding clients is hard, standing out from every other freelancer is hard. There are 2 real reasons anyone should be a freelancer. The first category is people who can’t get stable employment and simply have no choice, and the second category is people who simply HAVE to be able to manage their own time, their money, their projects etc. Take me for example, I’m a freelancer because i simply have no choice in the matter. There is no way i can go into an office every day. It’s simply not in my DNA. And i also love all the aspects around being a freelancer. As a kid i really enjoyed playing economic sim games, where you get to run your own business. Being a freelancer is pretty much just like that. Except you can’t always just pour more money into something, sometimes you just have to do the work. You have to build your brand, handle advertising and marketing, promote yourself, negotiate prices, manage expenses, plan for catastrophes and a whole bunch of other stuff.

So if you are thinking about being a freelancer, think about if you enjoy all this. Or does it stress you the fuck out. Because to lots of people it does. And if you just want to make animations or design characters, perhaps you are better off looking for employment where other people who are good at things like marketing and negotiations will take care of those things for you. Because remember there are only so many hours in a day. And you will be competing with people who really love what they do. If you want to go freelance, i always recommend teaming up with someone who complements your skills. So you can pull each other up. Or reach out to someone who is already freelancing and let them know what your special skills are.

This leads me to the next topic  Special Skills you need to have something that sets you apart. Being a generalist is important and as a freelancer it really helps if you are aware of the entire pipeline around you. BUT when you email someone or talk to someone, you need a hook, you need to be remembered for something. Some little piece of info, so when they are thinking “Damn i need someone to do this” They will instantly think of you. This kind of niche specialization also helps with google searches when people are looking for someone who does what you do. How many people are you competing with in your primary category? Know your competition and pivot so at least somewhere you come up at the top of the list.

The last part of this post i want to bring up something very important and that is: “Love what you do” . Because if you are doing something you are not passionate about you will lose. Why? Because you are competing with people who LOVE what they do. Especially in the creative industry. So always think long and hard about how you are presenting yourself and what kind of jobs you are attracting.

If you enjoyed this article, make sure to follow me. I got a whole series lined up. Next i’m thinking of writing an article on how to set prices and charge for your work. What do you think?

Cheers,
Aleksey

5 things i wish i knew when i was starting out as a 3D artist

People often ask where to start and what to do to become a 3D artist like me.

Im not sure i’m the right person to ask, since i just kinda stumbled into this by accident. But there are some very important things i learnt, which i wish somebody told me earlier, so i will share them here.

1. This is not a stable, predictable or lucrative career. If you need money, if you have to support your family, this is really not the career for you. It’s super unpredictable, skills you need shift yearly. You might spend a year learning something, just to have a piece of software come out that renders all those things you learnt obsolete.

You really got to love what you do, because it’s gonna be hard. It’s like the story of people who go to Hollywood to become actors. It’s kinda like that, but you add global outsourcing to that.

Now if you’re still here i have some useful info for you.

2: EVERYTHING is a remix. Everything you see made is rehashes and reworks of the work made before by other artists, thinkers etc. Current copyright laws kinda throw a spanner in the works, but it just means you have to be more creative in your efforts. This is something that no one ever told me, and i always tried to come up with everything myself. That is a mistake. Copy, transform, combine is the secret to success.

The reason for this is simple: There is nothing truly original you can come up with. All the things you imagine and create are influenced by things you have seen/read/used before. Invention is an iterative process, hitting things with your fist, turned into rocks, turns into hammers, jackhammers etc.. So you might as well take a good analytical look at the things that are inspiring you and figure out what it is that you like about them and implement that into your work.

Watch this video it goes into more details with a stunning amount of examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJPERZDfyWc

Also this is fun to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjmaOj3_sKk

And you can see this pattern not only in Disney movies, you can see it throughout Hollywood. And throughout human history in architecture, art, stories, books, myths etc.. It’s all an iterative “small steps” process.

3: Getting good takes time. Developing your own style takes lots of work. Just keep doing it. If you can tell your work sucks that is the most important thing. Because if you can see it sucks, it means you will be able to see when it stops sucking. The biggest problem is people who think their work is awesome. Because they can’t improve. They can’t take criticism. So if you think your work sucks, congratulations! You might become a worthy artist.

Ira glass the gap, is a great speech to listen to, nice and short too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfA9OH6dAQ8

The missing chapter is a great video which talks about all the work that great artists made that no one has ever heard about: https://vimeo.com/87448006

4: Find people who inspire you and copy them, and try to get your work to be like their work. It’s the fastest way to grow. Don’t pass it off as your work, be clear that you are just recreating work that you find inspirational. This is very important, the internet has made everything very small and searchable. You will be exposed and no one will work with you. But while you copy you will learn and start to understand what it is exactly that makes the work you admire great.

This is something more specific to mograph and tv commercials, but nevertheless this guy makes amazing videos explaining concept development and the thinking that goes into creating cool stuff: http://www.division05.com/#episodes

5: Color theory is a topic which can hugely affect your work. Once again, grab color combinations from other places, photos, works of art, nature etc, and use them. Then slightly adjust them as you need. This is the best way to start out while picking colors. But also try to figure out why certain color combinations work and others don’t pay attention to what you associate certain colors with and then try and figure out why. It’s all about observation. 

Great color theory video right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj1FK8n7WgY

Bonus tips:

I’ve found a great way to judge your own work, or try to figure out what’s missing. Is put it up side by side with the gallery of an artist you admire and see if your work looks like it belongs there.

Use pinterest to collect work that inspired you, you can sort it into boards and turn to it when you need references. Also its a great place to put your own work and see how to feels on a board full of works that inspire you.
Some good pinners to follow:
https://www.pinterest.com/bixorama/
https://pinterest.com/em404p/boards/
https://www.pinterest.com/characterdesigh/boards/
https://www.pinterest.es/raoul1983/

So there you have it, a quick list of stuff i wish i knew when i was starting out. If you have any stuff you think would be helpful to beginners and professionals alike post it in the comments. Im sure there are lots of things i wish i knew that i do not know yet 🙂

media, small business, logos

Media for Small business

Introduction

I do 3D animation for tv commercials, museums etc.. as a result i have friends and relatives regularly ask me to help with logo design and other graphic related stuff. I’m not good at making those types of graphics. But over the years i have built up lots of knowledge about starting small businesses and handling the graphic related aspects of them. So here i will summarize what is a good way to deal with starting a small Business. logo’s, business cards, websites, hosting etc…

 

Remember you’re starting a business because there is a problem that you know how to fix and are probably good or better than average at fixing that problem. If not, you should reconsider your business 🙂 So if the problem you are trying to fix isn’t designing logos or websites, let someone who is good at fixing those problems fix them for you.

 

Throughout this article the links are referral links, so when you click them and then buy something I get a bit of money. If you don’t want that to happen, just plug in the url’s manually into your browser 🙂 if you google the same sites, then google will get the small amounts of money.

LOGO

Click here to find the logos in this banner

Click on the image find the logos in this banner

So let’s start with Logo’s. Don’t design it yourself. Don’t get your cousin/nephew/relative  to design your logo. At least get them to read this article first 🙂 Most likely they are going to do a poor job, and your business will suffer.

 

With logos there are 2 reactions you can get from the public:

 

  1. “Eugh that’s ugly”
    .
    logos ugly
  1. They don’t notice it, but with enough impressions they associate it with your brand.
    .
    logo - big brands

 

No one sees a logo and goes: “oh my god! What an amazing logo let’s do business with these people!!!”

 

But many will see a bad logo and choose not to do business with a company. So all you have to do is avoid reaction one. Notice most big brands have very simple unimpressive logos. There is nothing amazingly creative about them. They are just well balanced, and nicely designed. And that’s the most important thing. 

 

So go to //graphicriver.net/category/logo-templates use the search and find yourself a nice logo. Then ask your cousin/nephew to change the text and the colors to fit your needs and get a result you are happy with.

 

if you are really strapped for cash, there are some free places to search too.

Freepic being one of them: //www.freepik.com/index.php?goto=2&searchform=1&k=logo

 

But $30 is generally not a lot to pay for a logo. Be nice and support someone trying to achieve their dream through designing graphics for people like you, on the other end of that transaction there is a human who is just trying to make it in this world too. ( it’s good for your karma)

 

Business cards

business cards

Click on the image to find the templates for these business cards and more!

Same thing people, please don’t design them yourself. Most likely, they will be ugly, and people are going to see them and go “ew..”

 

Now unlike Logo’s, business cards make a much larger impression if you rely on getting your business face to face. If someone meets multiple people offering similar services at similar prices. A nice business card is a big deal. Sometimes even if your prices are higher, a nice business card will just reinforce the fact that you pay attention to detail. Your business partners will remember you with warmer memories after your meeting.

 

So firstly get a nice design from //graphicriver.net/category/print-templates/business-cards . Maybe ask one of your artistic friends or relatives for advice on which ones look more proffesional appropriate for your brand. And then don’t cheap out on the printer. Cheap looking/feeling business cards get discarded in less than 12 hours. Whereas pretty attractive “valuable feeling” business cards can sit in drawers and wallets for years. I still get messages on facebook from people who found my business card that I gave to them many years ago, back when I was still getting jobs from face to face contact. Quite often they take a photo of it and include it in the message.

my old business cards

When someone is emptying their pockets after a networking event you want them to think twice before throwing out your card. Ideally you want them to feel bad about throwing out your card.

 

So either find a nice local printer or go to moo.com – they have a great selection and you can print a variety of them. For example, if you are a photographer you can print a different photo on each card, while keeping the name side consistent. Their quality is always top notch.

moo cards

All of the points above also apply to menus for restaurants, stationaries etc.. GraphicRiver has plenty of well designed resources for very reasonable prices.

stationary

Click on the image to get these templates and more!

 

Websites

websites banner

Use wordpress, get hosting from namecheap.com and templates from themeforest. I prefer enfold because it has a really nice visual layout builder. And a lot of page templates to learn from.

Namecheap.com, provide great customer service. One of the most helpful web hosts i’ve dealt with. And their prices are great too. The provide both Domain names and website hosting.  It also has a very simple wordpress installer built into it.

WordPress is a content management systems. It is very user friendly, and contrary to popular belief its not just for blogs. My whole website runs on it.

Enfold is by far my favorite wordpress theme. It is incredibly easy to get started. There is no coding required, everything is drag and drop, and its all very customizable. It puts content front and center and then just gets out of the way. And supports woocommerce, if you decide to sell stuff through your website.

width=’16’ height=’9′ av_uid=’av-fbyqu’]

 

A quick summary of what a good website should look like nowadays. Firstly the front page should have:

 

  1. intro – preferably video, 30 – 45 seconds about what you do.
  2. examples – what you provide
  3. who we are. – about your team, personal info
  4. contact us email form and email address because a lot of people don’t like email forms.

 

Intro:

This should preferably be a video, A combination of some explanation animations and videos of people ( real videos, not stock) doing what it is your provide. Depending on your budget the amount of animations will be limited, but that’s ok. Just keep it as short as possible. What problem you fix, why you are good at fixing it, and why you love doing what you do.

 

Examples:

Small, short examples of the companies you work with and what you did for them, or portfolio items, training programs, whatever it is you made/solve and how it helps people. 5 is a good number.

 

About:

This section should have photos of your team members/company founders. a bit about them where they are from who they are, what they do.. etc. So visitors understand they are dealing with actual humans and not a faceless corporations/ scam website. Maybe links to existing blogs, LinkedIn profiles, anything public facing that can back up your reputation or where people can maybe find people they know in common with you. People who can verify who you are are much more likely to do business with you.

 

Contact us:

A contact us email form. with very few fields. don’t make like 20 fields. Just email and message body is generally enough. People hate filling out forms. Also include maybe a skype or phone number. If you live in america or are planning to have american contacts. Get yourself a google number and set it to only ring your computer. It’s free and very convenient.

 

All of the above should be on one page.

 

The next parts are optional depending on what kind of business you are doing. And should have their own page. 

 

Blog:

A blog is a great way to show website visitors that you are actually interested in what you are doing and do it not only for the money, but actually do this in your free time.

 

DO NOT START A BLOG IF YOU DO NOT UPDATE IT AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH

blogpost

There is nothing worse than a blog that hasn’t been updated in 2 years. It makes the impression that your company is dead. Also don’t populate your blog with clickbait articles. It has to be about things you personally care about. You can’t outsource this it has to be written by someone who is actually doing the real work. If you are thinking of hiring a blog writer for your business, just don’t make a blog. It’s not going to help.

 

If you produce visual things ( this includes food, boats, toasters, sailes anything that can produce nice photos. ) consider using tumblr or instagram instead of the built in wordpress blog. WordPress has plugins to display those beautifully on your website and you get the added benefit of being on a social network and potentially attracting new clients through those channels.

 

Projects:

If you think you will be able to write at length about various projects you have done ( ie you are not limited by legal agreements with clients and you are motivated enough). You should get a projects page. Only make this page public when you have at least 5 projects. Here you should write about what you did for your client, how you did it, what challenges you faced how you overcame them. So people who are interested in what you do ( because the first page captured their attention) Can go on further and explore what you do in more detail. Whether you are photographer covering events. A training company providing events for businesses. Or anything else that lends itself to this type or narrative. But remember it’s a story. Someone had a problem, you had a solution they were happy with it.

 

Assistance

If you need help customizing your website, there are plenty of available wordpress guys who do just that. This here is a friend of mine: www.eskovares.com

esko pic

 

Conclusion

So there you have it. A short guide to dealing with graphics and online presence of your business. In future articles i may handle Social media. But there are plenty of resources about that as it, so im not sure i can add anything valuable, but if you would like to hear from my on that, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Here are all the links again, in one place:

Logos: //graphicriver.net/category/logo-templates

Business cards: //graphicriver.net/category/print-templates/business-cards
Printing: moo.com

Webhosting: namecheap.com
Wordpress: //wordpress.org
Enfold Theme: enfold