Interview: 3d Artist, J.R. Schmidt
We meet the man behind the poster! Exclusive interview with J.R. Schmidt on his work, style, process and more! Find out about his killer work.
1. When do you first get interested in art and design when did 3d polygon become a personal style?
I started drawing when I was a kid – robots and castles mostly. I also had a thing for architectural floor plans – I would draw them all the time, even though I didn’t know what I was doing. Kind of weird now that I think of it. At first I continued to focus mostly on traditional art – drawing, painting, a little sculpture, etc. I kept doing that all through highschool but along the way I became interested in 3d software. I wouldsay my interest in video games heavily influenced my desire to pursue 3d graphics, and continues to influence my work today. After I graduated highschool I was planning on majoring in film and animation, but I decided to switch to something I had never heard of – New Media Design. It ended up being one of the best decisions of my career because I was exposed to a huge variety of technologies in addition to film and animation: web-design, illustration, interactive design, scripting, object-oriented programming, programmatic art, and on and on. I enjoyed all of it and for a while I was unsure which path I wanted to take after graduation. I settled on animation, but I continue to do all the other stuff to some extent. I started experimenting with polygonal art a couple years ago in college. I was working on a project with a few other students and we were making 3d assets that were going to be used in a Flash app. In other words they had to be extremely low poly in order for the thing to run smoothly. Rather than let the ,software constraints cripple us, we let it inform our design decisions the whole. The polygonal stuff arose from that mentality. I probably saw similar work elsewhere along the way, so I guess I was just keeping it in the back of my mind.
2. Who are your favorite artists? Who and what inspires you in all types of your work?
Joshua Davis: I had an opportunity to see him speak in Toronto – awesome guy. The thing I find most inspiring about him, apart from his incredible generative art, is his career itself. He just started making cool shit and trusted that other people would get behind it. It’s okay to let your work take over your life, but it’s got to be on your terms.
Hayao Miyazaki: An incredibly imaginative and talented animator, but also a brilliant storyteller. His characters always change by the end of the movie – good guys become bad guys and vice versa. That’s something Hollywood still hasn’t learned.
Atelier Olschinsky: I stumbled upon this artist fairly recently and I found that I keep coming back to his work. His illustrations look like abstracted architectural drawings or fragmented cities. I could look at them all day. http://www.olschinsky.at/de/newest-work/cities-iv-deconstructed.php?seite=4
What inspires me:
I have a list of things that inspire my work but it’s always changing. Currently some of them are maps, legos, nostalgia, bad weather, big cities and video games. I’m always drawn to intricate, complicated illustrations. I have a poster hanging above my desk. It’s a pixel art illustration of New York, created by an artist called eBoy. I find something new in it everytime I look at it, and I look at it whenever I get distracted or stuck on a problem, which is often.
3. What do you like about the 3D medium?
When I was young I loved to build things – Wooden blocks, Legos, K’NEX, etc. I remember waking up and thinking about what to build almost immediately. It was a great feeling. When I started doing 3D, I discovered that it produced the same feeling. Apart from that, it’s a very forgiving medium. I used to paint watercolor, which is the opposite of forgiving, so making the switch was refreshing. Working with 3D software allows for an astonishing level of control, which is good, given my obsessive compulsive tendencies.
4. What made you go into this unique polygonal style of 3D?
I was working on a project with a few other students and we were making 3d assets that were going to be used in a Flash app. In other words they had to be extremely low poly in order for the thing to run smoothly. Rather than let the software constraints cripple us, we let it inform our design decisions the whole. The polygonal stuff arose from that mentality. I probably saw similar work elsewhere along the way, so I guess I was just keeping it in the back of my mind
5. It is clear you have a talent for the 3D space, and I notice you do a lot of environments, do you like doing landscapes the most in your unique style?
Thanks! Yeah, I would say I generally prefer landscapes and buildings to most other subject-matter.
6. Can you briefly describe your workflow? What type of computer do you work on, software you use, and why?
My process is pretty free-flowing. I try not to let “inspiration-finding” be an actual step in my workflow. When I start thinking about it too much it never works for me. Instead I try to be inspired by things all the time, whenever I come across them. When it comes time to make something, sometimes I just pull the trigger and let it evolve, trusting that some of my inspiration will work it’s way in. I usually start with sketching, but I don’t hesitate to start experimenting with techniques right away. “The process” should be a tool, not a constraint.
For 3D software, I greatly prefer Cinema 4D. I learned 3ds Max and Maya out of necessity, and while they are both powerful applications, I have found that that are less helpful for quick, experimental work. Apart from that Photoshop is of course a must. I also use After Effects for everything animated.
7. What’s your favorite work that you’ve created thus far?
I’m pretty pleased with the collection I created for Neonmob. It’s rare that I get that much creative control on any project, so it was a lot of fun too.
8. Is 3D graphic design a good specialization to be in within our current industry trend? How would you describe some of your challenges?
There’s a lot on the horizon for 3D artists. 3D has always been a valuable tool for content creation and illustration, but now it’s at the forefront of the Makerbot revolution. By the time 3D printers become commonplace, there’s going to be a huge demand for 3D content, in the same way that the demand for 2D content surged a decade ago. I think the challenge is the same for most people in the creative industry: to be adaptable as technologies
9. Where do you see your career growing to? What would you like to do next?
I’ve been asking myself that quite a bit actually. I’m currently working full-time, but trying not to compromise on doing what I love, so I’m trying to do as much as I can in my free time. Of course, I’m always open to new opportunities.
Eventually I’d would like to go off on my own, but for now I’m just trying to learn as much as possible and keep producing work.
10. What do you like to do when you aren’t working on direct lights and polygonal meshes?
Hah, I wish that question weren’t so difficult to answer. I guess I like to keep a low profile in general. My girlfriend and I live with a couple of our close friends from college. We all go out and explore the city, eat the amazing food it has to offer, and obsess over the best place to get coffee on any given morning. I also like to read, and I’ve been known fire up the N64 every so often. I love to travel too and I wish I had more time for it. We visited Berlin a few months ago, and we’re going to Japan in November.
11. What sites do you visit and frequent the most and why?
http://www.thisiscolossal.com/: My art fix. I Always the most unique artwork on this site and there’s a lot of variety. Most of it is traditional art and gives me a nice break from digital.
http://www.fastcompany.com: Great place to read up on the creative industry. There’s a wealth of information to be had on start-ups, too.
http://boingboing.net/: My nerd fix. A great escape from the day-to-day and where I go when I’m sick of trying to be creative.
http://arstechnica.com/: For keeping up with the latest tech news.
12. Lastly, any quick plugs you want to include and where can people buy some of your awesome prints?
Sure! For now I’m selling poster prints and iphone / ipad cases here: http://society6.com/JRSchmidt
We are so excited to have J.R. design our exclusive poster for us. Make sure you get a chance to win: