Interview with Jesus Suarez
Published on 10/29/2018
What led you into the CGI/3D? Tell us your story.
My start in the arts is not your usual “I was drawing all day” story. I actually drew very little when I was a kid, and to this day my drawing skills are not really impressive. While I was attending school for Engineering (see, my father is an Engineer and I was supposed to take on the family business) I was very bored with all this math and numbers, and so was a fellow student. We hung out a lot and one random day he introduced me to Photoshop; this is where it all really started for me. I started photo bashing and experimenting on my spare time, and eventually switched to a Visual Communications degree. I learned mostly about graphic design, color theory, typography and print and I was honestly fine with making logos and designing posters. It wasn’t until I came to the United States to Full Sail University that I really had a taste of Motion Graphics and decided to dive in. To be completely honest, I didn’t like 3D at first, it was so complicated to me and there were so many variables like lighting, and materials, and modeling. But as I started working in the industry and in real world projects I quickly realized that if I wanted to make it, I had to branch out into 3D and CG. And like many others, today, I wear many hats and I am constantly learning, for example, I am proficient with Octane Render but since Red Shift has had such an impact in the industry I’ve decided to give it a shot and i’m currently trying to learn it.
Where do you go to get inspired? What/Who inspires you?
I used to follow websites like Abduzedoo and From up North, but the last couple of years I started curating my feeds of inspiration, and with the rise of Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, it’s just easier and quicker to use that. I also use Art Station for inspiration and Behance. My personal all time idol is Ash Thorp, but I follow many other industry beasts like Mitch Myers, Mariusz Becker and Josef Sharah to name a few.
How does a typical working day look like?
I usually drag myself out of bed (not a morning person) go to the gym at least 3 times a week, take a shower and go to work, get my tea ready and start by checking my email and we usually do a morning meeting at the office. After that we go over the tasks we need to take care of for the day and start working! I wear many hats and I have to take care of many things like modeling, texturing, lighting, animation, compositing and even mentoring as I have the awesome opportunity to provide feedback and direction to other creatives. At the end of the day I am usually beat up and I get home to relax and spend time with my wife but I also try to work on personal projects as well to keep my creative sanity.
What does your workplace look like?
This is my current workstation at home. I’m thinking about switching the two monitors for one huge ultra-wide but I haven’t decided yet. I recently added the audio interface, mic and camera as I want to get my feet wet with tutorials and courses.
How do you stay motivated in this tough industry?
Honestly it’s tough, I find myself constantly battling with impostor syndrome and it’s also so difficult to keep a constant pace of personal projects and posting to the community and having a full time job. There are so many talented people out there and so many different applications and techniques that sometimes it’s just overwhelming, but, I like to stay current with software and I watch tons of tutorials, read a lot on news about what’s going on in the industry, reach out to other creatives and just try very hard to keep an online footprint. Watching my idols post so much good content keeps me motivated to push myself to try new things and create more. I do wish we had cool conferences like Pause Fest or SIGGRAPH in Florida, but who knows? Maybe one day.
What is your passion beside CGI/3D?
I used to play a lot of sports and I probably should pick at least one up again but I’ve been so busy trying to improve myself with Digital Art that I haven’t paid attention to that. But I also like playing the guitar and the occasional video game, Fifa is my favorite. I also just had a daughter so she’s already my number one passion and I can’t wait to start doing the Daddy stuff.
How do you keep your portfolio up to date? Any tips?
Passion projects. I can’t stress this enough, do not stay complacent with what you do at work. Always try new things on your own time, take on small personal challenges, pick up a new tool, or a new technique, etc. I really hate it when I see other artists just get comfortable with doing only one thing, if you don’t push yourself you are not going to grow. I personally suck at 3D modeling so I set myself the challenge of learning Fusion 360 and in a year i’ve become able to find my way through modeling things that I wasn’t able before. I’ve also teached myself how to texture and light in Octane Render and also tried Substance Painter, Zbrush. It’s just a matter of trying things and improving yourself.
What Software do you use to create your artwork?
I spend most of my time on Cinema 4D, Octane Render, Fusion 360 and After Effects. I also tried Substance Painter for a bit but honestly I can texture away in Octane without problems so far, but it’s a great tool!
What Software do you want to learn in future? And why?
I would love to pick up Houdini. I’ve seen so many great things made with that software and it seems to be very flexible and able to create some intricate and complex abstract animations. I am also in the process of trying out Red Shift and from what i’ve seen online I think i’m going to quickly fall in love.
Which books would you recommend to the read?
As much as I hate to say it, i’m not the reading kind, and I’ve been trying to change that but I just enjoy and focus a lot more on visuals. I can recommend however listening to The Collective podcast, reading The Freelance Manifesto and watching the movie Oblivion. To me that movie is so amazing, the 3D is beautiful, the UI design is insane and the story is pretty cool. Very underrated.
What music do you listen to while working?
I love 70’s-80’s rock and metal. I am currently obsessed with Judas Priest and Toto, but I also love listening to movie and videogame soundtracks for ultimate focus when working. A few times a week I listen to podcasts as well.
Any advice for new Artists?
Again, try new things, set personal challenges and work your ass off. Completing tasks given to you at work or school is not enough to set yourself apart and grow, you have to put in the work and the time to improve yourself and your skills. Stay organized in the way you work and most importantly with your files, you will most likely have to collaborate with other artists and I promise you, we all appreciate when we get organized files that don’t take too much time to figure out. Networking is also very important, it sucks to acknowledge it, but as with everything in life, it’s important who you know and who they know, everything is connected, also don’t be afraid to ask questions, Twitter is a great platform for that and most of the famous artists out there usually are kind enough to answer questions and give insight.