Interview with Beau Wright aka Aspen Excel

Beau Wright is a 3D Artist & Motion Designer from Chicago, Illinois with 4 years of industry experience.
He likes to work with Cinema 4D, X-Particles, Fusion 360, Octane Render and Redshift.

What led you intto the CGI/3D? Tell us your story.

After graduating university with a music production degree I started to worry about my situation and employment. Unfortunately I could not find my way into the music industry, so I started to think about other creative fields I might like. I always enjoyed visual design, but never studied it or tried doing any 3D work. I had discovered Beeple’s work while I was still at university and was amazed at what he could create in a single day so I started searching for tutorials about Cinema 4D and created daily renders for about a year and a half to learn the software. From there, I slowly gained a following on Twitter and Instagram and got a few freelance projects and kept working until I got a full time job in Chicago.

Where do you go to get inspired? What/Who inspires you?

I take a lot of inspiration from sci-fi video games like Wipeout, BioShock, and Doom. I spend a lot of time online so I think the main sources are Behance, Pinterest, and Vimeo. Living in a city like Chicago has also provided me inspiration with its amazing spaces and architecture. A few of my favorite designers are Vitaly Bulgarov, Ash Thorp, Chris Cunningham, Ian Anderson, and Simon Holmedal. I find a lot of inspiration in mechanical design and modern or futuristic interior design.

How does a typical working day look like?

My typical working day starts with waking up around 7:30, riding the train for about 30 minutes and starting work at 9AM. Usually at work I will have an assigned project or two which I work on until I have something to share with the client. In between projects I may have some free time to explore on my own and work on personal projects. I am mainly working in Cinema 4D and After Effects. After 6PM I will leave the office, but often my work does not stop there. At home I will continue working on personal projects if I have the energy.

What does your workplace look like?

Here is my personal work space at home. I like to keep my workspace extremely clean and open. Having a clean workspace helps me focus only on my work and I’m kind of a minimalist. I also like to personalize it a bit so I have some models from one of my favorite anime Neon Genesis Evangelion that provides a bit of flair and source of inspiration and motivation for me.

How do you stay motivated in this tough industry?

I stay motivated by looking at new tools and how I can use them. There is always something new to learn and the design tools keep improving and allowing for better and more complex work so the possibilities are limitless.

What is your passion beside CGI/3D?

My other real passion is music. I’m not so much of an active musician these days but I hope one day I can start producing music casually for fun again. I used to play upright classical bass, and I made a lot of electronic music before I started my career in 3D design so I want to revisit that as another creative outlet in the future.

How do you keep your portfolio up to date? Any tips?

Keeping my portfolio updated can be a challenge. I like to keep social media profiles like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook updated regularly with daily work and experiments so people can see what I’ve worked on recently and contact me easily, but only a small amount of work makes it into my official portfolio. Right now I’m using Behance to showcase my best work and I make projects with media that share a common theme. I would say separate your portfolio from other casual work so you can easily show someone what you think is your best work. In my opinion show quality over quantity.

What Software do you use to create your artwork?

I use Cinema 4D with Octane Render, and Redshift mainly and occasionally ZBrush, Fusion 360, and more recently Houdini.

What Software do you want to learn in future? And why?

Houdini and Substance Designer/Painter. I’ve been slowly getting acquainted with Houdini because I love how much more detail and control there is over everything, but the learning curve is immense. You really have to understand more of the intricacies of how 3D works on a microscopic level, but the results are very rewarding. I also want to improve at texturing which is where Substance Designer and Painter can come in. For a long time I’ve focused on creating interesting shapes and forms with simpler textures so I would like to add another level of depth to my work with better textures and shading.

Which books would you recommend to the read?

I should spend more time reading, but I’m just too busy balancing a job with creating my own work and learning new things to have much time to read. One of my favorite authors is Michael Crichton who writes great sci-fi fiction novels and I would recommend books like Prey, The Andromeda Strain, and Sphere to anybody interested in the genre.

What music do you listen to while working?

My music choices generally stay in the electronic genre. I enjoy a lot of trance and progressive house. Artists like BT, Chicane, Aly & Fila, and Hiroyuki ODA. When I want to relax a bit and focus I might listen to film/TV and game soundtracks like Evangelion, Mr. Robot, Blade Runner, and NieR Automata, or artists like bvdub, ASC, Moby, and Rob Dougan.

Any advice for new Artists?

I would encourage new artists to embrace their own creativity instead of trying to follow what is trendy. I see a lot of recycled ideas and even the same 3D assets/models and tutorials that people follow without adding much originality or their own voice. With your own style it is much easier to stand out in a saturated market.