Interview with Julien Kaspar

Julien Kaspar is a 3D-Artist from Germany with 6 years of industry experience. He likes to work with Blender.

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

Roughly 8-9 years ago I stumbled onto Blender while actually searching for a free AutoCAD alternative. From there I got interested in what you could do with these 3D programs so I started digging into it. That was when I was 15 so I got a pretty early start. I started using it for school projects and fun free time models & animations and when I graduated and moved on to high school, every student had to take a 1 year internship at a company of their choosing. I got a place at a local photography studio called “Kubus” and that was the moment where my hobby turned into something bigger. For fun I presented my boss a logo animation I did with their company logo. It was the first time I actually rendered an animation and it definitely looked that way too but my boss was fascinated and told me I could experiment with all the equipment they have to just spend the time there learning. A couple of weeks later he told me he offered one of his clients a small logo animation, if I would be interested, and I was. In addition to that my sister Celia was studying media production at the time and I was able to help her out on some of the 3D assignments. Some time later I was working with her and her fellow students on short film productions.

So at the age of 16-17 I was making logo animations for local small companies and earning my first bit of money and I was involved in student projects a few years before I would even go to college. Eventually I even made a small advertisement that still runs in my hometown cinema before every movie to this day.

Through this time I created my first portfolio that landed me my 3 year apprenticeship at the “Liga 01 Computerfilm Studio” in Munich and from there to my current employment at the “Blender Animation Studio” in Amsterdam.

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

I think the main bulk of inspiration comes from websites like Artstation & Pinterest. I find myself spending a lot of time there, browsing other artists & artworks. I also watch movies, shows and play video games, when I have the time which also gives some great inspiration. It’s difficult to tell a specific inspiration since it’s such a big mass of influences that I can’t just name a few.

How does a typical working day look like?

I enjoy the working days at the Blender Institute a lot. For the most part they are no different from most other studios. Work starts usually at 10 am with a kickoff meeting at mondays. At 1 pm everyone gets together to have lunch in the kitchen and hangs out on a couch or beanie bag for the rest of the lunch break. On 5 pm there’s another short break for some fruit/bread snack and then work ends between 6 – 9 pm.

Most employees are working in the same space and this constant being together during the day is something I especially love about my days at work. On some days we also spend a short amount of time for the recording of the bi-weekly Podcast, guests visiting the studio or a quick nerfing match. After work, usually on fridays we also stay in the studio to play some board-, card-, or video games, watch some films or shows or go eat dinner together. This makes the studio really feel more like a second home and makes working more fun.

What does your workplace look like?

Since I started not too long ago at my new employment, mostly just my work equipment. I’m currently working on decorating the space with the studios 3D Printer by printing small models, painting them, placing them all around & sticking them to small LED lights or my light string.

My work setup consist of 2 monitors and a newly added wacom cintiq pro 16, a fairly high end linux pc and the usual mouse, keyboard and audio devices. I did order a german keyboard on my first week at the studio though since the layout is a bit different.

How do you stay motivated in this tough industry?

I think it’s important to mix things up. Just spending every free minute working either in the studio or on private projects at home burns you out over time. It happened a lot to me in the past.

Spend some time in between with friends, go around the town, watch some films or play some games & relax after coming back to work. But also keep your focus on your goal, on what you want to achieve but don’t try to rush it.

What is your passion beside CGI/3D?

Games. I am fascinated & involved a lot with games, mostly video games. I read and watch videos about game design a lot and don’t just spend my time playing the games I buy, but also analysing them.

So apart from 3D & 2D artworks I could very much see myself going more into game design in the future. And since making a games is still an active childhood dream of mine, maybe I’ll steer my focus in that direction in the future too.

What Software do you use to create your artwork?

For the most part Blender. In the past I switched between softwares a lot and also worked and am working with Photoshop, Krita, Zbrush, Quixel, Substance Painter, Mudbox, Maya & Softimage.

But in the end I always revolve around or return to Blender since it’s one of the first tools I used & learned and I’ve grown to love it very much. Also since I am now working at the studio where Blender is mainly being developed, I get to work side by side with the main software developers & suggest improvements and new features.

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

Right now I am focusing a lot on implementing my experience with other software and inserting these workflows into Blender with some potential new features for the future. That is where my main focus lies at the moment. Other than that I want to get more into Krita and Illustrations. In the past I played around with painting over my character renders in Photoshop and I always wanted to take this idea even further.

What music do you listen to while working?

Oh I listen to a lot of music. In recent years I fell more & more in love with soundtracks & music without vocals.
I love listening to or orchestral, synthetic & chiptune soundtracks and often a mix between them and I’m always looking for more. Since I grew up in a house with a gigantic music collection of CD’s and Vinyl albums I picked up the habit of buying my music as CD’s as well and building my own collections over the years.

Any advice for new Artists?

Lately I’ve been chatting with someone who’s frustrated a lot for not really moving forward enough. Progression and improvement of the artistic skills feels too slow and that can be very frustrating to the point of wanting to quit.. But learning to be good at something like art takes a lot of time & effort and it might take years until you feel comfortable with your work.
You look up to other artists and can’t help but compare yourself to them but instead try to compare yourself rather to their past selves when they were beginners. You might even be ahead of them in some regard.

I did the mistake of just trying to learn mostly on my own which cost me a some years of trying things out in the dark and if it hadn’t been for my friends & family who greatly supported me on the way, I would have quit as well. Give yourself smaller goals instead of something like “getting good at art” and instead learn things one step at a time & keep on moving. That way you’ll eventually get there too.