Interview with Ted Lockwood

I graduated from Digipen in 2004, worked on some unpaid projects for a while, then landed my first paid gig in 2005ish.

Ted Lockwood is a Freelance Character Artist from Bellingham, WA, United States of America with 14 years of industry experience.
He likes to work with Zbrush, 3Dsmax, Maya, Photoshop, Substance Painter and Marmoset.

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

I started playing with 3D Studio Max r2.5 in the late 1990’s while I was in high school. I honestly don’t remember how I originally found it, but I imagine being a gamer was what opened the door to 3D art for me. I taught myself the basics of 3d for a few years, just as a hobby, and didn’t really consider following it as a career until around the time I graduated high school. I ended up attending Digipen from 2002 through 2004, started doing free work on mods and indie games while working at 7-11, and eventually landed my first paid freelance gig a year or two later.

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

Artistically, most of my inspiration comes from the world of grafitti and its adjacent style-heavy genres. I find artistic inspiration everywhere, across every genre of art and music. I’m also really into backpacking, hiking, backcountry winter sports, and generally anything that gets me far away from civilization. My experiences out in nature recharge me, and the art and music I love inspire me.

How does a typical working day look like?

Wake up, feed the pets, run around with my dog Kronos for a bit, eat breakfast, then sketch (in zbrush) for an hour or so to get warmed up. My office is in the basement, so my commute is pretty mellow. After my warm up routine, I jam on work for most of the day, with another play session or walk with Kronos in the afternoon. He’s figured out that I tend to get wrapped up in my work pretty easily, so he’s gotten good at butting into my office and telling me when its time to get up and run around.

What does your workplace look like?

Too small. I’ve got my desk with a monitor and cintiq along one wall, with a lovely Aryz print above it. Along the opposite wall are all my acrylic painting supplies, with my easel setup in the middle, and my figurine collection on the book shelves.

How do you stay motivated in this tough industry?

I genuinely love sculpting, and the process of making 3d art in general. I’m lucky that I was born with a brain that enjoys the sometimes tediouts, technical process of bringing art into a game engine. I get very different kinds of satisfaction out of both sides of the job. Also, there’s not really any other job I’m remotely interested in doing, and I’ve got a mortgage.

What is your passion beside CGI/3D?

Artwise, I love acrylic painting and doing spraypaint murals. Aside from that, I’m really into backpacking, climbing, snowboarding and hiking. Getting out in nature, away from civilization, is essential for keeping my soul happy, and it helps recharge my artistic batteries.

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

I’m pretty much constantly sculpting or making art, with multiple side projects running alongside my contract work. I’m always producing new work, and with artstation becoming the portfolio standard for artists like me, it’s pretty easy to keep things updated.

What Software do you use to create your artwork?

Mostly Zbrush, 3dsmax and photoshop. I’ve recently picked up substance painter and marmoset, both of which are amazing programs, and I know how to use Maya if the client needs work delivered that way. It’s not my favorite when it comes to modeling, though.

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

I’ve just started learning Substance Painter, and will probably learn Substance Designer before long. They’re really powerful tools, and are quickly becoming industry standards, so I’ve got a double incentive to learn them.

Which books would you recommend to the read?

For art? I don’t think I have any recommendations there. In general? The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami is amazing. And if you like scifi at all, go read Hyperion by Dan Simmons. I read way too much scifi.

What music do you listen to while working?

My work music preferences evolve pretty continually. For a couple of months it was all gangster rap, then classical piano music, then synthwave, then psychedelic rock instrumentals…

Any advice for new Artists?

Always use reference! Also, you probably wont like your art at first, and that’s fine. Everyone starts off making bad art. You gotta push through it, just make lots and lots of art, and you’ll get there.