Interview with Travis Davids

I started taking cg serious and started doing cg work in 2012. This is when I started learning new programs, posted tons of shitty work (I still do by the way) and joined forums to get critiqued constantly.

Travis Davids is a Freelance Digital Artist, Content Creator and Tea Drinking Addict from Johannesburg, South Africa with 9 years of industry experience.
He likes to work with Pixologic Zbrush, Marvelous Designer, Substance Painter, Daz 3D, Cinema 4D, Octane Render and Fusion 360.

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

I started out by creating items for a video game called The Sims. I found it so fascinating that I could visualize 3D objects that these silly characters could interact with. This incredible sense of freedom to just create whatever you wanted caught my interest. I grew up as the “artistic kid” always sketching on paper and being persuaded at school with chocolates and sweets to draw portraits of my classmates and teachers. I still love traditional art but once my eyeballs gazed upon the wonderful world of 3D I didn’t look back. My love for 3D just continually grew from this moment. Just the simple fact that I can design something that can be viewed from any angle imaginable is amazing. Discovering Zbrush also blew my mind. Manipulating digital clay was a completely new concept to me and it still fascinates me to this day. I love zbrush so much. It’s one of my favourite 3D programs.

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

I look outside my window and then my eyes start hurting because they hardly see sunlight so my eyes need to adjust to the brightness. Once my eyes have adjusted I look at the most beautiful canvas ever painted, reality. The world inspires me so much, oh and pinterest is super useful for gathering resources. It’s an absolute GOLD MINE of inspiration as well. It’s my go-to for reference and having a bunch of references I think is essential with whatever it is you are creating.

How does a typical working day look like?

I wake up sometimes really early (5am) or really late (1pm). I stay in my pyjamas all day and sometimes smell really funky. I make a cup of tea, sometimes regular tea, sometimes green tea (I drink a lot of tea, lots and lots of tea) and then I switch on my pc and don’t see the outside world for the rest of the day but I also make sure that I at least get in some kind of physical exercise. I own a skipping rope and jump rope at the end of the day for 15 mins. I then visit my Habitica app to make sure I completed all tasks for the day. Keeping track of goals (daily, weekly, monthly etc) is super important for me. It keeps me focused. I feel like it’s something we should all have in place. Having something to work towards is really important.

What does your workplace look like?

I reside within 4 white walls sitting on a refurbished leather pc chair that is starting to slowly tear again while staring at 2 screens that have programs on them that I use for hours every day to create stuff.

How do you stay motivated in this tough industry?

Bills because they don’t pay themselves lol. Ok, I’m kidding but seriously, CREATE. Constant creation for me keeps me motivated. If I keep doing the work and keep creating, learning and sharing I constantly stay inspired and motivated. I can’t remember the last time I said I felt unmotivated. It’s simply because I constantly keep myself busy so my mind stays busy.

What is your passion beside CGI/3D?

Travel & Teaching. Exploring this wonderful big round planet called Earth can spark so much inspiration to create new work. Teaching is also another HUGE passion of mine and ties in with my biggest passion which is 3D. Learning new tools and techniques and then passing that knowledge onto a fellow creative so that they can continue creating awesome artwork is very rewarding. Seeing someone take what they have learnt from you and build upon it is a wonderful thing to witness.

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

I just stay busy and constantly keep creating while at the same time making sure I’m learning new tools and techniques that I can utilize with my new work. I keep an eye on the industry giants to see what new tools they are using with their work and then I bite the bullet and jump in head first to learn these tools as well.

What Software do you use to create your artwork?

There’s a multitude of different programs that you end up using when you’re a 3D artist. The list would be huge if I mentioned all of them so I’ll just mention programs I use frequently. Pixologic Zbrush, Marvelous Designer, 3D Studio Max, Cinema 4D, Octane Render, Keyshot, Daz 3D, Substance Painter, Substance Designer, Adobe Photoshop and Fusion 360.

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

Anything that can make my life easier and make the process of doing previous tasks less mundane. Time is money, if a program can allow me to do previous tasks quicker then it’s going to be included in my design arsenal. I’m always open to trying new software. Work smarter not harder…right?

Which books would you recommend to the read?

Brian Tracy – Eat That Frog changed my entire mindset, I highly recommend reading this book or listening to the ebook if you’re lazy and hate reading OR if you’re smart and want to multi-task.

What music do you listen to while working?

Lo-Fi 24/7 radio on youtube or any lo-fi music that I find on Soundcloud. Sometimes I also listen to video game or movie scores. It’s quite relaxing and gets me in the zone while I’m creating. I also listen to A LOT of ASMR. It’s really weird (for most people), my friends think I’m weird for listening to a female scratch and tap her nails on funky objects for 2 hours. It’s relaxing, give it a try.

Any advice for new Artists?

BE INQUISITIVE! Ask questions! TRY NEW THINGS! Always be learning! Don’t be afraid to show your work to fellow artists that can provide CONSTRUCTIVE feedback. In the end all of this helps you grow. There’s some amazing art groups on Facebook like TEN THOUSAND HOURS and LevelUp where artists share the same passion as you and can provide some great feedback. Most importantly, don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is progress as long as you learn from what you have done wrong and then improve on it the next time you try something. Failure is bound to happen. Don’t let it discourage you. Let it continue to motivate you to get better. Always keep trying and you are bound to get better with tim