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Brian D. Smith Interview

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Brian Smith is a designer with a set of strong beliefs that shape the way he creates his art. Brian creates masterful illustrations that consist of 2D artwork that he integrates with 3D models. One of Brian's strongest beliefs is that all designers should get a proper education when it comes to their careers in design. Lets get into this interview.

1. Welcome to Psdtuts! Please introduce yourself, give us a brief bio, tell us where you're from, and how you got started in the field.

I'm 22 years old, have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and currently live in Allen, TX - a suburb north of Dallas. I grew up in Tucson, AZ to a German-Dutch father and Korean mother. We lived pretty close to the deserts and near Navajo communities. I would say the culmination of living in a community with strong ethnic values and being surrounded by vibrant and visual people really steered me to being who I am today—creative and worldly. 

Being an artist was pretty much my thing throughout the years. I was very hands-on building models from scratch materials and sketching anything and everything with pen and paper. I got into the field in almost the same week as when I got my first computer in 1999, and discovered websites like Skinz.org. I was very much into science fiction, and seeing some of the abstract wallpapers got me very curious about digital art.

2. Since you are very experienced in the field of 3D renders, what advice would you give to someone who is just starting to create these types of renders?

I wouldn't say I am very experienced, but I do know the logistics of computer 3D modeling. It's more or less a residual skill I picked up when trying to achieve a certain look and didn't have any better tools to use. While I can model just about anything (except realistic people/animals) in 3ds max and manage a complex workflow, I don't really enjoy focusing days on end on pure 3D.

I like to mix it up a bit. My patience with 3D gets rather short because I'm so used to dealing with 3D physically from when I do hands-on stuff, like building models or molding ceramic clay. I haven't successfully found a comfort zone with digital 3D, yet.

As far as advice is concerned, it's easy to get the hang of 3D once you understand the general workspace logic common throughout all 3D programs. If you can learn the terminology and major tools of a 3D program, you adapt your imagination into making anything and use the tools in any creative combination.

3. The majority of your designs incorporate 3D art with vibrant colors, what exactly draws you to this specific style?

I'm a very left-brained individual. I do web development work for my day job which suits me well, because I love analytical stuff, and programming. I'm also very fond of modern/contemporary architecture and futuristic lifestyles. I find an attraction to the aesthetics of the kind of work I do. All the geometry and technicalities behind my style appeals to my personality in a way I'm drawn into it.

4. You seem to use a lot of 3D renders in your art, give us a short walkthrough on how you create your renders.

I'm the kind of person who almost never plans anything out on paper. I just do it, and I'm usually listening to electronic music or just came out of an inspirational epiphany of some sort. My 3D renders and compositions come about through trial-and-error and whatever goes on in my head at the time. I find my work to be a little more genuine and reflective of me when I just go at it without any pre-planned thought. 

I find it kind of sad if I have to plan my creativity beforehand, especially work I do for myself only. Although, it helps to first have an idea—whether it be broad or specific at first. Whether I'm using Photoshop, 3ds max or Bryce, the rest is all imagination, and I'm afraid I don't have a walkthrough for that!

5. You use a lot of 2D line-work in your artwork. What extra element do you think they bring to your art?

Sometimes I create the more intricate versions of that 2D line-work in Adobe Illustrator, then bring it over to Adobe Photoshop where I'm doing the final composition of the piece. However, most of the time I do all that by hand right in Photoshop, using the marquee, pencil, fill, free-transform and layers set in various opacities and blend modes. 

I'm not sure what it adds to the piece per say, but it fits along the lines of my interests. That 2D stuff, however, was mostly as a result of me being a trendwhore. I just kind of stuck with it because I feel it's often an underrated element. In some pieces, I do purely 2D line art.

6. In terms of designing, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

At the moment, I'm definitely setting myself up for the next 5 years, and I can tell you for sure where I'll probably be. I'm looking to get into a Master's Degree program as soon as I'm financially capable of handling it again. By trade, I'm a web developer and interactive media artist, but I'd like to focus more on visual interactivity and ways humans interface with computers.

I also think we're coming to an evolution of haptic systems, now that Microsoft Surface, iPhone, and Magic Walls are becoming ubiquitous.  It’s a whole new era of interactivity I'd like to explore further.  Hopefully, in 5 years time, technology and I will be companions!

7. Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity at interviewing you, any final thoughts? What would you tell other designers that hope to be as good as you one day?

Since you asked, I'm going to go on a little diatribe here.  Go to college and get a degree. I think designers and artists totally underestimate the value of a degree and higher education in general.  I'm so annoyed by other artists who essentially sabotage themselves once they get out of high school. They think that this particular industry need not so much a degree, but a portfolio.

Since when did being a competent artist transcend the need to go to higher education?  This isn't the 70s or 80s.  We're in a day and age where you got to be marketable and competitive. If you can do well as a freelancer, then congratulations--you're a rarity. Do it as a favor to yourself, your family, and society by being educated, worldly, and most of all, useful. Find a niche, a specialty, or career path with your skills. Don't undermine yourself or live up to the starving artist stereotype.  Being an artist is as much as being a doctor, and I wish the creative crowds could take it seriously and transform the industry around so that it doesn't feel so subordinate.

Where to find Brian D. Smith on the Web

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