A photo of me from 2005 2 days before the birth of my 1st child (I look so young!)
Photo taken This morning (complete with new beard)
Thats a pretty drastic difference you'll have to admit. So whats it down to ? A wicked lifestyle? Having Kids? A caffine intake the sized of a small country every day? Or could it be the life we lead as a result of doing our work?
I admit that over a decade of a minimum of 18 hours every day apart from birthdays and xmas is not the way you should live a life as a 3D Artist. Neither is it normally considered healthy to drink 30-40 strong coffees a day. But I'm not the only one who lives a life like this, so do a lot of artists. Art is not just a job, it should also be your passion. It certainly is with me and so you wont here me moan on about how its made me look like a grey haired old codger before my time as to me the cost has been worth every line , wrinkle and grey hair.
I teach a lot of young 3d artists just starting out in my free time and this year I've been on sort of a mini drive to bust a few myths about 3d and what a 'life as a 3d artist' is. (Such as the old "I'm not working for any firm unless its Blur, ILM, Weta" ... To which my reply is "well son in that case you wont be working as no one has ILM as their first ever job" lol). I try to point out the positives as well as the negatives that often get glossed over and ask them to make damn sure that this life is for them. It wont make you rich or more attractive to women. It wont make heads turn when you enter a room (unless its a 3d convention and your lucky or overly drunk lol).
3D Like many careers, has a cost and it can cost you things ranging from minor (and major) health niggles, losing freinds as your always working or improving your skills to the fact that there is no 'OK I know everything now' point like in some other occupations.
But ok you may be saying..... how do we know that your not a drunk or that having kids isn't to blame? Well I drink occasionally (95% of the year I am teatotal), and while kids can be stressful at times they more than make up for it with the pride and joy they bring.
So my message to those starting out is this. Make sure the cost is one your prepared to pay, not just now but in the future and that your very sure that its not just to 'be a cool 3d artist'. Do it because you love it and MUST do it, not as simply a career choice like being a lawyer or accountant.
The first 5-7 years I did of long hours, too much caffine etc didn't cause any issues, it was the ones after that when your no longer single and can't just say 'sod it I'm staying in bed till dinnertime'. But would I change it all if I could wind back time? No way, as I said I dont do this as a career choice (as there are far simpler ways to make a lot more money than you'll ever earn as an artist), I do it because I 'MUST' do it, and it comes from that drive from within that most artists share. It is the drive that keeps you going when times are tough, when you are stuck in the project from hell or have a boss who makes hitler look like he's a nice guy. Its the drive thats also your enemy making you pull longer hours than you need and often working unpaid in pursuit of the 'perfection' that is always unatainable.
Respect your artistic drive, but also fear it as when let loose it can be a monster all of its own. Reign it in and its your friend, let it run free and the cost can be high. But either way make sure like me that the cost is to your liking.
Oh and by the way, mudbox 2012's feature set has just been annouced here: LINK