There are days in my life when I wake up and want to give it all up. 3D, Digital sculpting the whole damn lot and go and do normal things that let’s face it are much less hassle. I got asked a question by a guy from Take 2 games today and I don’t think he got the response he wanted. Basically he asked what it was like to have some sort of name in 3d and do DVD’s etc... My answer was it was 80% of putting up with various crap and 20% good stuff.
Before I released my DVD’s and wrote my articles I was a no one, a nobody who very few people had heard of unless they hung around in a couple of forums on the net. People respected my work and me as a person and I was staring to gain ground after battling long and hard in the industry. At the risk of offending many, it’s far easier to get somewhere if you live in one of the big epicentres of games and films. If you don’t then unless you are prepared to uproot you are basically pissing against the wind.
You see it’s a basic human thing that people will always be more impressed by people who have worked on a big name project, than a guy who while at the same skill level hasn’t. It’s an extension of human nature that if someone has created something for a game or film you loved then they must be ‘great’. That’s the sort of thing that bugs me as someone who lives in a remote area well away from the 3d world as such as there is no chance of me working on a big name project where I live. But I don’t really want to move house to somewhere I may not like either. I like living in the middle of nowhere, its quiet, there are no guns or riots and definitely no earthquakes.
So I made a choice long ago when I started out that I would make it about ‘the art’ and not what I did and for whom. The thing is most times people do not judge art on the art itself but by the artist and what and where he works and if they 'like him as a person'. As I rarely tell people who I am doing work for outside of the DVD’s and articles etc, this will always put me as second fiddle to guys born in another country. This to some degree I can live with, although like life itself, it isn’t fair. (But yet again no one said it would be right?)
Since I started doing DVD’s writing lots of articles etc, things have taken a darker turn. Suddenly I get people sending emails to me telling me I'm one step away from Adolph Hitler for daring to try and break the mould a bit in the 3d world. I’ve had threats of all sort of stuff, been the subject of dirty tricks campaigns from rival companies and artists that I never would have had if I hadn’t started doing what I do. Yes, I do realise that sounds paranoid, but trust me the DVD business is not ‘nice’ on a business footing. But it’s actually 2 sided as well. While it is apparently ‘OK’ for big companies to do dirty tricks on other companies, it’s not deemed ok for companies to do it back to them. But the news is, that’s not how business works. Let’s not forget the moment someone pays you for something you are in business whether you like it or not.
So now I try to play business as I was taught to by my father, who has run several large companies before retiring. His advice is to ‘take no prisoners, because the moment you do you’re fucked’. But the trouble is I can’t actually make myself do that, it’s not ‘right’ in my eyes. I play by my own rules which are no doubt old fashioned to most. I believe in fair play for everyone and making sure everyone gets the same chancewithout favoritism. But still I get all sorts of insults including bizarrely from people who do not speak much English complaining that they cannot understand me on my DVD’s. Now you see if I was buying a DVD from a country where English is not the 1st language I wouldn’t expect to be able to understand more than 20% of it! But hey, maybe I’m just crazy like that eh?
So it’s fair to say that the negative shift I see in people in the industry is getting me down. Whereas a couple of years back everyone got on with everyone else and helped each other regardless of position or placement, now it’s suddenly every man for himself. Maybe this is due to the fact that now there are much less jobs around than artists to fill them. All of a sudden you are not guaranteed a job even if you have the talent, as a company probably will go for someone with less talent and ability that lives closer than you. The industry can afford to pick and choose now. With 3D not being exactly cheap to get into, more and more people are getting into debt with no chance of getting their money back. So it’s no wonder suddenly there are whispering campaigns and people being nasty, as they feel their future lively hood is threatened.
So what will I do...will I give it all up and do one of the other things I’m good at? Or do I persevere and try and work through it? I have no idea but right now the fact that I will always be an outsider and never treated as equal to others who work for big firms (even though I taught some of them in the first place) and always be seen as 2nd best doesn’t appeal to me. If I am truly 'pissing against the wind' and there is no way to keep going then I may well just keep doing my art for me and no one else. As right now the fact that a great many industry names have learnt from my tutorials over the years and never even post in a thread of mine as a simple show of thanks is starting to make me think why should I bother sharing my knowledge at all if people are only out for themselves. I’m not in this to make other people rich and be successful or play 2nd fiddle to those I taught (harsh as that sounds.) Come what may I value my honesty above all else.
It comes down to the basic fact that I am sick and tired of being used by others as a means to get rich or get further in their careers with little or no thanks. I can name 2 or 3 very big names who have came to me for advice how to do things over the last few months alone, yet these same people never say a dicky bird about it in public as it would shatter their image as ‘top dudes’. I say nothing as it’s my own damn fault for allowing myself to be taken advantage of by guys who worked together, have been to the same colleges together, and so it’s no surprise they will favour each other over everyone else. That’s fine as long as they don’t expect me to help them to do it. So what does the future hold? Probably more of the same with an increase in the amount of crap I get as I release more and more. For every step up the ladder I take I will get 3 rungs kicked out from under me, but as I’m a pig headed old bastard it won’t stop me. In fact it may well make me only more detirmined to keep on getting as good as I can be.
When the time does come for me to call it a day on the 3D world I will go out with a bang and not a whimper. After all at heart I’m still a performer, and a true performer never lets go a chance like that. ;)