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Help on how to get started in the Visualization business


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Hi everyone,

I've recently been trying to shift from the architectural to the visualization world, for the last months I've been training myself on how get better results on my renders and improving my portfolio, I've put a little variety of different scale projects to showcase the work I can do and have been applying to visualization firms around London since then. Now being a junior artist, I've been struggling a little bit on my applications, many times the job ads I find in London, always require +2/4 years of working experience and knowledge of certain other rendering software's which honestly happen to be nearly the same as the ones I use, but would just require some time to get used to it. With current pandemic situation I believe the market has decreased drastically and its been very competitive for the few positions that are available which happens to be quite overwhelming for a junior artist. So far from all my applications I've only received 2 interested answers from visualization firms which unfortunately didn't even follow up with any interviews.

I'm trying to get any advices from more experienced professionals on how to get that first job to get me started, or business owners advice on what they look for on applicants. I believe I have the right qualities and skills for a 3D artist but have just been struggling on getting noticed in such a big competitive environment, so any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.


Best regards.


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Hi there! Congrats on the big decision. Getting into a new industry can be a very exciting and challenging! In my experience, it does take some patience and flexibility to get where you want to go though. And I find that destination does change over time. I don't know what advice I can give you about finding an archviz job specifically, but I can tell you how things have worked out in my own career/life.

Why is that that you have decided to switch specifically to viz vs some other visual art or aspect of architecture? Is archviz what you're really passionate about, or is it just the closest thing you feel qualified for? Just curious. 

I basically got into the world of archviz through freelancing, doing whatever work came my way. I did CAD drawings, 3D models, photoshop work, product renderings, and some architectural renderings. There were one or two projects that once I got done, I realized I had probably just done someone's homework assignment... haha.  This would have been over 10 years ago now, and the world is definitely different now. And I was young, just graduated, just moved to NYC with no debt, and no one to support. I could afford to mess around and do random things. That being said, I graduated from architecture school during the housing crisis. The building trades industry was hit very hard, and this contributed to my need to be adaptable. So, some parallels with today, I think.

Eventually I freelanced for a product design firm that ended up bringing me on full time. That's really when my career got started. I of course had no idea at the time, but freelancing was the perfect way to meet a lot of people/companies on more even ground. You can grow your network and prove yourself relatively quickly. Definitely sink or swim though.

I worked at that firm for a year and went back to freelance, once again doing a variety of work, but mostly product renderings. Did that for about 5 years. And now have been working in-house at an AEC firm for over 4 years. And I'm still doing quite a variety of things. A combination of archviz, art direction, graphic design, marketing, etc.

You might have a laser beam focus, on archviz right now, but my main advice would be to keep an open mind, make real connections (not in a schmoozing or disingenuous way), and... be nice! Being a decent human goes a long way.

Don't get discouraged. It can take a long time to get the ball rolling. I know it can be a major mental challenge to be proactive and patient at the same time. I read somewhere that it takes an average of 6 months to find a job, and that increases as the level of the position your looking for increases.

Anyway, that may not all be totally relevant to your own situation, but I hope it helps in some tangential way!



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Thanks for you feedback Jinmu!

I've always been interested and passionate about CGI and the potential of it and working as an architectural assistant for the last year I've enjoyed more the bits of creating graphics and visuals for the projects, so that's why I want now to shift to a visualization career. It's the perfect fit as it puts together my passion for architecture and cgi.

I've considered trying to start as freelance too as that's my goal in the future, but thought it would be better to start working in house in a company to get more experience and better understanding of the market. Would you consider more easy to get started as a freelancer than in a firm?

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Starting off as a freelancer with no real experience can be a painful experience. Through no fault of your own, you get thrown in the 5 buck-a-render crowd. If you do want to try freelancing, stay off toxic sites like Fiverr and Upwork.

While you are looking for work, always apply to a position if you think you are not qualified for it. If they say you need Vray knowledge and you know Corona, still apply. I do hiring and resume review where I work, and I almost never pay attention to render software as it is all agnostic anyways. If you can make a great image with Redshift, you can do the same with Vray. It's not the engine doing the work, it's the artist telling the engine what to do. Sometimes HR people review resumes before hand and they stick to very pass/fail questions with software, but most companies tend to not do that. 

To help you on your journey, I do suggest you getting familiar with Rhino + Grasshopper. This will go a long way if you start applying to architectural studios as well. Any other knowledge of real time rendering such as Twinmotion/Lumion, Unreal, and even the dreaded Enscape will also boost your hiring chances. Diversify your portfolio as well. If I get 100 portfolios to review, 90 of them will have some empty Scandinavian bedroom scene. While they are all generally good quality, it's all the same. No one stands out. Be the one that stands out among the house in the woods and empty bedroom/kitchen scenes.

It is a long journey for some. It took me over a year to find my first job, but someone gave me a chance way back in those old timey days of 2003. Back when we drew GI by hand and had to walk our render to the client, uphill, in the snow, both ways. You will find work, but you need to stay positive. And never, never stop learning.

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All very good advice! I should mention that when I started freelancing, I was working in a gift shop making $9/hr. Luckily, I was naive enough to believe that the $2k I had in the bank and my little day job was enough to start my life in NYC... I'm sure I benefited from sites like Fiverr not really being a thing yet when I started and generally less competition. Also, most of my freelance work starting out was done in Rhino and not geared toward archviz. Solid 3D modeling skills was something I could offer that other junior level workers could not. I love/miss using Rhino...

To Scott's point, what is it that you can offer that other people can't? For me, mid-career, it's still my ability to do things other than archviz that makes me stand out from other archviz candidates. And, being an artist, and not just someone who knows which buttons to push, has been super important for me. There are many different paths.

I think it's important to cultivate options for yourself. There's nothing stopping you from taking on small projects here and there for a friend while you look for a full time position (assuming you're not working a full time architecture job still). What's your time frame like? 

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My portfolio consists of the typical projects just to show that I'm up to the requirements of architectural visualization, but I've also included some personal and more creative works, with different styles like digital drawings, illustration, graphic design would include videos too if I could. I'm interested in all sorts of art styles and very keen to try a little bit of everything in the creative field, I have tried and picked up on a good amount of software's as I'm always interested in finding new tools to create art and this is something that could make me stand out. I guess it's just a matter of waiting, as more opportunities will come out as things settle down with current situation. One of the hardest things I consider is just finding the motivation and not let myself down as time goes by without any responses. Time frame wise I just feel the pressure of finding a stable income as living in London ain't cheap at all, tried Fiverr to get some income as small as it could be, but the place is just full of people from low income countries that overtake the market with their cheap prices, no luck so far on that. 


Either way, thank you all for you help and feedback, it's greatly appreciated. Hopeful that things will change in the next time frame as I've seen some articles that companies will start hiring again and thus creating more opportunities.



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  • 3 weeks later...

hm, working for an archvis office is quite different than working for an architect, even doing inhouse renders.

If you really want to work in archvis you'll be using vfx and motion graphics tools. You'll have more in common with a film or game industry environments artists than you will an architect. Before setting up my own shop 8 years ago, my first job was for a French firm. Honestly they hired me because of my English and friendly outward demeanor ? - handling those architect clients is a big part of archvis. I then came up managing exports, prepping 3d imports and assets, clipping 2d assets as well. I think this is pretty typical. I'm sure you wont be running look dev, building custom textures or comp-ing final renders on your first day. That's for those artists who have 4-5 y of experience. 

Additionally, I can tell you that while velvet elvis says it doesn't matter what you render with or what modeler you use, I think it would be difficult to complete without being comfortable with a polygon modeler like Max, Cinema 4d, Maya or Blender. You learn one really well and all the rest are basically the same. And of course a rendering solution, but again you learn one very well and the rest are more or less the same. If youre coming in on the ground floor, being able to offer remedial 3d work and managing communication is a good entry point. Every office has their own pipeline and often teaching a newcomer is easier than fighting with a veteran who's only worked one pipeline for 6years and thinks its perfect. A foundation in and commitment to 3d graphics(shading and illumination models, texture workflows, etc) is encouraging as well. As for Twinmotions, Rhino, grasshopper and all those solutions; I'd say only if you want to work inhouse at an architects office. They're not built(rhino is a hard surface cad molder) for the speed and lack the features that deliver the high quality and flexibile outputs that Architects are willing to outsource for - I cant tell you how may enscape or lumion screenshots we're sent bc architects want something better. On the flipside however if you can manage Revit and SketchUp exports that's a big plus in the archvis world. No one in archvis wants to touch that stuff, its always a mess.  

Anyway that was very long winded. we're starting to see an uptick in inquires this year so I would stick with it a bit longer. I think there will be a need here soon as developers, end clients and architects start to sign contracts again.  ?

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  • 1 year later...

You can try working as a freelancer, and then once you gain experience, open your own firm. I think that makes sense, but if you want to work in a firm, you should buy a VoIP number, because it allows you to call anywhere in the world, and also gives you advantages in calls and, secondly, try to prove to your employer that they need you, that you have the skills that they need. To do that, build a portfolio working either for yourself or for a small firm.

Edited by boydenver
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