Ep.188: Andrew Price (Blender Guru) on work life balance as an artist

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Nov 15, 2018 •  Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Andrew Price, better known as Blender Guru about the important topic of work-life balance as an artist. It’s another year after interview!

Get in touch with Andrew

Special thanks to Andrew for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Andrew Price, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles

hi, guys, and welcome back to another episode of Art Side of Life. I’m Iva, and in today’s episode, we will talk with Andrew price. And you might know him as a blender guru from YouTube, where he shares a lot of different 3d tutorials using Blender. And we already did the interview with him last year, and there has been a lot of changes in his life and his career. So hopefully you will enjoy this episode. And before we get to the interview part, I would like to thank our stupid for sponsoring this video. Because with AstroPad, you can use your iPad Pro as a vital as graphics tablet for your Mac. And I really enjoy the using Photoshop and Illustrator because I already have a lot of custom made brushes. And some of you might have seen this tutorial which I create the the for the Halloween theme pumpkin and I did a color and light study or material study. And I wanted to use a lot of different layer modes to try out what is the best of a city or ethic to create this life inside of the pumpkin. And I really like to use Photoshop for that. So if you want to try for yourself, guys over at AstroPad gave us 10% discount. So you can just go over to artsideoflife.com/astropad. And use your promo code artside to get a 10% discount for the studio licenses. And if you have any questions you can let me know in comment below. And now let’s just get to the interview part. So welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to endure here. Hello. Hello,

Andrew Price

everybody. I’m back.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, and for you who don’t know, maybe so Andrew like is a blender guru. So you should check out the YouTube channel if you haven’t seen it yet, which is almost impossible. So let’s talk about you know what changed from last year. When we talk, these are almost exactly a year as we talked about the elders to the difference. But they did so many different projects meanwhile, and the family status change as well. So maybe you can tell us a bit more about that how all of these work life balance is working out for you now.

Andrew Price

Yeah, exactly. So I had a baby. Five months old now. And yeah, everybody was telling me like, you know, when you have a baby, like you won’t have any time to, you know, do your art. And I was like, I’ll make it work. It’s not going to be as bad as everybody says it is. But it really is. It really is. It’s, it’s, I’ll tell you why. Because it’s not like, the baby takes up so much time. But it’s like, I used to go home in the evenings. And I would just do blender, right, I just doodle around or I would try to learn ZBrush or something like that. And it’s like, my wife looks after the baby, because that’s that’s her full time job. Basically. She’s, she’s like, You handle the money, I’ll handle the baby. But when I’m home, she’s like, Oh, the baby’s crying. And I got to put the washing on, can you just hold her like that? And I’ll be like, deep into like, trying to figure this thing out on the thing. And I’m like, Ah, you know, how do I get the lighting thing and then suddenly, like she will like materialize next to me and like tapped me on the show. And it’s like, can you hold the screaming baby and I’m just like, pulled out of it immediately. And it just derails me and then I and then like that could just be like three minutes, but that like getting back into it will take like they even did the state said like it can take once you get distracted, it can take up to 20 minutes to get back into a deep state from where you were before. And then you know, maybe five minutes later, something else will happen. And it’s like I’ve realized I can’t actually get anything done at home anymore. So I’m in my office now. So that’s good. But when I’m at my office, I get people that work with me calling me or Skyping me or Yeah, people. Yeah, what a burden.

Iva Mikles

And if you are not in the office, you also you mentioned polygon and we see that so what’s up with that?

Andrew Price

Hey, yeah, I polygon. Yeah, so that is the other thing that is taking up a big part of my time, and I feel like I’m such a complainer, like, oh, I don’t have enough time. Like, like,

Iva Mikles

yeah, everyone wants to be with you. You know, it’s difficult. It’s

Andrew Price

yeah, so, yeah, so polygon was my adventure that I started two years ago. And it’s basically a texturing website, because I’m a 3d artist. And I noticed like, whenever I wanted to make something like an architecture scene, there was only like rule colored textured images, like wood is like, texted, but as any 3d artists will tell you, in order to use that in a render, you’ve got to calculate the bump and the reflection maps and all that stuff. So you had to use like extra software like now, though, crazy bump to do that. And I hated it. Because it was like, every time you downloaded a texture, you had to do that step. And I’m like, Why don’t the guy who owns the texture website, just provide that with the textures? So that was the idea behind polygon? Yes, but it’s now like our, like, blender or the YouTube channel? Like, I don’t know how other youtubers survive off the money. It’s not enough, right? I think, I think I don’t know what it would be. But maybe this year, I might get like, 50,000 US dollars from the YouTube channel, which would be enough, it wouldn’t be enough for myself and my wife, because she doesn’t have a job to be like single income. Like that’s barely enough to get by. I feel

Iva Mikles

like which town you live in, right? Because if you’re exempt Francisco, you would starve. And if you are, I don’t know where then you will be like, it’s not that bad.

Andrew Price

Exactly. Yeah, I was talking with a guy in in LA, well, we’ll get to that, maybe. But he’s, he’s from a small town in France. And He calculated that, like, on his wage in LA, he works about every week, two weeks for him, or sorry, two hours for himself. meaning out of the 40 hours a week, it costs him 38 hours of his work time to pay for expenses in Los Angeles. And then he pockets like two hours at the end of the week. Whereas in his hometown, when he where he was doing freelance work, he was pocketing 39 hours out of the week. Because of the expenses being so long, but you know, that’s that’s one of the things with it. But anyways, yeah, so So that’s polygon is taking up a lot of my time there. And I’m trying to balance YouTube on the same thing. But yeah, that’s what I’m up to.

Iva Mikles

Yeah. And so you are when you are working and the polygon, then is that like you schedule it always, like you work on this during the day and then YouTube at night? Or do you have a different schedules? Or how does your like, week look like, you know, when you’re planning like, Okay, this will bring me income to support my family. This is also for the community. This is like, so how do you prioritize?

Andrew Price

Yeah, you know, I wish I had, I’ve tried it before, like a work, a work journal, whereby you go like, okay, Monday morning from 8am to 10am. I’m doing accountant stuff, or I don’t know, something like admin. But I, I felt myself it like it’s very rigid. And I probably should do it to be fair, I feel like I shouldn’t be doing it. Because that is one of my weaknesses is that I tend to go deep into something and like, if I’m going to make a tutorial, that’s my focus for like, two or three weeks. And then I don’t answer my emails, you know, wow. You know, and so I should I should balance it. I definitely should. I’m keen to know from people in the comments. Does anybody else do that? Do they have a structured timetable for their work? And does it actually work for you? Because my business coach was always pressuring me to do it. But it never worked for me, but I’m curious if if it works for others. What do you do? Yeah,

Iva Mikles

that’ll be actually really, as you mentioned, like, good to hear what people do is they like to do the bullet points. So yeah, guys write it in the comments. If you feel like like, no, this doesn’t work. Like totally works. Because for me, like, I love to do bullet points. Oh, my gosh, I have them just like, you know, right. Thanks to me, right. You know, like, I did this.

Andrew Price

Right. Yeah. Like,

Iva Mikles

so. And then you can put like color codes. And yeah, yeah.

Andrew Price

All right. Gotcha. Yeah. So, I mean, there’s so many methods like you could, like just have one task for the day people say like one to do to do element. Because like if you have more than a couple, like there’s too much for your mind to sort of I’ve read so much into it. And it’s like, it’s always a struggle. Like I’m just constantly putting out fires instead of being proactive, which is yeah, not where you want to be like

Iva Mikles

more things like to plan ahead, right? Yeah. But it’s like, if you like planning, right, because if I also do like some of these things that I just did, this one wasn’t on my to do list. Sometimes I even write it there. So I have some kickoff, which did I feel more accomplished? Like, oh, I need something more.

Andrew Price

I know, I do that sometimes. Like, I’ve just been working on this task for ages. And then I realized it wasn’t I finally finish it. And then I realized it wasn’t on my to do list. So I write it out on my to do list and then check it immediately. I’m like, yes.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, definitely. Well, it works. Yeah, well, so well, they want me to ask it. So if someone wants to start actually, like YouTube channel now, and you know, like they would like to do maybe 3d or tutorials, what would you advise someone just starting out now? Do you think it’s still like worth it to start YouTube? You know, because a lot of people are like, Isn’t it too late? You know, and all of these questions are within focus rather on like mentions, like, Okay, I will create like, Polygon, you know, so what do you think? How would you start? Maybe now, again, if you would start?

Andrew Price

Sure, sure. Okay. I’ve thought about this a lot. I definitely don’t think it’s too late. Okay, there are like if you’re interested in making tutorials, and you’ll look on YouTube, and you see that there’s hundreds of 1000s of tutorials already. Don’t let that discourage you, because the majority of them are not very good. I’m not saying that like mean, but it’s it. And my original, my first tutorials that I made were completely in that bucket, you get better over time. I think that if you were to be a mediocre tutorial creator, then yes, it’s a saturated market, because there are also hundreds of 1000s of mediocre tutorials. What you want to focus on is how to be like, what is it that the viewer wants? What are they not getting from someone else? And there is I’ve got a list of about 100 tutorials I need to make that people have been requesting for that I honestly probably will never get to in my lifetime. That is stuff out there that people want to learn. And it’s just not being hit at the moment. Like, for example, I was surprised I was searching for like, in blender like, is there a car tutorial, like from start to finish? How to make a car? And there actually isn’t that many? Like there was like one or two? Couple of them didn’t even have audio? Like it’s just like a splitting thing? With the music. Yeah. And it’s like, that’s a huge topic people have and that’s, that’s a hot search term as well. But, and that’s the other thing I would say you want to focus on the right things, the right topics, because, like, and this applies not just to tutorials, but anything you do related to, I guess when you’re relying on a consumer or a viewer or anything like that. So in the topic of creating models, like for model libraries, like if you wanted to create models and sell them on Turbo Squid, you know, Turbo Squid, yeah.

Iva Mikles

I just heard about it. So I’m not like, knowing everything. So but yeah,

Andrew Price
sure, sure. But yeah, Turbo Squid is a way to earn money, like you just make a model and then you put it on Turbo Squid. The thing is, is that there is the amount of time that you spend on a model is not going to be equal or like across different different subjects. So what I mean by that is, if you were to spend two weeks creating a model, that was like a photorealistic power transformer, like a box that sits outside of a house, that it’s a power transformer, right if you were to make a photorealistic one with like little screws and like great texturing and it was just like the best thing. It’s still a power transformer. That’s a very limited specific market. And it’s um, regardless of the quality it there’s only going to be a select group of people that are going to be interested in that. However, put that same two weeks of work into creating a character, a male, a male or female character, that is like a static like generic that can be used across so many things in archivists or in background shots or as a hero character. That amount of work that you put into it is going to be multiplied by 100 compared to the transform or 1000 or whatever. So you want to focus on like, what, what is the people want to learn, like, so go to YouTube and see, this is what I do when I first started. And it’s still equally applicable today, you go to a forum where your niche hangs out where your community hangs out, and you see what questions people are asking. So I would literally go to the blender forums, and I would go to the Help section, and I would see what problems people have. And I would see, like, somebody had a question about how to use curves in Blender, right? Like, uh huh. And everybody was talking about curves, like, how do you do this thing? And so I thought, so what could I do with curves? And then I guess come up with I think one of the ones that it was a rote tutorial, like making curves to create a rope. And then that’s, that’s popular and the thing and then you post it, and people in the comments go like, Oh, I was searching for this just the other day. And it’s like, yeah, because? Because I found that you guys. Yes. Yeah. So there’s like, and the other thing is like, since the day I started, basically, I’ve had a competitor CG cookie, that made blender tutorials, they didn’t affect me at all. And I don’t think I affected them at all, in terms of like stealing views or anything like that. Because the everybody wants to learn different things. And if you watch one, it’s not like, there’s so much content out there that like, Oh, I’m never gonna watch it or like, I’ve got to choose between this person or watching this video. It’s like, there’s so much room in there that I feel like worrying about saturation, or a competitor or trying to get attention, like just focus on being good, and the rest will fall into place. And also

Iva Mikles

what worked for you was to be in the video, right? So it’s not just you know, like, the tools but also you talk to the person and when you are doing the tutorial, so they feel like they’re learning from, you know, just some random video on YouTube, I guess.

Andrew Price

Yes, yes. I didn’t actually put my face like I started doing webcam as well, like a couple of years ago, perhaps. But when I started, it was just my voice. But yeah, that was something that I I tried to develop over time. Because I know myself when I was in school, like I hated school. I mean, typical everybody hated school, right. But I specifically, like I got terrible grades. I said this in a previous interview. But like, in Queensland, Australia, when you graduate high school, you get given a score on one to 25. One being the best. 25 being the absolute worst. And I was so bad at school, I got a 19, which is, some could say it’s harder to get like a score that low than it is to get like a good score. So I did terribly at school. Like every teacher said, I just wasn’t listening. So my approach to I basically tried to apply that to my videos in that, like, how would I want to be told this information? How would I structure it? That’s the only thing I find in a lot of people that make tutorials. There’s a difference between teaching and then like telling. And one of the quotes that I’ve always remembered is, I think it was by by Mark Twain. Who was a by I can’t remember Woody Guthrie? Yes. Who said, Any fool can make something sound complicated. It takes a genius to make it sound simple. And I think that’s so true. Like the shorter I make my videos, the longer it takes to prepare them. Yes, to compress and condense information into something that can be understood clearly. That is rare. So if you want to be like a like, if you want to be a success on YouTube, if you just spend ages and like look at what the pros do, like Vsauce CG P prey, I think his name is there was another guy who made ah, the film guy who like broke down films. What’s his name? Actually, I

Iva Mikles

don’t know. Okay.

Andrew Price
He would like he made this one on like Jackie Chan and why it’s like the best best comedy, like how to do action anyway. So Right? Yeah. I’m sure 100 People are gonna write in the comments. But anyways, the way those so just look through that videos and see the way that they explain. And you’ll realize that the content that they’re making isn’t original, like, it’s not like, they’re the first ones to write about that topic. They’re the first ones to explain it clearly. And in an entertaining way. That’s their success. It’s not like they thought of the best idea. So focus on like, there’s actually a good book I recommend presenting too when it’s designed for like public speaking, but it’s the majority of it is in fact all of it is about structuring a presentation And, and the way you phrase things and how to make people understand it. So that’s a good book, if you want to get into tutorials, seriously, I recommend that it’s

Iva Mikles

one I haven’t read. But there is also one about the presentation is called steal the show. This is when you like in real life presenting and stuff. So this one is also quite good. Maybe you would like it.

Andrew Price

I’ve got that. I know. It’s about like Winston Churchill, like how he would like

Iva Mikles

you to know, it’s more like these extra guy he had, like his experiences, how he portrayed the character. And basically, that’s what you’re doing when you’re presenting. So he’s talking about, like, acting versus real life presentation, how to get attention how to, you know, like, all of these

Andrew Price

rights. Okay, well, maybe I haven’t read that steal the show. Okay, that sounds good. Yeah. You apply some of his.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, it’s breaking when I when I started to do the workshops and talks, live talks when you have like, 70 people in the room. And, you know, you’re like, Okay, everybody’s looking at me, I should be professional. You know, so, yeah. So I was reading this book before I started. And I think it helped because you just make you think, like, okay, they’re not there to judge you but to learn something. So that’s kind of the the first step of the mindset that I’m like, Yeah, that makes sense.

Andrew Price

Yeah, the other thing I find help, like, they want you to succeed as well. Yeah. Like, they don’t want you to fail. And flounder, they hope that you like kill it. So like, don’t worry that they’re trying to bring you down. That was something that helped me. So you do live live presentations like these? Oh,

Iva Mikles

yeah, I started to do that. So the next one we are doing is in Geneva with Loise. So she will be doing Colton, like characters and then I will be doing color and light. So this will be in September, if I correctly remember the date.

Andrew Price

That is cool. Yeah, I reckon that’s gonna be that’s gonna be a pretty popular presentation, right?

Iva Mikles

So hopefully, yeah. And it’s like limited seating. So I think it’s a it’s going to be like a smaller group of people, though, like 2030. So it’s more like a workshop type of thing. Because the last one we did together was in Hamburg. And that one was bigger. So yeah.

Andrew Price

Is, is Geneva or Zurich, bigger in terms of artists?

Iva Mikles

Um, I think it’s Geneva because it’s more closer to French part, you know. And in France, you have a lot of artists and in Germany, I think it’s mostly Berlin, with like, condensation of artists and touring is German speaking. And it’s not so much art. At least, like galleries but not so many like gaming studios or something like that. So yeah,

Andrew Price

right. Right. Interesting. I asked, because I’m like, I’m actually doing a I’m putting together an Excel spreadsheet, finding where all the artists of the world are. Oh, cool. So what did you find? Well, actually, I was, originally I was thinking of moving to Los Angeles, because that is where all the artists are. Are. So I thought, oh, oh, are they? Yeah, so what I did was I went on odd station, and I searched for the locations, like did a search based on country and city. And, and then I just, like, wrote down the amount of artists and then I filtered that by people who use ZBrush, or blender or things like that, to try to figure out where the 3d artists are. And then I also discovered where the studios are using some maps and things. And surprisingly, it’s not la it’s London. Yeah, London actually has there’s like 2500 Royal artists in LA. But then London has 3000 3046 or something. And then, yeah, and a lot of more like, like double the amount of VFX Studios in London than Hollywood. Isn’t that crazy? Isn’t Yeah,

Iva Mikles

but maybe yeah, everything for Europe is kind of in there. I don’t know. Because what I felt was like, if I think about like art and Europe, I would think about London, Berlin. And I think that’s that’s it what they would think.

Andrew Price

What about Paris? Because Paris is huge as well. It’s more than LA as well, like 2600. Crazy. Yeah, that’s

Iva Mikles

true. Yeah. Because I don’t speak French that well, right. So it’s really difficult. I feel like in Berlin, it’s still okay. Even though Yeah, it’s German, but a lot of people speak English. And in Paris, I feel like he’s less but maybe now people in comments will be like, that’s not true. That’s like, but yeah, that was just my artists. But anyway, yeah. So yeah, hopefully

Andrew Price

you all as well. Another French French city. That’s, that’s huge. Yeah. And

Iva Mikles

Uber animation studios, but yeah, if you publish these I’m sure a lot of people will be like, yeah, so interesting. So I’m looking forward to see that video. That would be awesome. Yeah,

Andrew Price

I’ll publish it. I might. Yeah. Might do a video on it. Yeah.

Iva Mikles

And before we then That’s a good way. Maybe you can kind of do some like last advice vote, would you kind of advice yourself, you know, like some new stuff? Or do you learn them? You know, like, Oh, this is so new. I’m like now, you know, I know everything.

Andrew Price

Yeah, sure. So three things. We didn’t actually mention it on this. But yeah, so I went to LA during this last year. And I shot an interview series, sponsored by the Australian Government, actually, they paid me money to go over to LA, to film anything I wanted. And so I film these artists, and I did these long form interviews that you can watch on my channel if you’re interested. But basically, a whole bunch of artists that work at like Blizzard Riot Games, blow studios, like top top dudes who know their stuff. And yeah, so my, like, there’s six episodes so far. But like the key takeaways that I think stuck out to me were one, fundamentals are absolutely key, like the art fundamentals, and studying and reading books like these dudes, they never stopped reading. And if you ask them, like, if you got any books you recommend, like, where did you learn about the fundamentals that like, Oh, I got to put together a blog post, with like, the 100 books that I you know, they know, they just never stop reading and learning. And so you definitely got to get into that. And then the second thing is exposure to the industry. Like if you talk to any of these people, and you like, comment, or compliment their work, like, oh, man, I love that, that image you did for this thing, and they’re like, No, you should meet some of the people that I work with. And they’re like, they all go like, I’m nothing compared to the people at the studio that I met. And I think that it’s like constant exposure to people that are better than you just naturally elevates you because now your taste is so much higher. Whereas if you stay at like a, you know, amateur or you’re you feel comfortable, you never feel the pressure to improve as much as you do is when you’re with really talented people. And then finally, the third thing was, this was like a learning one for me. But I my previous advice for people was don’t bother going to art school or design school, because I think they’re a rip off. And most of them are just horrible. They’re terrible. You shouldn’t go to them. But I discovered that actually, some of these people I spoke with, they did go to school, and a lot of them actually did learn a lot from it. So it depends entirely on the school, because there was also somebody I spoke to said, they went to school, it was a complete ripoff. So it definitely, it definitely depends. And I think there’s a website, the rookies, they actually do a school ranking system for the 3d industry. And it’s for like games of the effects and they actually rank them according to a school thing

Iva Mikles

to the or it’s only for 3d schools.

Andrew Price

I think they do Yeah, like concept that I think is one of the categories. So the rookies, just type in the rookies school, ranking, whatever. It’s like it’s a big thing. I think now, Autodesk sponsors it, which might be a little bit. What are they interested in? Yeah. But anyway, so those would be my Three Things like art fundamentals, expose yourself to better people, and then school may not be as bad as I thought.

Iva Mikles

But as you mentioned, art fundamentals. I mean, like any other profession, you have to learn because otherwise, you know, like, where would you be? So you just don’t like fold up? Like, I know everything now.

Andrew Price

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And also,

Iva Mikles

how you did to schools, actually. So yeah, I studied marketing and management. And then I studied multimedia design in Denmark. Yeah. Anyway, so good to explore different school systems. And as you mentioned, just like explore the world and spend time with people who inspire you in a good way. So you are motivated to do stuff and like, yeah, everything is possible. Yeah.

Andrew Price

Yeah. Hang out with people like like lowish. Like what you’re doing?

Iva Mikles

Are you are everyone around online, it’s like, if you don’t have a chance to talk with them, then just watch the videos, right? Because that helps, too. Right?

Andrew Price

Yeah, yeah, go to art station and just watch the top art and you’ll be you’ll be fine. Yeah.

Iva Mikles

So thank you so much, again, for being here you go super nice. Yeah,

Andrew Price

no worries. Thanks for having me on.

Iva Mikles

Thank you. And thanks, everyone, guys, you know, like for watching and listening and yeah, right in the comments like what are your thoughts about the organizing and also maybe studying what is your experience with schools?

Andrew Price

Or do you think about schools? Was it good? Yeah. Or where would

Iva Mikles

you go to study if you do it again, right. Perfect. So yeah, so thanks again. And yeah, see you guys in the next video. Bye. So that was it, guys. Thank you so much for listening and sticking around until the end and If you’re interested in some of the things we talked about, I will put these links in the description so you can check it out. And if you want to watch some of the YouTube videos, you can just head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube or just go directly to YouTube. And you can just let me know what you think in the comments. And if you would spare five minutes, I would really love if you can write a review on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you listen or get to your podcast. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much again for being here and talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

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Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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