Mr. Travis Davids: An Artist Who Knows What He Wants

by Joshua Diokno   

At the young age of 29, Mr. Travis Davids is an artist who knows what he wants and how he can overcome any hurdle to his goal. Self-taught and not affiliated with any institution that would “validate” his talents and skills. He believes that there is simply no need for this. And looking at his works online, it is easy to agree with him.

Mr. Davids is also wise in that he had accepted the fact that a digital artist will not necessarily find a solid place for himself or herself in the industry. He knows that his discipline requires constant acquisition of knowledge and techniques, especially in these unique period in art.

So let us get to know Mr. Davids in this short feature and understand why Xeno Creatives believes that Mr. Travis Davids is one Digital Artist we should all watch out for.

Industry Experience: No industry experience. I don’t want to work directly in the industry, I prefer to work for myself and do occasional freelance.

Xeno Creatives (XC): We understand that with just about any craft, passion takes precedence. In your case, how did it start becoming a passion? Would we be right in assuming that you consider it a “calling”?

Travis Davids (TD): I’ve always been passionate about creating ever since I was a child. I wouldn’t say that it started becoming a passion, I’ve just always enjoyed the process of bringing ideas to life. One could certainly say it’s a calling.

XC: Did you have to attend an educational institution to further your capabilities?

TD: No. I am self-taught. Everything I have learned is from Youtube, Gumroad, Learn Squared and just endless trial and error. College/university qualifications for me personally are glorified pieces of paper stating that you’re capable of doing something. People don’t really care about this, especially in my chosen field. If you’re capable of creating something and you’re good at it, you’ll probably get hired. Dedication to your craft, honing your skills and creative problem solving is what is most important.

XC: Was there ever an art piece (digital or otherwise) or artist who served as a catalyst for your involvement in the craft? When did you get involved fully in the 3D industry?

TD: Not that I can pinpoint. I did graphic design from 2009-2015. But before I decided to do graphic design, I actually dabbled with 3D from 2005. I used to create mod objects for a video game called, “The Sims”. This truly sparked my interest in the endless possibilities with 3D. I was also capable of bringing more ideas to life in the digital realm. It just offered so much more flexibility. It wasn’t until 2015 that I decided to go back to my 3D roots and the rest is history. I still love graphic design and I feel like it still gets integrated into my workflow but 3D has taken center stage.

XC: Now that you’re an active part of the industry, would you say you have pegged a solid place in it?

TD: To be honest, no. I try not to rely on cementing myself completely in this industry because you are replaceable. The industry is extremely competitive. The moment you get complacent and feel as if you’re comfortable and you have a solid place in the industry, someone else will come along and show you that it’s not true. You need to always stay hungry. Remain inquisitive, continue learning. Every day is a struggle filled with endless failure and progression, there is no solid place for me, I need to keep pushing. It keeps me humble.

XC: How does your day look like in production?

TD: As I don’t work in a typical production setting, a typical day is still treated like any other work day but a bit more relaxed (no commuting to work and you get to stay in your pajamas the entire day). I work from home and for a lot of people this can be quite challenging because of the endless number of distractions. I write down all of my tasks that need to be completed for the day the night before. I tick off each task as the day progresses. I spend most of my time developing my own products and don’t do too much client work so I don’t really need to worry about any meetings in person or via skype/zoom.

Physically writing down all of my tasks that need to be completed has worked out wonderfully for me and keeps me productive. I need to create a sense of order or else I’ll just slack and never get anything done. So in a typical day, I wake up, drink tea (lots of tea, I love tea), look at my list of priorities, complete the list, go to sleep and repeat.

XC: What are the common challenges that a 3D artist like you encounters day-in, day-out in a project?

Remembering keyboard shortcuts. I know that might sound trivial but when you work in a plethora of different software, remembering simple functions can become quite a challenge. On average I’m working in 7-8 different programs daily. It’s the main reason why I also have a YouTube channel and record so many different workflows. It’s one way for me to remember how to do certain things for when I actually forget how it’s done and also help the community in the process. My memory is terrible so recording important workflows is essential for me as a 3D artist.

XC: Getting the chance to see your works online was such a visual treat. Your concepts are just as amazing as your eye for detail. How do you go about creating them? Is there a personal routine that
you follow before working?

TD: Thank you! No set routine, I work off spontaneity to be completely honest. I could be going for a walk and a creative idea gets generated, so I’ll open my phone app Evernote and write that idea down. I could be browsing Pinterest and see something interesting and then reimagine that concept and put my own spin on it while introducing something completely new. Once a creative spark is ignited, I never ignore it. I’ll write down those ideas immediately on a piece of paper and then jump quickly into 3D and create a super basic scene to start bringing my idea to life. I always start with the simplest building blocks, lighting and camera settings to see if an idea I have could actually translate effectively digitally.

XC: Do you have favourite pieces amongst your works? If so, what made them your favourite?

TD: None. I try not to get too emotionally attached to any of my work to call them a favorite. I love what I create but most of the time I want to get it out into the world for everyone to see. I want the community to get the message or interpret it in their own way as well as gaining insight to my workflow and then I want to move onto something new without dwelling too much on the past. I’m always focusing on progressing.

XC: What would you consider your biggest or most exciting project to date?

TD: Probably reimagining the South Park Characters. Not the biggest project (My products that I sell are always my biggest projects as they take months to create) but I thoroughly enjoyed working on every single character in South Park. Merging both 3D and 2D with artificial intelligence created this super fun workflow that I’m going to continue using moving forward. I loved the workflow so much that I shared an entire breakdown on my YouTube channel outlining the entire process so everyone else can try it as well. It was the first time I worked extensively with Artificial Intelligence and now I can truly see its potential and power.

XC: If you were to market yourself what would you highlight as your edge?

TD: My ability to never give up. I embrace failure as often as possible and use it as motivation to get better and learn from my mistakes. I think people are afraid of failure so they don’t even attempt to do certain things. Failure teaches you what you should do right the next time. Failure is progress.

XC: If you weren’t a 3D artist today, what would you be working as?

TD: There is no alternative.

XC: What is your message to other artists especially in these trying times?

TD: STAY INQUISITIVE! This is probably one of the most important things. Always remain a student. Stay hungry to keep learning. Don’t be afraid to fail. Keep trying. Keep pushing. You’ve got this! I know art can be very difficult but you can do it. Dedicate yourself to the craft. Interact with other creatives on social media. Post your best work, post your failures, stay creating. Don’t be afraid to post your work online, there are so many amazing art groups on Facebook with people willing to help (10k hours, blender, octane render). Post your art on Artstation, the community is massive! There are potential clients out there as well that might contact you for work. Stay busy, stay inquisitive, keep creating.

Want to get updated with Mr. Travis David’s most recent works? Be sure to visit his Facebook, Gumroad, and ArtStation accounts.

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