Samuel Sterling and His Fondness for Creation

by Joshua Diokno   

It has already been said before: turn your passion into a job and you won’t have to work a single day in your life. No one knows this better than 27-year old digital artist, Mr. Samuel Sterling. When he was in high school, Mr. Sterling had much fun working on the mod for Oblivion from Bethesda. He admits that he had become more engrossed in more than he had enjoyed playing the game. He had found the act of creation empowering. This informed him of his desire to become a 3D artist.

As a 3D creator, Mr Sterling had found out that he had been his biggest critic, and gathers all artists who take their work seriously are the same. And again, his young inclination had kicked in when asked if he had any favourite pieces. He said honestly that if he were to pick, he’d choose the work that  he had fun doing. And this here is a true artist—a creator who enjoys the process and is not quick to praise his own handiwork.

So today, let’s get to know Mr. Samuel Sterling and see how his personal artistic desires and passion had led him to where he is today.

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”?

Samuel Sterling (SS): From a very young age I’ve always gravitated towards art; sculpture specifically. My father was an engineer, and would often take things such as mechanical parts home and put them in the garage, I was fascinated by parts and how they could be fit together into sculptures. My hands are always occupied with something, and I’m definitely the type of person to take something apart or even break it to see how it works–sometimes to the dismay of others. I feel that many artists believe they have an unexplainable higher purpose, I sometimes think that art and coding go hand in hand in that humans have an urge to do them because we were made in the image of our creator, whoever that may be.

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?

SS: While I’ve always been interested in art and Classical Art History, the first thing that really inspired me that I wanted to be a 3D artist was the game Oblivion by Bethesda. In early highschool I had just as much fun if not more fun performing mod on the textures and meshes of that game than playing the game itself. I was able to edit the world around me to fit my desires, it was a powerful feeling. I’ve always loved how Bethesda allows the public to do this sort of thing. I first started getting involved more seriously in college where I’ve worked on several short films and indie games.

XC: We looked into the Facebook profile that you had sent and we really liked the works that we have seen. Seeing your works has been a blast. Do you have any favourite pieces? If so, what would these be?

SS: I really appreciate the kind words. It’s hard to choose a favorite piece because as an artist you’re always going to be your biggest critic. Usually for me my favorite pieces tend to be the ones that I had the most fun doing, rather than maybe the most technically and aesthetically pleasing ones. If I had to choose from my website, I’d probably choose Carneath Grotto and Crustacia, as they were both short projects that were a lot of fun to work on.

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

SS: As far as the industry is concerned, I still feel as I’m pretty green. There are so many knowledgeable and talented individuals out there, and carving out a place for myself feels like an uphill battle, but it is worth it because there is nothing in my life that I enjoy doing more.

XC: How does your day look like in production?

SS: From my and my friends experiences, it seems to be very different depending on the company you’re working for; things get complicated even more depending on whether you’re freelancing or an employee. Some productions are quick and go smoothly, and some require a lot of troubleshooting. I’m working at a smaller company now which means I wear many hats. We work in Unreal Engine and I have to do some more technical troubleshooting, as well as layout, asset creation, texturing lighting and sometimes rendering.

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

SS: Aside from the physical implications of sitting in front of a computer all day, I’d say the biggest hurdles I generally have to face are technical. There’s a lot that can go wrong; a server can go down, hardware can only handle so much stress. It gets more complicated when you’re working with other people such as clients. A client might want a change that sounds easy to them, when in reality that small change might tack on 20+ hours of work to a project. Making compromises with clients is very important.

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

SS: While I enjoy my job, and the projects I do there, Architectural Visualization isn’t exactly what I plan on doing for the rest of my life. I’d love to carve my way into the Game and VFX industries eventually. I think my favorite big project is a Space Ship I modeled and Rigged for a short ten-minute VFX film. It has I think ~70 other people working on it currently. I should probably check up on that project to see how it’s going.

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

SS: I’m a very hard worker; I can often work on something for sixteen hours at a time—only stopping to answer the calls of nature. I’m also a fast learner and am pretty easy to get along with.

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

SS: Honestly, I’m not sure. I’d probably be some sort of hermit in the woods, or maybe an engineer like my parents.

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

SS: Keep practicing and remember that we do what we do because it is what we love. Don’t let other people discourage you, everybody’s story is different and we all have personal struggles in life that are invisible to others.

Mr. Samuel Sterling has been in the 3D industry for 1 year.  He specializes in Environment Artist Architectural Visualization and is affiliated with Village Features 3D, South Carolina.

Want to see more of Mr. Sterling’s works? You can visit his Facebook Page or his own website.

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