Meet our AREA artist of the Month, AJ Jefferies!
We couldn't help falling in love with AJ's quirky and youthful 3D characters, and we think you will too. Read on to hear about AJ's exciting work, his inspirations, The Monster Project and more.
How did you get your start in the 3D industry?
I'd always been interested in 3D but I was extremely fortunate in that the illustration course I attended at art college had a 3 hour 3D session, once a week, with an ex student who ran a small CGI studio (www.digitalprogression.co.uk). It was my first introduction to 3ds Max and I really took to it. At the end of the course, I was offered a job at the very same studio and that was the start of my career. 7 years later, I teamed up with another ex-student and we formed a two man studio (www.mdi-digital.com).
What inspires your work?
My main goal with my personal work is to create things that make people laugh. I tend to gravitate towards work that makes me smile, so I really enjoy creating silly things that might provoke that reaction. With my professional work, I simply try to do the best job I possibly can - it's always satisfying if you can exceed someone's expectations. Of course, the best thing is when the two overlap. Getting paid to make silly things is absolutely the best!
Who are your biggest influences?
It changes daily! Thanks to social media and portfolio sites like Artstation and AREA, I'm always being exposed to new and exciting talent. I don't necessarily think I have a definitive style that runs through my work but I'm always hoovering up the work of other artists, whether I'm conscious of it or not, and that definitely influences me. I get most excited when I see a talented 2D artist who pushes their designs in ways that most 3D artists wouldn't even think of.
What have you worked on that you are most proud of?
I'm extremely lucky in that it's hard to pick a single answer for this one! I always get a buzz when I see my artwork out in the wild, so the work I did for Cadbury is right up there but I would have to say that one of the things I'm proudest of is taking part in The Monster Project.
What is the Monster Project? How have you been involved with it?
The Monster Project is a wonderful scheme, created and run by Katie Johnson, that connects school kids' imaginations with professional artists all around the world. It's an incredibly fun collaboration, where kids dream up all sorts brilliant monsters, and then each kid has an artist that basically creates a piece of fan art of their creation! It's so much fun plus it encourages kids to see that you can make a living out of being creative. I've taken part since 2014 and it's always a real highlight of my year.
How do you use Autodesk software?
I've used 3ds Max for a little over 20 years now and it's hard for me to picture my working life without it. For me it really does feel like the perfect tool of the generalist, even after all these years I still find new methods and techniques to speed up my workflow. It's also nice to know that if a client comes back and wants to pick up an old project, the working files will still open even in the latest version of the software, even a decade later.
What are some of the misconceptions of a career in 3D illustration and animation?
I think the main thing is that there is a clearly defined career path! You'll encounter people doing the same job but who have arrived from a completely different trajectory. I myself didn't ever envision that this would be my full time job for 20 years! One thing I have learned is to embrace change, it can be unsettling when you have a plan in your head and things veer off course but from experience every time you work in an unexpected
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