You know you've really found your place when you can't imagine doing anything else in life.
It is the case of freelance multimedia artist Anthony Birland, who was bold enough to step into a design agency whilst still studying and ask what kind of skillset was required to get hired in the team. Anthony is still happy about his life choices to this day, which is arguably a pretty good achievement in the middle of a pandemic.
For this Member Spotlight, we've had a chat with a passionate and bold creative with inspiring ambitions and dazzling dreams for the industry.
How did you get into the industry?
Since the age of 13 I was fascinated with Photoshop and would spend hours at home experimenting with techniques to create (what i thought were) cool effects, which developed into something more exciting when i discovered Cinema 4D. I couldn't believe people got paid to do this kind of work. I decided I wanted to be a 3d designer and so I chose to study Multimedia at College.
I went on a tour to a big local design agency within my area and I loved it. The energy, the music, the creatives drawing ideas, huge displays all over the walls showcasing all kinds of animation work with big brands on display, it was so exciting! I asked for a face-to-face with the head of the Multimedia team at the time. They invited me in and showed me the standard of work required to be hired there.
I was devastated when they showed me a series of kitchen images that I thought were photos but were actually incredible 3d renders. I said I would come back when I had the skills. As I was in my second year of College i decided to enroll at University and specailise in 3d so I could focus my time developing my skills to the level I needed to get this job.
I couldn't believe people got paid to do this kind of work
During my final year in University, for my dissertation I had to find a 'live client' to set me a project. I contacted the design agency and they remembered me from my visit 3 years before. After seeing my work they were impressed with my progress and agreed to be my client for my project.
They said I had to work in-studio which I was really keen to do, so i could get some insight to the industry before I graduated. They said the 3 month project I had to create was something they would do in 1 month. So I took this challenge and did just that. I submitted my work early and got a distinction for my project. The studio hired me in April and I graduated in July.
A decade on and still as enthusiastic about 3d and animation now as I was then. I can't see that changing any time soon.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I'm based in the UK in the Midlands and so most of my clients are UK based but the best thing about being a remote freelancer is that I can work anywhere in the world!
I often take long trips backpacking around the world so I usually take my laptop with me and work whilst I'm on the move. All I need is an internet connection and a comfortable seat and I'm ready to work.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
I've often thought about this question and honestly, I can't imagine doing anything else. I would perhaps be doing something that allowed me to travel or live in another country. Perhaps running some kind of hostel abroad, I enjoy hospitality jobs and have often wondered what it would be like to set up for digital nomads as a working space but also accommodation.
Can you explain your creative process?
It all depends how I'm feeling at the time and what type of project I'm creating. I like to create personal projects when I can and for these, my starting point is always a mind-map on my whiteboard. I like to fill it up with as many random ideas as I can no matter how big or small. I then choose an idea and create a folder of references exploring different compositions and styles that I would like to consider. I try not to look at them for too long though, it's easy to get an idea stuck in your mind and lose sight of your own idea.
I find that I work best getting straight into 3d and begin blocking out my ideas instead of sketching. I prefer to let my projects evolve organically as I build them instead of having a complete idea on paper, I always end up changing it. I like to build a small part of the project and take it right through to the texture and lighting stage to get an idea of how my styling would look and if it works.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I've always been a self-motivated person with a strong work ethic. I believe in what I do and care about the work I send to my clients. I'm motivated by knowing that clients put their trust in me to create work for their brand. I owe it to them to keep pushing what I know and develop my skills so I can continue to deliver work I can be proud to share.
I spend lots of time on websites such as Creativepool, Behance, Artstation and Instagram. Thanks to the huge amount of artists in the world sharing their work daily, it is easy to stay inspired. I'm constantly in awe of the work people create and want to inspire others in the same way.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
My work for the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the work I am most proud of. When I was first asked to create an animation for them I was in Sumatra on a jungle trek to see wild Orangutans. Luckily where I was staying had good WiFi so I was able to get the job done. It's incredible to see thousands of people from all over the world visiting Dubai gather for the light show to start. Seeing everyone looking on in amazement at my work was mind-blowing. It's always great to see your work somewhere in public but nothing can top having my work displayed on the tallest building in the world!
How do you recharge away from the office?
As I work from home it's good to get a real escape from work and not just turning the monitor off and sitting in front of the TV.
I like to travel as much as I can and explore new places having new experiences each time. Southeast Asia is my favourite part of the world to wander aimlessly enjoying the food and culture. Having some real time to reset is good for the mind. Sometimes being in the jungle with no internet connection is just what you need! I work long hours so having this divide of work and down time is really helpful. It also means that when i'm in 'work mode' that I commit to it intensely and work as much as I can. The work allows the travel and the travel helps the work. It's a nice cycle.
What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?
Personal projects are amazing for development. I've found creating projects for myself have often caught the attention of both existing clients and people who have been following my work and want to discuss working together. You never know who is looking at your work so keep creating no matter how random you think it may be. An idea you think is quite simple or abstract may be something your clients didn't know you could do and actually need. It's always good to share what you can do.
What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?
I am really impressed with how everything has progressed in the last 10 years for the creative industries in terms of flexibility and how businesses are changing their approach to adapt to their clients needs. Working with freelancers and collaborations are to be celebrated, working together to create something incredible with the end result in mind rather than having the mind-set that it is a problem to seek the assistance of a freelance specialist outside of their own team.
I hope things continue to progress the way they are, it's great to see how comfortable people are becoming with remote working particularly during the pandemic. This has been a very forced test to allow businesses to tap into digital creation such as 3d, where more traditional methods may have previously been used such as photography.