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The transparent, cyberpunk and retro-futuristic design of a BrokenDoodle | #MemberSpotlight

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Some creative professionals enjoy chaos – they embrace it, in fact. Quite proudly, this is what Freelance 3D Artist BrokenDoodle admits about their own style and creative process.

BrokenDoodle is "a bit of a gearhead" and clearly excited about anything technological and futuristic – not without a careful eye for vintage and retro. You can almost feel and touch the texture in all the pictures scattered around the interview below, you can see the love for creativity and the masterful craft of a much talented, much passionate, much energetic 3D artist. BrokenDoodle is this and much more.

In this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about BrokenDoodle and their rather unique personality in the interview below.

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How did you get into the industry?

I started doing some freelance work in my third year in university. A close friend had pushed me to start making my work public, that led to work here and there for someone who could handle graphic design. Since then I’ve been in and out of it. I’ve started looking for something full time where I can really stretch my legs, who knows what will come of it.

Where are you based now and who do you work for?

I’m based in Lisbon, Portugal and I’ve always been doing freelance. It gave me the freedom to keep growing my skillset while dedicating time to university. Most of my clients come to me over the internet. The usual interaction starts with “I heard you knew how to do…”. It has been eye-opening to say the least. The process of accompanying the client through the whole process allows me to better tailor the final product to their likes and needs.

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If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I’m split between two worlds right now. I’m looking for a day job but I’m still deciding whether I should go into tech or creative.

So if graphic design and 3D weren’t on the menu, you’d probably find me coding away some bizarre solutions for an app or maybe helping a team bring their latest videogame to life. I find coding to be far more creative than I expected it to be when I went into university, it would probably become my mind’s outlet.

Can you explain your creative process?

Sometimes you start out with a sketch and a couple of notes on a crumpled napkin, other times you get a full list of demands or requests. I’ll take everything I can and try to picture the finalized product in my mind. I find visualization to be one of my greatest tools for both developing and translating ideas into paper and pixels. I’ll try to picture the aspects I’d like to make more visible and the ones that are meant to be a pleasant surprise for the careful observer. From there I’ll break it all down into a giant to-do list. Carve out the general shape, move onto the bigger parts, refine, and only then focus on introducing detail. It’s important to have a hierarchy of shapes and understand which ones make up your piece and which ones compliment it.

How would you describe your style?

I’m drawn to making the core shapes of any project stand out, especially in 3D work. I want the viewer to be able to deconstruct the image in their head. With automotive design especially, I want to convey what the real shape of the car is. I want people to explore beyond the outermost layer and figure out why things were drawn the way they were. I want to make design transparent. This led me to an almost raw approach where I’ll lay bare the first iteration of the design before introducing more elements. I’ve also come to enjoy showing how a design will start to age with wear and tear. Nothing will forever be encased in glass, but it shouldn’t always look like it came from the end of times either.

I guess you could place me somewhere between cyberpunk and modern retrofuturistic design. Some lines are meant to be kept and will remain beautiful across eras, others have a very specific gap within which they’ll be the most appreciated. I try to find what makes designs timeless while simultaneously trying to reimagine old designs in the current and even future decades.

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Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

I’ve come to look up to quite a few figures, some of them not entirely related to design. I’ve always admired the idea of being recognised in more than one area. People like Donald Glover come to mind. He was able to both star and direct in TV, release acclaimed music and do stand-up. I fight to be able to do that. Not that it is inherently wrong, but I don’t want to do the same thing forever. I want to keep expanding my body of work into different areas. So far, I’ve done a bit of branding, graphic design and clothing.

The move to 3D came out of a desire to expand, and explore an area I felt I could contribute in. My ever-lasting passion for the automotive world was also a factor for the change. I’ve been enamoured with cars and the way they look since I can remember, so naturally I’d end up designing something of my own. Kai Miura, Magnus Walker, Rob Dickinson and Akira Nakai are some of icons from the automotive culture I’ve come to appreciate because of what they created. They managed to bring their very radical ideas to life in the automotive world, and their designs are a big influence on my work.

Finally, there are heroes in the industry that have carved out a path for themselves and that can’t really be compared to anyone else without comparing apples to oranges. Khyzyl Saleem, Ash Thorp, Carlos ColorSponge and Al Yasid have all come to serve as the references for what I want to achieve in automotive and conceptual 3D. They all have their individual and recognizable styles and they all stand as the examples to follow. They are the champions to beat.

If you had to pick one ideal client/employer, who would that be and why?

I’d love to work with Akira Nakai and follow his creative process and workflow. He splits his time between designing new kits and installing them all over the world. He picked the Porsche 911 as his favourite canvas, and his designs are considered outrageous even today. He’s the example of a rebel in the automotive design world. He personally installs the modifications he creates and picks onto customers’ cars. Can you imagine traveling the globe, assembling your designs on your fans’ cars and being in direct contact with the final product in such a raw way? It sounds surreal and yet it feels like the way to do it. After all, my goal is to make design more transparent, and what better way than to have the fans see how it all comes together.

How has technology affected the way you work?

It is a pillar of my work. I’d argue I wouldn’t be doing what I am now if technology hadn’t progressed the way it did. All of my professional work has been done around tech. Not one single piece of mine in the past half-decade has been without at the very least being photographed and digitally archived. And now, working in 3D, there really isn’t much of a choice short of making clay models the size of a bed and rolling them out to the streets to photograph. Nothing’s wrong with pen and paper, but pixels have become my favourite medium to both work and express myself in.

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What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

My mind is in constant chaos. Every object I look at can either show me the way to improve future designs or provide inspiration for an upcoming piece. I’ll have to restrain myself from starting parallel projects with ideas that will come up while working on something else. I believe I’ve managed to lose more lists and sketches of ideas than I’ve managed to execute.

It doesn’t happen often, but if I ever feel like I’ve hit a creative block, I’ll look at the situation from three different angles. What haven’t I done yet, what can I improve over my previous work, and what do I feel is missing from the world? Usually, all three of these questions will bear answers, I’ll pick the best and move forward with it.

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

Oddly enough, achieving the level of mastery I have in modelling cars. I grew up a petrolhead and a fan of videogames. I feel like a detailed virtual model is the second best thing next to having the real car in front of you. And so, I had a seemingly farfetched dream as a child to “make” cars. To create my own designs. Telling my 5 year old self that I’d be doing so in this way would’ve blown my mind. I could’ve told my 16 year old self and he still wouldn’t believe it. The best victories are the ones you win for yourself.

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How do you recharge away from the office?

Music and cinema have been my go-to escapism solutions lately. They’re both areas I’d like to explore in the future, but for now I’ll have to limit myself to developing my taste and eye or ear for what I like and what I believe the world would appreciate.

Learning about the creative process behind my favourite pieces has also led me to explore my creations in different ways, paying attention to details I would’ve otherwise missed. They’re also great windows into other artists’ times and views of the world. We always leave a piece of us behind in every work.

What is one tip for other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Find what makes your work desirable and don’t be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe your work will be far more appreciated printed somewhere, maybe the strict color scheme is too strict. Try to approach your work with different perspectives in mind and tune it accordingly. And most importantly, network like hell. It will allow you to meet both clients and artists that will make you grow in ways you won’t anticipate.

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What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?

I’d love to see artists get a more personal recognition in the way musicians do. I feel like too many designs are known by the public with the minds behind them being ignored. So many creators will be forgotten while their works live on. I want a bigger spotlight on the artists, I want to see rockstar artists more often. It’s not unheard of but I feel like I had gone away a bit by the early 2010’s. I’m not talking about artists knowing artists, mind you, I’m talking about someone in the street recognizing a designer the same way they’d recognize a movie director or even a musician.

Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

The internet in general is a very powerful tool for both learning and observing the world’s perspective on design. Don’t be afraid to use free resources. In the age of information, not everything has to be hidden behind a full course or a degree. The key lies in self-awareness, in knowing where and how to improve.

There is also a lot to be learned from observing the platforms that seem to dominate out online time nowadays. These platforms show us exactly what the general public will be captivated by. We have never before gotten such a massive amount of feedback on how the world looks to the general public.

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