Living with Blender - An Interview with Sayan Mondal

Living with Blender - An Interview with Sayan Mondal

Your passion in life is to make 3D art, but making a living from it seems like a far-off dream that is mentally overwhelming to achieve.

You may ask yourself:

Do I create a product?

Do I go the route of offering freelance services?

How do I even approach marketing?

Is it too late for me to start?

These questions can often leave even the most talented artists in a state of analysis paralysis, with good reason. 

Being in charge of your own success (and failure) can be scary.

In this article, we sit down with Blender Artist, Sayan Mondal - founder of blueinversion.com to talk about his origin story and how he manages to make a living with Blender.

His journey of choosing to become an entrepreneur at such a young age was not easy in his native Bengal, where high prestige is given to people who follow a more traditional path. All of his peers were going to university for engineering or medicine, he had no examples of successful entrepreneurs to follow. Mondal shares why he decided to take the path unknown and the technicalities that come along with it.

Mondal also gives us incites into his thoughts on A.I. Crypto Art, Inktober, Nodevember, and NPR rendering.

Claustrophobia - cryptoart by Blue Inversion

Sayan Modal gained a following online at an early age due to his helpful Blender tutorials on Youtube. Though short-form Blender tutorials were popular, Mondal decided to post long-form Blender tutorials that felt like courses one would pay for to advance their skills. Currently, his most popular four-part tutorial on how to make a car in Blender is at almost 300,000 views collectively.

Although Modal has helped thousands of people all over the world with their Blender skills and projects in early high school, he almost abandoned the community altogether in favor of the traditional path he was supposed to follow when it came down to his latter high school years.

“That was the time when I really couldn't do anything in Blender, and I kind of told my subscribers and my followers that I'm taking a break or something I don't know when I'll be back.”

Modal was accepted into a computer science program at Scottish Church College in Kolkata and realized that he disliked the slow-paced program his college provided its students.

The program used a bottom-up approach when teaching its curriculum. Mondal found this way of teaching tedious and uninspiring. His need to be a part of the Blender community again grew until he finally decided to quit college permanently and take a huge leap of faith.

He attributes the support of his leap of faith to Blender’s vast improvements and being more accepted in the professional CG industry.

“I saw Simon Thomson make such incredible things with Blender, which I never thought would be possible in Blender because there was no support for it back in the days. But now it was there. And I saw this whole possibility that I already had some knowledge in shading and procedural shaders, I knew some math, I knew some programming. So why not just get into it and learn in a top to bottom manner.”

Cut to the present, and Mondal is working on building his CG company Blue Inversion. He chose to name his company Blue Inversion to separate himself in the future in case he wants to add to a team. Through his company, he sells shaders and would like to keep his courses free on YouTube and leverage them as an indirect and targeted marketing strategy. 

Aside from his company, Mondal is also looking to make a living through the blooming CryptoArt market. CryptoArt pieces are digital artworks, sometimes called "rares" because each piece has a non-fungible token associated with it to validate its authenticity. Mondal is looking to sell his art on Rarible soon, where he was recently approved as a verified 3D artist. He plans on making art, animations, music videos to upload to his Rarible gallery.

Starting a company and getting ahead of the new blooming CryptoArt market is setting up Mondal for a successful trajectory at his young age, but he does not want this to discourage other people from following their dreams in the CG space.

Mondal strongly believes that each person has their own talents and that they should use them to be successful in their own right. He advises young 3D artists to use their time to their advantage. Moreover, he encourages older 3D artists to use their expertise and apply it to the new technologies that are coming out. 

Annual CG community challenges like Nodevember and Inktober are a great way for 3D artists of any level and age to improve their skills while connecting with each other for support. In fact, Mondal tried to keep up with Inktober during his time in college because of the work Simon Thomson was doing. Thomson's work awakened Mondal’s suppressed interest in shaders. 

Mondal has cemented his pursuit of making shader products and wants to fix the way 3D artists have to hack their methodology to make NPR or animated projects by creating a shader product that would help Blender users.

As far as the future of the CG community, AI has drummed up a lot of fear within the space. But Mondal sees a lot of potential in AI within the CG community.

“...instead of being scared of the AI, I think we will all start individually making full-featured movies at one point, and it will just improve the quality of work. Each and every individual does, and it will make the whole movie market open instead of just big studios being able to make movies, I think so that would be interesting.”

Making a living as a Blender artist may seem difficult, especially if you don’t know anyone in real life to help you along your journey, as Mondal knows very well. But, with the online CG community growing and as Blender artists are becoming entrepreneurs, Blender users will have an easier time than ever, achieving their dreams of becoming professional 3D artists who can make an actual living from their art. 

This article is based on our CG Talks podcast, if you enjoyed it, I recommend listening to the entire interview here.


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