When I was about ten, my dad and I created mossy skulls with tiles in the garden one night. We often did weird things like that. Even though it was all for the fun of creating weird things, it brought me and my dad some weird rumors about serial killers in the small suburb we lived in.

I entered a 3D class in high school out of curiosity – where I fell in love with the infinite possibilities that an empty 3D scene represents. I got addicted to it. I soon realized that setting rules or restrictions could help me overcome any creative blocks that might occur when looking at that empty 3D space. That concept is still important to me many times today, 15 years later.

As far as education was concerned, I wasn't very lucky – the university program I attended was still in development, so the classes were scattered and almost all without a focus on 3D production. Fortunately, my peers were just as passionate as I was, and where education wasn't challenging enough, we started to challenge ourselves. We had a lot of free time projects, trying to push our skills as much as possible.

Hello unemployment!

Fortunately, only six months. First, as is often the case, I moved to cities where there were jobs. With the portfolio I started at university (or rather, in my spare time at that time) I got my first internship as a 3D artist and then a job.

At first it was mostly product previews and promotion of industrial machinery and the like. This was very helpful, even if the projects themselves weren't so cool to show off to friends and family. Learning the importance of file structures and general pipelines was very important.

In 2016 I started at Istudios Visuals – a small company with big aspirations, in a small Swedish town. This is where my career became rewarding – doing fun projects like VFX movies, characters, art for musicians and everything in between.

All co-workers and I are still very passionate and hungry to learn all the new techniques and technologies that come out almost weekly these days.

By never giving up, one always finds a way to some sort of success in most fields, at least that's what I believe.

Even though the passion outweighed my skills at first, the passion for 3D art paved the way for my skills to grow very fast.

We never stop learning, and this is important – we live in a more exciting time now, where tools like artificial intelligence are accelerating at speeds no one could have dreamed of in the early days of digital art and visual effects.

For me – my professional work is mostly inspiring – but of course not always, but enough so that when my workday is over, I am full of motivation to start my personal projects right away. I have too many active projects to get somewhere with most of them, but I'm learning a lot from each one – and no time spent creating is a waste of time.

By never giving up, one always finds a way to some sort of success in most fields, at least that's what I believe.

– Lars Gunnar Thorell

I'm taking on other smaller projects in my spare time, they come from different clients, mostly musicians and other creatives – loops and other PR stuff mostly. I'm still growing financially and I'm proud to have clients I respect and hold in high regard overall.

It can often be quite tricky to know how much to charge for the work we do for clients, but even when it's fun work, it's important to charge a reasonable amount. After all, it takes a long time to produce it – and what is the big problem in this sector? That artists value their talent less, therefore people value their products less. We do this for good reasons (eg building a professional portfolio), but the result is that our work is underrated. This is very difficult to reverse.

How to overcome this problem?

My first tip for an artist just starting out, specialize in tools that the current CG/art trend focuses on – and then try to get hired by a studio – so you get a real experience and feel safe that they are serious customers who pay right – without having to worry too much about that part. You will learn a lot about the business side of the industry as well. So it's really important to focus on what you really want to do – make art that catches the attention of your dream clients.

For freelance projects, many clients pay reasonable fees, but many others will try to take advantage.

Always use watermarks. Never give the final resolution of your work when doing freelance projects. Even for reputable or large companies – no serious customer would ever find this strange.

What if a client contacts you and wants something similar to one of your greatest works of art in their portfolio – but is on a tight budget? Make a simplified version of it as a style board, based on the art that interested them in you. So instead of working hard for little money, tell them you can adapt the production to their budget. Be very clear to help them understand what the end result might look like (by introducing said style board) so they don't feel cheated, but instead feel that you and the client have made a beneficial deal for both of your parts.

I love the macabre and the grotesque, so I strive to capture the beauty of it. Dirty, broken machines and decaying buildings often inspire me a lot, especially the little things, details I see walking around – or, just rolling down the ArtStation wall when I'm too lazy to take a walk. Anything has beauty in some obscure way, and capturing that beauty in something ugly or disgusting is my passion. And passion will lead to success in this field, even when it seems like it's just about building corpses out of rubble found in the garden with your father.

Lars-Gunnar Thorell

Lars-Gunnar Thorell

3D Modeling Artist, Loop Maker, Character Designer, VFX: er, Music Composer - Located in Gothenburg, Sweden