Jeffry Gugick, 3D Exhibit Designer
Jeffry Gugick has been creating face-to-face and exhibit environments for more than ten years and working in the design industry for over fifteen years. His list of clients ranges from the smallest ‘mom and pop shops’ to some of the biggest corporations in the world.
How did you get started in the graphics industry? Did you start as a traditional illustrator?
I went to college for graphic design, but was always very interested in 3d software and architectural spaces. I actually used Strata 3d in the very early 90’s for a while. I remember loving the idea of working in 3d and was amazed that a simple raytraced rendering would take hours and hours. My first few jobs were more 2d / graphic design related, but I always tried to keep up my 3d skills and tried to incorporate them into my 2d jobs when possible. There would always be long stretches when I would not use any 3d software at work, but I continued to practice and work on side projects at home. When I first started working with my current employer I discovered that they used Strata 3d on a regular basis. I was happy to know that it all paid off in the end, and that I was even familiar with the 3d software they were using. Now I use Strata 3d every day at work. I even have a few projects rendering as I type.
What made you pick up Strata 3D? Was there a specific problem/need that caused you to seek out a 3D application?
I am a full time exhibit designer. We use Strata 3d on a daily basis to help us design and then render 3d photo-realistic images to present to our clients. This is an integral part of our creation and selling process. We also have new designers come on board with us that do not have any 3d experience. I find that Strata 3d is much easier for them to pick up compared to many other 3d packages out there.
How has your workflow changed since learning Strata 3D?
I still sketch a lot at the beginning of a project, but now it is very easy for me to take my rough sketches and turn them into a 3d model. Strata works easy enough with the popular 2d applications and it is pretty seamless going back and forth between them and Strata.
What’s a typical day for you? What other software do you use on a regular basis?
I’m the design director for an exhibit design company located in New York City. Most of my days will start off with a review of the current incoming jobs, and determining which designers will be working on each project. I will also then go through and review all of the current jobs I have on my own plate. Throughout the week I will be involved with meetings where we can sit down with our clients and potential clients to figure out what they are looking for and what will really fill their needs for any upcoming shows for which they will be exhibiting. We also design and produce all the graphics for our exhibits, so I will help guide the designers on select projects as well as help ensure that all the files that we, and our clients, set up for the large graphics we produce are setup correctly to ensure the best possible output. In between all of these things I’ll work on the projects that I have, which will include the 3d design of the exhibits, and the design of the graphics that go on them. Together, these will be used to create Strata 3d renderings that we can present to our clients. Generally we are using Strata 3d, Photoshop, and Illustrator for most of our work, but there are always additional applications as well. No two days are alike and there are always new challenges to overcome throughout the day. You really have to be quick on your toes, juggling any problems, working with clients, and trying to get all your work done. If we didn’t love it we wouldn’t be doing it, though, right?
How did you learn 3D, and would you recommend your method to new users?
I’ve found that everybody really does learn in a different way, but I’ve always been partial to the following method, as crazy as it sounds. I usually read the entire manual. Yes, I know it’s weird. After I’ve read the manual I have at least a basic understanding of the types of things that are possible even if I don’t remember how to do them all. Then I like to start on a personal project that will force me to do things in the software that I currently do not know how to do. If I get to a stumbling point I will either try to look it up in the manual or if I can’t find the answer I will usually post a question on one of the online forums. The project may take a few days or weeks, but in the end I’ll have a good understanding of many different aspects of the software that I didn’t in the beginning. After that, I find that being an active member of the software’s forum [Facebook user group] is one of the best ways to learn new things, and help other people learn as well.
Has the introduction of 3D into your workflow caused you to branch out and explore opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise?
Well, I definitely wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. You never know where your skill set will take you in your career. If you have an interest in something, I’d say pursue it as much as you can. Even if it means you will be working on non-paying side projects you’ll at least have an outlet for yourself, and you never know when that skill will open a new opportunity later down the road. So, I guess that’s a yes.
Do you try to fit your personal style into your Strata work, or do you find the technology dictating your style?
I think that the technology will always lead us a little but it’s nice to see that even when we all learn the same exact software and tricks and techniques we will always create different styles. So, as much as the technology will try to lead us a specific way I think our uniqueness pushes through it all.
Do you normally get material to work from for an exhibit, or just a brief on the type of exhibit required?
It really depends on each project. Some clients have a very specific concept in mind while others are very open to different ideas at the beginning of a project, some clients have very specific branding guidelines and other have none. The most important thing that I have found is to always be on the same page with your clients at the end of your initial meetings. If they are looking for something that is either unrealistic or just not a good solution, it’s usually better to work that out with them, and try to sell them on what you believe to be the best solution before you go down the path of working on numerous designs that don’t work.
Any advice for new users? Where to start, what to avoid, creative advice?
I know that most people will always just say “you need to practice a lot”. And while that is true, because you really do need to practice, don’t forget to use all the resources available to you. If you can’t figure out how to do something, check the manual, search the forums, and then post a detailed message with pictures if possible on the forum, you’ll usually be able to get your answer with one of those options. I also love looking at other artists work. When I see something that totally blows me away, it reminds me that there is always room to grow, and always more things to learn. I’ve found that the more I’m willing to help out other people the more the community is willing to give back. The best thing is that there is always more to learn and more toys to play with in this industry!
Thanks for your time, Jeff. We look forward to seeing more of your work!
It was my pleasure! Happy rendering!