Val Valgardson is the technical director at Suburban Artworks, which specializes in 3D product imaging. The company has built a reputation producing top-notch virtual prototypes, 3D illustrations, architectural renderings, 3D floor plans, animations, product images, sell sheets, webpages and logos. Suburban Artworks can turn your cocktail napkin sketch into a professional 3D drawing. We talked with Val about his life and work.
ID: What got you started?
VV: We were submitting ideas for inventions to different companies and we discovered The Big idea Group and sent them some drawings and animations. Mike Collins, the owner of the Big idea Group, liked how I drew up my proposals and my animations and asked if I could do some drawing for them. He said he would pay me for my time. That’s how we started.
ID: What sets Suburban Artworks apart from competitors?
VV: We use the same software that major companies use to create their ads for TV and print, and in the same way they use it.
We don’t just create the 3D object and then as an afterthought hit the render button and get some flat scan-line image that doesn’t look anything like a real object. We take the time to set up lighting systems in the same manner as a photographer would. We take care that the objects are correct sizes and that materials have real-world qualities.
Better still we can do all the tricks that a product photographer can do and more. We use the same techniques a 3D art house uses. We create our animations and images as composites, which means we have complete control over the image and we can go back into it to change any aspect we choose with little effort. We also offer organic modeling, which very few companies in the inventing world can offer. We, of course, do non-organic work.
ID: What would you consider to be a specialty for Suburban Artworks?
VV: Creating top-notch animations and drawings.
ID: What is the history behind the name Suburban Artworks?
VV: All through suburbia there are people furiously working away in garages making the next amazing object, whatever that is – rebuilding a car, making furniture, building some new invention. I feel I’m one of those people. I live in the suburbs spending my time in my garage making art. So it seemed an appropriate name for the company.
ID: Tell us a little bit about your background – what’s your history before Suburban Artworks?
VV: I have an MFA in Art from the University of California, San Diego. I was the research assistant to Harold Cohen for four years, where I built the robotic arm (from fingertip to shoulder) and plotter table for his AI painting program AARON.
From there I taught at Northern Illinois University for three years and Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., for seven. I have received a number of grants for my artwork and have won a couple of commissions.
I have an art background in sculpture, but used mills, machine lathes, casting, wood working electronics, programming, etc. – whatever was needed to build my art work I learned it.
I have run 10 years of seminar classes where we brain-stormed new ideas where we worked out all the problem of the ideas that were presented and then all of the problems of how to build the objects. I’m a software fanatic. I love learning the newest latest thing out there and I love to build new faster computers.
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