Archvis artists – what the hell do they do?
At 3DS London in February 2019, owner of Brighton-based F10 Studios Nick Homer gave an entertaining presentation that tackled the thorny question: “what the hell is it that Architectural Visualisers actually do?”. Reproduced below is a condensed version of Nick’s talk in which he explores the trials and tribulations that come with working in this young, and as we will see, rather difficult to define profession.
We’ve all encountered it. You’re asked what you do for a living down the pub, and you get a blank face back.
If you’re lucky someone may have an understanding of the phrase “architectural visualisation” and you can move on (although with 11 syllables, the pub is not the ideal place to even say this), but mostly it’s a case of attempting to break it down into simplistic terms like “pictures of buildings that don’t exist”, or as one fellow F10-er’s daughter explains what daddy does…“fake photography”. And while blank faces can still occur, it’s not a bad summary.
Being a curious sort, I wondered if there was a definition out there, so I consulted the fount of all knowledge that is Google. And what do we get? Absolutely diddly squat. What about other professions like architects, or…bus drivers?
Architect: “A person who designs buildings”. Pretty concise.
Bus Driver: “A person whose job is to drive a bus”. Cool. That clears that up.
Well, after all, who in this industry has ever found a suitable option in online occupation drop-down lists? “Graphic Designer” or “Other” perhaps?
Oh, life would be so much easier if we drove a bus.
OK sure, so we don’t exist as a profession, not to worry, but what if we broaden the search to the name of the whole industry “Architectural Visualisation”?
Surely…come on Google…well, not quite…
The nearest is a Wikipedia page for “Architectural Rendering”:
“Architectural rendering is the art of creating two-dimensional images or animations showing the attributes of a proposed architectural design.”
By definition, rendering is an automated process by a computer program, so this must be an automated art form? Maybe, do we just hit render?
And try and categorise what we do with our Google business listing and, well, good luck. Architectural Designer or Media Company? That’ll do just fine.
Run a Dog Café, or maybe you’re a Cadillac Dealer? No problem, there’s a category for you.
I mean I know we’re not the biggest industry in the world, but according to cgarchitect.com there’s about 150,000 people globally directly involved in Archvis (phew, there’s a 2 syllable option), let alone indirectly. So surely we deserve some definition to clarify what we actually do?
Even within our industry there can be a lack of understanding of the role. Has anyone ever been given a signed off detailed model, hit render and job done?
But perhaps this is forgivable, as you can’t really tell what our role was by looking at an image. Someone can form an opinion if they think its good quality, but what was our exact role? Was there a precise brief, or did we make some, or a lot of, things up? Did we ‘just’ use our extensive knowledge of the software and the real-world to translate the design information into a technically accurate and pretty picture? Or was it a collaborative process where we, or indeed the whole team, pulled on a vast array of both technical and design skills?
In larger studios, there may be specific skilled artists for particular roles, or potentially one artist can be expected to switch from architect to interior designer to photographer to graphic designer to landscape architect at the drop of a digital hat.
These are all individual skills in their own right, and while mastering the vast range of skills involved is no easy task, personally I think it is this nature of the (nice, friendly, pretty visualisation) beast that makes it such an exciting and rewarding profession.
But with no professional bodies setting education standards, talented studios and individuals have just had to work things out as they go along. And in turn, sharing this knowledge – which is one of our industries many great traits.
Officially 30 this year, we are a relatively young industry but have grown fast from humble beginnings. And being the passionate and driven industry that we are, the bar will continue to rise higher, but with a professional body and a strong foundation of educational standards would this be better for the industry as whole, as well as for the talent of the future?
You never know our luck, we might even get a google category and a definition one day.
Imagine that – living in a world where we can easily answer what we do to people down the pub. Just think of the time we’d save!