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Interview With Aybars Turan: Traditional Painting, 3D Modeling And Tesla

April 11th, 2016


Interview With Aybars Turan: Traditional Painting, 3D Modeling And Tesla

There's hardly anything "traditional" about Tesla cars (aside from the "four wheels" thing), but Aybars Turan, a man trained in traditional painting and sculpting, works there. Read on to learn of his story!


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Aybars Turan, I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. I studied traditional painting and sculpting both in Turkey and NY, USA. I was very inspired by digital art and I wanted to pursue that direction. I received my master's degree in Animation and Visual Effects in the USA. I have worked in many game studios and on freelance movie projects. Currently I work at Tesla motors as a senior digital concept modeler.

How did you transition from fine arts to 3D? How does that influence your work?

The digital art world was always an inspiration for me. I was mostly working on oil paintings and classic clay sculpting. After I saw a siggraph talk in NYC, I pretty much decided that I need to get into the digital 3D art world. I see a lot of similarities of digital 3D and fine art. I try to implement my traditional background into my work, because I think traditional art skills help to enhance an artist’s 3D skillset. Traditional art requires constant learning and tuning, a skill which lends itself well to of 3D art, where new tools and technology force you to practice constantly just to keep up.

How did you break into the industry? What helped you get your first job/sale?

Creating a clean, professional portfolio is important, but so is making connections with industry people, too. Meeting people from the industry in computer conventions helped me to build my business network, and to get my first job as well.

How does it feel to work for a corporation instead of being a freelancer?

I think both have different advantages. I like working in a studio environment. I always enjoyed being a team player. You are a part of something big and exciting.

What do you think are the most important skills for a designer to have?

Decision making, storytelling, working with and communicating well with others, curiosity and imagination

What kind of research do you do before you start a project? Do you go with the flow or have a very good idea how everything goes?

I love researching about what I am going to be doing. Usually I plan and prepare so that I don’t end up wasting too much time. If I am creating a character or a creature, I do tons of research about their background:where they live, how they behave etc. I usually create a reference board and pin everything that I find on the internet there.

How would you best describe your projects in three words?

Organic, subtle, atmospheric.

What is your crowning achievement in 3D modeling, your magnum opus?

I think what I do at Tesla motors is my biggest achievement. Working on something that will lead and change the world of transportation is tremendously exciting for me. For a personal project example, I would say the portrait of my wife was one of the most challenging tasks for me.

What tool would you consider indispensable for your work?

ZBrush is the absolute indispensable tool for me. I also have been working with power subd modeling technology, and it is a very important part of my work.

How does it feel working and cooperating with other artists?

I like working in a team environment. It's important as an artist to be inspired by other artists. It pushes you to create and produce more. Knowing that you are not the only one and sharing your experience with your amazingly talented people is very inspiring.

What would you recommend a beginner to start with and what to avoid? What would you have told yourself when you were starting out?

I would recommend that a beginner never stops imagining and exploring. The more you explore, the more you are going to find and define yourself. Never say “this is the best” or “this is it.” Always seek more. This is one unique industry that changes in real time. Draw, sculpt, and read as much as you can. Be social; do not shut yourself off from other artists and people. Be in contact. Accept feedback and critique all the time and be open to it.

What/who are your influences in life?

Nature, art/science, and history are the biggest sources of inspiration for me. I also would like to mention my mom and my wife are mostly the biggest influences in my life.

How do you take a break from work? What are your hobbies?

I play soccer regularly. Hiking, making music, reading, traveling and spending time with my family are some of my other interests.

Are there any future projects you can tell us about?

We just unveiled the Tesla Model 3, but unfortunately I won't be able to discuss anything else that is in the works at Tesla yet. However, I have a couple of personal projects which are both realistic game characters.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself returning to the game industry as a character artist in 5 years, doing what I love and working with talented artists.

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