Miloš Belanec is an 3D/CGI artist and a CEO from Bratislava, Slovakia.
You can find him here:
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
- Hi Miloš, tell me who you are and what do you do as a freelancer?
Hello Jernej. At first, I would like to thank you for making an interview with me. So let’s do this. My name is Miloš Belanec, I am from Slovakia and 23 years old. I am working as a freelancer, 3D/CGI artist and a CEO of our small company DeepMind.sk. We founded this company right after finishing high school with two of my friends – one of them is making digital art and second is web developer.
- How long have you been working as a freelancer now?
First opportunity to work as a freelancer occurred to me when I was still at high school, that means around 7-8 years ago. I unfortunately wasn’t able to fully dedicate myself to it at that time, but I started to be at least interested in this type of work. I consider it my full time job for the past four years.
- Why did you decide to become a freelancer? Did you think about it for a long time or did your decision come suddenly?
It was really spontaneous, since I have been sharing early creations from the very beginning on Facebook. My friends started to share it between their other friends, and they maybe mentioned between their friends, and people slowly started recognizing my work, and so the first projects came. I haven’t started to do CGI because of money, but because I was simply really fascinated, and the advantages of it naturally came with time.
- What is your competitive advantage, which makes your clients hire you?
It’s hard to say. I think there are a lot of people who are great even though our community is relatively small. I would say we are in such phase, where the clients preferences about the unique style of a freelancer seals the decision. Price is also an important factor in these cases. Personally, I see my hardware as my advantage, which allows me to solve projects faster, and I can also do multiple projects at once. Second advantage – I’ve been self-taught for my whole life so I have a lot of my own shortcuts, that I would never learn anywhere else for example at school, and that makes my work more effective.
- Who are your competitors? What do they have that you don’t?
I meet competitors very often, they are other freelancers, studios, even some of my friends. There is more or less no strong rivalry principle in this job, we don’t steal projects from each other, even though it is true that we sometimes get into competitions against each other, under a companies that are trying to choose from our services offers. Those are the times when we are presenting ourselves the best we can, but it is not that unhealthy rivalry type. We can also often share and repost project between each other, since our community is pretty small, as I said earlier, and we are trying to stick together and bring people something new and interesting within personal but also commercial projects. We are trying to show our world to common people but also potential clients here, and in foreign countries.
- Are there a lot of freelancers in your business?
I usually have as much time as I need. There can be some periods, when I don’t even have 5 minutes for myself, or people around me, but on the other hand, I also have days or months when I have all the time I want, to study, look for inspiration or work on my personal portfolio.
- What do your clients expect from you?
Creativity, new ideas, quality, comments from personal experience, meeting deadlines and flexibility.
- Who are your typical clients?
Typical clients are big companies , smaller studios, startup projects, etc.
- How has your business changed over time?
My business probably changed the most after high school. At school, I only took it as a hobby that can generate some small amount of money sometimes, but after I finished it, I moved to the main city and I found more work opportunities and people interested in my work. I was earning more money and invested them in more hardware and that lead me to letting my fantasy roam free and doing things that I have been always interested in. by then I was mostly doing small product visualizations, but I wanted to make bigger scenes, concepts and so on. So when I finally had the opportunity to work on things like that, my career started to move faster.
- How did you gain your first customers?
It was through recommendations from people who knew my work and my potential clients.
- John Wanamaker said: Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I do not know which half. Do you gain your clients by advertising or in another way?
Yes I tried classic advertisements on various job-offering websites, but it didn’t really help. Right now, I’m advertising myself thanks to online portfolios on few sites and recommendations.
- Do you hire outsourcing service providers for services, which you believe are a waste of your time?
I sometimes do that but it’s not because the projects are not interesting or waste of my time. Clients already know what I do, so they are naturally asking me to do things that are in my range of interest. If you were selling cars, clients will not ask you to sell them a bike. When I’m outsourcing some projects, it is mostly because I am too busy and just don’t have enough time for doing it 100%, or I know someone that I’m sure would be interested in that and I’ll offer them a cooperation.
- How does your typical working day look like? What do you do when you are not working? How many hours/days per week are you working?
When I don’t have deadline it is pretty calm. I wake up in the morning, check emails and social networks, speak with clients, eat breakfast at home or go eat somewhere out, depends on the mood. I like to make myself move a little by cycling and when I go back, I work until evening. Sometimes I need to go to the meeting with some client along the way. At the end of the day, I launch rendering and go out with my friends and girlfriend for a beer or to do some sport or walk. Sometimes I have harsher days, when all I do is spend time in various government offices, since I need to settle things for my company or freelancing and of course there are days when I have deadline and sit in front of a project 24/7. I’m not sure how many hours per week I spend working but it’s probably a lot.
- What would you do differently if you would start again?
I wouldn’t share my very very first works on the internet, because it tends to catch up with people. Or maybe not, I don’t know, maybe I would just be a little more cautious about clients. At the beginning it was very common that my work would get unfairly used, has been paid very poorly or hasn’t been paid at all. I learned these things the hard way.
- What would you advise someone who has an idea, but no money?
Try to make them any way possible and invest them into your idea. Sadly, people can’t move on with anything without money these days, so sometimes you will need to earn money by doing work you don’t like that much. But when you do invest the money, you have two options. Either you find out your idea was not that good and therefore you will learn a valuable lesson or your idea turns out to be great and in that case, you have to hold on it tight. But you will sure move on with your work and way of thinking in both cases, even bad experience is better than none.
- What was the best business advice you received?
Invest maximum of your time and money to things you see potential in and ask for deposit in advance or you will get fucked. 😀
- Do you have an online resource which you use regularly? Which one?
Online sources are usually art websites and magazines like ArtStation, 3D World, CG Society, 3D Total, CG Plus, 3D Artist, etc, there are lots of them. I always try to find at least hour every day to look at these sites and see what do people in the world create.
- What do you often dream about when you’re not working?
To work on movies, games and concepts. I achieved everything I wanted in life so far, easier or harder way, and I would say I rather plan things than dream about them. Having a dream is great, but it will only end up as disappointment if you don’t start to take it seriously and work on it.
- The place where you find your peace?
I find more peace in activities such as time spend with family, girlfriend and friends, cycling, creating my personal ideas in CGI, nature, basketball, movies and music.
- Top 3 mobile apps on your smartphone?
I don’t have any favorite, but the most used ones are probably social media and art websites apps. Maybe my favorite is camera app, because I like to make photos and videos. I like to spend my free time learning new stuff, traveling, doing sports, being with friends, watching series – basically pretty common things.
- Your plans for the future?
Moving to some foreign country, start focusing more on concept art in 3D and keep trying and cooperating with new clients on more demanding and interesting projects. I like challenges and I hope I will have an opportunity to take them.