In the next weeks, we’ll publish new interviews taken with some of SOA ladies who shared with us their experiences, their dreams and their fights in a mainly man-oriented industry that is constantly reshaping itself.
This week we had the pleasure to interview Aliene Chidester, a young 3D Artist from our Masterclass#24, who is now working at Kilograph in the United States.
Denise (SOA): Hello Aliene, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Aliene: Hi, my name is Ali Chidester, I’m a 3D Artist at Kilograph in Los Angeles.
Denise (SOA): How did you start your journey in ArchViz?
Aliene: I started out by studying Interior Design, and while at school I found Architectural Visualization. Mostly I just loved the part of the design process where you create the visual that conveys the concept, it was the most rewarding part of the project for me. At my University we had the opportunity to take five semesters off school and intern for Architecture/Design firms during the fifteen weeks of a traditional semester. While on my first internship in Washington, D.C. we had a project that required renderings and there wasn’t anyone to do them; our regular 3D guy was fully booked. I offered to give it a try because I knew Rhino at the time, and after doing the renderings I realized I loved it! Looking back, the images definitely could use some improvement but it was my first introduction to the field. After that I crafted all of my internships around Archviz, I spent 3 semesters in Columbus, Ohio with a retail design firm called Chute Gerdeman, 1 semester in Portland, Oregon at ZGF Architects, and I also used this time to go to Italy and take the Archviz Masterclass at SOA.
Denise (SOA): It was quite a long journey and different working experiences to get where you are now. Why did you decide to become an ArchViz Artist in the first place?
Aliene: For me it is the perfect balance of technical and artistic. My parents both sell software so I grew up in a very technical atmosphere, but I was always drawing and trying to express my creativity. Archviz is a little bit of the “nature vs. nurture” blend I think.
Denise (SOA): In this field creativity is essential indeed. Being able to find the right balance between the technical aspects and the artistic ones is what makes the difference in terms of outcomes. Which are the main difficulties you encountered in your career?
Aliene: I had a difficult time breaking into the industry coming from Interior Design. I had plenty of opportunities in design but found it hard to find opportunities to learn in visualization studios. There was one semester where I sent applications to 21 studios and didn’t hear from any of them. Fortunately, using the design angle I could figure out who the visualizers in the office were, and email them directly asking if they needed an intern. Eventually this ended up working and helped me get 3 years of visualization experience with in-house rendering departments.
Denise (SOA): In every Artist’s life there are some important milestones. Did you get any big achievement you’re particularly proud of?
Aliene: Making the leap from doing renderings internally for a design firm, to working for a dedicated visualization studio was a big accomplishment for me. It’s something I always knew I wanted, it just took me awhile to make it happen. But I don’t regret any of my experiences because they all lead me to be doing what I want, visualization. I have landed at Kilograph in Los Angeles which is a woman-owned studio, here I feel incredibly at home and valued which is really what I was looking for.
Denise (SOA): You took our one-month Masterclass back in 2016. Do you feel that a training with us helped you getting ahead?
Aliene: Leveraging the Masterclass on my resume lent me credibility while I was job searching. I also met some really amazing people while studying at SOA, which I still talk to regularly.
Denise (SOA): You said you’re working in a woman-owned studio, which is quite rare in our industry. What do you think about women in our industry? Do they get enough support as Artists?
Aliene: Unfortunately I don’t. Support wouldn’t be the word I would choose, instead I would say they don’t get enough visibility. As I was starting out in Archviz and making the transition from Interior Design I saw a stark contrast in the amount of women I could look up to. In Interior Design there are a lot of strong, vocal, and visible women; in Arch Viz five years ago I couldn’t name one role model that was female. All of the amazing artists I emulated and admired were all men. It didn’t hold me back, but it did give me pause and made me question if I could find a place for myself in this industry. Now that I am more involved in Archviz there are many incredible women I’ve been able to discover, and even work with. I would like to see women highlighted more in the industry, our current seven percent represented, and our presence continue to grow.