Denise (SOA): Hello Isabel, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Isabel: I’m Isabel, many of you know me as Belle van der Woodsen. I’m 28 and from a small town in Germany. Currently, work for Recent Spaces in south London. I have a background in architecture and moved to London 2 years ago where I started my career as a 3d Artist.
Denise (SOA): How did you start your journey in ArchViz?
Isabel: I didn’t know there was such a career as ArchViz in general when I did my Bachelor degree back in 2014. I always thought renderings were done in architecture offices by the architects themselves. I came in touch with real ArchViz for the very first time when I began my Master’s degree at the University of Innsbruck. There was a local studio called “Sonaar” and they did a weekend workshop with Rhino, Vray and Photoshop. I had no experience at all and a big lack of visualisation skills. I had to compete with all the other students who developed those skills earlier in their Bachelor so I thought, okay, let’s do this workshop to catch up with them a little. I absolutely loved it. And during the ongoing semester, I did the visualisation for our team project which was some kind of high rise tower in Innsbruck. At some event later I randomly met the professor who was teaching this project and he told me he liked the visualisation that much that he wanted to hire me for his bridge competition. So basically this was the very first job I ever did in this kind of field and the best is, we won the competition which made us all very happy.
After that, I just knew that I wanted to start a career as a 3d Artist. The question was just “how do I get into that quickly”? At some point, I made more friends in ArchViz and one of my best friends mentioned the SOA Academy. I thought that’s absolutely perfect. I can learn and ask everything in 4 weeks time and become a pro. I had never opened 3ds Max before when I started the class there. I seemed kind of hopeless and had to ask the guys a lot of donkey questions. I loved the classes about photography, composition and lighting.
So after that, it took me about a year to find the right company where I wanted to start my career. In the meantime I worked as an architect in Austria and Germany unfortunately I didn’t get any visualisation work to do there. Also, I have to admit that it was quite hard to give up my career as an architect because that’s what I wanted to be since I was little. “Changing the career again? Is this really what I want? What if I fail? Are my parents goingto be proud of me? Can I make enough money to survive?” There were many concerns. In my head. In my dreams. Day and night. But at some point when I got my first job here in London at “Stiff + Trevillion” I knew this is going to be a big change, a huge step and it feels good. There was no plan b. And there still isn’t. In this first job in London, I got used to the ArchViz workflow and to deadlines. I had a really good mentor by my side who taught me much more than just being an artist.
After 8 months working there, I decided to work into a real ArchViz office and it was very fortunate that I met the guys from Recent Spaces one night in March 2018 at 3ds London. They were looking for someone. I was looking for something. It was as easy as that. A couple of pints later I had my interview for the next day. I still work here. I love my job every day. I get inspired by those beautiful artists who are more than my colleagues, they are my dear friends. I admire their work and passion as I did on the first day. There is nothing more to say that I’m in a very happy place and I just hope it will continue as so.
Denise (SOA): Why did you decide to become an ArchViz Artist?
Isabel: Honestly, visualization was the part I just enjoyed the most. It’s not that I didn’t like designing something, but it’s just amazing to see the final design fully visualized. I got so inspired by all my friends who work in the industry and that made me, even more, wanting that career. They all are so positive about the industry and that’s what makes the difference to pure architecture. There was always this kind of rivalry which felt like a very poisonous environment to me.
Denise (SOA): You’re right, a good environment is the way to feel at home even when you’re working. But which difficulties did you face in your career?
Isabel: Frankly, I think the start was the most difficult part. To find the right company and timing. After that, it was probably a bit hard to figure out what a client really means when they give you feedback. But that’s something you get used to after a time.
Denise (SOA): Well, clients are often hard to manage even after many years. That’s probably one of the most tricky point of ArchViz. Did you get any big achievement you’re particularly proud of?
Isabel: I would say I’m proud of moving to London. Because after I did the SOA class this was my dream. To live and work there. Also, I’m proud of being a judge for the CG Awards in 2018 which was a great experience for my career. Particularly, I’m very proud of one of the projects I did for Recent Space because the client wanted my design for his showroom exactly how I made it in the rendering. I felt very honoured about that.
Denise (SOA): You attended the Masterclass#21 back in 2016. Do you feel that training with us helped you get ahead?
Isabel: As I didn’t open 3ds Max before I did the class it helped me to get do a decent level. I had to practice a lot when I got home and remember everything. But that was pretty easy with all the notes I made during the class.
Denise (SOA): Do you do any personal work?
Isabel: I don’t do much personal work because I get too distracted from the city I live in. But I’m going to work on a personal project very soon which combines my architectural, design and render skills. Hope to show some nice renderings of that in a couple of months. This project means a lot to me and my newfound family here in London. I will keep you posted.
Denise (SOA): Sure. We are all curious to know more about your project. What’s your favourite part at work?
Isabel: Easier to say what I don’t like. Modelling for sure. I still suck at this part. I never had much passion for physical models either when I was in Uni. But I do love the rest of it. Creating a beautiful composition with nice lighting and realistic materials is very important to me. But if I have to choose my favourite, favourite part, then I would say Interior Design. I developed those skills here at Recent Spaces, I didn’t know I had them at all. That’s why I’m very thankful when they give me projects without any brief. That’s when I can be creative and it satisfies me a lot.
Denise (SOA): What do you think about women in our industry? Do they get enough support as Artists?
Isabel: I think that there was/is a lack of women in our industry for sure. Recently they get more exposure and I noticed there are more women going to conferences as it was a couple of years ago. I think they get enough support as an artist but in my option, I don’t see much work of women (online) in general. I think if they were braver and show off some work they do they would even get more support. I have to admit that I am very shy and I don’t really like to post work online. I can only assume that some women feel the same. That’s something that really needs to change. I very much appreciate this exposure, not because I’m a woman, just because it should be equally in general in terms of gender.
Denise (SOA): True. All Artists would need to show their work and don’t hide themselves, either men or women. If they do it, they’ll certainly get the support they’re looking for. Any other goals you want to achieve in your career?
Isabel: Hopefully, at some point, I will become an Art Director. Not just because I like to give comments, but I like to help others to achieve better images. I give some Art Direction already to people who want to take a step into this industry. Do I want to have my own company? I don’t know yet. It depends clearly on how the industry is going to be in a couple of years and if AI is changing it in a good way. Also, if I can find a partner who would like to do this with me.