We’re glad to introduce the double interview with Terry Sin and Yusef Frasier, SOA students from the Masterclass#16.
Could you present yourselves to our readers and tell them the position you currently hold?
TERRY: I’m a Studio Director at Norm Li, an architectural visualization firm located in Toronto Canada. I graduated with a Masters of Architecture from the University of Waterloo and have been working in architecture and visualization for over a decade. Aside from leading a team of talented artists in creating renderings, I also spend my time liaising with clients and working on business development initiatives.
YUSEF: My name is Yusef Rasheed Frasier and I’m the Director of Innovation at Norm Li. We believe in making sure each person on our team evolves as artists and as leaders. As such, my primary focus is on team development: expanding our knowledge base, fostering new skill-sets and advancing our abilities to ensure that we stay current as the field of architectural visualization evolves.
As well, we believe in making sure each person is a well-rounded artist and leaders. So we send our people to conferences seminars (such as SoA). We also have speakers from different fields to come in to discuss ideas with the team. We’ve had Photographers, Stanley Cup Winning Hockey Players, Architects and Designers. They all give us varying perspectives of the world from their point of view.
Terry Sin - Studio Director at Norm Li
Yusef Frasier - Director of Innovation at Norm Li
Why have you chosen to become an Arch-Viz Artist?
T: After working in the architecture industry and pursuing my Masters degree, I realized that I was happiest when I was rendering. Architecture had too many rules and was too slow for my liking — it takes years to design a building. When making a rendering, the creative results are more immediate which I really enjoy. Plus, I take great pride in creating powerful images that convey unbuilt things — being able to take artistic ownership of a rendering is very gratifying.
Y: I’ve always been interested in computers. In 1986 I wrote my first program at the age of 6 with my brother on an Aquarius computer (it was a plugin box that attached to your TV set). It was supposed to be a kaleidoscope. We would input the code from the booklet for two days but didn’t have an actual cartridge to save our work to, so we just left the computer on. My mother — not knowing our hard work — turned it off once we went to bed so we would start again from scratch on that Saturday, re-inputting a few hundred lines of basic. We spent another day fixing errors and finally after all that work we executed the code. It created a matrix of 256 boxes on the screen and they changed colors. Mi fa cagare! It was boring, but I was hooked on computers after that.
In high school, I gave my guidance counselor my resume to do a summer internship at an architecture firm. She didn’t send it in in time so I ended up working at in IT firm that summer. I went on to do my undergraduate B.Sc degree in Computer Science and Math. After I finished I continued working as a UI coder at Lucent Technologies, but I never let go of my desire to design architecture. So, in 2000 I enrolled at the University of Toronto for a Master of Architecture degree.
At the end of the day, Arch-Viz is the perfect marriage of my degrees. It’s the combination of creativity and technical skills that makes me really enjoy what I do.
What were the biggest difficulties you faced at the beginning of your career? How did you handle and overcome them?
T: While evolving my artistic and technical skills was always challenging (books, tutorials, and classes like what SOA offers really helped me develop my skills throughout the years), what I found the most difficult was learning how to deal with the management side of the business: managing timelines, communicating with clients and keeping my team on track required me to learn a whole other set of skills. Luckily, I found mentors in my colleagues that had gone through the same learning curves, so I was able to learn from their experiences which helped fuel my growth as an artist and as a manager.
Y: I was always working at architecture firms doing Arch-Viz. It wasn’t the right fit for me. Making the decision to move from Architecture to Arch-Viz and strike out to create a business was a big step
Is there a work/ an image/ a project that you created which is most valuable to you? Why?
T: I am most proud of the work I’ve done within very short timelines, usually with photomatching. The collection of images for 46 Charlotte was created in about 3 days using a rough Sketchup model from the client and some site photography. I was able to create a fairly convincing image (using some of the Photoshop techniques from SOA) that both the client and our team were happy with.
Y: I don’t know if there’s a particular project that I value most, but I really enjoy projects that push the boundaries and clients that enjoy the poetic side of Arch-Viz. I also really like projects that get the billboard treatment; when you see one of your images as big as 15 – 20 meters on the side of a building you get this amazing feeling. I remember once walking along with my father-in-law and stumbling upon one of my images. Then we walked another few blocks and saw an even bigger image of an entirely different project. Mint!
What do you do in your free time after work? Can you balance your working life and your private one?
T: Free time? Where?! Balancing life and work has definitely been difficult. I think it’s the curse of actually enjoying your job; I’m able to work long hours without consideration, even though it’s not great for your physical and mental health. However, when I do leave the office, I’m usually looking at a screen again, playing video games or watching shows! Toronto also has a great food culture, so I love to indulge in good food and drink.
Y: Making beats! https://soundcloud.com/yfrasier I have to tinker with songs almost everyday. I love music and all different genres (except for Death Metal and Yoko Ono). Most of all I hang out with my family. I have a 3 year old daughter and a 1 month old son. Those two characters keep me on my toes. I love them aaaand my wife too. She’s been teaching me to ski, she snowboards and I almost died doing that so skiing is much easier! I love skiing. Its so involved it helps get my mind off work and I get to enjoy nature. When it’s not ski season, I’m biking. Dodging cars helps keep me focused.