My name is Thornton Strolia. I am a shading and lighting artist, and for the last couple of years, I have been working more as a generalist as a product animator.
I got my start with Blender in 2008 but really didn’t take it seriously until about 2012. At the time I was so excited I couldn’t be bothered to really finish a project and my goals were set way too high at the time. I always wanted to do these super crazy projects with absurd levels of intricate detail and I would shoot my very juvenile self in the foot just putting too much energy into the wrong things like I think a lot of us do when we are first starting. I would spend hours just tweaking and adjusting more than actually doing anything but I was still green at the time.
Eventually, I started picking up small little gigs doing small jobs for whoever would pay me. Lots of cold-call style work. Just hitting up small businesses and brands and just throwing out my pitch. It was through having to work on those small projects that I got into really finishing my projects and being like, ok, these are the confines and time constraints set for me to make something really cool.
Later I went to college for computer animation. I was definitely caught up with the idea that I really needed an education and I certainly got a lot out of it being that the internet was not then what it is now, but it was getting there and I probably didn’t really need to go. Either way, I have a bachelor’s degree in computer animation and a pretty piece of paper that says so. Haha.
After I got done with school I was super just burnt out with it. I took a little break but then after some time in a sort of artistic limbo doing any kind of art I felt like on any given day a friend of mine eventually slapped me straight so to speak and I just sat down and played the cold call game again until people started giving me work and that just grew. If you take yourself seriously, you set hours, you show to your own job for work and become reliable to yourself, and people treat you like a business that they can also rely on and you will get the work. I have done work like the landing page for Vitruvian for their VForm trainer, and the hard-surface work for Reathlete. I have also worked on graphics for some other smaller tech startups and things.
My Advise for Aspiring Professional Artists:
I think, just, in my opinion, you don’t have to be good to get started if you want to work as an artist. I think a lot of people hold themselves back believing that the only way to make a living as an animator is to get a job at a studio. I think they see freelance work as something you have to earn the rights to. They shy away from it and keep getting better and better saying someday I will be an animator. Just go do it. You’re an animator now if you say you are, you just aren’t a professional yet because you aren’t taking any jobs. I wasn’t very good when I first started taking jobs. The jobs are how I got good, and it was just by taking myself seriously enough for other people to know I am serious that I kept getting the work.
About "Lorier Gemini Watch:"
I want to preface all this by saying, Lorier didn’t commission this, I just did it and then sent it to them and one of the owners loved it and very graciously gave me permission to share it and post it and use it in my portfolio without changing the logos which makes me very happy. This project was a very spur-of-the-moment thing. I am very kinesthetic. I touch things and feel things, I bend and break things, and try to fit them together again to understand them, and I get way more out of it than any other method of receiving information. That process does sorta fall apart just a little when it comes to really super small details so I have a jewelers loupe that I use to see maybe what fabric fibers are doing when I run my finger a certain way over them. I can get a lot like that. Here’s the texture and here’s why I am getting that feeling.
Anyway, don’t ask me why but I got it in my head to look at my watch, a Lorier Gemini, under the loupe. Something about the way the light hit it, and the lens distortion, and the strange squishing effect from looking through the lens off-center, It was just magical. I kinda got a rush through my body and was like, this has to happen now. I think it was like 11:30pm and I just started working on it. I went in with the motivation that I really just wanted other people looking at my render to get the same feeling of excitement and wonder that I got when I looked at it through the loupe. This almost perfectly bad way of looking at something that is just very magical. I blocked out the bezel and just went crazy. The next day the thing is done. The render is finished. I emailed Lorier about it and they got back to me with their blessing and some of the nicest compliments given to me from someone who didn’t pay me to do something for them. It was just a very pure moment where I was just very happy that I was able to give them the same feeling about their own product that I had looking at it in person myself.
It was modeled and rigged in Blender. Textures and materials were done in Substance Designer and Photoshop, and then the final render was done with Octane.
Anyone who wants to reach out with inquiries is more than welcome to email me at ThorntonStrolia@gmail.com.
A new website and email is in the works so down the line that may need to be revised but for the time being that is my primary point of contact.