Reinaldo Handaya and his studio 2G STUDIO are one of the early users of our products. He won several awards and grew his company to an important player in the ArchViz industry, not only in Asia but all over the world.
Hi Reinaldo, how are you ? How is business for you ?
Reinaldo: Hi Martin! I am doing great. Business is great. We keep busy with rendering.
Your recent success clearly shows that architectural visualization is not a niche market anymore, but can provide your company with enough work to hire quite a decent number (how many?) of artists.
Reinaldo: To be honest with you Martin, I never saw the ArchViz market as a small market to begin with. For me, when I started working in this industry, I always thought of Archviz as a big market. Why I never aimed for local clients? You will see this answered on question 3. My aim was western countries (I am from Indonesia by the way). We have several loyal clients that keep sending jobs to us from Japan, United States, London and Australia. In early 2014, there were 4 of us, and from mid-2014 till May 2015 there were 6 of us, and till July 2015, there will be 10-11 people in our team. We aim to get a total of 20 people in our team by the end of 2015. One of the reasons why we grew a bit slower last year, was because we hardly found good people to become part of our team. We offered jobs several times, but had no luck. Somehow this year we found plenty, so it´s time to get bigger. Currently we are working on about 20 – 35 new images per week, not mentioning the previous week’s revision progress, all with only 6 people here. On average, we produce around 100 – 120 images for both final and draft progress. Our clients always want top quality renderings from the very first draft. So you can imagine what we are going through every day here.
What made you interested in working in this field and founding a company ? and What is your personal background and how did you become a 3D visualization artist and company owner ?
Reinaldo: Ok, I think to answer this question I have to let you know what happened back then. As you know, I am from Indonesia. Here in Indonesia, working as an employee is not a good idea, mostly in this industry. The salary was very low, and the market still does not respect a virtual product. Most of the people here only respect businesses with tangible (hardware) products, mostly properties and cars. In 2004, my father´s factory, where I was a worker, caught fire, and I faced bankruptcy. After this I switched to a furniture factory. There I learned about design. I needed something to present my interior design with, to communicate the design and make sure the client felt the design before they built it. So I fell in love with 3D, mostly with V-Ray. Before V-Ray I tried several render engines, but I stuck around with V-Ray till now. There are lots of render engines out there, but for 2GS, V-Ray provides us with a lot of simple ways to “cheat” the realism. At the end of the day, we have to do what the client wants (For example, if I want the sun to be a bit yellowish, but still want to keep the wall color as their color card). Then I found out that working in this industry is like playing a game, and not like my previous work. At least that´s what I thought back then, but apparently, it’s more than just that. In this industry we can definitely communicate with our clients. The better the communication you can build with your client, the better relationship you will get. Unlike my previous job, once they get their things, they will never contact you again. The only way they contacted you again was when they started complaining about things -…”ha, ha”. The reason I founded a company and entered this industry was because we didn’t have to buy any raw material to start the production. So it was a very, very, very low risk for me, and the other thing was that we were definitely able to start with 1 – 2 PCs. So it was definitely a lot cheaper than buying big machines for furniture production.
Then I thought that to create a company, I definitely could not work alone in this industry, I needed partners. I am not really good with drawing, since I am a very technical person, and I knew Evan for quite a long time, and I knew he is very honest, not a tricky person, and that he has great talent in this industry. He is an architect and comes from an artistic family. I am a civil engineer, but come from a business family. So I told him about my idea, and what we could do together. You have everything I don’t have, the sense of art, and I have everything you don´t have, a sense of business, and I kept telling him, that this is very easy for me, unlike my previous job, were lots of tricky people were around. Evan also agreed with the idea and then we founded a company called 2G Studio.
You told me that times were not always so bright as they are for you now. What did you learn from these tough times and what would you suggest to starters in this industry ?
Reinaldo: Yes, apparently this industry is not as easy as I thought back then. Here in Indonesia, everything counts per image. So that is why I always thought that everywhere else would also have the same system. If in Indonesia, I could only sell an image for 50 USD, at least I could start selling things for 500 USD to western people. But apparently it’s not that easy. Thank God, Evan and I already planned everything before we founded the company. So we tried so hard to get some savings for a year before we founded the company, and somehow we survived because of those savings hahaha. Even though we had some savings, at some point, we are running out of it, but somehow, our portfolio and some awards we got from CG Architect, Ronen Bekerman and some other 3D forums helped us a lot. I learned from these tough times how to make good relations, because I was totally new in this business and mostly built relations with clients from foreign countries. The myth about how these people think about Asian countries was true. Outsourcing to an Asian company = low cost rendering. I was shocked and kept saying OMG all the time and kept asking myself how I could break this myth. “There must be some way to enter the market.” As I mentioned, our portfolio and awards from 3D forums is SOME thing, but when it comes to price it’s really another thing. The other thing I learned from the tough times was that real projects are not the same as portfolio renderings. I was totally screwed back then. My real project renderings looked really terrible because I tried to fulfill every wish from my clients because I also always thought they knew what they wanted. But apparently, they don’t! So it’s like you are falling from a letter, and the letter drops on the top of your head. So it’s a totally perfect disaster LOL. I knew then that I was rookie and I’m still a rookie till now. I started to learn about color, composition, details, checking on the 3D forums, checking all the details and most of them were portfolio renderings. So to be honest with you, I found out it’s almost too good to be true. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I am not doing matte painting, so I’m in a different market. So I started to open some of the great Archviz companies’ websites, and found what I was after. So I started from there. Those great Archviz companies’ portfolios are real projects. So the learning process was really, really hard.
You are not only running 2G Studio, but also other businesses and websites. Which are they and what are they about ?
Reinaldo: Yes, 2GAcademy.com. I really love teaching and sharing experience. To be honest with you, I also learn from my students, because I believe everyone has their own experience, and there’s nothing wrong with learning from anyone else including our students. The other one is Gtrove.com to focus on assets. Sometimes we have to create some models for our real projects and we want to share it on Gtrove.com with everyone else.
Did you specialize in a field of expertise regarding architectural visualization or do you accept any project that a client asks for ?
Reinaldo: For now we are only accepting jobs that require everything to be done in 3D. We are not doing matte painting right now. I still remember my first drawing on my Cintiq. I Drew a very simple piggy. I still remember 2 years ago on my Facebook, people were asking why I bought a Cintiq to draw simple piggy. Lol. I was like: Naah! It’s for Evan to do the photomontage jobs and 2D people. It’s easier to use a Cintiq instead of a Wacom or just a regular mouse.
How do you market yourself and your companies to potential clients ? Do you call them by phone, do you use social media ?
Reinaldo: Good question! hahaha. I strongly believe you know how artists market themselves these days. Yes, I also do the same. We create good renderings, get more exposure and pray, hoping we get some clients. Yes we use social media, such as Behance, Facebook, etc. But to be honest, I’ve never gotten clients from Behance LOL. I never call potential clients, it’s too expensive for me. I am in Indonesia and as you know, I don’t work for local companies. So calling by phone is out of the question. As you can see, I rarely publish any renderings lately. It’s been much less than last year. But somehow, every time I publish one of my new personal projects, I always end up getting new clients. From this story you can see I’m very, very passive in marketing and somehow all my clients find me first and not the other way around. I think it’s easier for me to do the relation when they find me first. When they find me first, they will always be willing to listen. If I contacted them first, they always think we want to take their money away LOL.
How do you treat your clients, do you always fulfill every wish or do you also say „NO“ sometimes ?
Reinaldo: I treat them like kings. No, I don’t always fulfill their every wish. Also, I don’t say “no” sometimes, I say “no” almost all the time lol. Just kidding. I say no when the client wants something that is really, really, unreasonable. Like I said, not all clients know what they really want. It’s our job to provide the service. If they know what they really want, they will not contact us. It’s just a human weakness. Lots of people don’t want to admit they can’t do it. Thank God my clients are good clients. They are willing to listen, discuss, even though they are big companies. It’s easier to synchronize the workflow when the client is willing to listen and discuss everything. And what’s the “king” part? Well, people always think that treating clients like kings means serving them a 100 percent. No, no, no, it’s a totally wrong way of thinking. Don’t ever forget, a king always has an advisor. 😉
Regarding VIZPARK, which products do you use in your projects ?
Reinaldo: Err. Tough question. What makes it tough? You ask which of your products we use and people will think this is some kind of self-promotion for both 2GS and VIZPARK. So I better answer in detail so everything makes more sense.
1. Walls & Tiles
– we use Walls & Tiles lots of times, mostly for pavements, bricks, etc., it’s just that I don’t really like to use VRay Displacement mod, so I use normal bump. WAT is really helpful, because almost every project has tiles. At least pavement and bricks mostly for exteriors. Probably we can get 6×6 sqm textures for bricks, but what happens in most of our projects is that we have bigger walls. So regular tile bitmap will definitely look tiled. WAT is really powerful with this issue. I can create very random textures on very big walls without worrying about the tiling issue.
For interiors, since we need to pull out all of the details, we use iToo Railclone to do the tiles or parquetes, then we use Crossmap. I really love Crossmap, it’s very simple and I can use it with Railclone seamlessly. It’s easy to get random variation textures in no time and with less stress. As we all know, in terms of real projects, time is everything, since the deadline is there, all we can do is speed up our job and get more time to rest.
3. Real Grass
This one is a must, all exterior projects will definitely need grass. What we love from the real grass is that we get the GrowFx version. Some in our team are really, really good with GrowFx. So we can definitely tweak the grass.
4. Real Trees
Again, the factor that makes us love this is because we get the GrowFx version, so we can tweak it ourselves and create other variations and some things that I found out that’s very interesting, is that Real Trees are very good for framing and produce nice and realistic shadows.
What makes these products valuable for you and how often do you use them in your projects ?
Reinaldo: As I mentioned previously, what makes these products valuable for us is that they help us get early rest. Not kidding, it’s true. I cannot imagine if I had to do brick textures for big walls without WAT again. I definitely don’t want to go back to those times, wasting all night long just to create seamless brick textures that still won’t look realistic. Also the grass and trees. Some people might think we are lazy, but it’s not that. When it comes to real projects, speed is everything. Use every premade model you can get and all the very useful and valuable plugins to help finish the job quickly.
Can you give an example of how you use our products in your project ?
Reinaldo: Sure, but I am really sorry that I can’t show u the real projects because 75 percent of my real projects are confidential and the other 25 percent still needs to wait 1 – 2 years before they are able to published. Please see attached images for some of our personal projects using your products.
What are your plans for the future ?
Reinaldo: What plan? I just want to get some sleep to be honest. I have planned lots of things for marketing, and somehow it never works out. So since 2014, I stopped planning things. I just want everything to go with the flow but internally, we want to build our own office as soon as possible. We definitely need a bigger space, our garage office will definitely not be enough. We plan to have a 4 – 5 story building for 2G Studio offices.
We want to create a fun environment office. We want to do constant in house training, and to do it in a fun and rewarding way, even though the reward is a small thing, but the togetherness is the most precious thing.
Lots of companies in this country just put too much pressure on the employee, and no fun at all. We always think everyone in 2GS team are all equal, no matter how high is your education, we are the same, humans, we have to respect each other.
What would you recommend others to succeed in this industry ?
Reinaldo: 1. Don’t! Don’t enter this industry. Go get some sleep! hahaha. Kidding. Ok, I get lots of questions regarding this one. Some people always think the successful people somehow start directly from the top. Well, 2GS comes from a very, very, unpleasant condition. I already mentioned this on the previous point. We are craving our way till now. We started with 3 Workstations, i7 920 on 2011. And now we have more than 600 threads and will keep adding more and more. We are still nothing compared with the big companies. Lots of big companies have 60 – 70 render nodes which is around more than 1000 threads. Keep pushing. Never give up, keep improving.
2. I see lots of people cursing their clients on Facebook, saying that the clients are bad. Okay, I cannot deny there are some bad and good clients. We never know if one day, one of our big potential clients will already be added in our Facebook list. If you keep cursing your client, they will think that you are just a small freelancer who doesn’t know how to do business. Big clients only want to work with big companies. If you are not big enough, this big client will be willing to work with you because of your great attitude. One of the biggest clients on 2GS is actually in our friends list. They kept an eye on us for a couple of months before they started sending jobs. They know we are just a small company to start with, but they love our attitude, and are willing to help us get big. Because if we get bigger, they will get more help from us. It’s a very good business circle.
3. We only have 24 hours a day, definitely not enough to do everything, so better use your valuable time to improve instead of cursing/intervening other people. If you keep cursing/intervening in other people’s business, there are only 2 possibilities. 1, you have too much time on your hands so you have time to be cursing others or even your client. 2. You don’t have any jobs so u don’t have anything to do. So let’s stop doing this. Let’s start learning something new and be more positive.
4. Always be honest with your clients. No tricks… Do you know that to become a liar you need to have consistency? Just to make sure your false story looks real? Tell you what, it’s very exhausting. If you’re being honest, you don’t have to be consistent, it’s not exhausting, and u can use your valuable time to learn something new and more positive.
5. Be yourself. Nothing to hide. Would you believe me if I also talk with our clients the way I talk in this interview?
I am truly sorry I don’t have fancy advice to succeed. I don’t consider us as a successful company, there are lots of companies out there more successful than us. But we always do everything with heart. We take care of our team, we take care of our clients like we take care of ourselves. Treat them as humans, then they will treat you the same way.
Thank you very much for your time and for sharing these infos with us!
Reinaldo: no no no, i thank you martin for your great product, it really help us to get to this level.