Episode 308 — Stuart Lippincott — Landing Work Through Social Media
Stuart Lippincott is a motion graphics designer and NFT artist. He is known as @Stuz0r on social media.
In this Podcast, Allan McKay interviews motion graphics designer Stuart Lippincott about NFT’s as a side hustle, establishing the rates you’re worth, attracting better clients, working remotely and how your brand determines your prices.
Stuart Lippincott on Behance: https://www.behance.net/stuz0r
Stuart Lippincott on IG: @stuz0r (https://www.instagram.com/stuz0r/?hl=en)
Stuart Lippincott on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0ycUIMhOa6fKG_k-E6vHSg
Stuart Lippincott on Twitter: @stuz01 (https://twitter.com/stuz0r?lang=en).
[03:20] Stuart Lippincott Talks About Starting Out as an Artist
[08:35] Finding Passion in Learning
[13:51] Daily Art and Finding Inspiration
[18:28] NFT’s as a Side Hustle
[42:10] Finding the Clients You Want
[52:21] Daily Routine
[59:46] How Brand Dictates Higher Prices
[1:11:08] Working Remotely
EPISODE 308 — STUART LIPPINCOTT — LANDING WORK THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 308! I’m sitting down with Stuart Lippincott. We’re talking about daily art and finding your inspiration, NFT’s as a side hustle, finding clients, working remotely, landing work through social media and so much more!
Stu is a motion graphics artist based in the U.S. We dive into topics like landing work through social media, as well his approach to recruiting clients and working remotely. He shares value bomb after value bomb in this Episode!
Please take a few moments to share this Podcast with others. I appreciate that!
Let’s dive in!
FIRST THINGS FIRST:
[01:12] Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!
[1:23:30] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!
INTERVIEW WITH STUART LIPPINCOTT
[03:20] Allan: Again, thank you for taking the time to chat! Do you want to quickly introduce yourself?
Stuart: Yeah, I’m Stuart Lippincott, AKA @Stuz0r online. I’ve been doing daily renders for 5 years now. I’ve been on and off in the 3D world since 2010. You can follow me @stuz0z on Instagram. Sidenote: It’s my original XBox handle from 2002.
[04:07] Allan: That’s awesome! Earlier in your life, did you always expect you’d fall into some artist role?
Stuart: Yup! It’s funny because in elementary school I started drawing cartoons. I had friends that would also draw. They got really good pretty fast. In 7th grade, I took an art class and I sucked at it. My friends kept getting better but I never got good at it. I never thought I’d have a job in the art industry at all. Even when I was in college, I was in a drawing class. I told my professors on day one that I wanted to learn how to draw but that I sucked at it. By the end of the semester, I never got any better. I don’t know if it’s just a way I view things. So it’s been a running joke on my profiles. I always say I can’t draw. But it’s also meant to give people some hope. Like, I took a storyboarding class and it’s stick figures. My first job out of college required some storyboarding; and again, it was stick figures. But it got the point across. I never thought I’d be in the art industry, and not even dream I’d be where I am now with this online following. If you told me that when I was in college, I’d think it was a joke.
[06:35] Allan: You would’ve been like, “What’s social media?” I think there are a lot of misconceptions with 3D that you need a degree or to know how to draw. These are obstacles that people put in front of themselves. I do draw most of what I work on, just so that I can communicate with the client.
Stuart: I think in some instances it does help a little bit, things like Zbrush, basics of the anatomy, basic sculpting (except for sci fi characters). I got into Zbrush a little bit but I haven’t taken a deep dive into it heavily. I’ve never dedicated the time to that. But traditional art you can learn, even online. In that regard, that does help a little bit with general principals.
[08:35] Allan: You’ve mentioned that you’ve been on and off with 3D. I find that people when they get out, they don’t come back in. What was it for you?
Stuart: I did go to school for 3D. My teacher was awesome! But I felt like mentally I wasn’t where I needed to be to soak it in. When I left school, I went to work for an ad agency. I did a bit of 3D modeling it, but it was more After Effects heavy. I started drifting away from 3D. It was at my next job where I worked for a company that worked for Walmart. I didn’t do any 3D then. I did motion graphics. My team was in charge of coming up with Walmart’s social media campaigns. I did a lot of photography and video work. I tried sneaking in some 3D if I could but it wasn’t in the cards anywhere. While I was doing that, I would play with 3D because it was stress relieving. During the holidays, we’d have a slower time for 2 months at Walmart. I was online in 2015 and I typed in Cinema 4D as a hashtag, on Instagram. I saw Beeple’s work. I thought, “Holy crap! This dude is doing this stuff in one day. What kind of technology is out there?” Because I used to have to render a 30-second animation for, like, 3 days. And now, I’m seeing this dude rendering sci fi environments in a day. And that rekindled my passion, to be honest. From there, I challenged myself to do daily renders during my lunch break. That’s where it picked back up.
[12:33] Allan: So is that also when you embraced the daily practice, because of Beeple (www.allanmckay.com/285).
Stuart: It was. I used to practice guitar daily. It would be Friday nights and my friends would be going out, while I’d be practicing. So it was kind of like refocusing that daily practice for an hour or two. Originally, my job was pretty stressful, with lots of deadlines and corporate meetings. So at lunch time, I’d put on my headphones and zone out. I’d have an hour, maybe an 1.5 hours. It was a creative challenge: What can I fit into this one hour? It was also stress relieving.
[13:51] Allan: I like that: 3D that’s not stressful! That’s an interesting thing I should try out. I love that though! When I was talking with Beeple about that, I was fascinated by dailies already. Goro Fujita does speed painting (www.allanmckay.com/177). People usually do this to go viral which is a wrong metric. That’s what I liked about Beeple. He posts his work and doesn’t read his comments. He does it for his personal growth. I’m about to get back to doing live streams everyday, which is flexing the same muscle. In general, where do you seek inspiration?
Stuart: That’s a tough one. It’s really weird but a lot of the time, I get it from the music I’m listening to. I usually can picture a scene and it goes from there. Sometimes, I’ll do it from a photo. Ash Thorp posted this moody photo in a forest and I tried to mimic that. Another one came from my old house, when I was taking the trash out and I saw this sun coming in through the ferns. It looked like a different world. I took a picture of it and thought it’d be cool to recreate. It turned out looking really cool. It was like still life. You can draw inspiration from anywhere. It can be from a light hitting the wall, or a shape you see. It comes from anywhere. But 80% of the time, it comes from music.
[18:28] Allan: It’s a recurring theme with music. It helps people get into a zen mode. I like when Ash gets to practice his photography (www.allanmckay.com/56). He can go down one path and then abandon it. When you get to a certain point of your career, you get to pick and choose what you want to do. To jump around, you started selling NFT’s. How long have you been following crypto art for?
Stuart: It caught my eye in September of 2020. There was some talk on Twitter about it. I mentioned it to my brother who told me, “It kind of sounds unstable.” I wasn’t a 100% sure. I’d applied to SuperRare back in October. I also applied to Nifty and they got back to me within a week. SuperRare took 6-7 weeks. I got accepted at the same time as Beeple did a huge drop on Nifty and I could not believe how much he made on it. I realized people took it seriously. I sold my first piece in January. That’s when it started for me.
[22:20] Allan: I love that! For me, I’m trying to avoid conversations with people who don’t understand NFT’s. It becomes this big conversation about how you define art. It’s interesting how people are curious about it but still don’t get it. You’d alluded to this: Having had some success with crypto art, it gives you the freedom to pick and choose projects more intelligently. Even with crypto art, I had profile artists reach out to me for collaboration. I already have the next 7 months backlogged. How has it changed things for you, as an artist with this type of freedom?
Stuart: To be honest, you don’t want to give people a false sense of hope. “If you get into NFT’s, you’ll never have to work again.” It’s so different for everyone. It should give people a bit of hope. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have on social media. I’ve seen collectors buy a piece for $20K from someone that has 1,000 IG followers. But they liked the piece! For me, it’s usually a couple of thousand dollars here. If you can get in, it’s semi-leveled the playing field regardless of your level. I have a friend who is 16 years old and he’s made so much money, he could buy a college at this point. It’s weird that he is making all this money. It can free you up from having to do client work. As far as client work goes, it definitely has freed me up to say yes and no. The danger of any job — and it holds true whether you’re in freelance or you’re working in corporate — you don’t want to feel like you’re working a slave wage. You don’t want to feel like you have to take on crappy clients. You get stuck in the cycle of having to accept jobs that aren’t good for you. I think this is a safety net in the way. My bills are taken care of because of the NFT’s.
[28:37] Allan: It’s kind of like if you were just investing in BitCoin and it takes a dip. But if you’re diversifying into other things, other things are doing well. That’s why you have to have your main hustle and your side hustle.
Stuart: Absolutely! I don’t know how this pretend money becomes real money. I keep a certain amount of coin base. It’s kind of like a simplified stock market. It goes up and down a lot. What you can do is keep a decent amount in there and when it hits a big amount, I’ll take some out and put that in my bank. Then I’ll add to what I have left. It’s a simplified stock market but the possibility of gains and losses is a lot higher, and faster. You also don’t want to have all your money in there. That’s what I’ve learned.
[30:35] Allan: I like that with NFT’s, your social media following doesn’t matter. It’s interpretive art and what the person buying it sees in it. Most people buying art is buying the story. They can show that work and tell their own story. It’s the anonymity of having artists online. On top of that, you aren’t going to be putting it on your wall so you aren’t telling your buddies about it. Where do you see the value long-term?
Stuart: There is an NFT collector gallery in NYC and they’re creating this gallery with monitors. They look matte. These are virtual galleries. It reminds me of Second Life. It came out in 2005 and you could buy digital real estate. This is exactly like that but a newer version. What’s happening is that there are these virtual galleries. Someone just sold a virtual house on SuperRare. This is crazy! But if you think about VR and AR, and who knows what’s going to happen in the next 50 years. There are collectors that collect for the way a piece makes them feel, and then there are collectors who collect for investment sake. And I’ve seen collectors buy something and then sell it 2 days later. I still get a kickback. But then there are those who want to keep the art forever. I think it’s so new, we’re still trying to figure out the value. Are you buying the brand and the name? Or are you buying the way the piece makes you feel? I think it’s the same way with painting and sculptures. It’s just a different medium.
[36:07] Allan: It’s also frustrating that people are saying, “Digital artists can finally make money!” Are you kidding me? People have been making money. The only issue is that artists are allergic to business so they aren’t making money. But with NFT’s, it’s okay. I’ve got friends that are making over a million dollars online without NFT’s. There are so many ways you can make a living!
Stuart: It’s almost like they self-flagellate a little bit. When I was in a band, we’d do interviews on the radio. I hate self promoting. And still: With NFT’s, my friends keep telling me I have to promote my stuff. And I hate it! With artists, there is a certain element of an imposter syndrome, or “my work is not good enough”. Or, “I’m a sellout.” If you can make money at something you love, why not? It’s like with professional athletes. Do what you’re passionate at — and make a living at it!
[38:48] Allan: Before, you’d have to work with all these clients that make your life miserable. Suddenly, you’re doing something you care about and it changes everything. And you can say no to the clients you don’t like. For me, I had a year when I decided to say no to everything unless it aligned with my goals. I ended up tripling my income that year! In general, by saying no, you’re available to do the jobs that you want or that are offering your fuck-you money. Money equals freedom. Like athletes, we have to look at longevity. We can only do this for 10-15 years, but we have to set ourselves up for the rest of our lives.
[40:35] Allan: You’ve had a lot of big clients. Who are some of those?
Stuart: Yeah, I think just this last year, I’ve worked with Google, I did some work with Intel, I did some work with Childish Gambino for Coachella. I’ve done some stuff for XBox, which was really cool. It was right in the middle of the city, there was a projection of XBox scenes. I’ve worked with some clients that no one will ever hear about because I’m not allowed to speak about them. I worked on some crazy science future-y stuff. They hired me to do my style, for a presentation for investors. It was one of the coolest jobs I’ve ever worked on because anything I presented, they thought it was amazing. When you can be hired to do that it’s the best thing in the world! The Xbox job, the Google job were the same thing. I’ve been trying to get this type of client. When they sent me their storyboards, it was just my work. Those are the awesome jobs and they’ve been high paying, high profile jobs, like Adobe. Illenium! He was the first artist I’ve worked with, that was back in 2017. It was the same thing. His first album work I did was one of my renders that I changed. And we’ve had a relationship since. I’ve been super lucky to work with these clients! The higher profile clients have been the easiest to work with for me! It’s these little bands that I’ll say yes to, just because I like them, and they [want all these changes]. But clients like Microsoft are like, “This is perfect! It’s exactly what we wanted!” That’s been my experience.
[44:50] Allan: That’s exactly the point I was going to bring up. You’re attracting your audience, ultimately. As opposed to when you aren’t getting paid, you don’t have much time for your own work and you’re just keeping your head down. By doing personal work, you’ll be attracting the people who want what you offer. That is such a valuable thing! But putting yourself out there, you’ll attract people who want what you do.
Stuart: That’s exactly my point! When you have that amount — that certain look — by putting out your stuff daily, you’re putting out this giant net. And the clients that come to you, they’ll see your stuff plastered everywhere. They’ll love your stuff and ask you to do something in that style. That’s another upside to doing dailies. For me, I’ve drifted away from the term “daily render”. I’d like to be known as the “daily storyteller”. I feel like my scenes have a story behind them, a title. That sets the theme for the render and I want the viewer to come up with their own stories. They may be snippets from a film or a dream. I get that a lot, actually: “I saw this in my dream”. It’s like, wow!
[47:52] Allan: I saw this video from the 50s or 60s where the US government paid artists to do sketches while on LSD. The work went from being an accurate sketch to a piece of art. I only found this out a year ago. Hemingway did this short story in 6 words. “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” It’s such a simple concept. I love that you can tell a story in a title.
Stuart: It’s tough because I hear collectors of NFT’s ask for the backstory for your images. I don’t like telling people that. In a traditional art sense, I want to interpret it on my own. You know when you’re watching a movie and then you have the director’s take. And it bums you out. I don’t want to tell people because they may have a deep story.
[50:50] Allan: I don’t do any personal work these days. When you do hear people talk about your stuff, it’s weird.
Stuart: Especially when people tell you they’ve seen it in a dream. Ninety percent of the time, I don’t even dream.
[51:22] Allan: You know Bosslogic? He’s another one who doesn’t sleep.
[52:21] Allan: I’ve had so many conversations about sleep and the neuroscience behind it! What is your daily habit?
Stuart: I usually get up at around [5:30] or [6:00] in the morning. I sit for an hour and drink coffee. I get the kids up for school. At around [8:00], I come in. I start working on my daily I’ve started the previous night. Or, I start at [8:00] and try to have it done by [10:00]. It’s a 24 hour period turnaround. From there, I start rough sketching for another piece. I’ll come back, help kids with school. Then go back. After [10:00] or [11:00], it’s just chaos around here. There is no real structure.
[54:05] Allan: First of all, it’s awesome that your day goes: I get up and make my own art! Is there any reason you start a piece the night before? Do you try to sleep on it?
Stuart: Definitely! The ones I start the night before, they feel like trash. Sometimes, the scene will be completely different the next morning. That’s how I generally go. I have theme ideas, inside these temples, or skull sculptures, or space. So I generally know the theme I’m feeling. That’s my work flow. When I was working my full-time job, if I started a piece at lunch, I’d come back to it at night. That’s the routine I got into.
[56:12] Allan: I like that for so many reasons! By getting up in the morning, it’s your chance to make it Version 2.0. I’ve mentioned Hemmingway before. I have a friend who learned made a million dollars more for his business all because of the practices he put together. He was trying to teach me these concepts, but one of them was tapped into neurosciences. One of them came from Einstein and Eddison: They never went to sleep without having their problem solved. That way you’re thinking on it while you sleep. The more you’re stepping away, the more you’re able to think clearly. It’s the same with art. You can look at it with fresh eyes.
Stuart: For me, I picked up that concept when I was writing music. You write the chords, but when you play them in the morning, it’s not the same thing. So you revise them. I’ve been doing that since junior high. You step away and you come back with fresh ears. That’s the concept. You have to step away from the piece and come back and see things in a different light. I can apply it to anything, even scientists.
[59:46] Allan: There is so much value from stepping away. Can we touch on brand? By putting out your personal work, that is your brand. Through doing that, you’re attracting your audience. How important do you see brand for attracting the right clients?
Stuart: I never went into this with the idea of building my own brand. It kind of built itself which is weird. I started doing this as a hobby. It’s been extremely beneficial for me. If you build your own look and you build a relationship with clients and they see your work ethic. They see you’re committed to the job. The benefit of doing something daily is that it shows:
- You can create something fast;
- You can come up with ideas quickly;
- And you have your own brand.
That helps with getting clients. In the real world, it happens fast. And if they can see that you can produce quality stuff in a quick turnaround, and you have a solid background, it’s like your 4-year college degree. I guess. And they can see that you’re committed. And you can think creatively, and you have a brand. It’s all those ideas coming together. Honestly, what’s happening now: These bigger agencies want to come to smaller people. Bigger agencies charge a lot of money. We can do it for less but we also give them creative communication. That’s what I’ve seen. Having your own brand is like having your own agency. For me, it’s super important. But I never set out to build my own brand. That’s been my story with it.
[1:05:00] Allan: Do you think having a brand helps with pricing as well?
Stuart: It definitely helps. I told one of my previous teachers at my college that I get most of my clients through Behance. I get more of my artists and musicians through IG. It’s been this weird road: You can charge more if they see that Google is on your resume. It’s more agency-ish. I think it’s like that with everything. Also, I’ve had this conversation with an artist. He was charging $200 for his work. I told him to charge 10 times that amount. When people are coming out of college, they don’t have any money and they get taken advantage of. I try to tell that to my friends who are up-and-coming. It’s rising and falling of the ceiling for all of us, kinda. We try to pull everyone up together.
[1:09:00] Allan: It’s also interesting that the $200 clients are usually the more painful ones to work with. They don’t know what they want, they are terrible at communicating. Those who are paying you more are too busy doing their own shit. I did an experiment on this. High prices mean that you’re taken seriously. I’ve mentioned doing live streams. At a certain point, you have to start raising your prices. You can be doing less work and spending more time on it.
Stuart: I think it’s a scary concept for people. If you go into it not knowing, the higher paying clients will micromanage you less and it’ll be a much more enjoyable experience, for the most part. It’s like they’ll pay you more but they’ll treat you like a professional. They know you can take charge of the situation and they don’t have to worry about it. So telling this to some 18-19 year old kid, it’s better to tell them to wait for the better paying clients.
[1:11:08] Allan: My last question would be about working remotely. You’re in Arkansas, right? What’s your experience like with that? Your brand is what attracts people to your work.
Stuart: Honestly, it has not been an issue whatsoever! The cost of living here is a lot lower. I’ve been doing it since 2017. I’ve never had an issue with it. The net has been cast out through my IG or Behance. I’ll talk to people around the world. I’m in a small town. There is not a huge 3D community where I live. It’s an artistic community. There is this Crystal Bridges Museum. There are some famous paintings there. It’s an amazing place! It’s a beautiful palace to live. But as far as getting work, I’ve only worked with one local client. Other than that, I have no local clients at all. They’re all world wide. I find clients through social media or by word of mouth. I’ve never had to apply for a job so far, since 2017. They come to me through social channels. I’ve been incredibly lucky!
[1:15:02] Allan: I think a lot of us say we’re lucky. But no, you’ve worked hard for it! My last question would be about people working remotely since COVID-19, how do you feel about this? I remember people in LA were freaking out about all the work going to Vancouver. I’m excited about this more equal playing field. Other people can have a piece of the pie now. How do you feel about that?
Stuart: I think it’s fantastic. At my last job, when I first started there, I was the only motion graphics person. I’d be done with my work and think that I didn’t have to be there. I’d get frustrated. For our department, I thought it was ridiculous. I lived 5 miles from where I worked. I could start earlier, but they wanted me to be in my seat. To me, it makes sense. The companies don’t have to spend money on [the overhead]. I personally like working at home. I also have a family. Since the start of this, my youngest was born since I’ve been working at home. So I get to see him. More people can experience this type of thing now. Everyone is realizing that now because of the pandemic. This should be standard. I think it’s been awesome. Why not?
[1:19:48] Allan: Dude, this has been awesome! I appreciate your time! Where can people go to find out about you?
Stuart: My main social is IG account. I’m a bit more active on Twitter right now. I’m only up on Behance. You can see all the work I’ve done.
[1:20:48] Allan: Have you ever thought of putting out a book of your artwork?
Stuart: I have! I have like 2,000 images. For me, the NFT has been super hard to not post minty stuff. Maybe eventually. I started rendering my images at higher resolution.
[1:21:36] Allan: That was one thing, actually. Knowing there are now NFT galleries popping up, do you see standard resolutions?
Stuart: I think eventually. For me personally, the piece that I sold was 2,500 X 3,154. I can’t remember the exact resolution. But they wanted it scaled down. It was this company I haven’t heard of. The video stuff will probably make it to 4K. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it’ll be 8K.
[1:23:24] Allan: Well, I appreciate your time, man! It’s been awesome!
Stuart: Absolutely, Allan!
I hope you enjoyed this Episode. I want to thank Stuart for coming on the Podcast.
While you’re on the page, take a few moments to share this Podcast with others. I will be back next week, talking about landing clients and why you may not be hitting the mark in terms of getting jobs.
Until then —
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