“The essence of the SickleYield name and brand is to hunt for strange niches that are as yet unfilled, whether because they are difficult or tedious or just no artist has been interested yet.”
We interviewed Daz Artist Sickleyield to get a better understanding of the creative process Sickleyield has developed to take products from idea to astounding 3D asset. These products aren’t just creative, they are varied and imaginative — from mutant creatures to dForce confetti, and ‘Big Girl’ morphs to Iray Fog and Energy beams, Sickleyield is an artist who brings the interesting, functional and bizarre to 3D.
Hi, Sickleyield. It’s great to have you here! First things first, how did you pick your Artist name?
Hey, it’s great to be here! My Artist name comes from this poem by William Blake:
‘The sword sung on the barren heath,
The sickle in the fruitful field;
The sword he sung a song of death,
But could not make the sickle yield.’
Can you explain, for those of us who aren’t poets?
It’s a message of hope and of the cycle of nature and new life triumphing over death and adversity. That’s always been very meaningful to me.
William Blake was an accomplished poet and artist himself. Here’s the poet:
And one of his prints from ‘Illustrations of the Book of Job:’
So we know you’re into poetry. How did you get into design, art, and 3D modeling?
I went to school for the sciences, but couldn’t get a paying science job afterward. I ended up working in customer claims at a large corporation. It wasn’t really right for me… I managed to keep my sanity mostly by playing a lot of video games after work, including and especially the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (which I still play to this day).
I learned my first 3d modeling in Blender with a friend to make my own modded armors and weapons for this game, and eventually an acquaintance on a fan forum where I released mods suggested to me that I could earn money by selling clothing for renderable figures, so I started making things for Victoria and Michael 4.
When we look at your products, we can definitely see a science background. Maybe Daz is a paying science job. Where else do you get your inspiration from when designing a product?
About 60% of my products come from me looking at my existing library and toolkit and asking myself, “Why don’t I have X thing?” or “How do I do Y?”
Sometimes I talk to my sister, Fuseling, and get her opinion on my idea. If I feel I can produce something marketable that does what I’m wanting, I go for it.
The other 30% come from me looking at technology of the program or add-ons and asking, “can I do something weird with that?” And the final 10% that is just unpredictable, like I saw something in a dream or it just popped into my head out of nowhere.
The ‘final 10%’ must mean you’re pretty creative. Did you always want to be an artist?
No, actually, it was completely the opposite! I wanted to be a doctor, or failing that, a research scientist. Art as a profession was something I just stumbled into by accident.
When I was a kid, I thought art was something you couldn’t make a living at unless you were Van Gogh or Jackson Pollock. I wouldn’t have it any other way now, but I came here by a twisted path.
Hmmm. ‘A twisted path’ sounds like your style. How would you describe your style and influences?
I wouldn’t say my utility products have a ‘style,’ but when it comes to my other products, I would probably use words like messy, organic, and asymmetrical.
I like to create morphs of people that are different from the mainstream faces of advertising and movies. A lot of us feel ugly or strange, and I think we should celebrate our strangeness to one another, our physical differences… and I love monsters and creatures, too.
I occasionally try to make something conventionally beautiful, but I usually fail at it because my heart just isn’t in it. I cherish mad, detailed chaos.
Lovecraft is a big influence on me (with cosmic horror and his excellent depictions of nightmarish anxiety, not so much his racism/fear of the other), but I’m also influenced by my love of biology and the scientific method.
What are three of your favorite products?
Rigged Water Iray: https://www.daz3d.com/rigged-water-iray
As rewarding as finishing Rigged Water Iray was in the end, working with water in 3D is always one of the harder things I do. Every piece involved many, many steps to get it from my 3d software to a workable complete state, and making the promos was so heavy on my computer’s hardware that there are many fewer images on its store page than I was able to make for later sets. It was worth it, but it was also quite a hill to climb getting there…
Rigged Water Iray is particularly special to me because it was my first water set for Iray (many others would follow). I love the look and sound of water in real life, and I’m always trying to recreate the look of water in different situations in 3d, whether it’s pools or waterfalls or pouring or splashing.
Tied Up! Genesis 3: https://www.daz3d.com/tied-up-genesis-3
Tied Up! Genesis 3 represents a continuation of my experiments with the Genesis 2 Tied Up! sets, but with these I focused less on modularity and more on creating specific presets to save customers time. I’ve found that’s usually something people want more than they want flexibility, and I identify with that, because time is money.
If you’re using products in a professional pipeline, you want to have them from load to render in as little time as possible. There’s also a huge demand for family-friendly rope and chain restraints… after all, every kids’ fantasy movie and almost every superhero story has someone tied up at some point!
The dForce Roman Clothing Packs: https://www.daz3d.com/sy-dforce-roman-clothing-pack-genesis-8-female
The dForce Roman Clothing sets are very special to me because they are something I’ve dreamed of making since I was brand new to Poser 6 and Daz Studio 2.0 back in the day. With my skill level as it was then, there was just no way to make it happen, and no way to rig it so that I would be happy with it.
Naturally, when we were told we were getting dForce I was over the moon that I might finally get to make my togas and chitons! I’ll never forget how it felt seeing my Roman clothes in people’s renders for the first time, because it was such a passion project.
Those are awesome products. Your close attention to process makes us wonder, what sorts of challenges have you overcome as you developed as an artist?
I’m going to address an elephant in the room… I’m a major introvert, and I have depression and anxiety, so direct human interaction is often a challenge for me — I don’t really enjoy crowds or loud noises, and I’m very much not a people person, often happiest hiding alone in my little cave of an office.
I was initially embarrassed by this, but I’ve since found that depressive or anxiety disorders are actually quite common among career artists, so it’s not a big deal as long as I don’t let it interfere with business. I don’t believe in the “artistic temperament,” or that medical treatment is bad for creativity, because I know that I do my best work when I am most functional as a human being.
But I think that working from home in an art profession is best accomplished by people that are highly motivated, driven, and good at working alone for long periods, and that those characteristics can be found in plenty of introverts. And while I have respected coworkers who are outgoing, cheerful extroverts who love a night out, it’s definitely something that has always been a challenge for me personally and which challenges some other artists as well.
It’s awesome that you found a way to channel your introversion into productivity! What other advice would you give your younger self?
You don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. It’s much better to be single than to have a partner who is bad for you.
Learn healthy habits as early as you can, because being healthy makes everything in life easier.
Write down every idea you have in a journal (paper or phone). No matter how silly or impossible it seems, inspiration is fleeting and precious, and you never know what you might be able to accomplish.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but just because things are out of control doesn’t mean life is over. Sometimes you just have to keep pushing until you see the light.
And what’s something you’ve learned from your work that you want to share?
Nothing in my professional life is more important than the willingness to learn and teach myself new processes.
I’m not naturally good at that, but I like to think that being forced to do it for work has made me better at it in my ordinary life. So I think what I would say to that is, force yourself to learn new things and experience new things.
And when you learn something new, teach it to someone else, because their questions will make you understand it better. It can be hard, but it’s so very rewarding, and studies show that it’s very good for your brain.
Indeed. Speaking of good for the brain, where else can we see your artwork, products, and other?
My deviantart page for my Daz3d products is http://www.sickleyield.deviantart.com. Here customers can find sneak previews of upcoming products, links to tutorials, render challenges, and discussions of new technologies, processes, and the economics of our very special marketplace. I love seeing how people use my products in their renders!
Very cool. Sickleyield, we have one last quick question. What’s your spirit animal?
Ha… excellent. Thank you so much for sharing with us; it was a pleasure getting to know more about you!
Thank you, the pleasure was mine. 🙂
Sickleyield’s products are as varied and unique as the artist. Don’t forget to check out Sickleyield’s DeviantArt page and visit Sickleyield’s Daz Artist Store. Why do Sickleyield’s products stand out so well?
“If there’s a new technology, like Iray or dForce, I want to bend it until it breaks and find new ways to use that, if I possibly can. To me, this experimental process is both the most frustrating and the most joyful and rewarding part of my job.”