Top 7 tips on how to thrive as a freelance 3D Artist

 |  Jennifer Wilson

How to Survive as a 3D Artist and Become Competitive

Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it. 

Salvador Dali 

If you dream of a career as a 3D artist and building a show-stopping portfolio that will sweep your potential clients off their feet, you have to understand that this is one of the most competitive industries.

It is a place where relying on your talent and creative vision alone might not be enough for paving your way to success.

That does not mean that you will not make it, but you should be ready to develop your skills to stay ahead of the competition and to boost your creativity.

There are other challenges that you will have to overcome as a freelance 3D artist, so it is a good idea to understand your competition in your artistic journey.

Here are some tips on how to survive and persevere as a freelance 3D artist, and let this advice by Dali be a bonus.


1. Don’t Be Afraid of Failure 

Surviving as a 3D artist

As an artist, you will have a fair share of rejections, and that’s something that you will have to get used to. Even though you worked hard to create a 3D project, you should come to terms with the fact that some of your clients will not be impressed with it.

And that is completely fine. See the quote below the title and never forget it.

Fear of failure can lead to productivity paralysis or even an artist’s block. When you are afraid that your work will not be perfect and that others will not like it, you will end up in some kind of a paradox. You will think that failure is inevitable, but not because your work is bad, but because you stopped even trying.

Remember that even if you try and fail, it is not the end of the world.

Even Andy Warhol’s Shoe was rejected by MoMa back in 1956, while today, the famous museum boasts an extensive collection of the godfather of pop art. 

As a freelance 3D artist, you will have to establish yourself and earn your stripes. It means that you will have to work hard and forget about rejection and failure. That is how you will get rid of that debilitating fear.


2. Maintain a Steady Cash Flow    

This one does not have much to do with your artistry, but it is crucial if you want to be able to make a living as a freelance artist.

This freedom from corporate schedules and workload comes at a price – the unpredictability of your gigs. Sometimes your calendar is packed with tasks, while at other times, you have significantly less work, and you are worried about whether you can expect any income or if you will have to dip into your savings account.

Statistics say that 63% of freelancers resort to withdrawing money from their savings account at least once a month, which shows that they are not earning enough to cover their regular expenses.

It is a good idea to establish several sources of income so that you can maintain your lifestyle and escape the dreaded 9-5. 

One of the things you can do is sell courses on Udemy or other educational platforms. As an expert in the field of 3D art, you will have a lot to offer to those who want to learn. Check out how others do it, create your courses, and set a competitive price.

With a little research, you will find out what people are interested in, structure a syllabus, record classes, and voila! You just got another source of income.

If you are skilled, you can earn quite a nice sum – these courses are usually in the vicinity of $10, and it is enough to have 100 applicants a month and achieve a decent passive income.

As a self-employed artist, you can also greatly benefit from tax reliefs. It is a good idea to have a reliable tax agent to help you file and pay your tax return on time.


3. Don’t Start Too Big 

It does not mean that you should not be ambitious and driven, but to set achievable goals.

Take a step-by-step approach, and make sure that you understand what each new project requires, as that will save you a lot of time and energy.

You are very well aware of the fact that the 3D design industry evolves pretty quickly and that it is crucial to keep up with the latest trends.

In other words, whenever you are about to take up a new and challenging project, do make sure that you are not biting more than you can chew and that you have all the right skills and tools to complete it in time and deliver the quality that your client expects.

Start with smaller projects and learn 3D modeling techniques to the point where you can work with each of them comfortably. 


4. Find a Way to Be More Efficient 

As a 3D artist, you daily face a great deal of technical, repetitive, and mundane tasks.

To boost your productivity and focus on the creative aspect of your job, you need to find a way to speed up your daily workflow. It means taking advantage of different tools and efficiency tricks.

For example, building scripts and creating a cheat sheet of the keyboard shortcuts for the tools you frequently use can be a pretty good way to speed up modeling processes. Simple as this may seem, it can save you plenty of time that you would otherwise spend endlessly clicking on your mouse.

Similarly, using pre-existing assets, addons and a render farm will allow you to work smart instead of hard. 


5. Practice Every Day 

Given that 3D design is an industry in which new trends emerge at a fast pace, you cannot rely on the skills you acquired while you were starting as a 3D artist – today’s landscape is significantly different than it used to be just five years ago.

Polishing your skills and learning new ones is something that you need to work on daily if you want to reinvent yourself and stay competitive on the saturated market.

This way, you will achieve the level of sophistication and detail that will allow you to take up more complex and lucrative projects.

Even if it is just 30 minutes a day, the additional practice will result in a significant improvement in both your skills and efficiency. If you do not invest your time and energy into this, you will not be able to progress as fast as you would like. It is possible that in time, some other artist will take your place on the market by providing better service while you are stuck in the same place for far longer than it would be the case if you practiced regularly.

6. Connect With the 3D Community 

Surviving as a 3D artist


Networking and connecting with your fellow 3D artists will help you improve your work, learn about new tools, techniques, tricks, as well as job postings.

Share your work with others via forums and ask for feedback. While it is true that this can be a blow to your self-esteem as the odds are that you will get a lot of criticism, you will still greatly benefit from the input of other professionals in your field.

It will allow you to improve in different areas of your work and get closer to your goal.

7. Study the Work of Other 3D Artists

One of the best ways to grow and develop as a 3D modeling artist is by researching the work of others who have established themselves in the industry. 

It is not a suggestion to become a copycat, but there is nothing wrong with using their work as inspiration that will get your creative juices flowing and give you an idea about the direction in which your visualizations should go.


Luckily, there’s a vast number of projects that you can find on the internet, as every 3D artist has their portfolio online (you should too). But do not stop on their work – you can also learn a lot by reading their interviews and success stories, as people who are accomplished and successful often want to share their experiences to help others and motivate them.

The path of a freelance 3D designer is a challenging one, but if you are driven, hard-working, and willing to learn, the sky's the limit.

‚ÄčEnjoy powerful modeling, rendering, and 3D printing tools without the steep learning curve.

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About the author

Jennifer Wilson is a writer at She knows business processes and operations management inside out. As she understands all the challenges of running a small business firsthand, it’s her mission to tackle the topics that are most relevant to entrepreneurs and offer viable solutions.

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