Victor Hugo Sousa – “The King of The Nerds”
Victor Hugo Sousa, a Brazilian character artist/digital sculptor out of Sao Paulo, has been creating 3D digital statues, dioramas, modeling, texturing, rendering, and compositing for TV/Movies since he was a senior 3D artist at Pix Post Animation Studio. Growing up in Sao Paulo with his mother, Victor accompanied her to work often and developed a love for the Thundercats and He-man he watched her work hard to provide for him. Although the famed Battle Cat of He-man was a bit too pricey eluding him to this day, Victor grew into a great gamer that would describe himself as “The King of The Nerds” when the topic of comics or collectibles arises. The married father of two uses his passion for his craft to make a difference on all the projects he helms because he sees his work and collaboration with other artists as a learning experience. As a senior character artist at Iron Studios Collectibles, Victor considers himself to have been blessed to learn and work with such artists as Glauco Longhi, Rafael Grassetti, Pedro Toledo, Justin Holt, and Katon Callaway. In this edition of “Artist of The Month” we’ll be taking a quick look into the mind of this vaunted creator to see what makes him tick. Check it out!
When did you first pick up/play with toys, and who initially introduced you to them?
When I was a kid. My mother did everything she could to give some toys, like Thundercats and He-man. I always loved them.
Do you remember the moment you fell in love with a toy and if so, which one?
Oh yeah, definitely the Battle Cat from He-man, especially because I couldn’t have him, he was a bit expensive back in the time. This was for sure my most wanted toy.
Did you ever get that Battle Cat you admired so much?
No!!! Unfortunately not and it still haunts me lol!!
Haha, what sort of mischief did your love of toys get you in as a child?
Lol, actually none because I was very careful with my toys and I stayed all the time with my mom while she was working. My childhood was very good, but also tough.
Good to hear, I was a toy-menace growing up. At what age did you start customizing? What was your initial inspiration?
Well, I started customizing some figures for myself very late, like 3 years ago, when I started collecting 1/6 figures. I started very late, before that I had only the figures that I liked, but not a collection.
Do you have any pictures of some of the early art that you love, but would never allow on the internet now?
I have fan art of Tron Legacy(I loved that movie), this was the first character that I did when I was specializing in character art. It has a good place in my heart, but now I would do a lot of things in another way.
Haha, I understand. Tell me a bit about the toy industry, what’s it like?
So far I’ve seen that it’s a rewarding but very difficult area. It’s hard to get in touch with companies and get work, but once you get it and show your skills and that they can trust you, it turns into a very rewarding industry.
How long did it take you to get good/ was it hard at first/ did you ever wanna quit?
I´ve been working as a character artist/sculptor for 5 years and I´m not good yet, lol, so I don´t know how long it will take until I get good. But it took me 1 year studying very hard and making a portfolio, so I could do it professionally. And yes, I still do sometimes… frustration in art is very common, with your work or with the whole market itself.
What do you use to get thru the frustrations of creating art? Maybe a glass of wine, music, do you lay all your bills out on the table and scream inside? Usually, I take a long bike ride & listen to obnoxiously loud music until I get back on track.
LOL!!!!!! Well, when it happens to me I have to watch some movies, eat popcorn or go out and eat some nice burgers!! And that’s why I’m fat lol. It happens a lot!!
Ever have anyone not support your love to work with toys growing up? (parents/friends/wife) If so, how did you deal?
Here in Brazil, especially back when I started with CG(I was a generalist for 8 years), we don’t have many schools or many ways to know/show more about the art field. So when I wanted to work with art, my mom didn’t understand(she came from a very poor family, and she wanted me to be a lawyer), but she trusted my choices and I was blessed enough to always get support from my wife and family. And I didn’t choose to work with toys, lol, life brought me this way. And I still work with other stuff like games, cinematics, and publicity.
Oh man, I totally understand that. Many cultures aren’t too keen on the concept of letting life guide you into a field of work that you love. Luckily, it found you!
Yeah, I feel you, bro. About this, I have to thank my wife for all the support through the years. She is the one that believed in me and put up with my crazy choices lol.
Speaking of family, how have your children taken to your craft?
They love it! They are always happy to see something that I´ve done, especially when we go to a comic con or some place that have a life-size statue based on a statue that I´ve sculpted.
That’s awesome! I would’ve never have left the house as a kid if my father was a character artist/ sculptor growing up.
Lol. At the first CCXP here in São Paulo, a life-size Hulk was based on my sculpture of the Hulk Age of Ultron against the Hulkbuster(also life-size) and there was one I think in 2017 that had the War Machine from Civil War ¼ diorama, also printed as life-size.
What are a few tips you would give beginner customizers/ artists coming up in the ranks?
I think that the most important tip is to use a lot of references in your work. For every new work, build an entire new library of references, from anatomy to artists that you like. Reference is too important.
What artists did you look up to while developing as an artist yourself?
I have a lot of inspiration from the artists that I studied with, like Glauco Longhi, Brian Kucharek, Rafael Grassetti, Pedro Toledo, Alexandre Troufanov, Justin Holt, Katon Calaway. Also from friends and other artists like Daniel Bel, Alex Oliver, Kris Costa, Igor Catto, Caio Cesar, and many others.
What lessons have you learned from them?
I learned especially that you can’t do everything alone. You will need help and will need to help people.
What lessons have they learned from you?
Lol, that´s a hard one, maybe how to really eat hamburgers or hot dogs!! Lol
Lol, I like to think I specialize in burger eating as well and it definitely shows! If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing from the perspective of the future you, what would it be?
Do everything exactly as you are planning/thinking to do… do not change a thing. Every action that you/I have done made the man I am today and I´m very happy… also I have a beautiful family with 2 amazing sons. So I wouldn´t try to make anything different and have the chance of not having them(as we have seen in Back to the future, our actions in the past could change the future lol).
Haha so true, wouldn’t wanna change any of the important parts of who you are! What have been your best and worst experiences working in the toy industry?
It’s funny because the best and worst experience for me is about the same subject, recognition. There are sometimes that you get great recognition for your work and sometimes that you don´t… then it seems like it’s been for nothing. But from a general perspective, I´ve been very blessed with great opportunities, so I don’t have many bad experiences so far.
What are some long term aspirations you have in terms of your career? Any goals, lofty dreams, or fantasy outcomes? Any plans to create more educational opportunities for others with your same passion in Brazil?
Ah yes, I´m really thinking about opening an online type of school or mentorship and open a company for myself… I have so many ideas but don´t have the money to take them off of the paper lol. I don´t know if it will happen, maybe it won´t… maybe when I move to Canada, I can find a dream job and stop thinking about the company, but the online school is definitely something that could happen even if I get a dream job. I would love to help people get into the art field and have the opportunity to work with what they dream about.
That’s really awesome!! Do you have any stories about times you’ve helped people and times you’ve received help yourself?
Sure! There was one time that I was on the launch of a book that I was co-authoring and helped create the world, it’s called A Ordem Vermelha(The Red Order, but it doesn’t exist in English) and I was signing some books. There was a guy in line that when he arrived next to me I recognized him from Facebook and he told me “Victor I got in line just to say thank you for your help and tips when I was starting because thanks to them, now I’m working for Prime1 (a major and awesome company) as a freelance artist.”. It was very rewarding and that moment made me really happy. Some similar moments have happened after and before that, but that one was special because the guy waited like 40 minutes in line to say thank you =).
And I get help all the time, there was a job with Tendril. We were working on “American Gods” and I was responsible for some characters. I definitely couldn’t do it all by myself so Tendril asked me to gather a team to work on it and I called some of my friends that wanted and needed to work on that too. So we all helped each other in the time of need.
Describe the love you have for your work. What fuels your passion?
Damn! That’s the difficult one!!! Lol. I can’t explain what exactly fuels my passion for what I do, but I can tell you that if I didn’t love what I do, I would have given up a long time ago! Maybe during the overnights, or the frustrating studies, or maybe for every time that someone didn’t recognize the effort you’ve made for a specific work or company… there are so many reasons and occasions that I thought about quitting, but in the end, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else than what I do, because I love it. But definitely, what kept me going was the support, from wife and from friends.
What exactly are your dreams? How are you chasing them? Do you feel like quitting? I think this interview has a lot to offer in terms of memorable quotes that can help you press forward into the industry of your dreams. We’d like to take a moment to thank Victor for his time telling me about his work while dropping some awesome nuggets of inspiration and advice!