While we are always thrilled to feature new talent in our 3D Artist of the Month campaign, from time to time we like to check up on old friends. This month sees the return of Dennis Grimm, co-founder and CEO of DARQVIZ, a nomad studio that aims to disrupt the world of architectural visualization. Founded two years ago amidst the height of a global pandemic, the company is evolving rapidly and ready to take the next step into an increasingly bright looking future.
Continue reading as Dennis brings us up on all of the latest developments, introduces a new addition to the DARQVIZ team, and talks about seeking out new opportunities at offline events.
DARQVIZ Studio, Tone in Tone.
Hi Dennis, thanks for joining us again! For those who might have missed our previous interview, please introduce yourself once more!
Hi, thanks for having me! As co-founder and CEO of DARQVIZ, I feel honored to speak on behalf of our studio once again and give the Rebus Render Farm community an update on what has happened these last couple of months. Working hand in hand with my partners Renato and Peter, we continue to break the norms and reinvent the way a CG studio operates in the modern world.
Since we last spoke, DARQVIZ studio has grown significantly. Can you catch us up on the company’s latest developments?
As 2021 was our first business year, we spent a lot of time properly establishing the studio, which meant experimenting a lot – not only with different approaches to visualization solutions, but also in terms of marketing, acquisition, and so on. Having laid down a solid foundation the previous year, we felt ready to truly take off entering 2022.
The nomad structure of the studio naturally combines a multitude of influences in their archviz work.
There have been a few notable additions to your “nomad” team. Please introduce us to your newest member!
Just a few weeks into the new year, the number of incoming projects started to increase, and we knew it was time to extend our team to better support the workload. As our studio works completely remote, scouting talents is a globe affair, with the only limitation being a good internet connection. Shortly after we got in touch with Elton, a charismatic top-notch CG artist based in Maputo, Mozambique. He had recently graduated Ander Alencar’s Oficina 3D Training and turned out to be the perfect match to become the first crew nomad besides the founders.
You have further increased the studios network by partnering with visual studios Subpixel and Polynates. Can you elaborate on this collaboration, how it came to be, and how it improves your workflow?
That’s right, to bridge capacity bottlenecks and maintain the highest quality as a new and still growing studio, we got in touch with Rio from Polynates and Johny from Subpixel. After pitching the idea of partnering up to collaborate on projects from time to time, the cooperation was a no brainer for all parties. The physical distance to Slovakia and Bali did not affect the collaboration in any way, on the contrary, it perfectly aligned with our vision of a globalized visualization industry.
You have refined your services as well, which now include modules specifically geared towards social media presentation and animation. Tell us about this new modular concept!
Architects and realtors are no specialists in CGI, so it is our responsibility to take them by the hand and guide them to achieve the best results possible. Our new modular exhibition concept is a tailored solution to present an architectural project in all of its facets, making for a comprehensive, yet cost-effective marketing concept. Once the baseline has been modelled and rendered, complementary visuals such as close-ups and animations become readily available.
With the beginning of this year, you have also introduced a brand ambassador program. What is the idea behind this and what does the program entail?
Inspired by big enterprises, we came up with the idea of a brand ambassador program to promote our products and ideas. As a small studio, we cannot afford designated salaries for our ambassadors, this is a voluntary program. Reaching out to our network, we immediately found 10 friends that signed up to become part of the program and spread the word of DARQVIZ wherever they go. And since they support us purely not for financial gain, but purely out of conviction, they do stand behind the brand even stronger.
This is but one example of the high-quality exteriors the studio has produced since Elton joined the team.
With all these exciting developments, it seems safe to assume your business is flourishing. Can you highlight some of your recent business activities for us?
As our HQ is based in Southern Germany close to the Swiss border, I naturally travel to Switzerland every now and then. So, it was only a matter of time before we would gain a foothold in the Alps and realize our first projects on Swiss soil. Since the beginning of this year, we established business relations with several international companies based in Switzerland, by supporting them in marketing manners, planning decisions, and even entered our first architectural competition there.
With travel restrictions lifted, you have been touring all over Europe to promote the brand at various fairs. Please tell us more about your latest foray into offline networking!
Instead of working completely online, we recently decided to go out and make friends in the physical world as well. This means for now, our primary focus lies on the European market, as that is where we can move around most easily. The last couple of months, I moved back and forth between Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy to visit various fairs, events, and most importantly, our customers. One fair that I especially enjoyed because of its originality was architects@work in Munich, Germany. This event is regularly hosted in different European countries, from Milan to Stockholm.
Physically attending trade fairs and congresses has opened up so many new possibilities, new collaborations and projects. We still take good care of our online presence, of course, but to establish new relations, trust often is built upon personal connection. From there, we safely guide the new client towards our digital world view, or as we say in German: “Weltanschauung”.
More than ever, it seems obvious you have a clear vision for the studio. Can you talk to us a bit about the identity and goals of DARQVIZ and how they evolved over time?
While the vision of DARQVIZ always has been and always will be to disrupt architectural visualization, what this disruption looks like is subject to change. From the first idea of creating a web based interactive walkthrough solution, we pivoted towards a partly activistic, globally connected nomad studio focusing on photorealistic renderings and animations. As a team, our core values have become a shared friendship and personal freedom. We are nomads, separated by thousands of kilometers, but always connected through the DARQVIZ family.
Can you tell us a bit about how you generally manage the nomad nature of the studio? Working with artist from all over the globe requires a lot of intricate scheduling, I imagine.
Of course, working globally, time shift is a daily consideration. Instead of an issue, we see this as an advantage, as it allows us to maintain a fluent workflow. If a project needs to be finished tomorrow, somebody on the team is always available to work on it while the others sleep. Being able to make short-term changes to a render is almost a requirement in our business, and we are able to respond almost immediately for every project we take on. Even our regular crew catch-up call, which stretches across 14 time zones, from the Dominican Republic all the way to Japan, works just fine. In fact, we are already looking forward to integrate even more spots on the world map into our studio!
A glimpse of things to come: according to Dennis, the collaboration with Modular Lighting Instruments has been especially fruitful.
Now that we have covered the business side of things, let us talk about your work through the artistic lens. How would you describe your general approach to archviz? What makes a rendering uniquely DARQVIZ?
We understand ourselves as storytellers. Making use of the techniques of photorealistic CGI gives us a powerful tool to create virtual images and tell a narrative that aims to inspire the viewer. Every now and then you can also find some easter eggs in our images, like a tiny KAWS beneath a shelf.
Can you point out some recent additions to your portfolio and maybe outline some projects you particularly enjoyed?
We have developed a strong partnership with Belgian company Modular Lighting Instruments and continuously work on new images for their marketing campaigns. The collaboration with their design team is just so smooth and the results are stunning. Stay tuned, the images will be published very soon!
Looking through your portfolio, I noticed an apparent increase in exteriors. Is this the result of a deliberate strategy or am I off mark here?
For a long time, we have been planning on putting more focus on exterior rendering, but we still had a lot to learn to meet our own expectations in terms of image quality and storytelling. Thanks to several online trainings, the collaboration with our partner studios and the recent integration of Elton, we are now able to provide outstanding exterior renderings and have expanded our services accordingly. Providing the full visualization package is a must to communicate a project in a harmonious and comprehensive presentation.
‘Devastation’, where archviz meets activism.
During our first interview, we talked about the fine line between art and business, as well as societal responsibilities companies hold, with you having had just released an image to raise awareness for the situation in Afghanistan. Has this project had a lasting impact on your understanding of your work?
‘Fainted Hope’ is still our flagship project when it comes to CG activism. Lately, commercial projects have consumed most of our time, but we will never forget about our responsibilities. We are lucky to have found Elton in that sense as well, as he shares our values, evident by his recently published the activistic artwork ‘Devastation’.
Are there other ways in which you plan to involve the company in current issues?
We have brainstormed a few ideas already, but I cannot share them just now. Be sure to stay tuned though, we will drop something soon!
In closing, is there anything else you want to say? Any plugs, shoutouts or upcoming projects you would like to mention?
Two years have now passed since the official formation of the company, and looking back, it has been one hell of a ride. There have been many ups and downs, which brought us closer together, and with every challenge we encountered made us wiser and ready to take on the next one. I think the tough part of launching a company is over and the future looks bright.
To cap off the interview, we would like to express our warmest thanks to you for joining us on that journey; we are looking forward to the next interview in a couple of years to draw a resume on everything that still lies ahead of us now. If everything works out, you can even expect a photograph of the first real life nomad reunion in DARQIVZ history by end of the year!
We are looking forward where that journey takes you next! Dennis, thank you so much for taking the time and all the best in the future.