Being fan is being human
A photo of Richard C., a 3D Passion fan who was enjoying the high-resolution wallpaper “Alien Sea” all day when using his computer, took a photo of him and sent it to me.
Okay, I need to share something… Having fans is something more than having satisfied customers. Having satisfied customers (and retaining them) is one thing, on a commercial point is very valuable and it could be the only goal of a business, and it’s already a very hard goal to achieve. It is a commercial success! It’s perfectly fine for any business to aim at this sacred objective…
Having fans of your work is somewhat an extra step out of the commercial realm. This is what I discovered during the exploitation of 3D Passion… Okay, I’m not a rock star, and my artworks have never been featured in Hollywood (they do have been printed out by Sony Austria, nevertheless…). That was not my goal. I could have made many more artworks or improved them, but I created them during a small timeframe, and never created more of them when I was on the commercial side. But I did had fans because they came to me freely and it’s the aspect that made me very proud and happy about this adventure! Because having fans means that it is the human side that you have touched. Their inner side, and out of everything we have in this world, the human exchanges, provided that they are real, are the most important thing we share as a civilization. At least in my opinion. Think of popular music bands, when they give it so much energy to their fans during live concerts. You know how they can have so much energy? Because their fans, the public reflect it and send that energy back to them during the concert (the music also creates energy, but that is another discussion…). It’s an exchange. A human exchange.
For that reason, the name of the site was rightly chosen. It was more a question of passion (and I know what pure commercials think of “passion” inside businesses…) than a real commercial adventure. And that is when you communicate this passion, and that the people consume it and send it back to you, that you know you’ve accomplished something important and real in life ! The fans were there and are still there, and it amazes me. That’s just like you created and gave birth to something else which does not only and exclusively belong to you. It is now the property of others. That’s why the site had become a real tribute site now, not only for me but for all the persons who shared the 3D passion with me.
People still typing the exact site address out of nowhere on Google (Q1-Q2 2020), remembering the exact 3D-Passion.com name, 17 years after the last artwork, approximately 10 years after the end of the site exploitation, and 4 years after the site closure.
So yep, I had other ventures on the net starting in 2003 and it’s the year I stopped creating the artwork. Despite that 17 years gap between the last artwork creation and the moment I write this (2020), I had received emails from fans these last years, which not only were praising that I inspired them to make a specific move in their life but even sent me artworks where they were emulating the 3D Passion artwork. This is breathtaking in my opinion! This was not the first time, and it’s a shame I’ve not been able to find back more emails… Do you know how I started this adventure? By sending an email to a digital artist, Eric Knight Holbrook, asking him for advice about my current artworks and that I wanted to sell my artworks because he inspired me. Hence the circle is complete!
Here is a longtime fan, from the 2002’s website (!) who contacts me back sixteen years later, and who still knows well inside parts of the old website as he sent me an archive screenshot I had trouble finding back myself!
The content he was searching for was on the tutorials page of 3D Passion V2.
For the story, I have missed the above email and replied way too late. In any case, I no longer had the content he was searching for.
An email I received during 2017 from another passionate fan, who sent me a reproduction of one of my oldest artworks, “Comete”.
My reply to him and some following discussion with this fan.
So here it is. There is someone in this world who wants to give the name of one of my images to an independent studio he plans to create. This is an important life project. It’s just staggering! Do you see what I mean? What you created is now part of the life of other people. This is a very strange feeling… You exchanged energy. That’s why 3D Passion will be my most favorite site ever created from all the others. Because it was a human adventure…
Internet is a web of possibilities
So, 3D Passion is a small business only run by me. The sheer size of the Internet and the abolishment of earth distances made it possible to reach millions of people across the years. Besides, the Internet (during its beginnings, and somewhat still a little today) was putting everyone on the same level, I mean big companies and small companies could play on the same level, and it created fantastic opportunities as to “meet” and deal with important people.
At the height of its success, 3D-Passion.com was bringing in on average 3,000 unique visitors per day. Its highest day was around 5K visitors. This is an enormous amount of people, as usually it is 90% of totally new people each day. In a month, that’s nearly 100,000 people, and at the end of the year, you get to the million. Yep, a million different people have visited your site in a year. Visualizing one million real people being on your site is just amazing!
That’s how 500,000 people look like… Now multiply this by two and more to have one year of visitors on 3D Passion at its peak. What you are seeing is the Internet’s fantastic potential!
This is creating serious possibilities. Important people find your site, then contact you, because you are doing great work with your website and even if you are a small company or an individual, it was not mattering like in the real world. Nobody sees that. What everyone was seeing is only your work.
Thus, during the V2 website (the community-driven website), I landed important advertisers, such as Pixologic as they contacted me to advertise their innovative product ZBrush. The software was just launched in 2003, so I had the pleasure to participate in their early beginnings. Later on, it had been used in important films such as Avatar, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, Tron, Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man, Pacific Rim, The Amazing Spiderman, the Chronicles of Narnia series, the Pirates of the Caribbean series… I remember having made a sponsored contest with them, where users were submitting their 3D artworks to 3D Passion to win prizes. I had numerous cross-selling and marketing campaigns with important companies, such as Stardock. I had affiliate sales through Amazon, and the memberships were selling well, the excel customer file was growing steadily, and users started to buy basic commercial licenses of my images to use in professional projects.
Pixologic contacted 3D Passion during 2003 to advertise the launch of ZBrush.
Customers were there and were happy with their purchases. I got lots of testimonials from them and had good communication with them and been able to listen to their needs, excepted a very few people who were not polite and aggressive. Below are a few testimonials from personal customers and professional license users:
Very enjoyable and professional. The 3D makes other wallpapers very boring now. I love yours! These are the best wallpapers I have found yet... My kids argue over which one is going to be on the screen. I usually end the argument by selecting the one that I want for the day. Thank you for the beautiful artwork!Customer testimonial – John
Extraordinary!! Your images are outstanding... Especially your Space/Universe themes are up to the National Geographic standard.Professional License User – Cobus
Very nice work! The 3D Passion Team has created some beautiful artwork that I really enjoy having as my wallpaper!Customer testimonial – Gene
the quality of the pictures is excellent.the screensavers were great to. i would tell my friends about this great site.Customer testimonial – Angela
OUTSTANDING! enough said 11 out of 10Customer testimonial – Matt
LOVE YOUR NEW WALLPAPERS AND SCREENSAVERS KEEP IT UP LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY NEW ONES YOUR WORKING ONCustomer testimonial – MARIO
Amazing work of art,these are the best 3D wallpapers and the best 3D screensavers i ever found, i would recomended to all my friends.thanks to all great work..A+++++Customer testimonial – Juan M.
I love the effect of your wallpapers as is but could there be any flowers ?Customer testimonial – Linda
First of all well done on your nice pics !! I have come upon it while looking for GFX for my game... The small icons on your site don’t do justice to your actual high-res pictures, and even the 800x600 ones don’t portray the necessary details! “Far in the Universe”, “Near a Star” & “Excalibur” are my faves. You’ve got really great work there, keep it coming !! In “Far in the universe” the purple crystals are a great touch, almost makes you want to pick them up. And the pyramid-like structure in “Near a Star” is fabulous!Professional License User – Christian F.
IT GlobalSecure was pleased to use images from 3D Passion for its web site promotional activities associated with its SecurePlay product line for networked games. 3D’s images were of high quality, and highly appealing to our clientele (who enjoy science fiction and fantasy art). The images were visually stunning, and were complementary to our other branding efforts. We look forward to working with Cedric and his team in the future, particularly as they expand their line of high-resolution stock art.Professional License User – Cheryl C.
I’m pleased to tell you that your artworks were very helpful for me when I was trying to design some CD cover for my friends. I didn’t have much time to draw something new so I had to use some existed artworks... And I remembered about your site... :) So that’s the story... :)Professional License User – Roman P. B.
When we were looking for a new source of eye-catching, attention grabbing artwork for our products, we settled 3D-Passion.com. The quality of the artwork is fantastic, the customer service is outstanding and the variety of images to choose from is unbeatable. Our only complaint is that we can’t get enough - keep up the fantastic work!Professional License User – Ryan Peters
Here is a digital photo of an alien (me) with my favorite wallpaper. I also use it at work on my computer at a General Motors dealership and have people asking about it all the time. The quality of the image is so good I can use parts of it as a desktop slideshow and then zoom all the way out in the final image for a screensaver.Customer testimonial – Richard C.
Amazing artwork! I love space scenery... Your wallpapers are beautiful and very detailed. I think it really does speak for itself! Well done, keep up the good work!Customer testimonial – Sharon
This has been an overall good experience. We needed some good, catchy, quality artwork for a CD cover and 3D-Passion.com fit the bill. We all LOVED the image choices. With Paypal, it was a breeze and I was able to receive my artwork within 24 hours (maybe earlier). It was "logo free" and ready to go. The customer agreement is simple to read and understand and not written in latin so that us normal folks can understand it.
You folks at 3D-Passion.com were always pretty quick to respond to email and very courteous... prices are good too. Yep, I’d come back and buy more photos from here.... (and probably will). Thanks a bunch for existing!!Professional License User – Darlyne
Do you see something in some customer testimonials? There are some parts of the life of people described. Engaging with my customers was my best reward. It was hard work, but at the end of the day, as money was also there, I was very proud of my work.
3D Passion’s licensees
3D Passion’s artworks have started to gain some awareness and have been licensed with professionals. It was new and hard work, doing contracts and all the legal stuff, communicating with companies and professionals, as well as understanding their needs, was taking quite some time.
I don’t have all complete feedback about how all the artworks have been used for each professional customer (and frankly I don’t remember everything lol…), but it had various uses such as illustrations in a sci-fi book sold in libraries, one of the artworks has been used as a banner entry in a cyber cafe, artworks have been used several times as CD covers or concert tickets for musical bands, as trade show banners, as entry pictures or top banner pictures on other commercial websites, I granted 100% free licenses to associative projects, it’s been used in universities, and one of them as an illustration on tickets and promotion (flyers) of theatre events in the United States, and so on…
Flyer sent to me by the Texas University for The Winter’s Tale play by William Shakespeare, directed by Debra Charlton, with Rebirth Of The Nymphes artwork.
SecurePlay’s website was illustrated with 3D Passion’s artworks.
It is fair to say that this kind of licensing was very profitable! For the customers, it was much more expensive to acquire simple licenses, and high-volume licensees were abiding to pay lifetime royalties, which was creating recurring income easily.
One of the music bands which used the artworks for one of their CD and their concert tickets has been kind enough to send me some material. The artworks were printed by Sony Austria and the record label was Vertigo Records.
Front CD cover of Timeless Flash from Vertigo Records with Micromega artwork.
Back CD cover of Timeless Flash from Vertigo Records with Micromega artwork.
Music CD from Vertigo Records using Micromega artwork for the marketing campaign.
Concert flyers using Micromega artwork.
The artworks have also been used in an ancient shareware video game, Cosmic bug (Arkanoid / brick buster style game), as well as on a half 3D game/application, 3DNA desktop, where the 3D interiors were featuring 3D Passion artworks inside frames and paintings on the walls.
Cosmic Bug shareware video game with Trifide Nebula artwork.
Cosmic Bug shareware video game with Destruction artwork.
Cosmic Bug shareware video game with Nebuleuse artwork.
Cosmic Bug shareware video game with Planete artwork.
3DNA Desktop application with 3D Passion’s artworks embedded inside.
Then there was DecalGirl. When Ryan Peters launched its company of console and electronic devices skins during 2003 (skins tailored to the device so that you can customize the look of your device), he quickly found 3D-Passion.com, and initially purchased a few artworks licenses. Then, the items were selling very well, so we entered an exclusive deal. At this time he had competition from SkinIT, whose CEO’s company was Mike Stemple.
Some skins parts for devices using 3D Passion’s artworks. These ones were glowing when under the light.
For the story, I was contacted by SkinIt Inc’s founder and CEO Mike Stemple less than a year after having signed the exclusive deal with Ryan Peters. He had shown great interest in licensing the images and wanted to distribute them on over 100,000 retailers worldwide. Unfortunately, the signed contract with DecalGirl was exclusive and it would have been bad business karma if I had to use a legal team to find a breach in the contract to then license the artworks to Mike Stemple. I know not everyone is thinking like me, but that’s how I thought it at this moment! It could have been a fantastic opportunity, and to see that SkinIt Inc had raised more than $70 million in private equity a few years after the email I received from their founder was a little… hard to grasp!
Mike Stemple contacted 3D Passion in early 2005 to license its artworks across various channels.
Parts of discussion with Mike Stemple regarding licensing 3D Passion artworks across retailers worldwide and other distribution channels.
SkinIt Inc raised $72M in private equity funding in 2010 and 2011.
DecalGirl’s skins with 3D Passion artworks were selling very well. We were selling to lots of customers each month. That’s stunning, imagine thousands of consoles and electronic devices customized with the 3D Passion images, which people were using often. Each time a customer was turning on his console, playing, and then shutting down it, he/she was seeing a 3D Passion artwork. Over three years, we sold a lot of items for various devices. Xbox, PlayStation, iPods, Nintendo DS, Gameboy…
Then the items were spotted by some writers from the Nintendo Power Magazine, which was published by Nintendo itself and distributed to its customers (Nintendo’s official print magazine). It had a circulation of around half a million people per issue. The writers made a review of the DecalGirl’s skins, and out of all artworks distributed on DecalGirl, they chose to show the 3D Passion’s ones. Again, hundreds of thousands of people seeing the 3D Passion artworks. Later on, Ryan Peters signed contracts with wholesale distribution, and the number of items sold exploded, albeit the price was much lower.
The Nintendo’s official print magazine picked up the DecalGirl skins with the 3D Passion artworks for showcase in the magazine.
Every beginning has an end, however…
Then in 2007, I thought it was the end. Social media was starting to gain traction on the net with Facebook, and I felt that the Internet, as we knew it before use from the masses, was changing and that big money would be needed to survive. The business model was no longer viable, everything was free and I was no longer producing artworks (but 3D Passion had its last customer in 2014).
The craziness of smartphones was here to stay, so I launched Wallpaper4Mobile.com, to try to sell the artworks as phone backgrounds. I used specific services from companies in England (the serious txtNation) then in Estonia (the excellent Fortumo) to be able to bill on mobile (carrier billing) and distribute the artworks via the site. The artworks were resized, cropped, and remastered to fit the new smartphones small screens. Sales via the website never grew up, and I knew it was a lost battle over the years because I never created more artworks, the images’ quality started to fade comparatively to the democratization of 3D renders seen in cinema by everyone, everything digital was becoming free on the net, and I had other ventures which were taking me all my time and were bringing me serious money. And the smartphones’ market was very competitive with lots of money and serious actors (as for a tiny example, I was just one click away from Zedge, which was belonging to IDT Corporation which was making more than $1.5 billion in yearly revenue sales and was listed in stock markets inside the NYSE, then after Zedge separated from IDT Corporation and is now also listed in the NYSE…)! So basically, I stopped the exploitation of 3D Passion!
And again, as I thought it was over, starting in 2007, I was contacted by mobile phone networks companies. They loved the artwork and chosen it to sell it as backgrounds to mobile phone users across general public distribution channels.
It was a good catch, as it permitted to expand the royalties of the 3D Passion artworks to the smartphones channel before they were too powerful to access everything and easily use any digital image as background. The companies involved were Nitro Sp in Poland, Oxigen Infovision Private Limited (now Oxigen Services Private Limited, which is in part owned by Microsoft) in India through Bugzy services (now MobiBuzz value-added services), and OOO Mobile Logic in Russia.
The signed contract with Oxigen Infovision, now for the story, it traveled the world back and forth from India to France then from France to India, via FedEx. Better than scan, in my opinion!
So, every beginning has an end, but every end has a new beginning, so why I’m saying that? Because there are a lot of chances that I will come back making 3D images at the end of my career! Yep, with all the new recent 3D tools and lots of time to make them, and then maybe, a new story will unfold, like a never-ending story! :)
Thanks for reading!