Having studied traditional illustration, Loulou João turned into a full-fledged 3D artist by teaching herself Blender and creating her very own alternative universe
These days it doesn’t matter where you look – traditional advertising, state-of-the-art editorial design, all kinds of websites and of course, Instagram: 3D design is all the rage. Still or in motion, the 3D aesthetic is quickly becoming a commonplace style for all kinds of communication design. Yet, many designers are intimidated by the complex software – and rightly so, we might add. That’s why we turned to Loulou João for help. The Afro-Belgian 3D artist has made a name for herself with her wonderfully quirky yet highly political alternative 3D universe, inhabited by her alter ego Miss Focket. It might seem like a happy-go-lucky wonderworld, but within her animated scenarios Loulou touches on topics like sexual objectification, the feeling of being othered and body dysmorphia (see also our interview – in English and German – with Loulou).
But of course, Loulou designs not only for herself. She has been very busy working for clients like MTV, Adobe, Adult Swim and Spotify. In November 2020, she got signed to the agency Snyder New York. Miss Focket’s universe is completely created in Blender, the popular 3D open-source tool you’ve probably heard about. Here, Loulou tells us about how she got into the software, what you can do with it, and what it’s like to sell a very personal aesthetic to commercial clients. Spoiler: Learning Blender isn’t easy – but totally worth it (for some people).
Miss Focket’s universe is very unique. How did you arrive at this style? Loulou João: It took me a long time to get to the visual style I have now. When I graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Ghent in October 2019, I decided to put all my energy into learning Blender. I had been using the software in my final year at university, but I felt like I was just winging it and that a lack of skill was holding me back. So I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials. The thing is: tutorials are great for understanding how to use Blender – but it’s a whole different story to use this tool to create your own visual style.
By December, I was pretty frustrated because I thought that I would never find my own way. I compared myself to other artists and felt like I didn’t measure up. But after Christmas break, I went back to work and decided to set myself some basic visual rules in order to create my own 3D universe: everything had to look as if it was made of squishy plastic, all forms should be bubbly, and I was only allowed to use vibrant pastel colors. Step by step I figured out how to achieve the look I had in mind – thanks again to great tutorials – and I perfected my color palette. This is how I created this colorful, bubbly plastic-wonderland that reminds me of the 90’s aesthetic I grew up with. Even now, when I create something new, I search the internet for toys I either had myself or that have a similar look. I then make them my own by adding little tweaks so that they fit perfectly into my universe.