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Chris Creek - Behind the Curtain

LisaB

HW3D Vice President & Queen Bee
Staff member
Co-Founder
There is a quote that says “Life is what happens while we are busy making plans.” There are a few distinct times in my life that I recall fully experiencing and understanding the true essence of this drop of wisdom with the most recent being the circumstances behind the creation of the Hive.

Like the worker bee, creating honey and feeding the hive by foraging for nectar and pollen, I was happily going along in my little 3D world doing what I love to do. I was successfully building my own “honey stores” and then using them to feed and nourish a lifelong dream. That’s when “life” happened … hence the swarm.

A swarm is more than just an aimless mass of buzzing bees … a swarm has a purpose. It happens when, for a variety of reasons, a queen leaves the current hive to find and create a new home. She is followed and supported by a swarming mass of workers who carry honey and pollen and who go on recon missions to find a suitable place to begin creating the new hive.

For me, the key and pivotal event in my decision to leave the cozy honey-filled home I had passionately invested so much of my self in creating was when Chris Creek, one of the co-founders of the company I had chosen to align with … someone who was a large part of why I had chosen to invest so much of myself in that company in the first place … was “let go”. Fired. Done. Finished.

This simply did not compute to me. I had already heard through the grapevine that his partner Dan Farr had been “pushed out” of any decision making roles by the group of investors he and Chris had brought in to help the company grow. This made even less sense to me. How does it happen that a company can be totally taken over by its investors to the point of removing the very two people who made it all happen in the first place?
My choice to exclusively invest my creative efforts with said company had been driven by the passion of the people who created it. The more I got to know Dan and Chris … the more interaction I had with them, the more I was inspired to get behind them to do whatever I could do to assist in building the dream … for all of us.

And then, on November 6th 2012, the final straw in an ever-increasing pile of straws … a straw representing the final, painful truth that what I had aligned myself with and had been working so hard to support no longer existed … was placed on top of the pile. My decision to swarm was made. I subsequently packed my honey, gathered my pollen and followed Chris out the door to become part of what is now HiveWire 3D.

In the on-going process of setting up and building our new hive, packing it with honey and pollen and raising new bees I realized how important it is to know and understand how things had gone so wrong that a swarm from the old hive was even necessary. After all, Chris didn’t decide to leave behind all that he had created and invested so much into. He was literally kicked out of it.

Asking how I could find the wisdom in what seemed to me to be confusing and conflicting events led me to ask Chris some direct and sometimes tough questions. I wanted to know more about how the company was created in the first place. I wanted to know more about the dream and the vision directly from the source. I wanted an understanding of how things had unfolded and evolved over the years. I wanted to know more about how it seemed to be going so right … and how and why it suddenly went all wrong.

Stay tuned for Chris’ candid answers to those questions and much, much more …

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Part I

Have you always been an artist? Do you feel you were just born that way?

I'm one of seven kids. Growing up, while others would be outside playing, I'd often stay in and draw and color rather then go play outside with my siblings. I loved to draw all kinds of animals but especially loved horses.

My father was an artist, not professionally but he sure was good. My parents were very encouraging of my meager young drawings, especially my dad. I found that I really liked his detailed feedback and kind words which seemed to drive me for many years.

Was I born that way? I’m not sure but I definitely had the early desire and the recognition and positive feedback were enough to fuel me forward.

As you got older were you encouraged to follow your art or were you told that by seeking a career as an artist you would starve?

My father would buy me art supplies of all kinds. He made this point clear to me - as long as I kept filling up sketchbooks and using the canvas and paints, he would keep me stocked up. He was true to his word until I was a couple years into University art courses. When I got married I was on my own, which was just fine.

My parents would encourage me to find success while pursuing artwork. My dad would tell me about an artist friend that he grew up with who was pigeon-holed into a certain kind of work. His friend eventually got burned out on what he was doing and didn't or couldn't find the value in it anymore.. So he pushed onto something else. It was kind of a warning to me to make sure that I was pursuing something I was passionate about.

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How did you get started in a career as an artist? What did it feel like to be supporting your family with your art?
Actually I was scared to death. I wasn't sure I could do it. I actually received my Bachelors degree in Illustration at Brigham Young University in 1986. Right after school, my wife who was five months pregnant, our one year old son and I moved from Utah to San Diego, California to pursue a career in editorial illustration. We lived with her parents while I beat the streets of San Diego and Los Angeles trying to round up enough work to support our little but growing family. It was a rough go, very sporadic. Not at all what my wife was hoping for sure.

I did some illustration work for Emmy Magazine, The Playboy Jazz Festival, Detroit Free Press, Atlantic City magazine, LDS Church magazines, Happy Times magazine and a few others. Freelance work was hard to come by, so much so that I even got creative and worked up a portfolio of Christmas themes and painted Christmas windows for shops and restaurant chains to make ends meet.

While at Brigham Young University I had landed a job on campus as a medical illustrator for the then William C. Brown (now McGraw-Hill) Publishers. I had illustrated an entire medical book with line drawings for a couple of professors. They contacted me again with a long term project they wanted me to illustrate. That freelance job took me and my family back to Utah where the author lived. We became friends and over the next 7 years I illustrated upper division college medical books with watercolor and pen and ink drawings for McGraw-Hill, William C. Brown and Morton Publishing.

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I learned a lot about anatomy on the job, and this author/professor would take me into the cadaver labs to learn the various body systems and anatomy. He would then load me up with several body organs that I'd take home and paint from. I remember at one point I had an actual adult skeleton hanging in my studio closet, another dis-articulated skeleton in a box, a nine year old skull on my work desk and an actual brain in [a] zip lock bag. I later took that same brain to my son's grade school for show and tell. Once the principal heard about it he had me take it around to 3 more classes. My son felt pretty special that day.

Still, very often I was concerned as a freelance artist if I could keep this going. I became driven early on by a couple of things. Fear drove me. Fear of failure. Fear of not being able to provide for my family motivated me to press on and grab all the work I could handle. I worked many late nights to get projects done, to show the publishers I could do good solid work and still meet their tight deadlines. Another driver for me was that I wanted to do my best to produce medical illustrations that were not being done at the time.

Not only known for your illustrations and 3D creations, you are also an accomplished painter and sculptor. My favorites are your hidden picture paintings, the Dick Van Dyke head and your chicken coop. Can you talk about what inspires you to take on something like you did with your chicken coop? How long did that take to complete?

I grew up with farm animals and very much enjoyed them. Later when married with kids I built several chicken coops with several houses. But I wanted my last coop to be special, so I contracted my brother to build it for me. Then when done I decided to paint a mural on every wall and ceiling. I think I spent around 80 hours painting it during the winter months. I only had hens in the coop because I didn't want roosters crowing and driving the neighbors crazy, but roosters are so beautiful in coloration and shape so I decided to paint roosters throughout the coop.

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What was the turning point that took you from 2D illustrations on paper to 3D pushing pixels on a computer?

The medical illustration experience launched me into illustrating an entire Herbal company catalog. I think the idea was that the medical illustrations would help add some support and legitimacy to the herbal products. It was this catalog job that got me into the 3D modeling realm.

One art director had spoken to another art director who happened to work for Viewpoint Data Labs. They were looking for someone to create models of the human body and body systems. At this time I was also teaching a couple design and figure drawing classes for my alma mater, as well as keeping up on my medical illustration work load. But I couldn't resist this new opportunity that opened up for me.

The folks at Viewpoint were more than willing to train me in modeling. I thought that they were going to fire me almost daily, because I just wasn't picking it up as fast as I was hoping to, and it took many months until I started to get comfortable. I even took a typing class at night so that I could actually type on the keyboard rather than the embarrassing hen pecking I was doing prior. All that work paid off as the creative process began to sink in and become second nature.

While there, I modeled or was at least a big part of modeling a slew of new anatomy content, including a detailed skeleton, heart, brain, several body systems, a cat skeleton, dinosaur bones, the face of the Oscar award and a baby that was the mesh used for the ever popular Dancing Baby. Viewpoint was a great training ground for me.

You've been in the world of 3D for a long time with several different companies and were one of the original co-founders of DAZ 3D. How did that come about?

Let me touch on Viewpoint again to lay out the reasoning. After working at Viewpoint for a couple of years, there were five of us who wanted to break out and form our own company. We wanted to create 3D anatomy content and tie that in with Medical Publishing companies.

It got to where we felt very oppressed with our current company structure. We were confident we could start something new and do it "right". Thus Zygote Media Group, that fertilized egg, was conceived and born and in fact still exists today.

But again, after 5 or 6 years with 5 partners at Zygote, we had our challenges. We each wanted different things out of the company. Eventually Dan Farr and I broke off from the other 3 partners and formed DAZ. By the way it was supposed to be DAC at first but that name was already taken. DAC was for Digital Art Central as well as Dan And Chris.

Dan and I saw a need that we felt we could fill by creating content to serve the Poser market. At the time it was wide open, and we knew, or at least felt, we could do it right. Others at Zygote thought it was a wasted effort, but Dan and I soon proved them wrong.

There's still more to come! Stay tuned ...
 

LisaB

HW3D Vice President & Queen Bee
Staff member
Co-Founder
Part II

What WAS the dream you and Dan had with this new company? What was your vision for where it could go and what it could do?


DAZ was a great little company for Dan and me right from the start. We had an eager audience clamoring for quality content and we couldn't create it fast enough. Growth in itself is a challenge to stay in front of and manage properly. We grew quickly and brought on more employees. As the goals Dan and I had became more fluid, adjustments were needed to stay viable, ride the wave and stay in the forefront of content creation.

We wanted to be the "one stop shop" for all things 3D content. I know that phrase is so over used now, but back in 2000 that was our primary goal, to be the 3D content hub, implied by our name Digital Art Zone.

After our break-off from our previous company, Zygote Media Group, our 5 year contract with them stated that we would focus only on creating content for the Poser and "any like market”. Zygote created catalog content and did custom modeling too, so we were not to infringe in their market, thus our focus was Poser. Contractually that's where it needed to be. Then after our 5 years were up, we'd be able to venture into providing that same content for other software markets.

What was behind the decision for DAZ to create its' own 3D software? Was DAZ trying to put Poser out of business?

In the early days of DAZ, Dan and I knew it was necessary to keep a good working relationship with the Poser folks. We’d meet as often as need be with Steve Cooper and Larry Weinberg. We'd see them at Siggraph and have meetings. We'd visit their office and they'd fly out to Utah and visit with us. We liked those guys, and we had a good working relationship with them. Then the concept of Content Paradise came up and everything began to change for us.

Dan and I knew as per our contract with Zygote that we needed to stay within the Poser (or similar software) market. Content Paradise felt like a threat to us because it seemed that we were going to be driven into using it as our means of making content available and that our margins would then be minimized because of the percentages being offered when selling through Content Paradise. We were in a bind.

We weren't being forced to sell through Content Paradise but Dan and I felt that we were going to be boxed in due to our reliance on only providing content for Poser. Now, with the Poser folks calling the shots on where the content was going to be delivered, we felt we were going to be left behind if we didn't come up with our own solution.

Our dependency on Poser was evident. We needed them and were bound to them. Poser knew their product was generally cyclical and that sales spiked with new releases, providing revenue mainly after a major release and less during other times of the year. It was clear they saw that content sales offered a more predictable and reliable income stream, and they wanted in on a piece of it. I can't blame them for going in that direction and thinking that way, but the manner in which the new Content Paradise store was presented made us very skittish. We weren't quite sure how to navigate ahead. Dan and I decided not to hitch our wagon up to the Content Paradise store and to stay with providing content through our own store.

So… back to that contract phrasing that Dan and I put into our break-off agreement with Zygote… the "any like market" software comment. Our initial contract with Zygote was that we would create content for Poser customers, but what if the software went under? What if Poser was sold to another company and became something else? We needed to know that we would be able to bounce over to that "other" software or something similar.

But now, with the development of the Content Paradise store, we recognized that our contract phrasing in our agreement with Zygote was our only option to future viability. We needed to create our own software and not be solely dependent on the direction of Poser. We wanted the ability to stay of value, stay current and set our own direction. For us, it was about survival and being able to “strive to thrive” on our merits. That's what started our exploration and development of DAZ Studio and holy crap, what a long, expensive and tedious process it was!

Our goal of being the 3D content hub evolved to encompass both Poser and DAZ Studio. We still wanted to be able to support other software apps. We struggled with how to do that over the years. We paid money to a group of guys to create a "black box" concept where content would go into the box and get spit out into various formats. This way our audience could enlarge and we'd grow from the pond to many more ponds, to bring them together to form one large lake. That was the concept anyway. The black box was a daunting challenge; a bit like trying to find the Ark of the Covenant.

We also bought other software packages, such as Bryce, Carrara, and Hexagon. I kid you not that in every conversation we had before purchasing one of these software packages, someone would say "Do you want these to end up in the hands of Curious Labs?" So a portion of the benefit to the purchase was to not let Curious Labs (or whoever owned Poser at the time) get an advantage. Again, I get it. That's how business works; gain an advantage and try to keep it. But it also means keeping those packages developing, and putting money and resources into them to keep them viable. It was a big, big challenge to grow each one of those products.

Another vision Dan and I attached to our 3D hub concept was creating an animation. We wanted to make a TV classic; an evergreen product that families could watch every Christmas. While at Zygote we had created some test animations with a Dick Van Dyke 3D character we called Mr. Finnegan. Dan and I had tried out a couple script writers for the movie, but ended up not using them. This was just a side project and it was hard to fit it in with so many other things going on.

I remember at one point saying to Dan, let's take this in steps and for right now just get a book out. So I started that night sketching up drawings for illustrations. Like all things, they just don't “happen” unless you decide and make a move. We titled the Christmas book "Mr. Finnegan's Giving Chest". The book was written by Dan. I created the Mr. Finnegan character and other 3D figures and Chad Smith guided the renders and helped with the editing. Dick Van Dyke read the book and his audio was included on CD.

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Mr. Finnegan in his magic workshop. All content is 3D. This image was based on this initial sketch that I made.


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The project was a hit and the book did very well. It was our Utah Governor’s Book Pick for the month of December, received good coverage in 3D Graphics magazine and was covered by several of our local media outlets. It was a great test bed for DAZ Studio as well, as it was all rendered in app. Improvements to the software were made based on our findings.

As a result of this 3D book project, Dick Van Dyke had royalties coming to him. Rather than accept any money he had us donate it to a local charity. His generosity was a great example to those of us at DAZ. Dan and I created a few content items to sell during a 12 days of Christmas promotion and the 3D community responded. As a result we were able to donate a check for over $62,000 to a homeless shelter, the same local charity that Dick had donated to.

Dan and I were able to support many local charities through DAZ, with truckloads of toys, hundreds of new winter coats, and even a $13,000 state of the art playhouse to a charity for kids in distress from losing parents. These are the kinds of things we were happy to be involved with. All made possible by customer support.

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We were able to convince Dick Van Dyke to take a trip to visit us in Utah. We'd been out to see him at work and at his home. But this time he and his wife paid us a welcome visit. What a genuinely sweet man. Pictured here is me, Dick and Chad Smith near Deer Valley Utah.


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Chad and I delivering a surprise check from DAZ to the Road Home Shelter at their board meeting. They knew we were there to deliver a donation, but they were all surprised at the amount. I believe Dan was out of town that day, but he was able to sign the check ahead of time.

At some point, you and Dan decided you wanted DAZ to grow even bigger. Can you share some of the strategy behind the decision to bring on investors?

We had potential investors calling and meeting with us to share ideas to see if they could be of help. We entertained quite a few over the span of many years. We wanted to see if there was a fit. We were growing, buying software and bringing on new employees who were attached to that software. We felt, for several reasons, that an investment group could be of value to us and allow us to do even more.

I don't think most people are aware of this, but we were being courted by Google as well. We met on their campus with nine people and had a very productive day. The initial meeting had piqued their interest so we had a couple more face to face meetings after that. We thought we were going to make a deal with them and become part of Google, but it didn't pan out.

We did find a match with an investment group out of Idaho named Highway 12. This was a good thing for us at that time as we were able to bring in money that supported more growth. We were able to put more into software development, buy more 3D content and strive to push into new verticals for us to expand our market reach. Dan and I still controlled the board at this time which made all the difference. Highway 12 was a great partner group.

However, for me, it all changed when we went further and entertained three more investment groups.These new venture capital companies were already tied to the company Gizmos. Naturally there arose questions whether taking on this new investment was the way to go, and whether Gizmos was the right company to partner up with. But eventually it was decided by all concerned to move forward with a new deal. As part of the new partnership with Gizmos, I had decided to move on from DAZ in November of 2009, once the new deal was in place. After my departure, there were definitely challenges with where DAZ and Gizmos should go as there were some fairly large hills to climb. Finally, after exhausting a lot of cash and time, the decision was made to cut the Gizmos group from the new venture.

With the new partnership and the inclusion of the venture capital companies, control shifted to the Board of Directors and to this day DAZ is a venture capital controlled and run company. It was this board that brought on a new CEO and in time ushered Dan out the door.

In February of 2012 I was hired back at DAZ by Dan Farr and the new board-hired CEO. I was excited to be back and grateful to get into 3D again. I was brought on to replace the Publishing Director and my task would be to determine what content would get published. However, from day one I fought to keep the acting Publishing Director in place to make sure he stayed on at DAZ. I knew it would be a struggle for many artists to not see him involved with DAZ as their publishing representative. In the end, the folks in charge decided he would stay on, which was great - however, because of that I was now in a bit of a redundant job.

The day before I was hired on, many of the employees were laid off including many of the folks that Dan and I had hired. It had been determined that it was no longer viable to create content internally and that from that point forward content creation was going to be outsourced to the community of artists. The new leadership was entertaining outsourcing content creation with a couple of different groups.

Within a short time, I and a few other employees who understood the value of driving content from within began to advocate for internal content creation. We felt strongly that having the artists in the community decide what the next generation character should be would be difficult. Can you imagine saying to the artists, "Okay, come up with innovations for a new figure and make it happen so that others can create for it.” You'd either have too many cooks in the kitchen, or not enough cooks, and then how would you know what to gravitate to? Artists that I talked to clearly did not want that to happen. DAZ needed to be the innovator, decide on the direction based on input and feedback, attach folks to that line of thinking and move ahead.

So the challenge was to convince the new leadership of DAZ that creating core content internally was not just a sound idea, but was the right idea. It took several months but we slowly got content creation back under the DAZ roof. We re-engaged with the contract artists who had been let go, hired rigging to be done internally again and kept modelers who under the outsourcing plan were going to be eliminated. Crisis averted. We got things back on track.

Within a few months of me being hired back Dan was encouraged to take an extended vacation and then eventually was encouraged by the new president and the board not to return. Within a short time it became clear, contrary to what had been promised, that the interest of the new president was solely to serve the board.

In June of 2012 I was invited into a meeting and berated by the new president for not having the reworked DAZ horse done. The artist who had been working on it was undergoing extreme cancer treatment and was struggling to complete the task of finishing the new horse. So it was not done. It was that simple.

This was also a time when there were serious issues with the new store code, revenue was down and pressure was on everyone to make things right. I was dumbfounded at the treatment I got in that meeting. The simple lack of respect shown to me baffled me. After creating the initial content and forming the company with Dan, here's this new guy flexing his muscle and expelling his rant on me. Others in that meeting just sat and watched the antics. I think they were a little baffled by it all as well.

That night I went home very distraught. I couldn't sleep. I was so upset. Here I was back at DAZ, thinking I was doing a good thing, making a difference and having a positive impact, only to be belittled and questioned. I sat out on the picnic table in the backyard late into the night. My wife came out to see why I wasn't in bed. I told her that it was over and that I was going to go back into DAZ the next day and give that president a piece of my mind. I was going to quit. I didn't need the grief. She convinced me to push past my differences, stick it out and try again.

In early November it all came to an end. I had helped DAZ move to a new facility in downtown Salt Lake and I had even hired my son on my own dime to help with the move. We took trailer after trailer full of furniture over to the new place. In hindsight it sure does feel like they had already determined to see me gone, but they waited until all of the heavy lifting and move was done and my new replacement was ready to start.

I was called into the conference room by the Chief Marketing Officer where I met with him and the President who then informed me that I was being let go. The reason? They were restructuring. It was “not for cause, but to restructure” was the polite language that was used. I was handed a severance check to make them feel better about the event. I was in shock but I caught my breath and thanked them for hiring me and giving me the opportunity to work there again.

Another co-worker was "let go" right after me. And that was it, I was done. I never cashed the severance check. To do so would mean I had to sign an agreement saying that I would keep things confidential, not share any internal information, and not say anything negative about DAZ.

That night was the beginning of The Dawn of a New Era.


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Steve Kondris, Paul Lessard, Chris Creek and Eric Merritt celebrating the launch of The Dawn of a New Era on a mountaintop at dawn, August 9th, 2013


The story is not over yet ... to be continued …
 

LisaB

HW3D Vice President & Queen Bee
Staff member
Co-Founder
Part III

Chris thank you for being so transparent and open in what you have shared with us. You are certainly an inspiration to me and many others who aspire to succeed with our art and there are so many gems of wisdom and inspiration in your story.


Not only have the gems of wisdom you have shared created a wider perspective when I think of my own story unfolding in the same time period, yet on the other side of the country … they inspire new ideas and possibilities for going forward from here as I come full circle to once again work more closely with you.

Thus far, we have learned a lot about where your passion for art has taken you and what it has inspired you to create. What other interests and hobbies do you have?

Aside from modeling in Modo, I really enjoy seeing a good movie and sharing a bucket of popcorn with my wife. My wife and I both love sushi and enjoy that as a real treat. Spending time with family and close friends has to be at the top of the list. I also like sweets, which is a huge flaw and weakness of mine, and always has been and probably always will be.

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Homemade sushi, the “sugar desk” and a delicious chocolate burger!
I do enjoy traditional art. I like to paint with watercolors. I like sculpting in clay and painting murals. In fact I painted my first mural for a local Washington bank when I was 14 years old. Although I'm 54 years old now that first mural still exists and is hanging as a backdrop on a stage in a community center in a small town in Washington.

I lift weights 3 times a week and have been doing so for 20 years now. I've turned my weakest lift which was my bench press into my strongest lift, and 9 years ago I benched 675 lbs.

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Working out with Lou Ferrigno​

My wife and I team-teach eight three and four year old children for two hours every Sunday for our church. We love those little kids.

I also enjoy snowmobiling with my 3 sons, and just about any type of fishing.


What's your most favorite thing to do on weekends?

My favorite thing to do is spend the weekend out of town with my wife, eat dinner, watch a show, sleep in and go out for a big breakfast the next day. But what is most common is to see a movie and eat dinner, then we come home and I work late modeling in Modo, then we do sleep in, and we usually have the grandkids over for the night and I like to make a big breakfast for everyone, which is typically hash browns, scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, and banana pancakes.

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One of Chris’ sweet creations.​

What are you most passionate about?

Family, my faith, friendships, and sharing my talents. How's that for short and sweet? It's about time you got a brief response, right?

What are some of your biggest dreams and aspirations? When you think of your future, where do you see yourself in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?

I do have big personal dreams, but they're hard for me to want to share them, they're almost sacred if that can be understood. Those dreams are fragile and can only be heard in my head in whispers, at least at this point. For now, I prefer to keep them close to the chest.

As far as HiveWire is concerned, I feel more comfortable sharing here. In 1 to 5 years I see HiveWire growing and more artists and customers being attracted to it. I see artists being treated fairly and appreciated and finding fulfillment in working with us. I see customers satisfied with our service and content. I see our content available in many more formats and this pond size market increasing because of it. I see a dedicated HiveWire team enjoying their careers and having fun working together. I see mobile apps being able to find a reason to integrate 3D content in a more meaningful way. I see 3D printers and print services being available for the masses and somewhat common place for home use. I see 3D content still being king and a key resource beyond 3D content used for 2D expression.

Ten years out is a harder read, but I do still see myself modeling content, I love it that much. It's simply sculpting on computer with a mouse and key strokes. I do see HiveWire maintaining growth and evolving with our artists and customer base.

What do you enjoy most about working in the 3D world?

Several aspects actually. I've been enjoying the relationships formed with wonderful artists. Working with you as a business partner has been enjoyable and playing off each others strengths and collaborating together. And of course, I do enjoy the tedium of pushing points around and creating new shapes that are ours here at HiveWire. It's rewarding to know that as I'm sculpting our figures I'm helping to sculpt the Hive.

For me, when you left DAZ in 2009, it was a bit of a wake up call. I already felt like something was missing in my experience there but that event really gave me cause for pause. To me, you were “the conscience of DAZ”. With you at the helm I felt that I somehow had a voice and felt like my choice of aligning with them in doing business was continually validated.

When you left in 2009 I started forming a Plan B. I knew something critical was missing for me and that without it, the situation I now found myself in would not be sustainable for long. Making money is certainly satisfying and rewarding however, for me, the bigger dream is to truly be able to love what I do and to truly feel good about those I am aligned with.

I believe the rules of corporations are good overall as it’s how foundations are created and strengthened, services are provided and money is exchanged. However, without the connection to the very cogs and wheels that are creating the content that makes that abundance possible, the corporations become sterile and soul-less with no personal connection or personal accountability.

For example, I remember the early days at DAZ when you and Dan were very accessible and open to having phone conversations when needed. We were connecting at least once every couple of weeks to a month. This was great for me because my decision to align myself and my creative energies with what you and Dan were creating meant that being connected to the energy and intention I was aligning with assisted me to create in a way added to your efforts.

Then fairly early on one of your advisors/investors suggested that you and Dan needed to make yourselves less available to artists and heads of departments, so we were no longer able to have those phone conversations and the role of a “translator” was created. The intention was to have a go-between to assist you and Dan to focus most on what was most important to grow the company.

This person playing the role of the translator was the funnel through which the individual departments stayed connected to you and vice versa. Though we did find ways to make this new arrangement work, in the end, a whole heck of a lot was “lost in translation”. I became more and more disconnected from just what exactly I was investing all of my time and energy in.

So, really, what I'm saying is that it's not enough for me to just be making money. How I create that abundance has got to be something I feel good about and that I feel somehow enriches the lives of others. Is this similar for you?

Lisa, that is a loaded question for sure. So much can be said about the impetus for movement. I suppose it seems a bit utopian-esque if I can now make that a word. Having been a co-founder at DAZ, I've seen things from the employers’ perspective, coupled with having been an employee who felt treated like a grunt or a cast-off, or in my view, mistreated by previous employers and simply discarded.

These experiences have framed out for me some thinking of what I'd like to help form and create in a new company with like minded people, and how I would want to be treated as a partner, as an employee, as an artist, and as a member of a community. Thus the 5 concepts or guiding principles of our HiveWire business are; We create, collaborate, communicate, commit and care.

I've seen and been a part of company decisions based on the underlying message of "hey, that's just business". This is wrong! It's an excuse to be mean, to be cutthroat, or at minimum to take out the personal feelings of vested individuals.

I believe people matter. Relationships matter. When it's all said and done, what do we take from this life? Not money! But the accumulation of our relationships that we've built, and the wealth of knowledge, talent, and the families and friendships that we've formed and fostered along the way. That is what matters!

So why not start that now? Why not treat people with respect, why not find empathy and compassion for others, why not try to create a business where you really want to be, and can live? Sound utopian-esque?

Maybe, but that's what I want to shoot for. Be a good person, share talents, and care about people. That's how it is for me, Lisa.

What's one interesting, fun or funny thing that most people don't know about you?

Not sure how fun or funny this is, but it might be interesting to some. I've actually ran 2 marathons and probably over 2 dozen half marathons. My last half marathon I weighed in at 280 lbs. Try running 13.1 miles with that kind of weight. I don't do those long haul runs anymore. I'd like to keep my original knee bones if at all possible.

A Day in the Life of Chris Creek
When I was young I had a paper route. I had taught myself how to ride a unicycle. I used to even deliver the newspapers while riding my unicycle. And of course I can still ride one to this day. When my kids were young my oldest boy wanted to learn to ride. So I taught him and one of his friends. We all rode them in our local city parade one year, and of course I dressed up as a clown, and would toss taffy to the crowd. But I must confess, due to my "nether regions" not being used to the pressure of riding a unicycle I got quite sore. Ouch, laugh it up clown!

ChrisClown.jpg


What was the name of that burning spark inside you that led you to Modo and the first polygons that would become Dawn?

When I had been brought back to DAZ in 2012, I felt like I had a fresh start to make a difference. But by the end of that same year both Dan and I were out. The positive take away from that brief 9 months being back at DAZ, was that I felt an awakening taking place within me.

That night when I was let go I started really digging into creating Dawn and into starting again. I had recently purchased Modo 601 and was relearning creation tools, since I had not modeled anything for many years. It took me a bit to get things going and working for me again but the 3D passion was back. I was in heaven creating a figure again. It felt good to reawaken the 3D sculpting in me, and to know that I still had the talent and know-how to make things happen.

Creating Dawn took the sting out of being fired from DAZ and a job I loved. So bizarre being fired by a couple of guys running the show there that didn't or couldn't see my value. And ironic that without me, Dan, and the others who had built that company they wouldn't even be there collecting a paycheck. Weird twist of events for sure. Life can really be strange.

The phrase "The Dawn of a new horizon", was played over and over in my head, which became our "Dawn of a New Era". So early on, Dawn was the name of this new figure that I wanted to use to make a positive impact for Poser and Studio. Soon others felt the same and joined up to sculpt this new dream of ours.

So…here I am. Here we are. Lisa and I and others at our new home. Striving to thrive! With your help we can get there. This is a flooded market now, and we're doing our best to make sure we're creating top quality products. The cream is what we're after. If we create the cream, it will rise to the top for all to see, understand, enjoy, share and support. That's certainly a goal here at the Hive.

Why is it a New Era? What does that mean for you? What do you see as the ultimate goal ... Or the pot of honey the end of the rainbow? What picture is being reflected back at you from that golden, delicious, sweet honey?

The "New Era" has multiple meanings to me. Foremost because I believe we are engaged in a worthy goal of creating content that can make a positive difference, for Poser and Studio natively, where products will truly work well in both packages. Then from there, support other formats and platforms.

Also, providing a place where a new community can take hold. Where a group of people can share art, without the heavy bias of the software used. A friendly place where ideas and expressions can be fostered.

It was also a new era for me personally. Getting back into 3D was a big choice. One is which I was glad to jump back into. If I had not gone back to DAZ in 2012, and start associating with artists again, I very much doubt I would have regained a passion for 3D modeling. Prior to creating Dawn, I believe my last full figure creations would have been Michael 3 and Victoria 3. So I had a long drought in there.

And again, back in 2009 for me, the future of DAZ and me in it was suspect. I had become numb to 3D quite frankly, I felt minimized those last years at DAZ. Then again in 2012, I was cast aside, but this time I had a spark inside me that was stirring up a desire to create again. Also, a new era to create a company where I could pour my efforts and passion into and not have to worry about being fired by strangers.

Finally, about the honey. My pot of honey has to be connected to a worthwhile journey. This ride has to be of value and hold merit, or some kind of desired result will never be attained in my view. The right spark of an idea has to be present, then acted upon.

A favorite author of my father, George Bernard Shaw once said "Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will." We have to be doing, and in doing we can achieve something of value. Then we find ourselves dropping in nuggets of honey into our pots of gold.

An older brother of mine wrote me a letter once during some challenges I was going thru over 30 years ago, and it's stuck with me since. He wrote to me these words "Vividly imagine a goal, ardently desire it, sincerely believe you can attain it, enthusiastically act upon it, and it will inevitably be yours." He was quoting John Ralston who was head coach of the Denver Broncos.

To me this solidified the notion that those fragile thoughts that whisper in our brains and rattle between synapses in our minute and precious neurons are the origins of what becomes that pot of golden delicious honey. But if we don't act upon them they'll never be.

SnowBee.jpg

Chris and his unique snow sculpture.
Okay this is the last thought, finally, really. George Bernard Shaw also said "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." We have the ability and power to define ourselves, and what we want out of life.

I have a vivid image in my head of how this HiveWire dream plays out, and it's an image that involves a big community, with lots of customers that are happy using our sweet and robust content across a multitude of platforms, with a deep stable of talented artists that are fulfilled, and all those involved are enriched and better off for being associated with HiveWire.

Amen!

To learn more about Chris and how he puts his inspiration and passion for painting into action visit his web site. Check out Chris’ YouTube Channel for more great videos. Follow Chris on Instagram for daily updates to his Tokens of Faith 1” by 1” Miniature Paintings series.
 

Miss B

Drawing Life 1 Pixel at a Time
CV-BEE
Thank you Lisa for re-posting this interview. I enjoyed reading it the first time, and enjoyed re-reading it again now.

Thank you Chris for being so honest. It's the one attribute in people I enjoy the most. :)
 

Faery_Light

Dances with Bees
Contributing Artist
I very much enjoyed reading this interview and learning more about the folks who founded the company.
Of course I had not realized that Chris was the one who started DAZ.
Shortly after receiving my first copy of Poser (called Poser Artist now) I found both Renderosity and DAZ and joined.
Mostly I uploaded images to the galleries but one day tried my hand at texturing.
At first it was just for myself but then I began to sell at Renderosity.
Sadly both places changed over the years and I no longer felt comfortable there.
But having found the Hive was such a great thing for me, I like it here and find the staff willing to help as much as needed to get my products out.
So DAZ's loss is our gain.
Thank you, Chris, for starting HiveWire 3D. :)
 

Satira Capriccio

Renowned
CV-BEE
Contributing Artist
Thanks Lisa! I have to agree with what everyone has posted.

Glad to have the interview reposted and so very glad HiveWire3D exists.
 

NapalmArsenal

Distinguished
Contributing Artist
Great Job Lisa!! Thanks! I was missing these!! I love how you have made all of the imagery larger it adds that extra WOW! to them!
 

Alisa

HW3D QAV Director (QAV Queen Bee)
Staff member
QAV-BEE
Glad you got this reposted, Lisa - a lot of work, I know. It's an awesome awesome interview!
 
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