In just a couple of years, they grew from a handful of people to a company employing 40 professionals – interview with Brick Visual
by Meshmag, the online journal of Mesharray school.
How Brick managed to expand its team to the current 40 people, what their priorities are when creating a working environment and finally how they achieve constant training. These are the topics we’ve touched in our discussion with the co-founder and CEO of Brick Visual, András Káldos.
Meshmag: Please briefly introduce Brick Visual to the readers!
András Káldos: Brick Visual is a creative visualization office. Our team of architects, IT and creative professionals work on a number of international projects from our Budapest office. Starting with family houses four years ago, we have slowly managed to reach a certain level where we get commissions from Snohetta or Perkins + Will for instance, and the whole story expanded from a handful of enthusiastic youngsters to a middle-sized company.
How was the beginning? What was on your mind when founding the company, and how did you make it work?
In 2012 we decided to make our own business, and by then we have already had more than 10 years of experience as freelancers. The Hungarian market did not seem like a potential opportunity, so we outlined two options: moving abroad or staying. We chose the latter, more difficult option, and tried to start building up a network of international clients. We knew from the beginning, that regardless of the quality of our portfolio or the years of experience we have, it is really difficult to prevail from the region. Thus, we tried to set up an international network with the focus on specific markets. This strategy has proven to be viable. It has helped us increase sales, improve the quality of our visuals and make valuable partnerships with renowned clients.
What are the benefits of being corporate and on the contrary, why is it worth to be a freelancer?
Looking back to the beginning and seeing the competition, we now think that the visualization industry can successfully employ a large number of studios and freelancers. A large company like Brick has a lot of advantages and disadvantages at the same time. For example, we can deliver large-scale projects on a very tight deadline, we have the ability to be technically more prepared (in-house render farm or greenbox studio) and most importantly the know-how is more diverse in a larger team. This size also enables us to get in touch with clients, who would otherwise be inaccessible through a simple inquiry, but due to our capacity, we are able to bail them out, and build a long-term partnership on the occasion of the last-minute commission. When it comes to smaller projects, we often fall short in the price competition.
How do you see the current market in terms of workload and concurrence?
There has been an increasing demand for high-end visualization services in the past years, therefore the competition has become more intense too. While the Western-Europen companies have been present in the high-end segment for some time, their Eastern-European counterparts are just reaching this level. They are able to make beautiful, high-quality renders very efficiently and for a lower price. We consider Brick Visual belongs to the latter group. It is important to note, that Asian companies are improving as well both quality- and service wise. Not yet at the threshold of high-end, but they are definitely getting closer.
Th fact that you are continuously expanding, and your projects are becoming more serious confirms your strategy. However, in order to keep up this development, the education of future generations is essential. How do you see this situation?
One of the key reasons of our success is the team. Back in the beginning, a strong professional team joint their forces as Brick Visual, and we aimed to ensure a constant training opportunity for the new, less experienced colleagues in order to become full-value employees. This idea turned out to be very effective on a short and a long-term as well. The number of potential professionals in the Hungarian market has shrunk lately, so today 90% of our new colleagues come from abroad. Most of the team has some sort of architectural background, as it has proven to be an essential competence on this job.
How do you see the status of Hungarian architectural visualization education?
On one hand, there are a lot of architects graduating at Hungarian universities, and often they are unable to find a job in their profession, so some of them turn to architectural visualization. However, there is no specific architectural visualization education, neither at architecture schools, not elsewhere. Beyond knowing the programs and having a degree in architecture one must have a certain level of visual literacy and sense of composition and design just to mention a few of the necessary skills. Hence, it is not easy to find the perfect colleagues.
Do you employ entrants, and if so, what are its benefits and disadvantages?
Our in-house training system is still a very important part of company culture. This way interns not only gain professional knowledge, but get to know the visual language of Brick as well.
In general, what is the basis of criteria? What do you expect from the candidates?
According to our experiences, it is hard to evaluate professionalism based on one’s portfolio. International schools pour out a large number of certified 3D artists, yet their portfolios do not reflect the truth because the works included are mostly tutored school assignments, not independent ones. Self-sufficiency is a must in a professional environment! In many cases, it is difficult to filter these portfolios, and the real background knowledge is only revealed during the interview. Again, knowing the software is not enough in itself.
What do you offer to your employees? Why is it worth working for you?
On one hand, we provide a professional community where besides the diverse tasks, one can improve his/her skills, and this is really important in a profession changing so rapidly. On the other hand, we aim to create an atmosphere during and after work, that is converging and enhances creative thinking. Cut the long story short, we offer a working environment that is rather a community, and where people are happy to be.
Tell us more about your in-house training system. How does it look in practice?
By organizing workshops that present specific processes, people have more insights on the workflow and the rules of teamwork, while it is also an important forum to discuss ideas. Moreover, in general training is part of the everyday workflow: seniors and project managers spend part of their day assisting juniors and trainees.