As we explore and discover within our new Downtown neighborhood, we are continually struck by just how many fantastic businesses we’re surrounded by, and Bowen Studios, on our very own historic Exchange Place block, is no exception.
Comprised of a few uber-talented illustrators, Bowen Studios creates impeccable digital imaging and animation for the architecture and design industries (known by laymen as “renderings,” these images go far and above the sort you’ve likely seen before). The studio's vision is artfully evident in their balanced modern-yet-patinaed industrial workspace. Owner Brent Bowen kindly welcomed us into the office and it became obvious that, beyond their craft, Bowen’s business is human connection.
Photography: River Stephenson
Homeworks: Was there a moment in your life in which you knew your career path had been determined?
Brent Bowen: My mom told me that when I was 3 years old I would ask her to draw something for me. No matter what she drew I wasn’t satisfied with it & would get frustrated that it didn’t look like what I thought it should. I’ve always been an artist, so there was never a pivotal moment that made me realize what I should do.
About 25 years ago I started teaching myself how to use 3D software to help improve the accuracy of my hand-drawn architectural renderings. Very quickly I realized that there would be a demand for photo-realistic renderings. They can be done faster, more accurately, and most importantly, can be changed without starting over, unlike hand-drawn renderings. Also, multiple views of a single scene can be created without starting each from scratch. A few years later I started Bowen Studios, an architectural rendering & animation studio.
Hw: With accounts like the prestigious and historical landmark Hotel Del Coronado, your portfolio is quite impressive. Is there an element in particular to which you can attribute Bowen’s ability to acquire such high-profile clientele?
BB: Our niche has always had two components: One, we consult with our clients instead of just taking orders for renderings. We find out what the renderings are for, who the audience is, and then make recommendations. And two, we are a creative firm, meaning we can help with the design when needed, fill in holes, populate scenes with furniture, landscaping, people, etc. to give them life. Our website says: “We believe in the power of images to inspire.” I like to think that our work is inspiring.
Hw: Is there anything you would like our readers to know about Bowen Studios or the creation of digital images in general?
BB: Because software is so powerful these days, some people think we just “push a button” to make a realistic rendering. That’s far from the truth—my staff will gladly tell anyone. There is a crazy amount of time and know-how that goes into every rendering (although now the software makes it substantially easier to create realistic renderings and animations than when I started doing this years ago). Creating a great rendering is like creating a great photograph—it’s much more than aiming and pushing a button. There’s a lot of 3D modeling, scene setup, lighting, composition, camera setting adjustments, etc. After the photo is taken, then there is post-production to fine-tune the image. For renderings and animations, all these steps need to be taken in the computer using virtual items, lighting, camera settings, etc.
One of my main responsibilities in the office is giving creative direction. I’ve got a crew of talented 3D illustrators that do the initial work, then I will often add some creative direction. It’s always good to have fresh eyes look at a project because the person working on it can get so wrapped up in the details of creating it, and then it can be hard to see it “for the first time” as our clients would. Going back and forth can really improve the renderings and therefore makes our clients happier, and then they give us more work, and then the cycle begins again.