Becoming a Maxon Certified Trainer image

Becoming a Maxon Certified Trainer Digital artist Dustin Valkema explains what it was like to get his Master Trainer certification.

Dustin Valkema is a freelance digital artist and photographer with a passion for teaching and mentoring other artists. So it surprised him when he started the process of becoming a Maxon Certified Master Trainer and realized he was experiencing “imposter syndrome.”

Valkema knew his way around C4D and was happy to dig into studying. But the idea of having to pass a test felt daunting and scary. Fortunately, he felt much better after working closely with Maxon Master Trainer Athanasios “Noseman” Pozantzis to get some preparatory training before the test.

Dustin Valkema created this cinematic Batman composite using Cinema 4D, Redshift and Photoshop.

Noseman really helped me because he is so honest and calm,” Valkema recalls. “He would listen to what I was stuck on and tell me to take breaks and put in the time to understand things. I really appreciated that, and now that I’m certified I love having access to more people at Maxon and the whole training team has been amazing.”

We talked with Valkema about his art, why he wanted to become a Maxon Certified Master Trainer and how certification has helped him. Here’s what he had to say.

Valkema: I have always been interested in art and design. I learned Photoshop in high school and was deployed with the Army shortly after graduation. During my deployment, I taught myself ZBrush and 3ds Max, and when I got back I started learning Cinema 4D.

At first, I did a lot of product rendering and YouTube intros, but I didn’t know my worth as an artist, so I did too much and got really burned out. So I decided to go to Full Sail University for computer animation, with hopes of working as a VFX composite on feature films.

By the time I graduated, though, my second child had been born so it didn’t make sense for our family for me to get a job doing VFX. I didn’t want to subject my family to a life where I’d be working all the time and starting salaries are low.

I got my first industry job at a small film studio before I graduated and after graduation, I took a position at an automotive rendering house where one of my Full Sail instructors worked. I was also doing photography and some work in C4D as a freelancer on the side. Eventually, I left there and went to a product rendering studio where I was a team lead and I really enjoyed learning collectively with the team there.

Valkema’s render of “Venom,” a Nike shoe colorway concept.

Valkema: Yes! I mentored people while I was in school, and it was natural for me to do that on the job as well. Also, I was already working with a company developing 3D training content and I wanted to learn more, get over my own perfectionism and creative blocks and help other artists do the same. So I decided to do the training and get my certification.

Valkema: In addition to freelancing, I’m currently working on a new startup called CG Hacks. It is going to be an education platform for digital artists and a storefront where we sell products and tools, like 3D and Photoshop assets. Later this year, or early next year, I plan to start offering training courses and having my Master Trainer Certification is already helping me with that.

Being certified means I have access versions of Maxon software that aren’t released yet, so we can create training ahead of time to help users. I appreciate too that I am now better able to connect with Maxon on a deeper level, which is really helpful as a freelancer.

Valkema creates many different types of digital art, including this blown-glass terrarium.

Being certified would also be great for anyone looking to get into a studio. I’ve been a part of the hiring process for companies in the past and I know it would be 100 percent helpful because employers see you are already certified so they know you are serious and have the skills they need.

The learning phase wasn’t easy so getting through the process shows that you know your stuff and are willing to push yourself hard to get to the next level. The whole process was great and I would tell anyone that if they feel imposter syndrome creeping in while they are doing it, don’t let it cripple you. Keep working hard and you’ll get there. I did it and I’m so glad I did.

If you are a company looking to make one of your 3D artists an in-house Cinema 4D Champion or a freelancer interested in becoming a certified Cinema 4D Pro User or Trainer, please get in touch with the Maxon Training Team at [email protected] and they’ll get you started.