#003 — Vicente Numpaque

DR3I Founder and Illustrator

Interviewed by
#003 Vicente Numpaque

Charlotte Simons

Published on

February 11, 2024

A concept art painting from Rocket Nation that features a blue bunny and a big alien fluffy bear running away from purple plasma blasts. Rocket Nation is an original IP by Vicente Numpaque.

Hello Vicente, I’m happy for everyone to get to know you. Could you introduce yourself first? 

Hey, I’m Vicente Numpaque, and mainly I focus on visual development and art direction for the animation industry.
I sort of split my life between Colombia and Germany and I’m starting a new adventure with DR3I as my studio to achieve some new goals in my career.

We met at THU 2021, and you and Leo immediately hit it off. I remember we spoke for hours haha.
It’s hard to find like minded creative entrepreneurs. 

Ufff definitely, I think that THU is a platform/event for kindred spirits, meeting you guys felt just like that even if we were from different nationalities and cultures, it’s that spirit of people that are trying to find something BIG!

At that moment I was on my quest to develop my first short and the question that I was trying to resolve was, “how am I going to take off with this project” my girlfriend introduced me to Leo and Charlotte :).

When we talked, Leo immediately went through a lot of reflections and processes on how to self-fund your own projects. I just got amazed and overwhelmed with so many things I didn’t consider.

I think from there it was just the spark, but to know people that are on bigger quests always excites me, and I think since then the conversation flows smoothly!

Concept art for Rocket Nation an original IP by Vicente Numpaque.

Could you share a bit about your business DR3I? 

I would say DR3I is currently in a very early stage.
I would define it as a studio that focuses on IP development, meaning the stories I've been working on for years, and on the other side provides services of pre-production with a high focus on research so that a beautiful story is represented with images that are based on informed decisions.

For me, it's important that all the pieces are connected on a high emotional level, but also maintain a high level of rationality for how different assets are cohesive in a way that makes an impact to an audience, so those stories linger in their hearts for years.

Original art by Vicente Numpaque of japanese children standing with a giant tiger in the rain.

What made you venture into entrepreneurship in the first place? Could you share a bit about your journey? 

To be honest, I never considered the idea of becoming an entrepreneur and having my own studio.
My goals 10 years ago were just to get inside an animation studio and paint.

Life had other plans for me.

I received an invitation to build a studio named Insert Coin Animation. At that time, I was too naive and lacked knowledge in business and leading a team. It was a learning experience for me.

I learned how to speak to clients, handle difficult conversations, sell my value, and lead a team.

Visual developments concepts from Innk studio for the Project Manifesto by Vicente Numpaque.

After that, I worked for 7 years on Innk, which gave me opportunities to work with big brands.

However, it confronted me with my real aspirations.
Although I learned a lot, my artist side was always colliding with that reality.

The studio had a rough time in 2022 and I was forced to close it.
After gaining some maturity and perspective, I decided to prioritise the artist inside me and go all-in on a new quest.

I realised I couldn't let go of everything I've learned from the business side.
In fact, it gives me a more grounded perspective and organised mindset over a passion project.

So, 2023 was a year of transitioning into what I would love to call my true identity and pushing to be a creator of stories and an artist who has know-how in business to structure ideas.

Concept art for Innk Manifesto by Vicente Numpaque. Characters from another world of creativity are walking across the nature.

Concept sketch for Innk Manifesto by Vicente Numpaque.

Do you have words of advice for artists who want to start a business but still feel intimidated by the idea?
How could they start and grow? 

I think this can vary from person to person. Probably, you are just starting and you want to try it.

But I would ask:
Do you think you have some skills in selling or communicating what it is that you do?
Are you willing to work with others and lead them into completing a project even when things seem to be in a chaotic stage?
Do you have any notions on how and who you are going to sell what you do?

And the answer might probably be, you might have absolutely no idea, and that’s absolutely okay.
But don’t try to figure everything out yourself.

Ask for help, look for ways to collaborate with people that align with your goals and values.

I think it's easier to complement each other and begin to define what it is about you that you can do best, that gives you energy when you do it, and that people seem to vibe with when you show it to the world. From that point, I think it's easier to recognize what areas you are weak in and who could be the people that can join your own quest.

Being an entrepreneur is a job of having a strong vision, but in order to achieve it, you need to have the determination to go and search for it, even when at times you think you are in the mist and you are not able to see anything.

The job of someone who wants to make a studio is to have almost a delusional mind that's able to see things where they don't exist and be able to pursue making it.

Original artwork by Vicente Numpaque of children jumping up and throwing a robot acorn into the sky while they are all having fun together.

Next to an entrepreneur, you’re also an artist.
Balancing a business with making art is not easy, how do you approach this? 

My way of approaching it was to face hardships in order to understand that I am an artist at my core.
In the years before, I tried being 50% artist and 50% entrepreneur, but I felt that collided a lot.

After those hardships, I was able to recognise in myself that I can be 80% artist and have 20% of a structured mindset to achieve things.

I feel that in the education of art schools, they only show one side of being good at your craft, and they completely forget that we live in a world where tons of ideas and products are available for people.
If we don't learn to communicate the value we bring, we are selling ourselves short.

Most of the time, we don't really know how to sell ourselves.
How to communicate an idea, or how to bring the value of what we do into a process.

I feel this is so important because when there's so much talent around and there are tons of beautiful images —
what is going to make you stand out?

If everyone is so good, how do you communicate what makes you special? What is it that you want the audience to feel?

I can only say this from my perspective, and there are probably tons of different ways to achieve this. I guess these sorts of conclusions have been made because of 'moments of truth' where I had to face the fact that I could not only be someone who paints well, but I had to find a way to communicate the vision of what's behind that painting.

Original concept art by Vicente Numpaque for Rocket Nation with Z and Corg jumping in the air in front of a super computer from an alien race that is activating.

Talking about art, you’re developing your IP; Rocket Nation.
Quick, give me an elevator pitch. 

Rocket Nation follows the story of Z and Korg. They are two brothers who had to escape from a fractured past.
Although they are family, life and circumstances separate them and give them different points of view to a degree that they end up living in parallel realities.

One of those is the world of Rocket Nation helmed by the evil Roxy, and the ancient world of chameleons.

Z and Korg will meet again, just not as they wish…

I know Rocket Nation is a true passion project that’s been cooking for a while.
Where are you at now? Where are you looking to go? 

The first ideas of the story happened many years ago. It started with a drawing I made of a bunny that I liked, and I just decided to keep drawing that character and discovering different situations.

The story began to appear about 3 years ago when I had some screenwriting classes and started to draw from personal stories.

I’ve always envisioned Rocket Nation as a TV show that has multiple branches, a video game, toys, a whole universe.

What's at the core of this story is a story about brothers, and it’s a tribute and a love letter to my older brother Andres.
One day, I decided to tattoo a symbol of the character Z on my arm as a reminder that it's something that I have to do.

At the moment, I'm in the stage of redefining the story to be able to make it into a pitch. I'm letting the artwork that I produce become bridges between the things I want to communicate and the vision I want for the show.

The path I'm setting right now is to be able to go on two sides. Having a much clearer vision of the story so I can get the help of a writer to flesh it out and being able to construct as much as I can of the world from the point of view of a production designer.
Then, I can find a team and deep dive into that universe.

Finally, as a creator, I can go to different venues to pitch it.

Original concept character art of Z, a blue bunny, from Rocket Nation an original IP by Vicente Numpaque.

As the project progresses, how do you make sure you keep at it? What are your tips towards discipline and (self)motivation? 

I think the intrinsic motivation of having a story that is this love letter to my brother creates something that I want to do more than anything else, but because I have other stories that are in queue, I now feel that I really need to keep myself organised in order to work on those stories that are in my head.

That, I would say, is the more emotional response.
What I learned from last year is that passion without structure is only energy wasted.

That's where the rational part and being more structured has helped me a lot.
I started to read and listen a lot to Cal Newport, he's an author that focuses on Deep Work.

With him, I learned a lot about how to structure things to the core so you know that in everyday activities, there's an underlying structure that helps to execute.

Self-motivation, I think, comes from a higher purpose. In my case, I want to create the type of stories that over the years and since I was a kid inspired me to do what I do today, but also stories that have a message of impact, that get into your head and they drill so much inside of you that motivate you to achieve bigger things.

Concept art and styleframes from Rocket Nation an original IP by DR3I Studio designed by Vicente Numpaque.

As the last question, do you have any good recommendations for our audience?
Good movies, advice to follow, things to eat? 

Life is a path of self-discovery. You will be thrown everyday multiple challenges to help you find your true self.
I would say, be aware of what are the things that move you, even to think about the things that have moved you from the moment you were a 7-year-old.

Are they still with you today?
If so, digging deeper might help you realise what you are and what you aren't at your core.

Once you discover that inner motivation, bet on it, all in... Make it your plan A and your only plan.
And with every plan, of course, try to get information to get better at structuring it and shaping that vision every day.

Tell it to everyone, tell it a million times.
It will help you to adjust and polish as needed, and of course, as time goes by, you will find that people will eventually join your quest, as you join theirs.

Being a creative is an act of consistency more than anything, but it's also a collaborative act.
Big stories, the ones that years after years are still with us, are a product of someone who persisted a lot, but also who was vocal enough to tell everyone about it.

Then, someone listened and said, "I believe in you," and that little seed is what makes someone have a very particular feeling when people experience the stories that you have to share with the world. 

Thanks for listening guys!

Original Art by Vicente Numpaque. All digital paintings of environments and scenes.
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Vicente's Work