Browsing through the portfolio of 3000ad is like taking a glimpse into the distant future – spaceships hovering over cities, ultra-modern buildings reaching towards the sky, and alien structures from out of space. The artist behind these futuristic visions is Romanian-born architect Daniela Mangiuca. We spoke with Daniela about the process behind her sci-fi-influenced renderings, as well as her journey into the stock marketplace and beyond.

ADOBE STOCK: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Daniela Mangiuca: I was born and raised in a small town in Romania. I remember wanting to become an architect since elementary school when I understood this was the only occupation that would require a combination of mathematics (my first love) and drawing skills (my second). In college, I realized that architecture is much more than science plus art. It is a worldview based in endless creative search. Together with Adrian, my lifetime partner and best friend, we were lucky enough to pursue our creative explorations in the US.

AS: How did you get started in stock, and why did you decide to sell you work?

DM: After several years working as designers in leading architectural offices, we decided it was time to explore the American dream. In our case, this was creative ownership. It was the late nineties, so we took advantage of the 3D modeling and illustration software boom. I remember first reading about Photoshop during a lunch break. I immediately told Adrian: “This is it! This is how we’ll do it.” And so, with our former employers’ invaluable help and mentoring, we opened our architectural visualization company.

The initial decision to sell stock was economical since, as a small firm, one never stops looking for business opportunities. Lingering on our hard drives were lots of 3D assets done while testing software, as well as those we made purely for our own enjoyment. Microstock seemed like the must-ride new-wave.

AS: How does stock complement the work you do at your firm, AND?

DM: I feel we evolved with the market. As of today, stock makes for almost half of our work at AND, especially due to the advent of microstock videos coupled with motion graphics as AfterEffects templates. Accessibility and the exploding number of devices and social media outlets where our assets are viewed and sold created this extraordinary demand – and opportunity – for the type of work we used to call a “hobby.”

AS: Your portfolio contains a lot of sci-fi and futuristic elements – where do you look for inspiration?

DM: Who would have thought serious architects would specialize in spaceships, right? It actually makes sense, and it goes back to the basics: visualizing architecture is the creative way to look at a structure before anyone attempts to build it. In the end, every object is architecture, since it occupies or creates a space. It’s a wonderful thing when creators of these objects have child-like wonder in their hearts, and the scope of their imagination goes beyond what is logical and scientifically possible. Our inspiration is science fiction and the extraordinary discoveries and scientific facts we come across every day. Human curiosity and creativity never cease to amaze.

AS: Can you tell us about the process of creating one of your renderings available on Adobe Stock?

DM: It starts with a story: it could be something we read about, or one that we’re making up entirely. The next step is to discuss the geometry from the “what if” point of view rather than a scientific one. Then it’s just natural to stop by the NASA website for the extra boost of inspiration, before starting the actual 3D modeling and, if the case, animation.AS: What is the most difficult part about creating a rendering? And the most rewarding?

DM: The difficult part is the unexpected design flaw, visible only after you spent an entire day rendering. It gets exponentially frustrating when the end product is an animation, and you spent several days struggling over the concept and path.

The most rewarding part is when a buyer asks you to customize an illustration or animation because they liked your model and it inspired their own artwork. Receiving the link to the final product or their motion graphics DVD – with the little “Thank You!” note – are all worth the extra effort in dealing with the inevitable hiccups in the creative process.AS: Do you have any tips to pass on to contributors who are trying to build out their stock portfolio?

DM: At the risk of sounding cliché: do something you like and, eventually, it will pay off. Avoid reinventing the wheel. I tried and it works only until you realize it isn’t nearly as profitable as doing what you know and what makes you happy. Find your own unique, visual “voice” and use others as inspiration for their process, not their actual product.

AS: How about for someone who is trying to improve their 3D skills?

DM: Work. That’s all there is. Work, and the knowledge that whoever tries to bring up the with-a-click-of-a-button magic notion has no idea what they are talking about.

See more of Daniela and Adrian’s work on Adobe Stock.