Thinking about submitting to the Golden Ticket? Over the last eight editions of the challenge, we’ve been empowering artists from all over the world and giving them the opportunity to attend THU’s Main Event with all expenses paid. We talked to José Alves da Silva, who’s been a part of the jury since day one, about these last eight editions and what Golden Ticket means to him and to all the artists out there. He’s a senior artist at Quantum Mechanix (QMx), creating some fantastic sculptures and delighting collectors worldwide. Take a tour inside his mind and have a glimpse at what makes José tick.

What role did a challenge like the Golden Ticket play in your career?

I think these challenges, like the THU Golden Ticket, are incredibly important for the artists. Sometimes people don’t know how life-changing this can be. I can tell you my own story because, in 2009, I participated in one of these challenges. It was CG Society’s 24 Challenge, in which I was lucky enough to win first prize, which made a whole difference in my life. I used to work in architectural visualization, but I had a passion for characters, and the fact that I won that challenge opened many doors. I had the opportunity to work as a freelancer, on characters, as a character artist, and now I've been working in that industry since 2009, so this can really change your life.

How do you see the evolution of the submissions over the last eight editions?

The difference in the THU Golden Ticket challenge is that it started from a small community, and it's been getting bigger and bigger and bigger. That has brought a lot of international talent to the challenge, and it gives a lot of hard work to us, the jury. Sometimes you've got a lot of great ideas. You've got these incredible technical pieces, and choosing which ones should win is tough. Some are better at storytelling; others are better from a technical point of view. If you've got one piece that's incredibly good at storytelling and technically, well, you’d say it's easy to find a winner. Sometimes there is a balance between these two factors, and finding the balance between the two is very hard. In fact, the quality from challenge to challenge has constantly been rising, so, it's incredibly hard to judge but it is also a pleasure to go through so many great entries.

Over the last few years, the Golden Ticket themes have focused more on future innovation and sustainability. How do you see the shift towards these kinds of themes?

Well, I think I see artists as thinkers. So, artists are people that have things to say to society, in a certain way. They are different from other people because they look at the world differently. They digest it and put out the different ideas, showing things through eyes that are not ours but can make you see something that you would not usually see, which is the artist's power. If you get artists working around themes relevant to society, you will eventually have new ideas coming out of it. You'll have new ways of thinking about certain problems, and gathering all the ideas from these artists will lead to a pool of thoughts that will probably bring a lot of new and positive things to society. It's like using this collective thinking brain of the artist.

What are your thoughts on using art to raise awareness?

Art is a great way to create awareness because when people look at art, they're not expecting to be convinced of something. If you receive a manifest, a newspaper, or read about something and someone is trying to convince you of something, it’s not as effective as if you bring people to see something that makes them think about it. People will reach their conclusions by seeing through the eyes of the artist, and that's a very powerful means, just to convince someone or to make someone aware of the question because that person will see a work of art and will reach that conclusion. It will be their interpretation; it's not about someone trying to convince you of something; it's like seeing through the eyes of someone, so yes, I think art is an incredibly powerful means to bring awareness to many questions.

What would you say to creators who don’t believe their work can generate change and true impact?

I would say Imposter Syndrome is something that you’ll have if you’re a good artist. Let’s put it the other way around. If you feel that you have already achieved everything and that what you do is perfect, then you do not have the hunger to do something better. What makes you move and try new things is the fact that you think you're not good enough, and as you learn, you get to put your goals higher and higher, and you'll never reach them because the goal is always higher than what you know. So, first, that is perfectly common. It's great if you have it because that means you have the hunger to grow and to be better. Sometimes it's very surprising when we put our things out there, and we think that maybe it will not have an impact, but it has. So, everyone feels that way if they are good artists. Just put your things out there!

Which are the main differences you notice between the first editions of Golden Ticket and these last ones? Is there an evolution? Has something changed?

I see the same joy in people participating. The number of people participating is surely bigger, but also the themes have been changing a lot. The first Golden Tickets were more focused on a character or even a story situation. Now, we are more aware of some things in the world, and we are more worried about you bringing your vision of the world to enter the challenge, making it more of a think-tank about a certain question. So, I would say that the challenges are equally enjoyable to participate in but are a lot more useful in terms of awareness regarding the questions they bring forward.

Why do you think the community aspect of the challenge is so important? Not just submitting the work but sharing drafts and exchanging comments.

To someone who participates in a THU Golden Ticket challenge just aiming for THU tickets, I would say that only the winner will be happy because no one else will win the ticket. And if we talk about happiness in life, some things are more about the journey and not the specific outcome. I think the THU challenge should be perceived in the same way. It's more in how you participate when you comment on other people's work and when others comment on your work. To get this interaction, this sense of community, is one of the greatest joys you’ll take out of the challenge itself. You’ll get to know people during the process, you'll get your work to be commented on, sometimes by great artists, and you’ll get feedback that you wouldn't get otherwise, and, in the end, you’ll always get a piece of art that you have created, and that's the biggest prize of the challenge. Your main focus should be on your evolution as an artist during the challenge process.

What makes you want to be a part of the Golden Ticket jury, year after year?

The thing that brings me back to the challenge every year, apart from André, is that it’s great to see how this group of artists brings so many different solutions to the same problem. I think about something, and we have our ideas, but the fact that you can see hundreds of ideas for that same theme is very enjoyable. It kind of opens your mind regarding how diverse all the responses can be to the same question. It’s just a joy to go through all this great art, so it's great to be back year after year. I hope they’ll invite me again next year.

With all these new tools available, like 5G and the whole world of possibilities it opens, where do you see the future for artists and their challenges?

Connectivity and communication speeds are getting higher and higher. This is opening new doors for art and ways of working. When you see Technologies like 5G, with all its low latency and great bandwidth, in terms of volumes of data, it opens the door to new tools. For example, when you collaborate with other people, you may start working with collaborative tools, where you have a terminal in your home, and the speed is so high that you are able to work in a computer that's far away from you, but has ten times the power of the one you would use regularly. You can be doing it at the beach or at your country house, and all this just because the speed of communication and latency is very low. If you have a data center processing everything and all you have is a terminal,  you may be doing things on your phone, but actually, you’re using a powerful computer. Companies can hire talent everywhere because they can give computing power to all these people that are spread all around the world. I think the future is incredibly exciting, and trying to see how you envision the world in this challenge, for example, is something I would love to see.

Thank you, José!
Don’t forget to join Golden Ticket by NOS and become an agent of change! The deadline for submissions is July 31st! -