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    Breaking In?

    Well, I hear pretty often that you don't need to have a degree to get an illustration/concept art job, but everywhere that I look to see what jobs are available, they require either a degree or 2-5 years previous work experience. Is this really a requirement at most places or just a general guideline?
    I guess the greater picture that I'm getting at is what is a good way to break into the illustration/concept art fields (and yes, I know that there are a lot of different areas within these fields, I'm looking for any and all answers).
    I find myself currently with a job but in about 8 months I will not have one and need to support a family (not on just my pay, but I will need to pull my weight). I'm not expecting to jump right into the industry (my art is far from good enough for that) but I while I'm working I want to take some steps in the right direction.
    I also have some military management experience (no civilian management though) but no experience with the business side of art, is there any way to get some sort of lower management in the industry without having any prior experience?

    Thanks for any advice or tips, no matter how unhelpful or cynical they may be

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    What exactly do you want to do in the art field? Games? Book covers? Logos?

    I have checked your sketchbook and while there is great improvement, I can't say that you are yet up to par where conceptart is concerned.

    As for job ads, those that require the less work experience (1-3 years) actually require you to have the same skills as someone who's been in the industry, one way to acquire those would be to join a mod team or an indie game team, a seirous one with realistic goals, not a bunch of noobs out to make the next big thing, like WoW but better. It will teach you what is required of game assets and get you useful feedback.
    Keep up with the actual figure drawing exercises you are doing but add some assets of what you plan do do later to the bunch. If you want to draw magic cards, practise doing tiny readable illos, if you want to be a concept artist, participate in the COWs and CHOWs and EOWs. Then take it a step further and do orthos of your designs.

    You can also check Seedling's http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=81332 and the other threads in Seedling's signature.

    I hope this helps.

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    Haha, thanks Qitsune!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dose206 View Post
    I also have some military management experience . . .
    This may well be to your advantage. Would a management role interest you? It is hard to find people who are capable of managing artists.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    Qitsune,

    Well, thanks for your honesty concerning my art, you have confirmed my feelings. Either way, what I'd like to do is pretty much all of the above, games, book covers, children's books, logos, wherever I can get work. At this point I know that my skills as an artist are not up to par but I'm wondering if there are any other ways to get my foot in the door, just to the industry in general, not necessarily the art side of the house.

    Thank you for pointing me in Seedling's direction, I have read through some of those threads but perhaps it is time to read again.

    EDIT: Seedling, yes a management role would be great, my worries are that since I haven't worked within the industry, the lack of experience would be detrimental for me. Actually, a management role would be perfect, the way I'm picturing it in my head, it would be a good way for me to get my foot in the door and make contacts, while giving me time, inspiration and great examples that will help me improve my art, and eventually (hopefully) transition over to the role of artist.

    Last edited by Dose206; June 25th, 2007 at 10:23 AM.
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    Actually, if you have no experience as a production artist, I'm sorry to say that you would have pretty much zero chance of being employed in a management role such as an art director or lead artist.

    If you want to get a concept art job, the most important thing is your portfolio, all that other stuff, the experience, the degree doesn't mean anything if your portfolio looks like dog's breakfast (not saying that yours does - I'm talking generally).

    But if your portfolio looks better than any other candidate, they aren't going to bounce you because you have no experience or a piece of paper (but I am not discounting the value of a degree/training either).

    m

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    Using a management position as a stepping stone to art would be. . . no so good. Assuming that you were able to get a management position over artists in the first place, then you would be in the position of managing people whose job you wanted. That spells bad trouble for the team. They will hate working for you.

    If you go into management, do it because you love the job and because you want the project to succeed. And be prepared to shelve your own personal goals as an artist, because by definition you wonít be the best artist on the team, you wonít have time to make much (or any) art as a part of your job, and in all likelihood you wonít be in a position to catch up artistically with the people working for you.

    If itís a stepping-stone job you want, go for QA. I hate to encourage people to use QA as a stepping-stone job, because a good QA tester or QA manager who actually wants to be there is a wonderful thing; but QA has been used often as a stepping-stone to game design. If you have management experience and are more interested in making games than being a game artist, there are good jobs available as QA managers.

    The surest way of getting an art job would be for you to spend a year in some sort of intensive art training, either on your own or through a school.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    From what I gather (and what I am currently doing)

    Invest in a website.
    I recently got justinoaksford.com, now I am just going to make a very,very simple gallery, that isn't totally unappealing. I have narrowed down a good website to a few points.
    • Make the gallery button easy to find, or make the gallery the first thing they see.
    • Make sure your name is in a very easy to find location (top-center in bold)
    • Make sure your email is written near your name, not a mailto link on your name. Many might never find it and not know how to contact you. (I just put it right under the name.)
    • Don't use any complex layouts, frames, or cool flash intros. Maybe an intro splash page.
    • They want to see art, not your life story. Maybe give a mission statement; (my own example)"-I am a concept artist breaking my way into the games industry, using a strong fine arts background to help create believable characters and worlds through my art."
    • No sound. no music. none.
    • Don't make them do this "click. look. hit the back button. next." Try to work out a "next/back" arrow system so they can view it in one run without doubling back.



    Your portfolio is only as good as your worst piece
    It's better to have fewer, higher quality pieces than greater, "older, not my best work" pieces. Take the time to make some really up-to-date stuff that reflects your clientele, do some ship thumbnails, then pick a few, then render them out more. Do 1 or 2 turnaround (orthographic) sheets of characters. Do some weapon designs (not just 1 weapon per image... do a lineup)

    I also gather that while diversity is good, make sure your strengths are evident. If you are good at characters, there is nothing wrong with having a more character design oriented portfolio. This way they can find your niche in their company easier (I suppose).


    Send-it-out!
    I am gathering a list of companies on gamedevmap.com and sending out internship inquiries to them. However, I made a big mistake- I sent to about 25 without having my site up or giving a name.. I just said "Would you be interested in having an art intern" (it was more in depth, but that's the gist of it), and "if you are interested I can send samples."

    I didn't think of what a bad move that was til later... It's better to have a website and give it to them all ready and tidy and bug-free.. First impressions are really really really really important.

    Most of the companies I have seen want to see a cover letter and a resume as well as a portfolio, so I would have those handy as well.

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    Magic-Man,

    Thanks for your input, that is what I suspected and at least I know that it's true early on so that I don't waste time.

    Seedling,

    You make a very good point, I hadn't thought of it that way. Perhaps it would be something that would peak my interest later on but at this point I'm just looking for a way to break in while I bring my skills to a higher level. What is QA. I feel like I should already know, but I don't and I'd like to.
    Also, and this may be another question for another thread (although more likely it's been answered elsewhere) if I were to put myself through an intensive program (with a few classes here and there depending on time and money) are there any example courses out there already? Stuff I can focus on? Are the threads in your sig good examples?

    Justin,

    I would like to eventually invest in a website. I'm having trouble understanding the whole process of getting a domain name and finding someone to host it. Normally I'd ask elsewhere but since you just went through it, any insights?


    Well guys, it seems as though me thoughts have been confirmed, I will have to get a job to pay the bills and work on my art skills on my own until such a time as I can get hired doing what I want.

    One final question, and if anybody answers it I would like the cold hard truth. Is it realistically possible for me to improve my art enough to potentially get hired around the April '08 timeframe? Looking at my sb, do I have too far to go for that amount of time? Thanks.

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    Pique, you mean? :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dose206 View Post
    What is QA.
    Quality Assurance. Also known as Game Testing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dose206 View Post
    if I were to put myself through an intensive program (with a few classes here and there depending on time and money) are there any example courses out there already? Stuff I can focus on? Are the threads in your sig good examples?
    Iím afraid I donít know what is out there. I donít think you are likely to find classes in Concept Art the way that you can find classes in common subjects like Business. Your best bet would probably be to take figure drawing and other art classes as you can get them, pick up lots of art books, get yourself on a sustainable art-making schedule, and hook up with other artists to critique your work both here and (if possible) in your local area.

    My threads could help you to figure out what you need to be studying in-depth, I think.

    I donít personally know anyone who has done this much educational off-roading successfully, but I do think it is possible. If you decide to do this, keep me posted. :-)

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dose206 View Post
    One final question, and if anybody answers it I would like the cold hard truth. Is it realistically possible for me to improve my art enough to potentially get hired around the April '08 timeframe? Looking at my sb, do I have too far to go for that amount of time? Thanks.
    I overlooked this question. And I suspect the answer is ďunlikelyĒ, but not impossible. Your competition is steep. How much time do you have to commit to learning? How stubborn are you? Even when you have learned enough, it may take months or longer just to find a concept art job.

    I suggest you cram as much learning into your available months as possible, then try for various kinds of jobs Ė concept art, QA, anything else. See what nibbles you get, and reevaluate from there.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    Seedling,

    Hmmm, looks like I'll have my work cut out for me. But I already knew that. And yeah, QA is something I've wanted to do since I first picked up a console controller (or a mouse, can't remember which came first). Anyhoo, at this point I'm going to learn as much as I can, and like you suggested try for what I can, although I suspect I may have to work a more mainstream job for awhile.
    If I do indeed decide to do most of my education off road, I will keep you informed as to how it's going. Who knows, maybe one day I'll have enough experiences to start a thread for you to put in your sig

    and yes, i did mean pique

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    For some reason, I can't access your pages at the moment, CA is being slow again for me for some reason, but I'll go on the assumption that your art is below professional level and that your av is indicative of your skill.

    I'd say, what, 10 months? of self study will be a massive massive undertaking, but I wouldn't say impossible, but the truth is, you'll probably need to give up everything else to pursue your artwork. That means not going out to dinner, or with friends, or anything else, and this can be extremely difficult if you're married or in a relationship or need to also work full time to support yourself.

    I know because I basically had to do that, I busted my ass for a year, basically alienating myself from all my family and friends and even broke up with my then girlfriend to pursue it. In the end it paid off though, after that year of intensely sketching and drawing and learning everything I could from DVDs and magazines and books, I was given my opportunity to do concept art part time and took it.

    Its hasn't been cheap though, so don't think self study is cheap, my personal art library has hundreds of books and gnomon dvds and has cost me around $15,000 now hehe. Plus a high end PC and all the other bits and pieces cost thousands more dollars, I basically didn't give myself any reason to fail other than my own will.

    In my first concept art job, it was $300 a week - which was shit all, but I eventually was taken on full time and after a few months I became art director, then creative director and operations manager/producer, then I resigned to freelance and it has been sweet ever since.

    But take into account I didn't have any financial responsibilities, I lived with my parents, didn't have kids or anything, and I could outside of work and going to the gym spend hours everyday on my art until 3am almost everyday, went into work toasted, but I always believed it would pay off.

    Number one thing is that you have the internal fortitude to take your lumps and pay your dues, and not rely on external influences to bring you to where you want to be. Only you can do that, don't expect anyone to hold your hand, if you do, you likely won't be able to stand the amount of competition in this field, which let me tell you, is intense as a motherfucker.

    Concept designing is one of the most enjoyable jobs I can imagine, every second person born wants to do it, and it doesn't help that concept art is now also a fashionable buzz word in the industry too.

    So take a real look at your art, take a look at the stuff out there, ask yourself if you have what it takes to bust your ass 24/7 for those 10 months you're asking about and give yourself a realistic answer, if you have any doubts at all, you might want to revise that tight deadline.

    - m

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    Magic,

    Yeah, I have to work full time and maintain a marriage and take care of a child, so I think I will have to revise that deadline, but I don't mind working any other job as long as I know what I'm working for. I appreciate your words although they cement in my mind the fact that I'm gonna have to wait, for some reason they give me encouragement too.
    At this point I dunno how long it will take, but I will get there. That's a promise, and not to anybody else but myself.

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    Magic Man Ė wow, thanks for sharing all of that!

    Dose Ė Donít forget that if the fast route doesnít work for you, the slow route is still available. I.E. work at another job (preferably one that you donít hate), dedicate some reasonable amount of daily practice into your schedule, and stick firmly to your schedule. Thatís how I have been learning to paint in oils. In less than a year of mostly-daily studies, Iíve gone from crap to showing in a local gallery, and this hasnít been at the cost of my social life (though I do admit to playing fewer computer games.) Realistically, I expect it will take me several years of plodding along to turn my habit into a potential career move; but Iím not in a hurry.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    All of these comments are really helpful and give me new insights on how I can prepare myself for such a challenging field.

    I guess I took this whole thing much lighter than I imagined. Well of course I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I didn't think how really HARD it would be.

    To all the advisers on this board, I humbly thank you.

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    Seedling,

    Being young and impetuos (haha, I probably got that wrong too) it's hard for me to come to the realization that most likely the slow route is the best for me, but like you, I think that is how it will be for me. Either way, I know my goals and have the drive to work at it when life doesn't get in between.

    saturniaus,

    glad that the answers to my humble questions have helped you out. best of luck and perhaps we will work side by side someday.

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    Heehe, I know what you mean Dose. I'm 29. It took me until I was 29 to realize that I would make better progress if I wasn't in such a hurry. :-)

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    I'm planning on taking some more life drawing classes this fall. I believe I need to catch up on my basic skills, they've weathered quite a lot since I left school 2 yrs ago. I kinda regret I didn't take any more of classes back then, but it's never too late to start up again, right?

    I'm trying to get a hang of this whole digital painting stuff, I think I'm making some progress but I can't say they're up to par with all the rest of the fine artists here, yet.

    I like to keep in touch with some of you here for crits and advices. That is when I can find the time to update my website and the sketchbook section of this forum.

    Until then, peace.

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    No problems Dose and Seedling, happy to give some help to those wanting to get in.

    Here's a few things that you might want to cover if you're serious about self study - it will seem like a lot of work, and it IS a lot of work, but you want to cover all your bases to give yourself the best opportunity to land a job or commissions.

    The main thing is to understand that generally, specialization in character design isn't advisable, sure, its the area of concept art that gets the most glory but think about it and look at the sketchbooks here - every one claims they're a character designer. Now think about the competition. Yep, it ain't pretty, unless you're pretty much balls to the wall one top cookie when it comes to character design, you're not going to get too well noticed.

    Its much more prudent to strengthen your portfolio on environment and industrial design areas, that is, props, interiors and exteriors of buildings, vehicles, that type of thing - reason being is that there are more "technical" constraints that are required of the artist - adherence to perspective, building design, etc etc, but perspective is the biggest hurdle for most people, designing in a 3d space is challenging, very challenging.

    I think it took me 6 months alone to get comfortable with designing vehicles and understanding things in 3d space.

    Designing buildings and environments is also challenging, not so much for the fact that perspective is an issue, its more that establishing a surrounding that evokes emotion is more difficult than a character whom are typically the assets with which people get most emotionally attached to when they play video games or watch movies - think about it, they're more like you and I, in that they have dreams and hopes, than a building or an environment will ever be.

    So yeah, if you want to stand out from the crowd, move the way of environment and prop design, while keeping a strong footing also in character design.

    Now, a list in no particular order of things most likely either expected of you, or would help immensely in being a top end concept designer:

    - Ability to research visual cues, and subject matter and to define that which makes a design unique, and to understand the vocabulary of design.

    - Strong foundation in perspective, understanding of the importance of the horizon line, using multiple vanishing points to describe the scene you want, how to use perspective to tie individual objects in the same 3d space together, understanding 1,2,3 point perspective.

    - Line control is important as well, typically designs will be initiated with lines denoting the object boundaries as well as material changes within objects, line weight is also important in making a line drawing pop and read well.

    - Understanding light and shadow, values, chroma, saturation, aerial perspective and hue are all important in creating cohesive scenes.

    - Human proportion and the mechanics of human movement, how anatomy is constructed, how the muscles act in tandem with skeletal structure to create movement, are important.

    - Humans in 3d space.

    - Facial expression, gesture, implied movement, rhythm and balance also markedly affect the way your characters come to life or fail to.

    - Rendering skills in a variety of media.

    - Idea generation skills - because you need to know how to feed your imagination and grow your ideas beyond what you have in your head. Believe me, if you don't have this down, you'll run out of ideas after designing for a few weeks all day.

    - Originality.

    - Artistic stamina - this one is a real doosy, the ability to finish a piece off, an illustration, or design with the same intensity as you did when you started it.

    A final point that I think needs spelling out - you don't draw when you feel inspired, you draw when you're told.

    Now this sounds obvious when said, but you're in a commercial field, there's no space for prima donnas who "draw when they're inspired", you gotta have way of getting around personal problems, around lack of inspiration, lack of sleep and everything else that plagues an artist. This is not always fun and can lead to burnout if you don't know how to cope - make sure you understand this.

    It is NOT enough to just enjoy drawing or illustrating, because a lot of the time, you'll have to do it when you're not feeling up to it, there are very few times when you can "switch your imagination off", so for some people, this can lead to burn out or mental exhaustion.

    To top it off, like all artists, you'll probably also have your share of self doubt to be thrown in, especially when you tackle subject matter you don't know much about.

    Its not all fun and games, the demands of this type of job are unique, and you need to be prepared for them, this is a serious field, and people who don't take it seriously enough to cover their bases will be in for a rude shock when they either get in, or fail to get in at all.

    Remind yourself that if you're not putting in the hard work, there are 50 other people who will be, that will get you working hard quick smart.

    Good luck, Darren.

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    For the record, I'll say this: life drawing isn't the be-all end all of being a good artist, there is a lot you can learn from it, but make sure you commit it to memory.

    Its one thing to illustrate something beautiful when its sitting in front of you, and totally another when you need to create it from only your mind's eye.

    So by all means, engage in life drawing, but don't think thats all you have to do.

    m

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