What are good baby steps into pro?

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  1. #1
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    What are good baby steps into pro?

    This might sound like a silly question, but it is one no one has been able to answer for me very well. What are good first steps into the industry?

    It'll be some time before i have my bachelors as i'm in school part time, but i'd rather not flip burgers the entire time while i'm taking weekened courses. (I've done a few small art related jobs but nothing that paid really)

    I talked to a few people at school and everyone pretenses their advice with "once you have your bachelors..." so it doesn't help me much. I'm 24, studied philosophy, business, theology and eventually decided to stay with illustration. Lord knows i have all my elective requirements filled but I kinda want to hop into the industry sooner then later. I'm just really not sure what is a good way to start that.

    I know many people get into the industry without a degree (just a hot portfolio), but no one back home i know can tell me how the hell to do it. So...any advice?

    My work: [link]
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  3. #2
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    Network. I know people with completely crap portfolio's who landed a job because of their social skills. Get yourself known, talk with a lot of artists online and in real life, try to visit local sketch meetings. A hot portfolio is one thing, but if you don't put yourself out there, no one will ever see it.

    "Master storytellers never explain. They do the hard, painfully creative thing-- they dramatize"

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  4. #3
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    Also, if you're looking to do freelance, I personally feel that sending your portfolio around early is a good thing. I also believe that getting jobs early on with low rent clients isn't a bad thing either. Forget about dodgy contracts or low rates, the lessons that I've learned and mistakes which i've made (and theoretically will not make again with clients whom I'd actually like to keep) were well worth it for me. Just some pointers.

    "Every little step considered one at a time is not terribly daunting" - Ethan Coen

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    sorry to butt in on your thread blue, but a related question i've got is; who do i send my portfolio to? agents? direct to publishers? is there some sort of middleman i should be approaching?

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Newman..


For example.
If you want to work at blizzard, go to their website, look at "jobs" see if you find an email address that might fit your needs.. something like "hiring@ blahblah.com" you know...

Not sure how the "send 'real' portfolio to client" works.. but on internet is kinda easy..
Just pay attention.

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  • #6
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    yeah... cheers dile, but i already have a games job!
    i meant more freelance illustration stuff...
    ta tho.

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  • #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue View Post
    What are good first steps into the industry?
    Which industry? Games? Movies? Other Entertainment? Illustration? Fine Art?
    For the sake of this argument Ill just base my answer on the Entertainment industry like games, movies, visual effects, etc.
    If your portfolio isn't strong enough to land you a job from the get go, I think the most logical step to take is to find an internship with a company in your prefered industry. Generally portfolios can be weaker here, if you show a good deal of motivation to learn. Make a good impression, network like crazy while you're expossed to the professionals in that company. Generally internships result in getting a job at the company, but if not, it can be your first real work experience on your resume. And I think actual work experience is waaaay more valuable than schooling which is all your Bachelors degree proves-- that you showed up to class enough times to pass. For all anyone knows you could have scraped by with barely failing grades and been a total jerk, but nobody would know, because your tentative employer will never call your school, because they really don't care. But the employer would call the company you've interned at!

    But no, you don't need a bachelors degree to get into any of the above industries in the USA. That might be something your parents/friends told you, because it could be true in non-art centric fields. You just need a portfolio. But you'd want a bachelor's if you plan on working outside of your own country, because it makes getting a work visa much easier. But even then, you still don't need the bachelor's degree, you can get around it by going through a lot of red tape, to get a work visa based on being a "Specialist" or in other words, a "Persons with Extraordinary Ability: an individual who has extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim." But that's obviously for someone who already has professional experience, not someone "starting out." I only brought it up because I wanted to point out that a bachelor's degree is not necessary.

    Last edited by Jessica Hook; November 1st, 2007 at 10:44 AM.
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  • #8
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    Think about it..

    1. DRAW!
    For a solid career in illustration you'll need a solid portfolio for starters.

    2. DRAW!
    There are hundreds of thousands of illstrators out there, many of them extremely talented, efficient and highly motivated individuals. One way to keep one foot in the door should be to maintain an exceptionally high, unique level of illustration capabilities -- the more versatile you are, the more variation of potential clients and projects.

    3. DRAW!
    Reading up on anatomy, perspective, lighting, etc isn't enough. Exploring the world around you is imperative, but pointless unless you actually render your studies on paper (and save them).

    4. DRAW!
    Speaking of anatomy, perspective, color theory, composition, value, etc -- there's no easy way around it. Knowledge saves time, keeps you mativated, allows you to focus on character (instead of just the mechanics of it all) and most importantly, you'll be able to draw pretty much anything that comes to mind.

    5. DRAW!
    At the end of the day, it will be your work against someone else's. Sure, not all illustrators have to be techincal virtuosos, but since this is an industry after all, there's a ton of competition out there.

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  • #9
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    i was hoping more for business/career advice rather than art advice.
    but thank you anyway!

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  • #10
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    Go to the workshops and ask everyone. I'm pretty sure I asked most of the companies, and most gave me a quick and definite response, yes or no. Make sure you get IM contacts or Emails at least. If it weren't for me getting Vyle's email I'd never be an intern!

    Make sure you talk to your contacts, so that you actually KNOW them. Don't just have 'this one guy' on your list.. I usually try to just keep in touch with everyone, pro or no, so that remember my name. Usually ask them for quick crits on work so that they stay familiar with it. Having Vyle familiar with my work definitely helped me get the internship- I don't think my portfolio was near strong enough to just "Apply". But at the same time, I'm not sure it's a "regular" internship... what they teach me isn't company or pipeline specific, it's all applicable to art or other facets of game design. I am pretty much here to learn, more than to do small tiny things for the game. They never let me take the easy way out- even if it would save time and look better, they make sure I do everything the hard way, which is great. Also, everyone one of the artists, not just concept, will contribute to your knowledge. At my studio, there is an FX guy who is a brilliant photographer with some of the most original uses of Macro I've ever seen. Brilliant compositions, almost like stories unfolding in super tiny dichotomies. The Modelers are more than that... they are Sculptors, and have this immense concept of form that they will help pull out of your drawings and get you thinking. The animators have this eccentric ability to see everything from every angle and in motion- They will give you so many pose ideas and movement ideas. The Concept team where I am- I think I got really lucky. I recommend you read this; http://www.spacetimestudios.com/conceptblogs.html
    Each one of our artists comes from an ENTIRELY different background, and while I'd have thought there would be alot of style adjustment problems, we are all able to pull together a consistent stylistic approach. As well, every one of those concept guys has some very unique ability which they comment on, The disney layout artist has a very deep understanding of form and 3d space, the 'classical painter' guy they talk about grew up in Maine, painting the environment. He has a huge array of techniques in any medium you could think of... even tatoos. His knowledge of temperature and contrasts fuses with the form and space ideas I learned from the guy before... then there is the guy with the ideas- he is really helping me push my sketches farther and farther into that imagination boundary, where I can distort and create images with much deeper meaning and history. Thom, our architect guy, is an art history bough(buff?).

    It's an awesomely diverse team with a plethora of varied knowledge, which I think is great for me to pick brains from. However, when the internship ends in March, I think instead of trying to make the leap to full-time work, I want to go to art school. The debt is scary, and it's 4 years away from the industry, but if it's anything close to the work I've been able to do at this internship, it will be 4 years well spent. Doing this I've found an even deeper love for art.. Even on my bad days I have no problem just drawing more until something comes out right. I would definitely recommend an internship. Try Big Huge games, I think they are always looking for interns.

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  • #11
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    one other way to get get in contact with art directors is to find the company you want to work for, and call them up. most places have their number listed on their website, so if you can get that, call em up and ask to speak with the art director. it may need to be specific, so know who you're trying to get a hold of– for example, if it's publishing houses you're calling, they may have a fiction imprint as well as a children's imprint on top of a fantasy imprint. know who you want to get a hold of in what area, even if you don't know their name. once you get somebody on the phone, (usually the front desk) then ask to speak with the art director in the dept you're looking to work for. they can usually connect you, but if they don't know, they're usually pretty good about getting you to somebody who will know.
    then ask if you can get their email address or mailing address to send them some samples of your work.

    keep at it, as their will be lots of rejection.
    it may not even be because they don't like your work, but sometimes it may not fit with what they do.
    once you've sent samples check back with them a few days after it has arrived to make sure they got them and see if they like your work. if they do then continue to send new samples every month or two or three, but don't just send stuff once and expect to get work just from that. be persistent but not annoying- which can be a fine line.

    also try to only send your best stuff that is appropriate for what they do, so do some research up front about the kind of stuff they do.

    good luck!

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  • #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwillustration View Post
    one other way to get get in contact with art directors is to find the company you want to work for, and call them up. most places have their number listed on their website, so if you can get that, call em up and ask to speak with the art director. it may need to be specific, so know who you're trying to get a hold of– for example, if it's publishing houses you're calling, they may have a fiction imprint as well as a children's imprint on top of a fantasy imprint. know who you want to get a hold of in what area, even if you don't know their name. once you get somebody on the phone, (usually the front desk) then ask to speak with the art director in the dept you're looking to work for. they can usually connect you, but if they don't know, they're usually pretty good about getting you to somebody who will know.
    then ask if you can get their email address or mailing address to send them some samples of your work.
    It's even easier (and more courteous) to know the name of the Art Director before you call.
    Go into Borders books, and pick a book off the shelf that you like or think your work would be appropriate for.
    Inside it credits the artist and art director.
    Now you have their name and their company.
    Call the company and ask for them directly.

    You really want to focus your efforts on those people who can actually use you.
    That's why familiarizing yourself with the Art Director's work is so important.
    That way, you don't waste your time or theirs.

    - Dan Dos Santos
    www.dandossantos.com
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  • #13
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    thanks dan– even better!
    i need to start doing that

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  • #14
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    Get a huge pile of printing paper, when you get done with a piece of paper, no matter what is on it, or how it looks, lay it down in a "done pile"

    each piece of paper is a step towards pro.

    Don't count how many.
    Don't worry how good they look, as long as you are improveing.

    thats how I imagine it anyway

    (lol, I'm just rambleing, I'm a noob so don't take me seriousley!..yet!)

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  • #15
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    thanks to all those who posted advice; particularly mwillustration and dsillustration, very useful stuff.
    i'll be down the bookshop later!

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  • #16
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    Check out Inside the Business of Illustration by Steven Heller and Marshall Arisman.

    Last edited by Elwell; November 1st, 2007 at 02:45 PM.

    Tristan Elwell
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  • #17
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    link's not working, tristan

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  • #18
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    Thanks, should be fixed now.


    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!

    "Work is more fun than fun."
    -John Cale

    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
    -Marc Maron
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  • #19
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    that looks perfect! cheers elwell.

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  • #20
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    I have to say the advice in this thread is golden.

    Thanks everyone for your responses. Guess it is time to join the local sketchgroup and start asking about internships. For some god-awful reason I never thought interning...

    I would imagine I should also diversify my portfolio, too right? Oh, and how many pieces make a good portfolio? I don't want to give too much, or not enough...

    My work: [link]
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