I have questions for professional video game concept artist

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    I have questions for professional video game concept artist

    Okay I am hoping to become a professional video game concept artist or the profession in general here are the questions.


    1. How much do you make?
    2. What is the best thing about the job?
    3. What is the worst thing about the job?
    4. Any schooling involved?
    5. How many years of schooling is common?
    6. What school did you go to?
    7. What inspired you to be a concept artist?
    8. Hows the job availability?
    9. What are common work hours?
    10. Are you inside all the time?
    11. Are you sitting in one spot all the time?
    12. Are you alone while you work?
    13. What would you say would be a good thing to do to be ready for this job?
    14. What are some good places for the job? for example is it better to be one in California or Florida?
    15. Also I am in central florida am I in good job options?
    16. Any tips on how to get recognized as a concept artist?
    17. What are common promotions after being a concept artist for a long time ?
    18. What are these pros and cons of the promotions?
    19. Freelance vs inhouse?
    20. can ya do the work at home?
    21. What are other forms of illustration available as in other than video games? how do they differ?
    22. How long do freelance projects last?
    23. What was your longest and shortest workweek if you can include daily hours?
    24. What are good spots to look into to find who needs an illustrator?



    I might add more questions.

    Last edited by artsyfartsy13; September 3rd, 2010 at 01:41 PM.
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    I was hoping someone has answered your questions because I was wondering the same things lol

    I, too, want to become a video game concept artist. My inspirations are lots of Bioshock , Gears of War and Halo art. I don't know if I'm a decent drawer. I sketch some random stuff like animals or weapons from video games. After, I show my girlfriend what she thinks of my sketches and she tells me they're good, but the problem with me asking her and getting critiqued, is that she's my girlfriend. Of course she's gonna say they're good Lol So I've never asked anyone else what they think of my sketches. Therefore, I don't know if I'm good or not. I think I do a better job sketching other people's work than coming up with my own. Is that a bad thing?

    I'm seventeen years old and about to start college next week. I signed up for an art class (first since freshman year in high school). Hopefully, the class gives me a push further towards my goal.

    Last edited by Vital Killz; August 17th, 2010 at 08:26 PM.
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    What are they to say now.
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    Nubs... kidding. Well all I can say is post some stuff you have on the forums, but please post more than a single scanned in image. For the single fact that, it is very difficult to judge somebody off of one piece of work/ drawing, etc.

    Also, if you want a cool insight into the world of concept artists Id say to make it down to conventions like GDC, CA Workshops. For something more accessible, try buying a Limited Edition of a video game. Usually these have a behind the scenes look at all the departments in a studio. I know GOW 3, Halo 3, Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, and a few others have these.

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    I can answer some of these.

    Quote Originally Posted by artsyfartsy13 View Post
    Okay I am hoping to become a professional video game concept artist or the profession in general here are the questions.


    1. How much do you make?
    2. What is the best thing about the job? Get to create art all day, imagine new worlds and creatures, pure creativity.
    3. What is the worst thing about the job? Get to do someone elses ideas, which might suck
    4. Any schooling involved? It all depends on how good you are with art. If you are as good as the people already in the industry, then you don't need school.
    5. How many years of schooling is common?
    6. What school did you go to? VanArts, but it's not a school for concept art
    7. What inspired you to be a concept artist? I'm not a Concept Artist... yet.
    8. Hows the job availability? Tough. Each studio needs maybe 1 or 2, possible 3 artists at most for a project. Given how many people are wanting to be Concept Artists, the job availability goes down.
    9. What are common work hours? Free lance or full time? Free lance, whatever you feel like getting paid, Full time the average 40 hour work week
    10. Are you inside all the time? Again, this comes down to freelance work or not. If you are a FL'er, then you can be anywhere. If you are at a Studio, chances are you will be inside a lot, maybe not all the time, but most of it.
    11. Are you sitting in one spot all the time? Got a laptop? You can go anywhere with one.
    12. Are you alone while you work? Some studios have two artists or more working together, while some and free lance work you will be by yourself. It varies.
    13. What would you say would be a good thing to do to be ready for this job? Draw, draw, draw. Then draw some more. Take some art classes, life drawing, watch tutorials (Gnomon is fantastic), do stuff relating to art.
    14. What are some good places for the job? for example is it better to be one in California or Florida?
    15. Also I am in central florida am I in good job options?
    16. Any tips on how to get recognized as a concept artist? Post on forums, have your own site and portfolio, promote yourself through here, and even places like DeviantArt.
    17. What are common promotions after being a concept artist for a long time ?
    18. What are these pros and cons of the promotions?

    I might add more questions.


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    How do you get paid on freelance? As in can you get paid to do concept art for a company then when you are done with that company you can go to another? lol like a rogue for hire except you draw what people want to draw but can't for them? Also thanks for the answers!

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    With free lance work, you have to go apply to companies like you would any other job; but occasionally they will contact you to do work for them. Most of the work you do is contract based, so either end of contract or end of project, then you are free to go to somewhere else (Unless if you can juggle two jobs at once somehow). Free lancing isn't easy though, its actually anything but that, quite hard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ParadoxTLH View Post
    With free lance work, you have to go apply to companies like you would any other job; but occasionally they will contact you to do work for them. Most of the work you do is contract based, so either end of contract or end of project, then you are free to go to somewhere else (Unless if you can juggle two jobs at once somehow). Free lancing isn't easy though, its actually anything but that, quite hard.
    when you freelance and you are hired can you work from home. Also what can you be a concept artist(illustrate) for? The only one I know of is for video game companies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by artsyfartsy13 View Post
    Okay I am hoping to become a professional video game concept artist or the profession in general here are the questions.

    1. How much do you make?
    2. What is the best thing about the job? making art for a living
    3. What is the worst thing about the job? Intense deadlines, uncreative ideas you have to realize for clients, long hours
    4. Any schooling involved? Self taught augmented by workshops and private lessons by other pro's
    5. How many years of schooling is common? usually two years at an art college
    6. What school did you go to? none
    7. What inspired you to be a concept artist? Concept art for games allowed me to make the art I wanted to make if I could have done it for book covers I would have
    8. Hows the job availability? I've been in the industry 20 years its about the same as when I started there are always more people trying to get in than there are jobs for them
    9. What are common work hours? Depends on your work ethic, in crunch you can be expected to work 18 hour days
    10. Are you inside all the time? yes
    11. Are you sitting in one spot all the time? no
    12. Are you alone while you work? As a freelancer yes
    13. What would you say would be a good thing to do to be ready for this job? Be able to render anything you are given realistically in a timely manner is the bare minimum.
    14. What are some good places for the job? for example is it better to be one in California or Florida? Better to be where there are jobs, so yes; but there are markets all over
    15. Also I am in central florida am I in good job options? do your homework, look at a game dev map
    16. Any tips on how to get recognized as a concept artist? quality trumps mediocrity, quality plus a good work ethic trumps quality on its own
    17. What are common promotions after being a concept artist for a long time ? As a freelancer you might be offered an in house job; in house you most likely would be offered a lead artist job or art director I don't consider these promotions but they often pay more
    18. What are these pros and cons of the promotions? those positions are managing art not making it.
    I might add more questions.
    The first question doesn't matter because what I make or started out making won't be the same for you, most likely you'll make less than I did. Get as much as you can, be a better artist and work harder than your team mates who will be making the same, and you will rise to the top.

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    Are the hours longer freelance vs being there at the company? also can you be a concept artist or illustrator for other than video games?

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    Quote Originally Posted by artsyfartsy13 View Post
    Are the hours longer freelance vs being there at the company? also can you be a concept artist or illustrator for other than video games?
    Actually in my experience it was the reverse because of department meetings etc. You tend to get more respect as a freelancer and you get paid for your work hourly where as an in-house worker is usually salaried which means you don't get an hourly rate but you work the same amunt of hours if not more. I only worked in house for Larry Holland and that was because he is the best at what he does and he is a fair guy and pays a fair wage; everyone else I worked freelance for.

    Sure. I mostly work for games and illustration and some theme park work, but there are toy companies, web based marketing, automotive, government jobs in Aerospace and military applications and of course feature films, telivision shows are always in production especially for cable.

    Last edited by dpaint; August 31st, 2010 at 02:01 PM.
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    How different is the process for hiring in the other forms of illustration will they hire you because you are good or is more required? In other words are all those other forms of illustration are available to you because you are a great artist.

    Also when you freelance how long are you usually working on a project at a video game company?

    Does the long hours vary as in the beginning of project hours are normal as time goes on and nears the end they get longer?

    What was the shortest and longest hours per week you have worked?

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    How different is the process for hiring in the other forms of illustration will they hire you because you are good or is more required? In other words are all those other forms of illustration are available to you because you are a great artist.
    In my experience you only need to be good at art, a degree is worthless by itself. The better you are at making compelling art, the more opportunities you have. If all you can draw is lemmings then you won't work as much. I say be good at drawing and painting as opposed to being good at drawing a certain thing. As Robert Heinlein said, specialization is for insects

    Also when you freelance how long are you usually working on a project at a video game company?

    Small projects can be a day or two to a month; larger projects can be two years. This is for concept and production art not just concept. I like to follow through on production so my concepts aren't compromised by weak production work.

    Does the long hours vary as in the beginning of project hours are normal as time goes on and nears the end they get longer?
    Yeah, normal hours in the beginning and as things slip around halfway expect double hours till the finish.

    What was the shortest and longest hours per week you have worked?
    The longest I worked was 18 hour days for 45 days straight without any time off. The shortest is a normal 8 hour day

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    I worked as a concept artist for a small studio for roughly a year, and recently became an environment artist at a large studio. Here's my 2-cents as a year-and-half newbie in the industry.

    1. How much do you make?
    When you start out, you'll likely have enough to live off - very comfortably if you don't have student loans, still manageable if you do. If you get an offer, do your maths seriously and give an honest opinion on how much you need. Most studios would prefer to pay you enough so you won't be worrying about your finances over work hours... be reasonable though.

    2. What is the best thing about the job?
    Pretty much what you would think. You get paid to draw and paint.

    3. What is the worst thing about the job?
    It can be a really fun job at times, but when you have to paint something you don't care for, remember that this is a job. It comes with all the obligations and responsibilities of any other serious jobs. Keeping this in perspective, there really shouldn't be a lot of things that can upset you. If anything, generating ideas full-time is like a mental marathon. It can be difficult at times, but you do get better over time.

    4. Any schooling involved?
    If you have a good portfolio, you don't need any schooling. With current resources available online, you can teach yourself relatively well. However, schools do provide valuable peers and networking opportunities.

    5. How many years of schooling is common?
    See above - anything goes. Your portfolio is the only thing that gets you an interview. Once you have the interview, your personality is the thing that gets you the job.

    6. What school did you go to?
    The Guildhall at SMU, in Plano Texas. It's a game school with multiple tracks working together, not strictly an art school per say.

    7. What inspired you to be a concept artist?
    I like painting and making things with my own hand.

    8. Hows the job availability?
    There's always a need but there's always the competition. In general if you specialize in environment, you'll have an relatively easier time than character artists. How easy or how hard it is to get a job highly relies on how good you are.

    9. What are common work hours?
    Regular hours, as concept artists typically do not see as much crunch time as production artists. Most studios have rather flexible hours so you can sort of avoid morning/evening traffic if you want to.

    10. Are you inside all the time?
    Yes. Some of my coworkers go outside and play sports during lunch or weekend, but I'm way too hooked on Starcraft II at the moment to do any of that

    11. Are you sitting in one spot all the time?
    Yes when you are working. If you are in a good team, you'll regularly need to get off your butt and talk to your teammates though.

    12. Are you alone while you work?
    Not at all if you are in a studio. Being able to work in a team is huge for a game developer. Having other fellow artists you can bounce off of and grow together with is an added benefit.

    13. What would you say would be a good thing to do to be ready for this job?

    Polish your portfolio. Throw away any pieces that are not your best ones. Go to game functions (GDC, for one) and try to make connections. Find out what game companies you are interested in, research them, and cater your portfolio towards them. Email people in said companies nicely asking for advice once you have a good portfolio going, and if they give you any suggestions that sounds reasonable, act on them.

    14. What are some good places for the job? for example is it better to be one in California or Florida?
    Check out http://www.gamedevmap.com/. There are hubs in the country, for sure. Ideally you want to be somewhere with more than a couple game companies, so if the job doesn't work out you are not forced to move if you don't want to.

    15. Also I am in central florida am I in good job options?
    You should ideally be willing to move. Limiting yourself to local jobs will make it harder for you to get into the industry. Companies typically do not hire unless they have an opening, and the chances of a company right next to you happen to have an opening that's exactly right for you is not super high.

    16. Any tips on how to get recognized as a concept artist?
    I personally believe that skills trump everything. Of course, it will tremendously help if you know how to market yourself. Either way, make art and show them to people. If your goal is concept art rather than illustration, make sure you show your ideas - thumbnails, game play ideas, call out how things move etc... all these help.

    17. What are common promotions after being a concept artist for a long time ?
    Most companies take into account what your personal goal might be. Some become art leads and art directors, some become principle artists who still gets to make art rather than manage people, others go on entirely different tracks.

    18. What are these pros and cons of the promotions?

    Management jobs tend to mean more overall influence on a project as well as higher pay. However, you won't get to do as much art since you'll be managing fuzzy human stuff. It all depends on your personality. Top-tier artists get paid really well also.

    ====

    Hope this helps Don't hesitate to send a PM if you have more questions.

    Last edited by Nightblue; August 31st, 2010 at 05:47 AM.
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  21. #14
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    got 1 more question to add to all that

    What programs are good to be familier with?

    My Sketchbook http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=239346


    -In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.-
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    A digital paint program like photoshop or painter and a 3d modeling program like Max or maya. Plus the ability to sketch out your ideas on the spot. Once you learn a program other programs become easy to learn because they all work the same. An example is it toook me six months to learn maya but only a month to learn max because it was just finding things at that point and learning the interface more than learning how to model and texture all over again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    The first question doesn't matter because what I make or started out making won't be the same for you, most likely you'll make less than I did. Get as much as you can, be a better artist and work harder than your team mates who will be making the same, and you will rise to the top.
    I have heard the "how much does *instert job here* make" question soooo many times. Sometimes directed at a person (like a teacher) and sometimes simply generally asked...

    And never has anyone actually answered it. Always the "well, it depends" dodge. The thing is, those asking the question have no clue (not even a ballpark) to understand what the "it depends" answer means. Does it mean 10,000 a year? Does it mean 500,000 a year?

    Other than google searches (which turn up a range of 30k to over 100k and even towards 200k).... no one seems to want to actually talk about it.

    I think it is because artists don't even talk within the industry. Everyone keeps it secret because they are afraid of how they "stack up" to others. Which makes a PERFECT environment for employers to pay one person 30k a year and another 50k for the same work ... because one person doesn't understand how much he should make.

    People don't even have to answer it about their own paycheck! They could just address the question by saying "well, I would guess a person in this field with 1 year experience would make a ballpark of 50-60k" ...which wouldn't even apply to the person answering (but at least it would be a real answer for people to off of).

    No one wants to talk about money, but it is a pretty important thing for people to know going into a career path.... o.O

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivory_Oasis View Post
    I have heard the "how much does *insert job here* make" question soooo many times. Sometimes directed at a person (like a teacher) and sometimes simply generally asked...

    blah blah blah

    No one wants to talk about money, but it is a pretty important thing for people to know going into a career path.... o.O
    As previously stated, enough to comfortably sustain yourself. The reason I want to get into this field, and why information on salaries is so sparse, is because I love creating art and I think I will be able to live a happy life getting paid to do so. I don't particularly care how much, and my opinion of people who do is that they should go into investment banking.

    If your passion is for art, make art. If your passion is for Labradors, breed them. If your passion is for money, make money.

    I think there's a romanticized image of an impoverished artist floating around in the publics mind that causes those who want to get into the industry to worry about such things, but I think in truth that only applies to those who don't have the necessary level of skill to succeed.

    @Ivory Oasis - I checked out your website, love the environments. Since you feel so strongly about it and you seem to be a working professional, could you draw up a concise answer to the question "How much does a concept artist earn ?". I think it would be greatly appreciated.

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    Oh, I'm not a working professional yet It's just I have asked the question a lot of times (to the same "it could be anything") answer...and just the other day at a gnomon event, someone in the audience asked the speakers what kind of salaries their type of work brought in (to the same "it could be anything" answer). I would love to know the answer too, but all my teachers are very secretive about it (which just doesn't help me get an idea of where I want to go or what to expect / how much to ask for....all things that are kinda-sorta important in life).

    I really wish I could say "money just doesn't matter", but I can't. I need money to live. I need money to buy new computers and have cable and an appartment... I need money to put away in retirement and eventually for a family....

    And the jobs that an artist can do are very wide open! You can do anything from illustrations freelance... to game concept art... to advertising... and even movies! Pay is something very important to consider when deciding where to go.

    It is even more important to get a straight answer when you are trying to figure out if you should spend 30k a year to go to a private art school...or if you should just get some DVD's and practice a lot.... if you are never going to realistically pay back heavy student loans, it is a LOT better to know that before investing 4 years and all the cash.

    And then, again, if all the new people (like me) go out into the workforce eventually...and don't know how much they should be making, it just creates an atmosphere ripe for employers to exploit. If someone made me an offer for a job, I really don't have the knowledge base to know if he is trying to rip me off or not (not for a lack of trying! I have asked the "how much does this work make" job a lot).

    At the lecture the other day, one of the speakers did say there was a website out there that had listed the pay of a lot of studios.... sadly, she didn't say what the website was and google searches haven't helped find it.... (again, because the money side of art is a big secret o.O).

    Grr, just very frustrating to run into such a hush hush subject when trying to educate yourself about the "need to know" facts about a career. People asking the "how much do you make" questions really aren't directing it at the single person, they don't care if you give your exact salary.... just a ballpark "30-50k depending on skill-level" would be GREAT.

    In accounting, teachers never had a problem to break it down for students.... letting us know how much we should expect in the different paths AND the pay differences depending on the private or public companies.

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    I'm really glad this thread got so many great answers. Thank you guys for answering.

    Ivory, your portfolio has really improved since I first saw it.

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    Ivory,

    I started in the industry making 60k in 1990. Every year I've been in the industry I've raised my prices at least ten percent a year for my hourly fee to keep up with real inflation in the US.

    When I worked fulltime as an AD I set the rate for interns at fifteen an hour and for an entry level hire at 25 an hour where ever I went. That still isn't much when you figure most game company workers are salaried and regulary work 50 to 60 hour weeks and have lousy benefits compared to most companies in the US. The pressure is always downward on wages so you have to fight to keep them high otherwise the US will be another third world country with worker standards at a bare minimum. Its already happening.

    Loki,

    I repectfully disagree with you and think that attitude is unprofessional. I expect to be paid as well as a doctor or lawyer or investment banker because what I do takes as much skill if not more. I don't apologise for wanting to be an artist and I don't expect to be paid less than other highly paid professionals because I enjoy my work.

    I own a house and have a retirement account and a spouse. I like to buy original art and travel and enjoy my life, I've earned it. I think just getting by so you can be an artist disrespects the profession, other artists and yourself. That attitude breeds low wages and the idea its okay to pay artists the same as people in home depot or starbucks who have great benefits and work forty hour weeks.

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    dpaint - I apologize, I seem to have come across saying money doesn't matter and you should take whatever you can get. Obviously that is detrimental to the industry and individual. I think the point I was trying to get across was that it shouldn't really be a point of contention for someone interested in the profession, not that working professionals should be flippant about the matter. I'm sorry for coming across as an ignorant infant (Not to make excuses, but I am only 16 ).
    I think there's a mandatory class on economics and money management at the sixth form college I'm about to attend, so hopefully they will educate me on these things there. Does inflation mean a general rise in prices, literally more money existing and demeaning the value or something else entirely ? Actually, I won't waste your time, I'll ask my father. And google.

    A question: My Dad has given me the advice to do Architecture, what he referred to as something that I can fall back on if I am unable to break into the entertainment industry or if I end up wanting to do an after-graduate in Industrial Design or something along those lines. What's your opinion on this ? He's a programmer at an investment bank, and I can sort of see where he is coming from, seeing as he did Engineering.

    I would really appreciate an opinion on this from a professional or a link. Thank you and sorry for wasting your time with my ignorance.
    (God lord, I sound sarcastic when I read that back. I swear I'm being sincere !)

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  32. #22
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    Loki,

    No need to apologize. I wasn't offended but I do get frustrated with people. Everyone thinks because I'm an artist and I create stuff that people want I should just do it for free and forget about having things most other people want in life. Well that's not right and if I can have a normal life and be successful by most peoples standards why shouldn't I be. If I respect the craft and myself then I demand a fare wage for what I do; a living wage to have a life that is not just scraping by day to day.
    Inflation is the rise in the price of the cost of goods you need to live on. So if you make ten dollars an hour and the price on your rent and food and gas go up ten percent you need to earn an extra dollar an hour to make up for it otherwise that ten dollars buys less and less every year.
    As for your dads advice its good to have skills that you can fall back on but it can be a honey pot too where its so sweet you don't ever become an artist because of the sure thing you have. I think you have to really ask yourself what you want in life. I would rather trty and fail and know Im not good enough to do something than to be at the end of my life saying I wanted to be an artist or whatever but I didn't really give it a hundred percent of my effort and now its too late. Too me that would be the worst thing in the world

    Last edited by dpaint; September 2nd, 2010 at 09:48 AM.
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  33. #23
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    Exactly my thoughts. Thank you, I'm going to go draw now.

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  34. #24
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    About the salary, I answered it the way I did because it really depends on your position, your location, and your company. I accepted 35k/yr salary in my first year because I was very interested in the project, and the economy was pretty crappy. In Texas, it was a livable salary for me. Within a year, my salary became 45k/yr, which I think would be the common price in Texas for an entry-level artist had the economy been better.

    After moving to California, my salary got higher but I'm spending a lot more money as well. Even though the numbers on my paychecks are bigger, in effect I took a small paycut to work for the company that inspired my desire to make games since years ago. Currently, I'm extremely happy. So really, how much the "fair price" is has a lot of factors. It's important to know how much you need, how much you think you are worth, and what your bottom line is, but at the end of the day you choose your own poison

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  36. #25
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    Interesting thread, learning alot here...I got sent these links too which seem to fit into this topic...be warned it sounds harsh but it's funny, bit of a reality check. (it's based on freelance writing but it's transferrable to illustration me thinks)

    http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2010...-face-instead/

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