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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Is there a "Too Old" to try and become a concept Artist?

    Hi All -

    this question is sort of a big part of why I joined the site...

    Im 36 - I have been a VFX artist for 12 years (Mostly though in layout) and now I am an Art Director for a small collectibles company. (I did digital sculpting on the side)

    The department that always seemed to be the "coolest" for me at the companies I worked for (Tippett, ILM, Dreamworks) was the Concept Art department. I just never had the talent to get in there...

    I know you can learn a lot of these techniques - But when I look at the work of a lot of top guys I kind of feel like "Ill never be THAT good.." So it discouraged me quite a bit...

    But now, I kind of want to give it another shot.. But at 36, and I "too old" to learn and be competitive in the field?? Is it something like the 4 foot 8 guy who dreams of being an NBA player but just "can't."

    Just want to get some input from people here... ANyone else been in this position and "made it".. Or is it a young persons game now?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this!

    Last edited by TylerHam; September 10th, 2013 at 03:53 PM. Reason: Typed too fast - Typos!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Scandinavian - Denmark
    Thanked 14 Times in 11 Posts
    It's never too late to begin to learn something new. and let alone start drawing it's just about to get started right away and not spend time thinking about whether it is too late, then it may be too late one day


    Anna Mary Robertson "Grandma" Moses was in her 70s when she began painting scenes of her rural life in upstate New York. This self-taught artist, mother and widow became one of the most famous American folk artists of the 20th century and continued painting in her 90s.

    And an old post
    That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stranger

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    PA, USA
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts
    The day after you die seems like it might be pushing the limit a bit, but I'd say as long as you're breathing it's a great time to start any new journey!

    EDIT: Also keep in mind no matter WHEN you start, there will always be people who are better than you are. In anything. So don't let that stop you, just be the best YOU that you can be. After all, others may be technically better, but only you have YOUR voice and thought process, so only you can create whatever it is you create.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Thanked 1,237 Times in 797 Posts
    You're too old when you tell yourself you're too old. Just think - you might live to 100. Better get started or we might be having this conversation again in 60 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by TylerHam View Post
    But at 36, and I "too old" to learn and be competitive in the field?? Is it something like the 4 foot 8 guy who dreams of being an NBA player but just "can't."
    That's a bad comparison because, unless there's something you're keeping from us, you don't have a physical impairment that can't be overcome. If it turns out you have no arms or legs, I take it back, but otherwise I think you're good.

    This may seem unrelated, but bear with me. My mother was born in Denmark during WWII, grew up in poverty, left school when she was 16, moved to the US as an au pair, got married, and raised seven kids. When she was in her late 40's, she went back to school and got her GED then went on to get a law degree. She told me that her professors told her that older students were their favorite students because they were motivated and excited to learn. They knew themselves and what they wanted. They asked questions. They sought information. They weren't there because they had to be; they were they because they wanted to be.

    They say that younger people learn new things much faster, and that's probably true. But you also have a lot of experience that you can draw from, even experiences that aren't art-related, that can help you in your journey. And you're motivated because you've been out there and decided that this is what you really want to do.

    But.. having said that.. make sure that you're doing this because you honestly love to draw. Some people find the idea of being a concept artist cool, but they don't actually like doing it. You have to love the process, or it's not going to work.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Thanked 182 Times in 112 Posts
    Great video Martin! Thanks for sharing!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Thanked 1,499 Times in 747 Posts
    For the purposes of deciding whether you can do it, don't look at the top guys, look at the bottom guys.

    Do you belong to Steam? I love to browse the store and look at the indy games. Some of the concept gods, it's bad. And I figure, if they're using that to advertise their product, that's their BEST work. So look at the lousy stuff that's actually published and ask yourself, "can I beat that?"
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Toronto, Canada
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
    I'm 31 and just decided a few months ago that I want to learn proper anatomy and radically improve my drawing abilities. I don't know if I'll ever get there but I'm going to try damnit! Plus, you're at least in proximity to your desired career path. I do web design for a living

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Hamburg, Germany
    Thanked 450 Times in 245 Posts
    Yes, absolutely! As soon as you feel the first joint creak, all hands must abandon the pencil immediately.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Sheffield, UK
    Thanked 2,209 Times in 884 Posts
    Great video! gives me hope, I'm 34 and I still haven't figured out which direction to focus on!
    Last edited by Angel Intheuk; September 18th, 2013 at 10:02 AM.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Thanked 6,555 Times in 2,765 Posts
    While there is a lot of good sentiment here and I generally agree that it is possible to acquire the skill to do something at any age. Time is not always on your side. The older you get the more you have to deal with people who will not want to hire you because of age. That is a fact of life and no they don't come right out and say that is the reason. If a company has a choice between hiring someone who has been in the industry for 20 years as a concept artist and someone who wants to be a concept artist and they are both 50 years old guess what, experience trumps desire after a certain point if everything else is equal.
    36 is pretty young but add five to ten years to that for gaining the necessary skill sets to compete with guys like Ryan Church, Scott Robertson and Iain McCaig and you see you are fighting an up hill battle. Is it possible? Sure. Is it likely, no.

    You also have to consider your life situation are you married, kids, mortgage payment? Think of the industry you are going into is the pay better now or worse than ten years ago? Gaining the skills isn't the problem as much as knowing if the industry is geared for younger or older workers. The movie and games industries tend to be low pay high stress and long hours. It is a young persons game. I have been in the games industry for 23 years its hard work and the pay keeps dropping; you better really love it if you want to make the change because that is the only chance you have to succeed.

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