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Thread: Work tests

  1. #1
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    Work tests

    Hi guys, thank you so much for a wonderful time. Thank you Jason for making it happen.

    I wanted to add my thoughts to what Jason was talking about in the art biz session about work tests.

    The Society of Swedish Illustrators has officially taken a no test position.
    reasoning that you don't test ride a taxi, test eat at a resturant or test shoot a fashion session. Either you do it and pay for it or don't.

    My pratice is this:

    I do do tests for -
    6 months or longer projects and for full time employment.
    Or shorter projects that bring in more than 30.000 USD/30.000 EURO in less time than 6 months.

    I never do tests for -
    Projects that won't earn me 30.000 USD/EURO or more in a year.
    I especially never do a test for say a ten illustrations for a magazine or book (if the money ain't really good, with minimum 35% royalty).

    The portfolio should be clear enough to show your client that you can do it.
    If the clients can't read a professional portfolio they should hire an art director who can.

    I realize this post should be in the work section but I figure I post here first because it's from one of the workshop's subjects. We can move it later... thx.

    Bon travail,
    Leopoldo

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  3. #2
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    great post.....

    However, our position here in san fran is a little different. If your group won't take tests then I believe that those artists won't be getting some of the opportunities which they would have had. I can understand your position, but I do not think it is going to work. I have taken tests for jobs which have thus brought me some of the best experiences I have had working in the industry.

    Tests will not go away. Even though I am an artist working in the industry, my company tests EVERYONE whom is not known personally by someone on the team. After all the stolen portfolios this year, I expect that even more studios will expect tests when dealing with artists. A given portfolio of work can be a good guide to whether that artist is the right one. However, it is no proof. I have made the mistake of hiring unknown artists based solely on their portfolios, only later being forced to let them go because they were too slow, couldnt really do the work, made us question whether that portfolio was theirs, or that the art just didnt fit in with the work that needed to be done. Giving and doing tests insures that the artist is the right fit.

    as I stated before in earlier threads about this topic, if you can get part of the work as the test and can also come to agreement with the client that if you pass the test that you will be paid for the work, then that can sometimes work. If the project is under strict nda then that wont be happening, I think.

    If you get a good project and the art director wants to give you a test, swallow your pride and get it done. the no test agreement you all have made may end up coming back in the wrong ways. Clients will simply seek artists from other countries to do the work. losing a cool project (and a cool project can deal with more benefits than just getting paid...ie exposure, free printing of work, project look and direction is fitting for your portfolio, or if it is just a good role), isnt worth fighting about whether an artist will draw a monster face or something in order to secure the deal....if ya know what i mean.


    Good luck.....


    Jason

    Last edited by Leia; January 11th, 2005 at 02:23 PM.
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    ...interesting

    .......................................
    cool beans to you...my friend.
    .......................................
    sKeTcHbOoK update page3 (scroll to the bottom of page)
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  5. #4
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    i was once told by a comic artist that for an art job the artist should be shown to a rooml, be interviewed and have their portfolio critiqued and then left in the room with a pencil and a sheet of paper and told to create (within their job application).

    this is not only a test of how someone will work under pressure, but their skills, ability to create and design on a moments notice essential for most entertainment possitions. hearing about all of the frauds running around with feng, mullins and milligan's work and almost getting away with it infuriated the artists here. sure the no test policy saves the applicant from freebie work but it has the possibility for the company to get a unqualified artist who is a fraud and lies about his work. imaginge if halo 2 or half life 2 were designed by frauds, what would it look like? i would not hire or work with anyone who has to lie about who they are to get a job. prove your worth and gain respect, lie and be shamed.

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    I know from experience that there's just no way to get away from them (especially in the video game world). Anyone can bring a protfolio in and show good, solid, creative work. But can you do the same stuff under pressure?

    The test is really all about that- performing specific tasks, taking direction and working under pressure. A portfolio cant show that; it only shows the level of quality brought to the table.

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    If you don't want to take a test, someone else will. I've been burned before, so unless the candidate has someone in-house to vouch for their skills, we test 'em.

    There are just too many hacks in the game and the test is insurance.

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    This is very interesting. Just seeing different perspectives from different people. I actually do not understand why anyone would have a problem with a test. Most actors (except big-name superstars) have to audition for every single role, just to make sure they are a good fit. Yes, even the Star Treck guys in red uniforms.

    If you are selling your work "as is", i.e. a finished painting or a pre-made character to a client, obviously there is no reason for a test. But if you are getting hired for a specific project, I don't see what's wrong with investing up to 10 hours of your time into a test which will put your client at ease. If you are too busy and simply can't afford to spend that much time on the test - you probably don't need the job anyway, you are already overbooked

    I don't think the taxi cab comparison is accurate. Every single cab driver had to take a driver's test and has a driver's license only if he does not violate the traffic rules, while the cab goes through inspection at least once a year, if not more often. So as a customer, you don't test a cab simply because it's already done for you by the authorities.

    As for swallowing your pride, well I don't see why you even need to swallow it. On the opposite, why not do a kickass job and be very proud of it? I mean wouldn't the fact that you've passed a difficult test with flying colors be proof that you are an exceptional artist and you have the balls to prove it anytime, anywhere, to anyone?

    Don't mean to argue with people who have a different opinion about this, since a lot of what they say does make a lot of sense as well, but simply wanted to put this into a different perspective.

    - Dmitri

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    As I stated, this is for professionals. Students or rookies tend to do as many tests as they need to get in of course.

    And this non-test is a recommendation from the union here in Sweden, and it is official.

    Please become members in your local union so that you don't make weird, client driven "praxis" become a reality.

    Check with your local union.

    Cheers,
    Leo

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    You have a point there, Leo. Does anyone know if we have any unions or guilds like that here in the States?

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    professionals will be tested as well unless they are known by my team. sorry leo. if i worked with you i would test you too. if you didnt take the test i would put another artist on it.



    jason

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  12. #11
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    testing is not just for beginners...its for the first time artists work with clients. it insures proper matching and is the only way to do so. joining a union does not change that. your union will just get ignored by the companies doing testing. so go ahead and x off sweden from the list of places i will be hiring from. see how that works?

    beware pride...it will keep you from moving forward sometimes.


    jason

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  13. #12
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    Just because someone has worked professionally, doesn't mean that they are fit for the job. There are many people in the games business who aren't very good, but have gotten by through nepotism and other factors.

    When we get a resume and reel from someone there is no way to know if they actually did the work they claim, unless we know someone they had worked with previously. The test insures that we don't get a fraud.

    Good luck.

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  14. #13
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    Jason,

    read my first post on this again to find the terms underwhich I do tests for. Like I said, if the volume of money and work is there... the test might be worth it for me.

    It's like doing speculation work. I bet Massive Black don't do test or speculation work. Who wants to work for free yeah? We have bills to pay and salaries.

    I've done my share of specualtion work and like I said I do do tests if the assigment is big enough or the money is good enough.

    As for companies getting frauds... Has that actually happened to your company Biotron? Sure it has happened sometime, somewhere but it takes one hell of a good liar to actually get a job on someone elses portfolio.

    Most companies I have worked for (on full time positions) generally have a 3 to 6 month trial period on the employment contract to see how you like the team, the company and if you fit in etc. I heard that Pixar has a one day test for animators, but that's like in the 3rd phase of recruitment or something. Not like the first thing the company asks for.

    If a company asks me for a test I ask them how many are doing the tests. If it's like 5-10 artist then fine but if they ask everybody all the time then they can hire someone else. If I feel like the test is going to get me the job based on the vibe I have going with the client then I'll do it.

    Most bigger studios have art directors that can read a good portfolio and know the artist can do it. Certainly it happens that someone that can't hack it gets through but don't screen everyone for that. That's what the portfolio phase is for - general screening. It just feels like test are becoming routine and that's what the guild here in Sweden is saying. If you are few who are asked for a test and the money and amount of work is there then it's up to you.

    Dimitih – Look for your local illustrators/art directors/graphic designers/cartoonist societies, or call anyone one of them in the nearest bigger city to you and they should be able to point you in the general direction.

    If you are not union – you should be. They have lawyer services that are included in your membership fee and they can help you screen contracts, guard your copyrights and so forth. Usually they also have a job bank, dinners, seminars, and get a good deal at the local art store. Plus it's just nice to meet some like minded people – just like at the workshop.

    Happy hunting,
    Leopoldo

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    As for companies getting frauds... Has that actually happened to your company Biotron? Sure it has happened sometime, somewhere but it takes one hell of a good liar to actually get a job on someone elses portfolio.
    Yes, it has. It's not that hard to snow someone, really. We test most of the animators. Not all the time, but sometimes. An animator can use someone else's work on their reel and how are you going to know it's not theirs? If no one knows the animator you have to trust their word.

    Also, a test gives you a chance to see how fast they are and how they work under pressure. You can critique the test and see how they respond to criticism. Are they defensive? Do they listen and respond positively or negatively?

    I know of a fellow who got caught using someone else's work in an interview at a now defunct gaming studio. He was changing small elements of existing work and calling them his own. This crap happens all the time.

    By the way, this is not the first thing I ask for. This is after we have reviewed the reel and portfolio, and brought the candidate in for an interview.

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    Mr. Manley, what would a test you gave consist of? I didn't realise companies had actually started to test in USA, but it would be good to know about, and what one might expect.
    I think it's a splendid idea. Sort of like sportsmen should be tested for being drugged before they start running/jumping/skiing.


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    the test depends on the job that needs to be done. basically it would be some thing that is directly related to the job. if it is character animation for biped monsters then you would get something like that. if it is ship design they may want to see a few ships based on some random description they come up with....just tests.

    test images..if not nda stuff...becomes portfolio images whether you get the job or not.

    as i said before...testing is the only way to be sure someone is right if they are not known by one of the team members. it is not something that is new...it has always been around.



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    IMO there is nothing wrong with tests...BUT companies should offer some sort of compensation for the artists time if they are really serious about hiring that person.


    if you do tests for free for a few diff companies you may find yourself with empty pockets at the end of the week

    is it unreasonable to ask a studio to pay you for teh time your spending on teh test? i think not. It would force companies to get pickier about who they think is worth testing and (theoretically) raise the bar of what is expected from a professional concept artist, which would be a good thing because of the massive amounts of competition.


    EDIT) i shouldnt generalize though...i dont have enough experience with studios to make a generalization about the pool from which studios are pulling tests...i just want to make sure that artists arent taken for granted and thought of as "dime a dozen". thats all


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  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tyboogie
    IMO there is nothing wrong with tests...BUT companies should offer some sort of compensation for the artists time if they are really serious about hiring that person.


    if you do tests for free for a few diff companies you may find yourself with empty pockets at the end of the week

    is it unreasonable to ask a studio to pay you for teh time your spending on teh test? i think not. It would force companies to get pickier about who they think is worth testing and (theoretically) raise the bar of what is expected from a professional concept artist, which would be a good thing because of the massive amounts of competition.


    EDIT) i shouldnt generalize though...i dont have enough experience with studios to make a generalization about the pool from which studios are pulling tests...i just want to make sure that artists arent taken for granted and thought of as "dime a dozen". thats all


    2 cents and a nickel
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    it is not unreasonable to ask to be paid for tests. i would not expect it though. a test can be about whether a person has the right kind of personality to work with as well as whether they are capable artists. there are many things studios consider when hiring artists. if it is an important job, taking the tests whether paid or not is worth the time.

    the type of artist which makes tests necessary is the category which doesnt get the job done...is difficult to deal with...and can't match other peoples vision or art direction as they can their own. portfolios are elusive. you can view them and literally not know if the person is the right one.

    recently we had a modeler who had perhaps one of the best reels we had ever seen from a film quality modeler. amazing stuff. we werent sure if he could match our concepts as he was doing purely humanoid stuff of great design and we needed more four legged kinda stuff of imagative quality. He was a master of the subtle and accuracy. Everyone assumed he would do great. We gave him a test anyway. He was given precise instructions to match the concept form for form..detail for detail. What came back looked sort of like the concept but not like the concept too. he failed the test. he could not do as he was asked. simple as that. This was one of many times this has happened. so yes...there is a type of artist which are not taken for granted...those who can perform as well as their demo says they can.



    Jason

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  20. #19
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    I've only been commissioned once for a 3D project. As quite a new inexperienced person in the job market, I did a "test". I didn't mind. Hell if I can show you right off the bat that I can do what you need, the less problems with trust and communications wili arise later.
    -
    I guess once you are considered a full blown proffesional, and your head gets that way as well... then you have a problem with having to prove something.
    -
    I also wanted to say that stealing other people's work has to be the lowest thing an artist can do. How could a person even have any self-respect for their own work and do such a thing?
    -
    Anywho, maybe I don't have a say on the subject, but this is my opinion.

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  21. #20
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    jason

    i guess it makes sense as a way to find out if the person can take directions, criticism, etcetc

    i just think that if a studio is really serious about hiring someone for some real work (full time) .then throwin em a few bones for the test shouldnt break the camels back


    but in the end..the people that want the work will get it..
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