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  1. #1
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    Pre-employment "art test" ??

    Wow, just realized I'd registered here months ago. Ohwell, finally time to slither out from the shadows.

    I have a fairly lengthy tale to relate here, and I'd really appreciate it for your thoughts/opinions/advice on this subject.


    The subject being: an Art Test from a potential employer



    I recently found myself notified by a friend that a small, new, local, company in the video game field was looking for another artist.

    Having graduated from an Illustration program in college a couple years ago, I figured it was about time to stop worrying about just "paying rent/student loans" with regards to a job and get my artistic ass in gear and apply for something I really want to do.

    So, I send along my resume and samples. Response is good, wants to see portfolio- but not in person. Ok. So I sent along my webpage..

    I end up with what amounted to an interview- over the phone- whereas it all seemed quite good until I related that I'd be looking for reasonably more wages than my current non-art job. Seemed reasonable to me, really. But they got a bit withdrawn from there and basically the conversation ended on the note that everyone else was making less than that, and they likely couldn't offer me even what I was currently making at my day job.

    Well, gee. I finally get some belief in my art and a concept of "hey, my art is worth something".. and they seemed wanting to pay something around average retail-store wages.. Um??

    BUT!

    Today, I got another email from them. Saying they'd like me (and the other potential artists) to complete an "art test". Afterwhich, if I met their requrements, they'd make me an offer.

    Basic points:
    -not to exceed 7 hours, basically working an idea from concept stage to a finished, production level "screenshot" of the interface/character design for a simple game they very likely could be working on right now, complete file with alpha chanels & to a specified size.



    Is this a typical task asked of anyone applying for a job in the concept art field??

    I'd expect something similar from, say, maybe a large well known company- but these guys are small and just starting, and have already seen a portfolio, that in my opinion, shows a pretty wide range of skill.

    Any thoughts/suggestions?


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  3. #2
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    can you post a link to your portfolio if its on the web. I think they just want to make sure you can work fast enough.

  4. #3
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    I've never had to do an art test before, but I understand it's fairly common.

    Them not paying you as much as you're asking has probably more to do with them being a small, new company than it does them not thinking you're worth it. A lot of smaller developers can't afford particularly competitive wages, but working for a small studio does tend to have other perks.



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  5. #4
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    Alot of companies have people do art tests. Credible ones at that.. and just because they're a small upstart company does'nt mean they they should'nt expect professional standards from potential employees.
    * Help a CA artist! Visit the Constructive Critique section! *



  6. #5
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    It's fairly common in games from what I've seen on other forums, at least for modelling jobs.

    Even if your portfolio/reel rocks, they're checking that you can

    a) follow exact instructions and specifications
    b) do it fast enough

  7. #6
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    Art tests are not uncommon. You do have to take it on faith that they're not just stealing seven hours of your work, BUT, think - in the grand scheme of things, it's only seven hours of your life. That's a tiny investment to make. Do it. Even if you get robbed, that's seven hours of practice time that you likely need to do anyway.

    FYI, there's a link in my sig to info on the games industry. . .
    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.

  8. #7
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    With all the horror stories I heard (and seen happen) of people who present someone else's work as their own to get hired, I'd give them a test too.

  9. #8
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    I have been asked to do art tests a lot... I just place a fat water mark over the end product just in case...granted any half wit can easily take a water mark out but I do think it makes them think twice
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  10. #9
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    Very common. I would be surprised if the company didn't ask you to do one, frankly. There's no other way they can really tell if you actually did do the work you say you did, and also to assess what sort of work they would get out of you on a regular basis. There's often a fair difference between what people turn out normally and what's in their portfolio.
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  11. #10
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    Well I once worked for a small animation company that made it a common practice to get art tests, not hire the people, and use the work without paying for it. They had a reputation for this.

    Once they had some overseas investors coming in to check out the facilities - They organised to have 5 people come in to do "art tests" on that particular day so that the place looked extra busy for the investor walkthrough. They didn't hire anybody and used all of the work. Nice...

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puck
    Well I once worked for a small animation company that made it a common practice to get art tests, not hire the people, and use the work without paying for it. They had a reputation for this.

    Once they had some overseas investors coming in to check out the facilities - They organised to have 5 people come in to do "art tests" on that particular day so that the place looked extra busy for the investor walkthrough. They didn't hire anybody and used all of the work. Nice...
    Wow. I imagine the company tanked under the loads of garbagy, inconsistant work they were trying to hack a game together with. That's a shoot-yourself-in-the-foot tactic for making games.
    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.

  13. #12
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    Yeah, that seems like it would need Machiavellian levels of organisation and deviousness to make a profit out of that, it sounds like it would be far easier just to hire a few art monkeys on a reasonable wage for a few months.

  14. #13
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    I think art tests are very common, particularly when there are several qualified candidates applying for the same job. Like everyone else said, employers like to know what you can do in a certain amount of time, with a certain set of instructions. This cannot be gauged by looking at your portfolio. It might take someone 5 days to complete a color concept, while it takes someone else 7 hours to do the same thing. One person might also be open to art direction, while the other person isn't, and the person that isn't, may be less likely to get the job between the two. Many important factors are being tested when you take a test.

    Not to mention, your portfolio might demonstrate a tendency to stick to only 1 genre, like fantasy, when the employer knows that a majority of the work coming in is going to be sci-fi, they would probably want to know more about your range. Or your portfolio might only consist of characters, when an employer is looking for someone who can do creatures, etc...

    Plus I think a 7 hour test is small beans time wise. Modelers and texture artists require significantly more time to complete tests, several weeks usually. So be thankful

    Back when I was working for Konami, a co-worker with several years experience & a website with plenty of samples applied to Blizzard, and had to do 2 modeling tests which took several weeks to complete, and he didn't end up getting the job. I myself, had to take 3.5 texture tests which spanned a couple months, to get my foot in the door at Massive Black. Going through an exhausting crunch period at Konami, while doing the tests at night after work was extremely difficult, probably one of the toughest, most stressful, most sleep depraved periods of my adult life... but it sure as hell paid off
    So if you want the job, do what you gotta do, and put every fiber of your being into that 7 hours!

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seedling
    Wow. I imagine the company tanked under the loads of garbagy, inconsistant work they were trying to hack a game together with. That's a shoot-yourself-in-the-foot tactic for making games.
    Yeah, that's what i would have thought, but they're still around. They got garbagy 'art tests' from hopefuls artist straight out of college who desperately wanted a job, then got the juniors (on $14 AU an hour) to clean up the tests to use.

    Infact, i think that whole 'cheap skate' attitude ran pretty deep in that company. They always tried to get the artists to recycle old assets that had no relation to the current project, which always ended up taking longer than making them from scratch.

    And recently they got a partnership with a chinese studio. One of the leads told me that only about 25% of the work they get from china is good enough quality to use, but they are paying them so little per hour that it's still worth it.

    Oh and they pirated ALL of their software.... kept having to get cracks, either that or we'd have to finish the particular project that needed that software within the 30 day trial peroid... oh, and i would have to remove watermarks from images off the net to use as textures... (i was young and needed the money). I could write several more pages on some of the other shite that happened at this company but i promised myself i was over it and would forgive and forget.

    I'm so very happy I stopped putting up with their BS and got a better job.

  16. #15
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    How timely I just completed 2 art tests (a modeling and texture art one, and a concept art one) for a company (this is after 3 interviews...2 phone and 1 in person), submitted them yesterday. Got my confirmation email explaining that it had been forwarded to the people who were going to review it. Now I'm playing the waiting game, as they said they would update me by the end of the week. I'm trying to find something else to obsess over so I don't pull my hair out waiting by the phone and checking my email every 10 seconds.

    edit/update: Moments after posting this I was called into my ADs office and layed off! It wasn't just me or anything, like 30 people got layed off. Still the timing couldn't be better if I turn out to get this other job.
    Last edited by Cthogua; November 1st, 2006 at 10:33 AM.
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  17. #16
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    Hey good luck Cthogua. Talk about alignment of the planets!...

    I sometimes give out art tests because I'm not sure of the person's true abilities. Sometimes a portfolio is so.. ambigous that I need to be certain of their potential. Of course it's always tailored on what I want to artist to show me. Surgical art test that's sole purpose is to validate the applicant. That mentionned, I also heard horror stories on art tests... I guess it's a question of common sense if you apply to a small startup / third party who ask you to have 30 character designs "to see if you're good enough"!

    (On a side note, some of the tests I got back just... well.. holy SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!TTTTTTTTTT ! What were they thinking?!?!!?!!??!!!111!!!!??one!???!)

  18. #17
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    If you are a noob and just starting out, then just do it. But if you are a competent artist and have better things to to do with your time,..then just tell them so.

    More than likely they will take your test and use it as free asset for themselves. This has been known to happen quite often.
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