One of the many people contemplating art school, I’m also one of the many with not so big of a wallet, other than the obvious the main reason i want to go is to gain contacts in the art field, network, find jobs.
How do you network without a school holding your hand?
Where do you show yourself, who do you aspire to impress and put in your address book? (Don’t say “everywhere" because fliers on telephone poles doesn't seem like the most lucrative way of going about it) throwing my eventually-completed-in-progress portfolio around is an obvious but the question is where? And to whom. Do I dabble in 5$ deviantart jobs of peoples characters? but then where's the transition to company jobs and eventually dream industry jobs at places like massive black, blizzard, (insert what every big-name company you went crazy as a kid about here)? Specifically for video game concept art but this goes for nearly if not all art fields so graphic design, web design ,storybook illustration, where ever you have input on, I'd think the process would all be somewhat similar.
Getting an agent is the way to go or so I’ve heard, but I’d like to emphasize my small high school wallet. However is it one of those keystone must haves that could put those small deviant art commissions to some use, and then it pays for itself?
Though video game concept art is specific I'm sure many have the same question so any info on graphic design, web design, illustration, design in general is welcomed as well. (also I've read the only post that came up for me through search/google, but sorry if this is one of those recycled questions that show up everywhere)
So how are/did you progress/ing through the ladder of deviant art jobs to big industry jobs, who did you talk to, and where do/did you spam your portfolio to get those connections?
As to where do you show your work... you are on it right now.. its called internet. Posting your work in places like CGHUB and making yourself a gallery in there is a good ways for people to see you, the "important people" at that. $5 dollar deviantart jobs dont take you anywhere... they are garbage and are harming us all as illustrators, so just quit that altogether.
You really want to get noticed, get really good at your craft, and then send your work to magazines like imagineFX for example, or submit for annuals like Spectrum and that sort of things. You can also attend conventions like Iluxcon or Comic-con, Game developers conventions and things like that, get yourself a table and show your work, art directors and people from the big game studios walk around those places and they recruit people or could give you a very valuable portfolio review.
BUT! The most important thing right now is get your art to a professional lvl, other wise nobody will care, no matter how hard you try to network and show your stuff, if you are not good enough they will just push you aside.
You don't need school or an agent, you need a professional quality body of work, however you get that is up to you. You don't transition from 5 dollar deviant art jobs to professional work. Making crap for people who don't know what good art look like is less than useless. Focus on being as good as the top people in the industry even if you only get close you will get in. And never work for free or for less than it costs you to make something for 20 bucks an hour which means no 5 dollar jobs.
What rem92 and dpaint said.
Don't start as a "beginner"! start adopting the professional mindset and practices right now even if your skills still need polishing.
There are tons of book, especially in English, about how to find work as a freelancer, freelance artist or illustrator:
When you start out, networking isn't about getting jobs, it's about getting a support group. If you aren't going to school and are planning to learn by yourself, you are going to get lonely pretty fast. Fortunately, hanging out at art functions (Drink and Draws, life drawing, sketch crawls) and the internet are there for you. You shouldn't network to find pros to stalk who are going to give you jobs. You should network to find peers you will become friends with. Some of them might be better than you, some of them might be worse, but as you progress, you will help each other and as these people become pros, they will spread everywhere in the industry and become your "contacts."