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I'm focusing on fulltime work here not freelance.
Just so you know this isn't going to be a thread about me going boo hoo I haven't got a job. I'm just interested to see who else is in the same situation as me, what with this current economical climate. A few studios in the uk have recently closed down and it seems most applicants need previous games experience.
I have just graduated from university so It's most certainly too soon to expect any miracles. The difficulty at the moment is that I'm not sure where I stand. There are no indicators as to what I need to improve in order to increase my hirability. I have already had numerous rejections with no feedback, other than there is someone better than me.
It's obvious that I need to keep on improving my skills but I can't help but feel like im stabbing in the dark.
I was wondering how long did it take some of you to chase the dream? It's difficult to get to terms with the true reality of how difficult this is going to be.
I'd love to hear everyones stories, whether you are hired or still hunting.
Also if any of you are feeling generous crits on my portfolio would be greatly appreciated.
When I started back in 90 the US was in a recession. It took me almost five years to get a fulltime job (86-90) and I had to move 200 miles to do it.There were very few game companies and the competition for jobs was difficult.
After I did land a job though I've never gone more than a few months in between jobs even as a freelancer and I'm constantly offered jobs in-house which I haven't done since 2001.
My advice is learn to do production work not just concept work and you will work more. Make sure you can paint and draw figures as well as you draw landscapes and weapons, learn a 3d program, learn the basics of animation and texturing. If you want to go into games learn about level design. In other words make yourself invaluable and be willing to relocate. When the economy isn't bad you can focus on what you like more but in a tough economy the people who can do more get hired faster. And any art job beats a non art job.
I've been in the industry for three years, and I am still not sure how I got so luckily. I hadn't even formally graduated when I got my job. Three and a half years ago I was finishing up my final year of university (Computer Arts, in Dundee) and due to health problems I moved back home with my parents to complete my coursework and job hunt. Under better circumstances I would probably have stayed in Dundee, as it had a lot more industry opportunities than in my home town (a small town a skip and a jump from the Scottish Highlands. Getting a Starbucks there was a huge novelty).
I started job hunting, applying to the places I was familiar with and who were hiring. Then I started searching on CGJobs and Gamasutra for companies I didn't know. And then I started Googling "games companies in UK". And on some list of the top 100 games companies in the UK I found one company that was...in my home town. I thought it was a mistake, but nope. They weren't hiring, but there was no way I was letting an opportunity like that pass me up - they were a small company and I thought they could use someone with my skills. So I fired off my CV and portfolio and a cover email along the lines of, "When you are next looking for an artist, I hope you will consider my application..." and I got a phone call the next day, an interview that week and I started the following Monday. I'm still here. The remoteness of the location worked in my favour because at the time not many people were willing to move up here for such a small company, and there were few people with my skillset living in the local area.
If companies aren't offering feedback on what you need to improve, then make a point of asking for it. You don't have anything to lose by sending a follow up email to a rejection letter (or no response) asking where you fall short. Being flexible and willing to multitask is also a good thing, especially since many of the companies in the UK are not huge and lots of people work in a few different disciplines. 3D modelling, animating and/or texturing are good moves for an artist. If you're just starting out and feel intimated by the amazing high poly stuff out there, you can focus on making really polished lower poly models. With concept art, show that you can make more technical sketches and textures that the modellers can work with, and more polished illustration pieces that can also be used for promotion. Try designing a couple of realms or levels from scratch, including creatures and putting all that work in your portfolio.
Interesting stories, thanks for posting these.
It really is quite an enigmatic industry, nothing seems to be too clear cut so each persons experience is variable, which is interesting and yet also frustrating. The best jobs should be the hardest to attain I suppose.
I'd love to hear some more stories from people.
Everyone definitely has their own experiences, but dpaint is pretty much spot on. While there are certainly many straight up concept art jobs in the world, it's a niche skill where any given project may only need a couple of artists for. And those spots are likely taken by seasoned concept artists right now.
When you increase how valuable you are as an artist by being someone who can texture, model, and maybe even animate as well as concept your own work, you will have a much easier time getting hired.
For example, I got into the industry in 2000 as a texture artist. That's all I did and other than unwrapping, I had no idea what to do with 3DStudioMax. Well that was all fine and dandy until my wife and I moved and then I couldn't find a job. Reason? No one in Seattle would hire a "texture artist". That entire concept is alien to the industry up here. If you can't model and texture your own stuff, then you flatout don't get work as far as production goes. So I learned Max. It's been 10 years now and I can model, texture, animate, some design, and I can concept my own work to show to my boss. On top of that, I've learned a variety of technical stuff so I don't have to bother the tech artists all the time.
So while you may not be interested in production specifically...it's just an example that increasing your knowledge and doing other things besides just drawing will likely increase your chance of getting work. It did for me and when I look for work now, I always at least get an interview.
A trend I have noticed over the last 10 years is consolidation. Employers want one-stop-shop artists that can do everything. People always say you don't want to be a "jack of all trades, master of none", but what you do want to be is a "jack of trades, master of at least 1". When you can do that, you will get hired.