Game Art Protips
- 1. Don't rely on anybody but yourself. Improve your work and go out of your way to learn things related to your own area as well as the areas surrounding your work.
- 2. Be open to criticism. Grow a thick skin. Criticise your own work, but also learn how to separate the gold from the dirt since everyone has an opinion and they won't be afraid to tell it to you. Try to avoid people who just try to please you by saying everything you make looks 'nice'.
- 3. Maintain your portfolio. If you're just starting out then don't be afraid to put work online. If you're going to university then keep a site or blog with all of your decent work. When you finally apply for jobs you'll be able to choose your best work. Be realistic and understand that the aim of your portfolio is to show potential. If you don't know how to make a site then use something like Behance. It might be best to avoid putting your "professional portfolio" on furry/fan-art sites.
- 4. Do your research. Look at job sites, are people hiring Manga / Fan Art Artists? Probably not. Tailor your portfolio early on and figure out what you're working towards. Recognize niche areas such as VFX, Technical Art, and UI art.
- 5. Stop thinking about how many 'years of experience' you have, and focus more on how good your portfolio is.
- 6. Just because you love playing games, doesn't mean you should work on them. My university had a lot of people who just played games all day but never actually spent time on their work. Just because you like sausages doesn't mean you should go work in a sausage factory.
- 7. Learn to pitch yourself. Have a single paged resume which you can hand out in person, or better yet; set up a LinkedIn account. Be an active member of game sites such as Polycount if you're an artist. Believe it or not, people get approached through these forums and websites and end up in interviews and jobs. Get your name out there to be seen, buy a domain with your name, and use it for emails. Avoid using cringe-worthy Hotmail addresses. Never type anything online that you wouldn't say in person to somebody face-to-face (No trolling! Especially if it traces back to you). Learn how to type emails.
- 8. Work for free. Work on mods. Understand that it isn't always about making something outstanding; negative experiences will also improve you as a person.
- 9. Appreciate that university is about growing as an artist / person. You have 3/4 years to create whatever crazy ideas you may have, especially in your final year - it's probably your last chance to make something of your own. Balance work/play and realise that socialising is important.
- 10. Understand the importance of networking. Go to the usual meet-ups and conventions. Follow companies on LinkedIn so that you can have a look at any updates they make including new hires or recent departures. Snoop on the profiles of employees in your area of interest and check out the standard of their work. Twitter is also good for keeping an eye on jobs and studios. Once you're confident with your own work, start reaching out to people and ask for advice - most developers would happily answer a brief question or two. Keep emails short, a few lines; end with a question.
- 11. It's a small world. Try to be humble. Try to leave a good impression on people you meet/work with/study with, even if you fall out with people; always remain professional. If you're a student, realise that having the best grades in your class means nothing; it doesn't make you the best artist by a long shot - when you graduate you'll realise that some hobbyists are disgustingly talented. Just be "nice".
- 12. Fear can be a valuable motivator. One thing I always do is scour the internet for images which make me feel talentless - it helps me keep my feet on the ground by knowing that there is always somebody better and there always will be - but I'm cool with that so long as I can make something I like.
- 13. Be prepared to receive rejection letters. My advice would be to objectively compare the standard of your own work with that of current employees across all levels of experience and assess whether you think your application has a high rate of success prior to submitting it. If you apply and get a rejection then email them back and ask if it's possible to receive some feedback on your application. If you receive a string of rejection letters then be sure to take time out and reassess your portfolio. Never do a 'scatter-shot' approach where you email everybody the same CV for different roles.
- 14. Make use of opportunities available to you. If you're a student then check out Dare to be Digital, if you're an Animator then check out 11 Second Club, if you're a 3D Artist then look at forum competitions on places such as polycount, if you're a concept artist then look on ConceptArt and take part in daily sketch groups, if you're a graphic designer then check out design competitions on 99Designs. Form teams in person or remotely through the power of the interwebz.
- 15. "Shut up. Work hard. Be patient."
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