Omg its face
Nisi – a tumblr user I met earlier this year asked:
Hello dear Anjin Anhut,
We’ve met during your talk on ‘diversity in games’ as an opening for the last gamejam at our university in Dieburg.
I’m following your amazing blog for a while now and wanted to know, if you’ve got some advice for a self-taught artist who wants to go professional.
In the past three years, I’ve been making 2D + 3D art for game projects at my university and am now looking for a job. Since my university was no help at all with the stuff the students were doing, we had to do everything on our own and I feel a little bit stuck with my art skills.
I want to set up something like a training plan to get the basics covered and going further on but I’m still struggeling how to start. (if it helps, I’m trying to get deeper into character and animal/creature design)
Many thanks in advance for your time!
I asked Nisi to be a bit more specific with her question:
Hello again and thanks for the quick respond! Since you suggested tackling one question at the time, I’m going with job-seeking tipps first. As mentioned earlier, I’ve done 2D + 3D art at university for about 3 years and am looking for a job. I’ve applied at several gaming companies so far and have been told that my stuff is too diverse/not specific enough which made me concentrate on 2D art again, but still no luck with jobs. Thanks again in advance for your time!
I took a couple of days but here is what I can say to help out. Please note that there are many opinions on that topic and that I can only draw from my personal experiences as a job seeker and as a recruiter (did both), as well as from conversations with others who do the same. My advice is educated but please ask around more.
I took the liberty of checking out your online stuff and would like to translate “you are too diverse” into something you might be able to work with. “Too diverse” is a nice way of saying “we are not convinced that you have what it takes to become(!) what we are looking for”. Your work shows many many interest in the realm of game art, such as concept art, 2d game art and 3d game… but none of these disciplines are shown with enough work samples to be individually convincing.
This is not to say that you lack the talent or skills to find a job, but I think you need to structure your presentation better. Let’s get started:
First let’s sort out what you can offer: You are a graduate level game artists and there is nothing you can do to change that. That means many jobs are not available for you – you need to find companies who are willing to recruit graduates right now. But that also means you don’t have to pretend like you rock game art like a 6 year veteran, so there is that. What you need to be able to “sell” about yourself is that if I as a recruiter spent a couple of months mentoring you, that you will be able to be productive short term but also a super neat game artist long term for our studio. Companies have to invest some work into you to get productivity out of you but also hope that you will develop into exactly that kind of artist the team needs. I can totally see you make that promise with the skills you already have.
But this is where “being too diverse” becomes a problem. If you do not present yourself as someone who has decided to work hard to become bad-ass in one(!) specific skill – there is just so much stuff you wanna do – how can I as a recruiter be confident in you becoming that bad-ass artist for me? It’s pretty hard to find a job as a “graduate all-rounder” – because only very few companies are looking for a professional all-rounder.
If I want to put some graduates in my concept art team, I will ALWAYS prefer applicants who present themselves as graduate concept artists over those who are graduate all-rounders. I don’t want to put money and work into graduates who still have to find themselves or are undecided as to what they wanna become. I want graduates who are already determined to become the very kind of artist I need and who only need the resources to do so.
Okay, so what kind of artist are you then? 3D art is usually easy to understand. You create 3d models – hi res and lo res – which then can be used in the build of the game and or rendered for promotional purposes. However, when you say “2D artists” I have no idea what you mean and your portfolio is not helping me understand that. Are you a concept artist? Or are you a 2D game artists who makes illustrations and animation which become assets for the actual game? These are two different jobs. So we have 3 directions to choose from.
Does this mean you have to specialize? Not necessarily. It would help if you could just like that commit yourself to one direction. But I don’t expect you to do that, you don’t seem to be the type who only likes to do one thing or who would be happy with just one thing. The least you can do is apply for jobs in a specialized way. Which brings us to measures.
Stuff you can do right now:
- remove confusion, prepare individual portfolios: don’t try to create one convincing portfolio for 3 traits. Make 3. A 3D portfolio with 2D and concept as an extra, so you can send that portfolio to companies who are looking for 3D artists. And one with 2D focus and 3D/concept as an extra… ect. They can all be hosted on the same site, but don’t make recruiters search for the relevant stuff themselves. Make it convenient like hell. Direct links to exactly the galleries they need to see only and make sure that you also custom make your list of skills for each trait. Apply the same “specialization” in your presentation to your pdf portfolios as well. (always send <2mb pdfs with any email). This is not about pretending to be 3 artists, this is about creating individual “mixtapes” for each potential kind of employer, so that everybody gets instant access to what they are looking for.
- separate professional galleries from private online fun things: On your portfolio site, do not link to your tumblrs or deviant art pages… this only distracts from the carefully crafted galleries and they are your personal spaces where most people usually post personal sketches and practice and skribbled jokes and reblogs and whatnot, which are all not professional material.
- put contact data on everything: Everything? EVERYTHING! Each portfolio samples – each jpg – should have a very small and subtle but readable info line with your name and contact data (or web url). You don’t know where your images will travel online and within companies and you don’t want anybody to struggle to contact you. Don’t try to make that contact data pretty. Be clean and non-distracting.
Improve your chances long term:
- build relationships: go to tradeshows and events, and talk to recruiters and representatives. A letter from a person you have already met is always more interesting than a random envelope in the mail. Always bring business cards, not because they would want one – sorry no – but so you can ask to trade cards and get THEIR contact data.
- beef up your galleries:
I suspect once you separated your portfolio into three individual ones you might find that each portfolio is a bit thin on work samples. So pick your personal favorite and start beefing stuff up. To make your portfolio pieces feel as professional as possible I recommend structuring them around projects. These can be actual game projects but also fake projects. Create art pieces in relation to each other. Creating a roster of characters based on classic fairytales for example – making them look like they could belong to the same game – is always more convincing then a gallery of random unrelated character sketches. You could also include your development process (research, sketches, variants) as well. …and you could create locations for that fake game and props.
- apply again… ;)
I hope this gives you something to do. I know how helpless it can feel if you don’t get positive responses or responses at all. But don’t let that freeze you. You can always improve your portfolio and research more companies to apply to. Good luck.
for ten years now, leonid tishkov has traveled the world with his moon. here we see him in arctic svalbard magdalene fjord (1,5,7), new zealand, near rangitito (second photo, taken by marcus williams), the tian shang observatory near the border between china and kyrgyzstan (third photo, by po-i chen) and moscow (4,6,8, taken by boris bendikov)
"the moon is a shining point that brings people together from different countries, of different nationalities and cultures - and everyone who gets in its orbit does not forget it ever. it gives fairytale and poetry in our prosy and mercantile world," leonid writes. "the moon helps us to overcome our loneliness in the universe by uniting us around it."
leonid adds, “the ancient ural peoples who lived in my home told a fairy tale about how a shaman goes into the next world, illuminating the path of the moon. so in all of my photos, i can be seen in my late father’s cloak, because he travels with me in this way.”
This reminds me of a book I had as a kid. I can picture it, but I can’t think of what it was…
cubebreaker: In his series, The Good Badlands, photographer Guy Tal seeks to show us that though it is often hidden, and may only appear briefly, there is delicate and subtle beauty in abundance for any viewer with patience and desire.
Daily Show correspondent Michael Che tries to find a safe place to report from.
- Do not forget Michael Brown
- Do not forget how the media dehumanized him and tried to justify his murder
- Do not forget how peaceful protests were painted as savage riots
- Do not forget police armed with military grade weapons terrorized and arrested black civilians
- Do not forget Darren Wilson being awarded over $200,000 in fundraiser donations for murdering an unarmed black child
- Do not forget that this system was not built to defend us, but to control us
- Do not forget Ferguson