The industry as a whole, but game art jobs especially, are fiercely competitive - with a large number of applications usually arriving for every single role. While some might get fewer applications, it's still overall a highly contested field.
How does one approach “putting yourself out there” in the video game art job world? The obvious first step is to scout companies that you find to suit your interest best - it's often a simple yet effective way to get in direct contact with the recruiters and could be as easy as that.
However, it's not always so clear-cut - maybe this initial method does not work… what then? There are several avenues to go for, and most experts recommend going for all of them to increase your chances: job fairs, Art Station, and social media.
Game job fairs and meetups
are considered feasible to get some eyes on your portfolio and CV. Conventions in Europe and the US, such as Comic-Con, SIGGRAPH, CTN, and Game Developers Conference, are great spots for portfolio reviews. Other than the chance to actually land a job, these events can provide valuable feedback and contacts with other artists in the industry. Another perk of these fairs is that it gives employers and potential employees an opportunity to meet in person - which could prove to be something that tips the scales in your favor, if not immediately then at a later point in time.
is often mentioned by industry professionals as a must-have to increase exposure to your art. Though it is not a replacement for the portfolio, it's another useful supplement that will help recruiters get their eyes on your work - something highlighted by all a critical hurdle to getting any kind of consideration at all.
is the final piece of the “make yourself visible” puzzle;. However, many artists are opposed to being too present on social media, and recruiters always point out it’s all about getting spotted - after that, your portfolio takes over as your main way of communicating value to employers. Everything from Linkedin to Facebook or Instagram works for exposure.
Speaking of which, few things are considered more important when hunting for gaming art jobs than the infamous…
Creating a portfolio might not be as straightforward as just compiling all your work in one place. Many make the mistake of sending the same portfolio irrespective of the company they are applying to; it's advised to tweak and tailor your portfolio depending on the company you’re aiming for - research it before just sending out a generic portfolio. Another frequent error when making a portfolio is not including the work process within it - companies don’t just want to see the finished work; they want to know the path the artist took to get there, so it is helpful to show this in your portfolio. However, do not mistake a ‘work process’ with ‘old work’ - the recruiters and art directors want to see the state of your work and skill now, not how it used to be… and separating proof of evolution from just putting any old thing there can be deceptively hard. A portfolio is a snapshot of your ability right now - so put yourself out there, post your portfolio online and make sure to include the link to your portfolio in your cover letter, resume, and application form.
So, you've been noticed, and you’ve sent all you have - it cannot all be about the Portfolio, right? What else can give you a competitive edge over other candidates? We’ve mentioned attending job fairs, but there are other ways to get regarded higher than other artists. In summary, these little bonuses could be the thing that lands you the job - let’s divide time into higher education, specialization, and making games.
Though higher education is not considered compulsory, the skillsets learned there tend to give a sensible edge; the degree isn’t a prerequisite - but a variety of skills usually is. A background in traditional art can be quite a boon, but in the end, it all boils down to whether or not you can demonstrate that the education had a positive effect on you as an artist and gives you an advantage when compared to other candidates.
As far specialization goes, we spoke at length about the many different paths and specialized roles one can take. Recruiters and other artists highlight the importance of picking a discipline and becoming very proficient in it, specializing in one particular aspect of game art at the detriment of others; the “jack-of-all-trades but a master of none” is not usually favored when hunting for game art jobs.
Finally, a very frequently given advice is to…
Game jams truly are an invaluable way to get to grips with what you will be asked to do once in the industry; it will help you get noticed and add weight to your portfolio. Getting your art into a game engine, whether for a personal project, a game jam, or an assignment, shows you can make art that works in a game - so don't hesitate to get into making games.
If you’re still hesitant or have any questions about how to best display your works while searching for your dream art - ask us away: email@example.com
Read our previous blog entry about game art jobs.