5 Steps to follow to increase your odds at landing a job as a 3D Artist in the Video-game industry
The video-game industry has expanded exponentially since the days of Atari and the early days of Nintendo. Video-games where once thought of as a hobby for the nerdy and socially awkward, but we have since past those days and now video-games are as mainstream as movies. The expansion of the industry means more jobs have opened up, but it also means there are more people interested in working in the field since it's now a viable career. Many kids dream of one day working on video-games, this was me as a 90's kid and it's great that I fulfilled that dream.
Finding a job as a 3D artist in the gaming industry is no easy task, but there are 5 things I followed that you can do to increase your odds and finding that dream job.
1. Create a Strong, but Simple Portfolio Website
This may come as obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of times I have come across someone's 3D art portfolio site which looks like a mess. If you want to get a job in the gaming industry you must have a good porfolio website. The best part about making a website is that it doesn't have to cost any money to do so, there are multiple ways to create a website for free these days. I am personally a fan of Weebly as it makes it incredibly easy to make a portfolio website. You don't have to purchase anything or even buy a domain name, the domain name you get here works just fine and employers will not care that it's a free domain name.
The important part about making a portfolio site is to keep it simple and to the point; you don't want the person visiting having to click through multiple pages. I personally like having all the content in one or two pages. My 3D portfolio page is set up so that my best work is displayed on the Home page, in my case my best 3D Environment work is there. I have a separate page/tab for Props and one for Miscellaneous with things that I could not categorize go. That is how my portfolio site is set up, 3 pages in total; I don't have a Bio or Contact page because information about myself will be sent to the company I am applying for through a cover letter. A Contact page is not needed because whomever is visiting your site will probably be a person from a company you have applied for so they already know how to contact you.
It should go without saying that you do not want to include Works in Progress in your portfolio or anything that you do not consider to be Finished. Another important thing to remember is to not include everything you have made as a 3D artist and only your best work; I personally have 4 environment pieces, 5 props, and 3 miscellaneous works. You have to remember that anyone visiting your site will only spend a few minutes or seconds there; if they see anything that is out of place ( i.e not that good) they will probably rule you out on the spot.
Other things to consider is the use of images, videos, and 3D viewers. I personally only have images in my portfolio, 3D viewers are nice, but they also take a few seconds just to load. I don't consider it a negative to have, but 3D viewers should not be the only way to view your work. I think it's also good to have short descriptions of the works you display; these should be one or two sentences of why it was made or the process or how long it took to make.
2. Specialize your 3D Art Portfolio
I talked about having a simple, to the point, portfolio and another important thing is to focus your portfolio to the position you are applying for. If you are applying for a 3D Character Artist position you only want to show work that is relevant to that position. In the case of a 3D Character Artist you only want to show characters, creatures, or anything that is organic in nature. For this kind of position you do not want to include any Environment work because that is irrelevant to what you will be working on. The same applies to applying for a 3D Environment Artist position where you do not want to include any character work. Including a mix of things only shows a lack of focus from your part; the only time you would want to include both types is if you are applying for a 3D Generalist position which are far less common than the specialized positions and typically require years of experience. If you truly believe your work is outstanding for both categories you should create two different portfolios tailored for each when applying for one or the other position. When you use Weebly to make your site you can make as many sites as you want at not cost.
3. Have someone Review/Critique your Portofolio
You can have the best portfolio set up for your website, but none of this will help you land a job if the work displayed is not up to standards. You have already placed your best work on your website, but before you send it out to potential employers make sure to get a second opinion on the work on display. If you are a recent school graduate a good person to review your portfolio is someone who was your professor on the subject. They should be able to assess whether or not your portfolio pieces need any work. Other places to get good feedback are sites like the Polycount Forums where people often show their work for feedback. You should also be able to critique your own work, take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of the employer; would you hire someone with your skill level for the job? Could you picture your work in an actual video-game? is it up to standards and has it been made with the latest workflows?
Your chances of getting a job in the gaming industry are very much tied to the quality of your work.
4. Get a College Bachelor's Degree
If you have been learning 3D art from online tutorials or on your own this is probably not what you wanted to hear. It would be great if all that was needed was to be a great artist to get into the gaming industry, but this is just not the case. The Art Director at a studio may not care if you have a College Degree or not, but the hiring department does. This is specially true at big studios where applications will go through a hiring department and will be curated before ever getting to the Art Director. In many cases your application may not even make it to the hiring department as it could be taken out of the pool via automated software. The automated software could be set up to discard applications that do not meet certain criteria which could include not having a College Degree.
You have to remember that when a position opens up at a studio there is a flood of applications that come, specially at bigger studios. The hiring department has to go through hundreds of applications before deciding which are worth sending to the Art Director. Another thing to keep in mind is that the first thing a hiring person will see is your Resume and they could discard you if it shows you do not have a College Degree; if they do this it means they won't take the time to look at your awesome portfolio.
So does any College Degree work? The answer is no, but your Degree does not need to be really specialized. As long as your Degree is relevant to your position you should be good.
You should also be aware that this tip applies mostly to large studios, smaller ( indie size) studios may be more willing to hire someone without a College Degree.
5. Establish a Linkedin Presence
In this day and age having a Linked-in profile is a must. It is important to have a profile here because it allows a recruiter to see your experience along with your connections. Linkedin is akin to a Resume where you show your skills and what experience you have. A lot of companies even let you apply for their jobs using Linkedin to fill up your application profile. It's very easy to make a Linkedin profile and send connection invitations and you have to remember that there is also nothing wrong with sending invitations to people you don't know personally. It also looks good when other people have endorsed any of your skills and even better when you and a recruiter have shared connections. One thing to keep in mind is to keep your profile professional and stay away from making any posts that are irrelevant to your industry. For more information on how to create a very effective Linkedin profile just click Here
Landing a job in the video-game industry is not easy, but I believe that if you follow the steps above you will increase your odds at making it. The steps outlined are the same I have been following since I started working in the gaming industry. I truly believe these are proven ways to better your chances at getting to a job interview.
Did you find these tips helpful? Leave a comment below and let us know if these made any difference.
Are you currently working in the video game industry? Please add to the conversation with tips of your own in the comments below!