Non-videogame art jobs?
#1
Hey guys,

So.. I'm 24 w/ a science degree and I had this idea to switch into concept art. I am not sure about my current level but I'd say I am "intermediate". I am currently on the summer break of my job (I work in a public school) so I am dedicating my time to studying, drawing, and learning.

I was planning on moving back to Los Angeles to attend the Concept Design academy next summer in their "Entertainment Design" suggested schedule. But to be honest, after reading about how bad the environment is working in games in terms of work/life balance, etc, as well as the general competitiveness, I have cold feet.

I am not sure if the 3+ years of extremely hard work to bring myself up to the level necessary would be worth it for me personally. For a low-paying unstable job with extremely long hours, with fierce competition.


So, given this, I am wondering if there are any other fields that need the same skills required in concept art/entertainment design that aren't in the video game/movie industry, where the working conditions are better and there are more jobs generally.


Thank you very much for your advice,

Fueras
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#2
Don't immediately lose all hope in entertainment/videogame industry, you know that the Internet is of course, full of negative opinions cuz guess what, only ppl who are unhappy want to speak aloud about it. If the industry would be THAT bad all professionals would scream "DON'T GO THIS WAY! IT'S HELL!"
I'm work in game industry and I don't have over hours, I have normal contract, I have normal above average payment, and I'm artistically fulfilling myself. If you want to get good advice, just train yourself in something really well, and somebody will pay you for it. Never miss any occasion for work, you never know where this will lead you. Be courage, never say "no" or "i don't know if I can make it" or "i don't know if others will like it" do what YOU like. I'm saying that cuz still you might not really get to this industries, maybe you will end in advertisements, in fantasy art like D&D, book illustrations, board games, science illustrations. Paint and enjoy it. In 3 years you don't know how all those things will change, already crowd funding sets new direction for artists, who knows. Just don't lose hope :)

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#3
Thanks...it's true.. I just get scared shitless. All I ever read about is :There are no jobs! You must be insanely good to get a job! And then when you get one, it will be low paying, you will work 12 hour days and not be happy.

And you know, I wonder, is it worth it? This month I was so excited because after years of thinking about this, honestly, ( and I would be happy in something that didn't have to do with video games, science/educational illustration or games too!), just this month I have two free months to do art to prepare for finally going back to school.

But now.. I just feel terrified that I'm making a stupid decision. I feel so terrified about it that I can barely work on art, to be honest. I feel so overwhelmed. Back when I was in high school, I *WAS* quite good at art. People always commented on it... and then in college, as I studied for my degree which I didn't actually enjoy, I looked at envy at my roommates who were art/interactive design majors..and now what?

I'm 24, and now my skills are average/mediocre at best. I need to make a decision NOW. I've been talking about this for years, honestly ,but now it hits me. Do I want to spend 3-4 years of my life and then have no job prospects? I was making good strides in my home country before moving abroad for a year to teach English, now that I'm going back... I just don't know... I am really terrified about the idea of throwing away what could be a good career in ...something else? Just get a normal job?, vs trying for this thing I really want to do and failing. and regretting it my whole life.


I'm afraid of regretting not having gone into some sort of illustration/artistic field and at the same time the even worse regret of completely screwing up my life by trying to do so. I love art but I dont want to be poor and destitute. i don't want to be stressed out and hating my life for the sake of a job.

The thing is I honestly just don't know if I could get good enough to get a job. And I don't want to spend 3 years of my life trying for the job by going to school, only to find out that I wasn't. And then be 27-28 without a career...having completely fucking up my life basically...

Anyway, thanks for the advice Madzia. I've been having panic attacks about this topic. I don't know. I guess I'm just going to try to eliminate all fears of failure from my mind and try to continue with my plan for the next two months and see how things are at the end. Make a portfolio of work and if people think I have a shot, go for it. If not, don't.
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#4
I am 28, haven't made it to the big leagues yet, but I'm still working hard for it. I've had the same thoughts as yours but eventually I sucked up and just did it, no excuses. Some quote from somewhere I don't know but speaks the truth "Never forget this: the future is to those who take it. And I’d say that nothing is easy, and the best things are the hardest.". And to be honest 2 months won't solve much, 2 months in a 3~4years period in art is a drop in the bucket. Gotta do the leap of faith.

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#5
Thanks for the response, Rafa. Wow, just looking at your portfolio, you're really good! I have friends/know a lot of people in Los Angeles (I went to undergrad there) who work in the video game industry as artists, or as designers, and your artwork is just as good if not better than many of theirs (honestly, I'm not just saying it to blow smoke up your ass). Because of this I think a little bit of it has to do with luck. I think you will find your job soon...

for me I don't even NEEd a video game job.. it would be great but I don't NEED it ..just somethign that has to do with art. For example I'd love to work on some sort of science-y educational thing for kids (my degree is in conservation biology and I have a lot of experience with nonprofits and teaching).

thanks for the support all. I think I just had a panic attack because now, finally, something I've dreamed about for years is finally starting. I finally have the chance to start. Just enrolled in a CGTalk 8 week course..everything. And I live in Madrid now and although its amazing to live in europe, the expat life gets really, really lonely. so I really appreciate the support and understanding. Since you have gone through it too!
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#6
(08-09-2014, 03:17 AM)Fueras Wrote: I have friends/know a lot of people in Los Angeles (I went to undergrad there) who work in the video game industry as artists, or as designers, and your artwork is just as good if not better than many of theirs

hehe this is common misconception - you really don't need to be on Dave Rapoza or Feng Zhu level, to get a good job. Internet just make it look like there are awesome geniuses on every corner, but they are not. Also if you are still undecided about the path in your career just learn to paint as good as you can. I know there are many opinions in that topic, but the better you can paint just real life object, the better artist you are overall. If you are more flexible artist, you are more worthy employee.
Best medicine for all your fears about art would be reading/ listening to Art&Fear http://crimsondaggers.com/forum/thread-3...ht=audible please do if you never heard about it! :D

(08-09-2014, 03:17 AM)Fueras Wrote: I'm afraid of regretting not having gone into some sort of illustration/artistic field and at the same time the even worse regret of completely screwing up my life by trying to do so. I love art but I dont want to be poor and destitute. i don't want to be stressed out and hating my life for the sake of a job.

I know too many ppl and i'm really sorry for them who chosen "well payed job" which they hate, and they are not well payed at all, and regret that they didn't went for stuffs that they loved. At the same time, friends who have passion and devoted to uncertain career do not complain about it! Your job is 75% of your life, it would be better to enjoy it instead of counting days to your retirement :D Seriously if you have degree in biology use your knowledge in art. Check artist like James Gurney who illustrated dinosaurs for many year for national geographic, or Terryl Whitlatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo6TZsvRJ-4 who have degree in paleontology and is awesome creature designer! Or go for children illustrations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJzBjR65...gsUGCFIzZA seriously sky is the limit, don't let fear to overwhelm you!

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#7
Can I just throw a spanner into the works here. I used to think what job I did defined me and what value I had to give to the world. I have since realized that this is complete bullshit, including art related jobs!!

I don't work in a full time art job. I have a physics degree and a comp. sci degree. I now earn a 6 figure salary. I only do art when I can and I would of course like to dedicate more time to it during my waking hours and it won't matter to me that my earnings will likely be halved if I did get a studio job. Having said that I used to think life wouldn't be worth anything unless I was doing art. Bullshit!

Yes to some degree we have to do things to earn money to live. (in this current mainstream system anyway) but it is by no means a fundamental to human experience at all. Your job is NOT 75% of your life and I think it is a sad view of the joy of living. Your life is a sequence of experiential conscious moments. The job is a very crude human concept of what gives your life meaning and perpetrates social and political systems as they stand. It's fine to have to work within this system because we are born into it, but please don't mistake this mythic construct as having real value to you as a conscious human being. You can do whatever you want to do.

To some degree we would like to do things we enjoy that also bring us this money to enable security and survival, and bringing together these two things can be hard. But what I have realised personally, is that just because they don't doesn't mean you have failed in any way. Most jobs are actually just taking you away from anything you would be doing yourself creatively. I'm not pooh poohing art jobs, I just wanted to take some of the mythic aspect of them away.

SO all that weird ranting is just to say that I believe what school you go to, what choice of discipline you decide to go with, what form of self expression you wish to go with means nothing if you don't realise you can just do whatever you want right now at this moment. I believe that if you have something to say, you want to create, you want to express some aspect of your conscious experience with the rest of the world in a unique way, as seems to be the drive for most of us artists, then the choices I mentioned before don't matter at all and only serve to get in your way.

Just do what you want to do, the rest of that shit will fall into place. Sorry for the slightly abstract philosophical angle here, but I truly think not very many illustrators and concept artists think very deeply about this, in the goal towards getting "the right job" and we all should. The real question you want to ask yourself is "why?" not "how" or "what". This might not become clearer until you get a bit older it seems.
So you can be a writer, you can illustrate your own stories, you can create your own worlds, you can become an illustrator for other people's worlds, you can do web and mobile UI design, you can do infographics, visualisations, web design. Game design, tabletop, video, card. Hell you can even do fine art, sculpture, pottery, fashion, architecture, product development, industrial design with creative artistic skills.

So what I'm saying here son is don't pidgeonhole yourself at the onset in the way I see a lot of people doing to themselves repeatedly in the "learning" art world. You are a multifaceted being capable of adapting and changing to the situations that come up for you, and I am confident you will find your way foremost if you are true to yourself and your own creative expression and not be tied to the idea that a job is the only means of having fulfillment in this arena!

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#8
I understand your post and I agree with it to some extent, Monkeybread.

But listen, yes, we can theoretically do whatever we want. But when you work 40 hours a week, maybe have a family, etc, are exhausted from your job, maybe worried about bills, need to fit in exercise, seeing friends, traveling a bit, things that make life worthwhile (for me anyway)..honestly? You probably will NOT have a lot of time or energy for art.


So what are our options? Stop doing art and be jealous of other people with a creative job? (This is what happened to me when I was preparing to get a PhD in biology.)

Or, start ....6 years behind the top art school grads, have no life or money for 3-4 years while you try to catch up. You are then almost 30 years old with a crap studio job with crap pay, no benefits, where you are overworked, disrespected and have no job security? Without savings? Never taking a vacation? Stressed out constantly? Unable to start a family due to your financial situation? Is it even worth it at that point?

It just seems like you really can't win, sometimes. Although what you're saying is true, there are other jobs out there.

(08-09-2014, 11:16 AM)monkeybread Wrote: Can I just throw a spanner into the works here. I used to think what job I did defined me and what value I had to give to the world. I have since realized that this is complete bullshit, including art related jobs!!

I don't work in a full time art job. I have a physics degree and a comp. sci degree. I now earn a 6 figure salary. I only do art when I can and I would of course like to dedicate more time to it during my waking hours and it won't matter to me that my earnings will likely be halved if I did get a studio job. Having said that I used to think life wouldn't be worth anything unless I was doing art. Bullshit!

Yes to some degree we have to do things to earn money to live. (in this current mainstream system anyway) but it is by no means a fundamental to human experience at all. Your job is NOT 75% of your life and I think it is a sad view of the joy of living. Your life is a sequence of experiential conscious moments. The job is a very crude human concept of what gives your life meaning and perpetrates social and political systems as they stand. It's fine to have to work within this system because we are born into it, but please don't mistake this mythic construct as having real value to you as a conscious human being. You can do whatever you want to do.

To some degree we would like to do things we enjoy that also bring us this money to enable security and survival, and bringing together these two things can be hard. But what I have realised personally, is that just because they don't doesn't mean you have failed in any way. Most jobs are actually just taking you away from anything you would be doing yourself creatively. I'm not pooh poohing art jobs, I just wanted to take some of the mythic aspect of them away.

SO all that weird ranting is just to say that I believe what school you go to, what choice of discipline you decide to go with, what form of self expression you wish to go with means nothing if you don't realise you can just do whatever you want right now at this moment. I believe that if you have something to say, you want to create, you want to express some aspect of your conscious experience with the rest of the world in a unique way, as seems to be the drive for most of us artists, then the choices I mentioned before don't matter at all and only serve to get in your way.

Just do what you want to do, the rest of that shit will fall into place. Sorry for the slightly abstract philosophical angle here, but I truly think not very many illustrators and concept artists think very deeply about this, in the goal towards getting "the right job" and we all should. The real question you want to ask yourself is "why?" not "how" or "what". This might not become clearer until you get a bit older it seems.
So you can be a writer, you can illustrate your own stories, you can create your own worlds, you can become an illustrator for other people's worlds, you can do web and mobile UI design, you can do infographics, visualisations, web design. Game design, tabletop, video, card. Hell you can even do fine art, sculpture, pottery, fashion, architecture, product development, industrial design with creative artistic skills.

So what I'm saying here son is don't pidgeonhole yourself at the onset in the way I see a lot of people doing to themselves repeatedly in the "learning" art world. You are a multifaceted being capable of adapting and changing to the situations that come up for you, and I am confident you will find your way foremost if you are true to yourself and your own creative expression and not be tied to the idea that a job is the only means of having fulfillment in this arena!
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#9
I think you missed my main point a little. It wasn't some abstract notion of "we are all poweful and can do what we want". It was an actual confirmation of this fact despite our own best intentions to get in our own way.
All I was trying to say is that you shouldn't forgo your present for some constructed future that you have no way of knowing will even eventuate.

While I agree with some of the concerns you raised when thinking about things from a purely practical point of view, it is clear that they are all coming from a fear of uncertainty of your future well being as an artist. So without mincing words I'm going to call bullshit on the vision of your projected future, which is one that is overly negative, extrapolated on many vague assumptions and heavily doused in the smell of fear. An equally possible future is that you work hard for 4 years being true to yourself and coming up with a unique view of your own over time that people start to like it and get more exposure. Some art director at a convention sees some potential and gives you your first shot, which leads to more contracts. You get your work into some art mags like imagineFX and Spectrum. You get hired to work on a game that becomes the biggest cult hit indie game ever, that gets made into a movie which you then do concept art for. I mean really that is probably equally valid given that BOTH are completely made up possibilities. Why then choose the negative view? Fear.

All I'm saying is that many artists think this way, that we have to get the angle of attack right now, in order to reap the benefits in the future. Yes this is true to some extent, because if you don't put in work now it is unlikely you will hit your targets.
All I'm saying is try not to succumb to the stress of hitting that angle correctly all the time. If you are passionate, enjoy what you are doing, have a sense of what you want to do and what is important to you, then for sure things will fall into place. IF you stress out about % chances of getting a job in the future, what course/school/area to study these have a distinct possibility of skewing your own inner path. I know, because I had done exactly that, and it is a huge mistake, and one I try and stop other younger artists from repeating. That's all :)

To give you some context I turned 37 last week. For most of you guys on this forum it is ancient. I started the art journey close to 3 years ago. Never once did I think I was too old, who I was going to be competing with, what the industry would be doing and what that would meant for job possibilities. All I knew that I had spent too f*ing long not doing art, that I loved the process and that was all that mattered. The moment the idea of fitting into a job came about, I started going off track and fucking up my own inner sense of what I enjoyed because I thought the world was only looking for yet another mech-soldier-with-clothes artist. The web and community of artists is not a good place to find your individual vision I realised and went back to basics, not trying so hard to fit a mold, and do whatever I wanted. Shortly after this shift in my mind and doing some new pieces, I got asked to submit my folio to Weta by one of their seniors, and I won an international illustrator competition that gets me flown to LA next year. I'm still not working full time as an artist, and I'm not trying to be smug, but I did my years of grinding, and the moment I eased up and just let myself go the way I wanted, things started happenning.

What I didn't mean to imply is that you give up and not do ANYTHING at all now in order to get to a goal of doing art professionally, but instead that you can do whatever you want RIGHT NOW to get your fulfillment out of art, and not focus so heavily on the future ends.
Your statement that it seems like you can never win sometimes is very telling of your state of mind right now. The only person telling you you can't win, at this moment, is yourself.
You only fear competition from other artists when you aren't getting satisfaction from your own work. And I don't mean satisfaction in the output, but satisfaction in the process. Think about it, if you really did art out of a pure enjoyment of the process, it would make little difference whether someone could paint something better than you and consequently get that job instead of you? I can tell you for a fact that you wouldn't care and you would actually be genuinely happy for that other artist, because they have earned it.

So, basically, listen to your instinct, think it out and make the "career" decisions based on what you think is right, but then just leave it alone and see what happens!! The "not doing art professionally" stress just disappears if you can make that mental shift, and when it happens, all the better!
:)

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#10
Hey monkeybread, thanks for the very thoughtful response.

Wow, you touched on things I hadn't even thought of but are totally true!!!!!!!! I guess I have been reading too many negative articles online, and also, to be honest, in the past I had a long-term relationship with someone who was an artist who was really good and made me feel like absolute shit about my abilities. That really left a huge mark in my psyche to be honest. (I was also having a lot of family problems at the time too... I was homeless for a bit due to said family problems and as a result developed an anxiety disorder. I'm working on trying to get better now but it's been a long process to deal with anxiety and fear in all aspects of my life, not just with art).

I love art but now I am so stressed out about this idea of "changing careers" that I can almost not even draw, the anxiety to do something "correctly" is so big! But back when I was in high school, I was quite skilled at art and didn't have that fear. As such, I drew a lot.

I am going to read your post carefully and think about what you said. You are spot on that my response comes from fear of a negative future. I really appreciate your feedback on the subject, and your wisdom as someone who is older and has gone through it yourself!!!
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#11
Hey man, no worries. I totally replied to this last night, but my answer seems to have disappeared? Weird. Anyway, in short, it sounds like you have had a relatively tough time with the art thing and others and we all have our demons to deal with, but yeah I hope it will give you some food for thought to get into a good headspace with this thing.
No matter what happens the one thing we can (learn to) control is how much or how little we torture ourselves and try not to let that happen when we become aware of it. I'm happy to talk through things with you further by message or facebook or whatever if you need a bounce board, I think this is more valuable than any gumroad tut. out there because I know how hard I have had to fight in my own art journey, how common the feelings are, and how little people seem to talk about some of these things in the community.
:)

:)

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#12
Don't know if this will help at all with anxiety but I think there is some gold in there. Basically it's about allowing fear to play on the stage, but just to be the audience rather than the actor.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZaCnyMN-Zw

Coming from a science background like me, you may initially be put off by the 'subjectivity' of these kind of talks, but the real spiritual masters really do know their shit.

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#13
Hey man, thank you... I am going to watch this video!
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#14
Thanks for this informative post about video game designer. Nowadays gaming is very popular among all age peoples. I really got attracted by training gaming recently being developed. Training gaming process is really helpful for employees to learn basics about the job they'll do in the future.
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#15
I feel you so hard. My father really pressured me towards STEM fields, I tried to go into Biology in college and was failing horribly, so I switched to English. I figured it was marginally more practical than art, though I still took one art class in college because I wanted to even though it didn't count toward my major. That's the only actual art class I've had excepting a pottery class I took in high school even though it didn't really count toward my diploma. It's a trend I guess.

After I got out of college, I got a technical writing job in an office that produced science and technology curriculum for middle and high schools. I ended up having a literal psychological breakdown due to the stress of getting up early (I'm a night owl by nature), losing sleep (again, night owl), the morning meetings (social anxiety), being stuck in a small cubicle all day under harsh electric lighting, not fitting into the culture (it was predominantly extremely conservative Christians), and facing ethical dilemmas like being told that I had to tell kids that climate change and evolution were just theories.

After I quit that job, I've just had a bunch of odd jobs I could have gotten straight out of high school. I currently work long hours at a somewhat stressful, low-paying grunt work position. I finally realized now at age 33 that art is more along the lines of what I wanted to do with my life, but I'm grossly lacking in skill because I've mostly just done it on and off on my own. I'm not quitting my "day job" (I work night shift) anytime soon, but I've made the commitment to myself to start seriously studying art in most of my spare time and I'm just going to see where it goes.

Sorry, I don't talk much verbally so I tend to ramble in text. But the point that I was trying to get across is that I feel you and know where you're coming from. Now as for helpful suggestions, I have known several artists on and off over the years who have made a living off of their art. There are a lot of options. Some sell their fantasy art at Renaissance Fairs and conventions. Others make money off of some combination of things like freelancing, taking commissions, receiving contributions through Patreon, selling prints of their work through sites like Etsy, selling merchandise with their work printed on it through sites like Redbubble or Society6, or doing Youtube channels with art tutorials or streams of their art. I've known two artists who made quite a considerable amount of money doing commissions and sexually explicit art in the furry community. One of said artists even had enough subscriptions on his pay site featuring his explicit artwork that he was able to afford to buy a house. Another artist worked as a tattoo artist. Sure, all of it may be more unpredictable or unconventional, but it's still people making a living off of their artwork. Some of it would work just fine for supplemental income as well.

Ultimately though, as far as what you do, I highly recommend doing whatever you think you'll least regret. You fear regretting trying and failing, but you will also likely regret later not giving it a try and will wonder what might have happened if you did apply yourself to pursuing an art career. Just throwing that out there. As I understand it, most people later in life end up regretting NOT doing things more than they end up regretting DOING things.
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