Not Getting Work When I Used to Get Steady Gigs - Help Me Please - Brutal Honesty
Hey everyone! I'm going to go down the list on everyone else's threads and give advice however I can after this. 

GOAL: I want to be a studio concept artist and work on survival horror games specifically. I want to do creature design, environment design, and utilize photobashing, rough 3d modelling, and digital painting. 

BACKSTORY: So, I used to get a lot more gigs and interest for work a couple years ago. I admittedly hit a slump with work and studying over the course of the last couple of years and I think it legitimately affected my portfolio work. I've been applying everywhere, asking for job openings and portfolio reviews, and I've been hitting a brick wall where either there are no responses or a vague kind of "your work is great! But we prefer portfolios with a bit more experience." Frustration and confusion abounds, but I'm ready to cut through it.

HYPOTHESIS: Because of not having any consistent work and not seeing a lot of job postings, I've gone back and forth between "I should work on my own survival horror project as a portfolio project!" and "Ok, there's a sci fi job posting, time to make sci fi pieces. Oh, there might be a gig over at Wizards of the Coast, time to make MTG style pieces." Where I feel like a distracted desperate mess and where I worry that other artists and clients can sense it a mile away. Also I'm scared that that frustration and confusion has seeped into my portfolio, and that it might have a "Please dear god hire me for anything" vibe to it.

Also, the matter of storytelling in pieces, I don't think I do that as much as I need to. Like my work feels boring in that way to me.

1) What is your initial reaction to my work? Initial comments/reactions/questions that come up while you look at it?
2) What do you think I might be overlooking/not addressing in my work?
3) What could be good solutions to those things that you see that I'm not working on?

My work is at

I know I'm a good artist and a hard worker, but I'm scared that something's coming across in my work that is undermining my success.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your advice!

David Szilagyi, 
Professional Badass, phD.
1) Quality
When I look at your portfolio, I assume that this is the absolute best art you are capable of. So, when picking pieces for your portfolio, use fewer images, and make sure they are your best.
The typical artist will want to show the world their entire body of work - even the flawed pieces and works in progress. In fact, many artists have blogs where they share their creative process, and have conversations with peers about their work. This is all great - but it’s not a portfolio.
Your portfolio is a separate site - a culled selection of your absolute best work. I shouldn't see a single weak image in your portfolio - because if I do, I am going to think “this person is unaware that this is not great work” - and I will question your taste and judgement.
2) Diversity
It’s critical to choose images that show the full range of your skill. Sure, you may have 500 images of tropical birds from your last project that are all incredible, but you don’t want to be pigeonholed as “that guy that draws birds” - unless that’s the only thing you ever want to work on.
Make sure that your portfolio includes a number of different styles, techniques, and looks. A digital painter, for instance, should have at a bare minimum a few characters in closeup facial shots, a few characters in full figure shots, and a number of environmental works in both indoor and outdoor environments. This help your strengths in each area, and shows that you are capable of adapting your talents to a diverse set of tasks.
Keep in mind - if your portfolio has a big gap where you’re not showing some kind of work - such as figure drawing or images that include movement or action, I’m going to assume that’s because you can’t do that kind of work well. It’s your job to prove to me that you can.

3) Process
When I look at a portfolio, I want to know how you made each piece, and how long it took.
What lenses did you use on your camera? What kinds of media did you use on your traditional art? If you worked on a digital image, or if you animated or modeled something - what software did you use? What plugins? What kind of tablet? Explaining how each piece is made in you're porfolio help the employer hire you or not.

In the case of work that is heavily Photoshopped versions of photographs or references, it’s helpful to include the originals, so that I can clearly judge your work against the starting point you were working from. In fact, one of my favorite things to see in a portfolio is a step-by-step presentation showing how you made one of your best images, with work-in-progress shots leading up to the final image. This really lets me get my head around the way you work.

4) Credit
It’s critical for you to clarify precisely what work you were responsible for in any image.  If you created something as part of a team, clarify what your role in that team was, what your contribution to the work was, and properly credit the other contributors. Failure to do so will be seen as insensitive, or worse, as outright dishonest.
Additionally, if your work used references, or was heavily inspired by some other artists work, it is critical to include that information as well. While I may be impressed to see how you have reimagined the work of another artist, if you aren’t crediting that artist or reference, I’ll think you’re simply plagiarizing. That’s one of the fastest ways to have your portfolio dismissed, and to have your reputation in the industry destroyed.

5) Portability

6) Simplicity
Your portfolio should be a simple, clean page with images I can easily scroll through, with whatever text is necessary attached in a simple, easy to read font. Keep in mind that I may be looking at your portfolio on any of a number of devices - including tablets and netbooks - and I’ll be annoyed when I have to wait for all of your flash animations and java scripts to load. In fact, I probably just won’t bother. Honestly, my favorite format for a static art portfolio is a simple Flickr page - which you can have set up in a couple of minutes. If you are showing me still images, I want to see them as still images. Preferably in the resolution they were created in.
Keep the focus on delivering your art as simply and easily as possible, and let me view it on as many platforms as possible.

7) Accessibility
Easy to find 

8) Relevance
Finally, if you know something about the clients/companies you are submitting your portfolio to, try to lead with the most relevant materials.

My Sketchbook
The journey of an artist truly begin when he can learn from everyone error.
Teamwork make your dream work.
Asking help is the key to growth.
Hey, David I had a skip through your work, here are some thoughts.

I thought your work was decent, and you have some nice technical foundations but many of your pieces seemed to lack a sense of impact and left me a bit unmoved.

There were some great pieces:
mountain-spearhead, shambling colossus, and the Hander were probably my favourites for various reasons. I also noted with interest that these ones generally had a larger dynamic colour range than the others.

In terms of issues, I saw a few things. Your not-photobashed figures and people have some anatomy and proportion problems. The winged lady isn't quite drawn in perspective properly and has anatomy issues; the megaman face is highlighting gaps in your facial structure knowledge. All your figures tend to be very static for the most part.

With your photobashed environments, I am left a bit underwhelmed. Technically you do integrate the textures fairly well and generally the compositions are good, but I do see scope for improvement. I also see some small errors in perspective here and there, that make things look a little off.

I think that the colour palettes you use end up a little on the drab/gray side of things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

I think your lighting schemes are probably a bit weak. Adding a bit of dynamic lighting in areas would go far to enliven the pieces and create a bit more impact.

There is also very little "movement" and life in these enviro pieces. I know many of them are abandoned last of us style things, but a bit of dynamic weather effect, animals, smoke, fog or wind. Something to add a sense of a breathing world might help.

Lastly the topic of uniqueness. Looking honestly at most of the environments most of what I could see could be classified as "Last of Us" knockoffs or Kucara gumroad tutorial pieces. Anything that exhibits a bit more originality or felt like it had a bit more of your own vision in it, I liked more. Don't just do what Kucara or (insert big name concept guy) does, they are already doing it and are knocking it out of the park. What is it that you can bring to your pieces that they can't!

I think this is fairly important. Your own comment about being distracted by doing pieces based on jobs out there at the time is actually a very damaging mental space to be in. This means you are putting more priority on doing work that has been chosen based on job availability, rather than doing work that comes truly from within you. Perhaps you need to take a bit of a pause and have a good think about what kind of work you would like to do if money wasn't an issue. Then start to do some of those instead. You will probably end up with pieces that have a stronger sense of being to them.

Folio. I know quite a few people do this, but I personally don't think ArtStation does that well as a folio site. It is too generic, not personally branded and it would be very easy for people hiring you to wander off and check out a thousand other artists who are just one click away. Just something to think about, it will do in a pinch, but I think is the lazy way out.
Once again uniqueness: you are actually a business offering a service, you have to act like one and stand out from the crowd, not sit in the middle of it.
I think you need to be more brutal with the pieces you leave in your folio. Anything that shows errors in fundamentals needs to be removed or fixed. I would do this to the megaman piece (anatomy issues) , the heretic angel (anatomy, perspective, proportion issues) the forest pond (perspective, scale and comp issues), the sandbergh entrance (nice, but needs more punch), the delorean chase (I like it but that main figure is way too simple).
Using overly large images will slow download times, so keep them manageable.

Hope that helps!

 YouTube free learnin! | DeviantArt | Old Folio | Insta
Thank you guys for the insight!

I agree completely on everything you've said. I've been looking to put words to it and you hit them perfectly. The underwhelming aspect of some of my work definitely comes from the "dear god I hope they like this" instead of the "step back, I got something here you've never seen before that I love."

Definitely working on more anatomy as we speak. Also, taking a better look at color theory, perspective, movement, and the life of the piece. I haven't thought about it much, but definitely having life in pieces is something I haven't thought about or been confident about in a very long time. A little embarrassing to admit to being scared to put life into an art piece (stress, work jadedness, lack of self confidence, etc), but hey, that's what's been happening.

If we'll be honest, I want to be the guy that people come to for terror and terrifying concepts. I love that work and have been definitely been shunning myself away from that (the whole "everyone keeps getting work by doing sci fi and fantasy, I couldn't possibly make a name doing horror" belief). I would love to make a business primarily making horror and nightmare fuel in my own style, and have just been lacking the confidence about it for their being interest in it. But the life and attractiveness of the work comes from the life and interest of the painter, first, I think.

Less concern over what others think, more concern over what makes me happy about my own work. Along with constant progression on the fundamentals.

Thanks for the awesome words, I'll be taking this and improving on this once I post this :)

David Szilagyi, 
Professional Badass, phD.
Awesome man. Go and be THAT GUY! Scare the bloody pants off us :)

 YouTube free learnin! | DeviantArt | Old Folio | Insta
As a person who can't draw scary things for the life of me - by all means, go for your dream! If you can really master that one subject matter, I'm sure you can find work anywhere you want to, lots of people can draw the pretty girl with the bikini armour and the big sword, but I know only few that come to mind as doing horror exceptionally well. And really, monsters are needed in every genre, not just in pure horror. What's the scifi guy in the cool tech suit without the scary alien to fight, what's the shiny fantasy hero without the undead of his world?
If you do the same as everyone else, you're one of many, even if you do it reasonably well. Stand out from the crowd, do your thing!


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