Why artist's quit
  Hey, if this is too long or negative to read , please just read the first 2 sentences and scroll down to " WHY I'M WRITING THIS"
 Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with an old buddy from daggers. We talked about why many people spend years practicing and did everything humanly possible to become a professional artist , but in the end didn't make it.
 My friend's answer was very depressing one and one I heard  from many of my friends here on Daggers. At first what he said made sense, but actually its totally false.  What he claimed was that the art path in general is not worth it, because you waste way more time studying art than you would study for any other career path and in the end you have no guarantee you would get a job. If you do get one, you have no job security and usually the pay is shit. After a while you would need to start doing something else as a career, because if you are +30, you simply can't live with that type of salary. "On top of that" he added, while you spend years of isolation, preparing for this "shit" job, you lose a lot of friends. You lose most of your social connections and in the end that makes you a resentful and lonely person. He said, he wished people told him that 4 years ago so he would never got involved with art in the first place.
 Why some people make it according to his logic was  "talent", "some people have it, most of us don't". It kind of makes sense, if you literary did everything humanly possible and made sacrifices no sane person would, it has to be talent. Because talent is something out of your reach. Most people on daggers did everything humanly possible, didn't make it and gave up, thus the aspect that determines your success has to be something you have no control over.
 Well that's BS and that is the mindset of many of my friends here. I decided to make this thread, because this is a problem very UNIQUE to mainly to people from Daggers.
 I'm an old Dagger and I have worked in a few studios and on few good projects. I've been a part of both sides - studying for years, being depressed, isolated,  having panic attacks and wondering how people make it and later working on big budget projects with fellow artist's who didn't had the toxic lifestyle I had and didn't made sacrifices even close to what most people did, here on daggers.
 Here is why I think think this is a problem unique to daggers and not with artist in general:
 A lot of people from daggers are doing literally everything in their knowledge in order to make it, but in the end of the day many don't understand the nature of the industry they want to be a part of. 
 Most Daggers I talk to want to freelance and focus mainly on improving their skills in order to get work. This is a huge problem for 2 reasons.
 Freelancing - If you start freelancing right away the biggest problem is not understanding what the job is. While I was in a studio, the most important thing I learned was how movies were made. This was vital for my job because you start to understand how your work is used in the other departments. Like one time I was given a task to paint a concept for an exploding building for a vfx shot, my art director was happy with how it looked but made me do it all over again, because I painted armatures and too many broken elements which in the end of the day would cost the production time and money for a shot which was not so important. Sometimes I started  a task and overly complicated my process, usually a co-worker comes and say " Nah, we do it like this and its waay faster and effective than what you are doing" ,
this feedback for something which can take me 5 hours of work might be solved in 15 mins, was absolutely vital. When you prepare a concept or a painting, you have to know why they ask you to do it in order to prioritize your time on what is important. For example when I had to do a painting for a director it had to be very moody, the designs didn't have to be very specific but the intensity of the visual storytelling had to be strong, so the director is happy with the art department and wants to shoot that scene from your concept. When I had to do a painting for the production designer on the other hand... the mood and visual story telling couldn't be less important, it was all about level design(what needs to be where and how the actor would interact with those elements), what the aesthetics are (architectural elements, style etc.) and basically making a VR like walk though so the production designer can get a feeling of the scale of the place and if the elements are what he wants. Sometimes I had to do concepts for the modelers, you have to know their way of thinking and how they break a concept so you could deliver exactly what they need for that exact specific task. I give all those examples because, if your first job is freelancing there is not way you learn that. This is something you develop from a lot of conversations, help from co-workers and being able to make a ton of mistakes.
If you start freelancing right away here is what usually happens ->
1. Either you don't get jobs because you make cool art, but its something the client cant use. For example you make very cool 2D environment concept, but the client wants people who know 3D because they want to explore the environment more freely, may be a client who looks to hire somebody for illustration sees it and says " its a cool design, but this person doesn't have a level of execution which i would need for this to be printed in my ... book, tabletop game etc."  So for your 2D concept sketch  is not 3D and cant serve the purposes of a modern pipeline in a game or movie , but since its a concept and its not finished enough cant make it as an illustration either. I'm not saying you cant do 2D environment concept art or loose sketches which can be added into a book. I'm saying you have to know the purpose of your art and as cool as it looks , does it serve the purpose for the type of job you want? It can't just
be cool.
2. Another problem if you start freelancing right away and you get stuck with small personal clients(not companies or studios). This has to do with again - not knowing how the whole machine works, how your art is going to be used, what
technical things they require etc. Nobody is going to spend time to teach you that unless you are an intern or a junior in a studio.
3. You don't know how to approach freelancing itself, where to search for jobs etc. This is another reason why I feel its better to start in a studio, because talking to your co-workers you hear their stories where each of them worked before,
stories about their friends, where their friends worked and how they approached it. Learn about studios which approached your co-workers or their friends for freelancing, who messed up and why, who did a great job, why the client was happy etc. You just don't get this networking at discords servers etc (at least in my experience)
The second aspect which I find problematic apart from starting right away with freelancing is the idea of :
Improving your skills and art quality - This is a very good an admirable thing, but again if you don't know how companies work , how do you know what to focus on? Please believe me when I say  - I and a lot of my fellow daggers busted our asses on things which weren't so important and ignored the important bits for waay too long. This has to do INMO with imitating what other people on the forum did , who themselves focused on the wrong things.
  Ok so, why did I wrote this thread? It's not to complaint or to say " i know something you don't ".  I did all the wrong things myself, probably more than most people in the forum. I just want to share my experience so others don't make my mistakes. So I decided to write about this problem, which has been an issue in the forum problem for years.
 I've know many people who started and found a job with way less skill than most people here. You don't need to sacrifice everything for years and feel horrible in order to achieve your dream. 
  So here is what I did and how many of my non-daggers friends approached it.
Start with a studio because :
- You learn what to focus on, at the same time what you need to stop doing in your process in order to stop wasting  time
-There are people who could help you along the way with how to approach things. 
- In the animation industry for example there were many people with 0 drawing experience who now are big names in the animation industry, because they started at a studio and learned very fast how to approach things, I have friends who started with less skills than most of you and within 2-3 years worked for ubisoft, for movies etc.
- A studio is a place where you could learn and make mistakes if you are starting out , with freelancing making mistakes just pisses off the client.
- Even if its the worst studio and job in the world, it gives you waay more than freelancing would give you in the beginning -  it would give you a nice understanding on how things work and why they are the way they are. It would give you connection's with people who have connections as well in order to help you out.
How to approach it ?
1. Location is very important, usually most studios (especially in small countries) are located at the same place. So its good to search for "that city" or area in the  country you live where most studios are.
Because if things don't work with your first studio you have many other studios to choose from ,thus you don't have to worry that you need to travel back to your hometown if things don't work out.
2. Choose studios and contact people who work there. Send and email , tell them you love their work , ask them to look at your portfolio and what you need to improve in order to work there. Ask if they hire people or if its very rare.
Follow their feedback on your portfolio, compare your work to theirs. When you followed their feedback, then contact their Art director asking the same question - saying you want to work there , is your portfolio good enough to apply and if not , what to work on improving?  Use that feedback -> work on it , send again. Then repeat.
3. Continue approaching studios until you get a job.
It doesn't matter how good or bad the studio is , whats important is the knowledge you get about "how things work" , plus as shitty as the pay might be , its probably gonna be way more than if you start freelancing right away.
What happened with me was. I contacted a concept artist who worked in one of the studios I wanted to apply for work. He gave me feedback and I continued working on my stuff. I kept uploading my work, not thinking I was good enough to apply to the job.While I was preparing, both of my dream studios contacted me at the same time to work for them.
  So preparation and knowing exactly what a specific studio wants and how they want to see it executed is insanely important.
At the moment I'm preparing to start freelancing again and I just wanted to share my experience with you.So you don't make the same mistakes many of us did. 
I hope this thread helps at least one person, because I doubt anybody would actually sit and read it through.. hah
That's actually very helpful! And very clear :) Thanks for sharing Mariyan!

Amazing post Mariyan, however, please split it up a bit in diffirent sections. It was a bit tiresome to follow along with it when it's almost one big paragraph :)

I think that we as artists need to accept and realize that this industry is changing very quickly and adapt our studying and work to it. We tend to spend a lot of time just creating generic fantasy illustrations like it was still 2005, rather then focusing on the work the industry is actually asking for. Right now, im seeing a lot of openings in casino games/mobile games, so it would benefit anyone who wants to work there to study how to make stuff look colorful, read on a small screen etc rather then to just study random fundamentals. Also, learning 3D is becoming a must rather then a plus in this industry.

In the end, you gotta ask yourself: How much do you really want this? And then, it's a good idea to drop your ego and actually adapt your art to what the industry wants. I myself have been guilty of overstudying certain topics and focusing to much on what I was allready good at rather then tackle the "hard stuff".

Awesome post Mariyan! Thank you for reaching back down the ladder to help.

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.” -- H. Jackson Brown Jr.

CD Sketchbook

Very informative and a pretty spot on truth bomb.
Oh thank god someone said it, and someone with actual experience. Gaining experience was the goal of a lot of people through the daily grind, the challenges, and the self-appointed mentorships, but ultimately without the practical experience, it was the blind leading the blind.

I know I had my moment of being the poster child of miserable artist in the forum, with a penchant for alcoholism and overworking, but I've since overcome my difficulties with my working life and where I stand with art and study. I know Game art just isn't a career for me, but narrative illustration, there's still room. I have joined with publishers in the past, I have been approached for freelance work, but my mindset and preparation just wasn't all there. Now I'm working on it. There's experience, and lessons in failure, and nothing to be ashamed of. But, it's great to have people like yourself share your experiences and help guide, not dictate, the path of the up-and-comers.


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Dang this is an interesting thing to bring up. Especially since I'm aiming for animation or anything story-based, this just goes to show how important being flexible on what the client needs rather than just some things you randomly thought of. This is something really useful. Thank you

I don't think this post is negative at all Mariyan-Hristov. It seems like you're giving valuable advice to people who are trying to get into the industry (if that is their goal, of course not everyone has that goal). I find this post really interesting I'm kind of in a place where I'm trying to define my artistic/career goals cause I've spent a long time just aimlessly pursuing the fundamental, getting depressed because of lack of enjoyment and progress and quitting. I think having a concrete goal of what industry I want to be and logically thinking what steps I have to take to get there is a very good idea to stay motivated and focused. Thank you for your insights.

On a related note, for anyone interested in getting into video game concept design specifically, this is an amazing video by feng zhu with very good advice on what you should have in your portfolio to get a job: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fPq1AF7v0E
As someone with extensive work history and that has changed careers sometimes (but no, I don't work in art related field) what you are saying is absolutely right. I always saw freelancing in art in the same way you see a consultant: someone with a lot of work experience and knowledge (sometimes very specific knowledge) in a field that is going to earn a premium wage to help you solve an specific issue.... Actually, sometimes, you don't even need that much of knowledge, but be sure as hell you need someone with a lot of work experience to point up what your team have to change to improve your performance, reach you goal and etc...

There in no way that a company will pay a consultant that lacks any of the aforementioned qualities. In this case, is better to use your own internal team. At least, they already know how your company's work culture.

And like many other users had said: it is a job in the end of the day. You have to deliver what the CLIENT WANTS. What, you don't like creating mobile games assets? Well, too bad. What, you want to create your own super life changing animation? Good, do that in your free time. Right now, we need you to ilustrate the new Barbie-doll box.

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