[GC artist and animator Rich Ponte takes a moment to offer some tips on getting your foot in the door and maintaining a career as a video game artist.]
The trick to succeeding in game development is not only getting in the door, but learning how to stay there once you've gotten in. Talent and experience can usually open doors for an aspiring game creator, but some very small missteps can ultimately close those doors again with you standing outside in the cold, unforgiving rain wondering what just happened.
Here are a few tips for those of you looking to find and keep a job in video game animation.
Step 1: Get the door open!
In both animation and video games, it is your portfolio that gets you the interview. Yes, your well formatted and grammatically correct resume helps,and so does having friends in the business. But the quality of your works is paramount in opening the doors to a successful career.
The portfolio is an organized display of your very best work. In most fields, it is organized as a demo reel or website. In the past a flat book may have been included and is sometimes still called for. But in any set of requirements the ultimate need is always the same: High quality work. It helps if you're a well-rounded artist as well. It isn't a necessity but I would rather hire a good modeler that also paints then a good modeler that has no other creative skills.
If your work is all quality, keep it simple. Display your work in a creative yet straightforward manner; don't make the viewer work to see what you've done. If you want a larger library of past work, make that secondary to the presentation of the "demo reel"on your website. In the end, the first and most important thing a potential employer should see is your reel. It's also beneficial to include an in-depth explanation if your work, but that secondary to the reel because employers will only read it if they would like to know more about your creative skills.
Ponte's animated short Granny's Walker
An important skill to have with putting together a reel and portfolio website is self-editing: The ability to see if your work is good or bad. Hopefully when you're applying for a job all of your work is good. But with any portfolio, some work will be better than others. It is important to be able to view your work critically and outside of yourself so you only include your very best pieces. Leave pride out of the equation and look at the work as if it is not your own. Only by doing this will you be able to step outside of your personal feelings, whether they're good or bad.
Even though they'll never say so, the look and feel of your website is just as important to potential employers as your work is. Think of it this way: If your work is amazing and so is someone else's, you're considered equal in skill. But if your portfolio comes packed up in a greasy paper bag and your competition's is in a shiny slick plastic clamshell, that job will not be yours. Your presentation of the work you do speaks to your aesthetics and professional pride. Can you see what does and does not look good outside of your skill set? Are you a truly creative person that can add to the company's talent pool? Those types of questions will arise while looking a good work in a bad package.
Another short animation from Ponte's demo reel
So to sum it up, here's what you need to get an interview:
- A Portfolio of quality work.
- A well-rounded creative background, with more than just one skill.
- A demo reel that contains the best work you have done.
- A well designedwebsite -- not a blog -- to display your reel.
- A resume that's formatted properly and grammatically correct.
- A good sense of aesthetics and a discerning critical eye.