I want your job!


I asked this question in another forum a while ago but didn’t get too many responses. I hope things will be a little different here.

How many people here actually work in the industry and what did you have to do to get there? Did you just get picked up or did you go to some sort of art school? If you did go to school was it 2 or four years and what was your major?

Anything else you can tell me would be good too. This is the industry that I want to work in and so far I have no Idea how to get there.


Heh, perhaps your title is scaring them away :smiley:

I’ve been doing 3D since I was 14 in 1995 and after high school in 2000 I did a 6 Month course which was fairly useless. I did however make some good contacts and got used to doing 40h weeks of 3D for 6 months straight (as opposed to a few crazy weeks at a time).

When it became time to start looking for a proper job, I searched for months and found it incredibly difficult to get anywhere due to my young age and lack of industry experience (despite 5-6 years of solid practise and freelance etc.).
In the end it came down to luck :smiley: I applied for a job interstate, and it turned out an old friend had just started working there a month earlier. I got a phone call 15 mins later, they flew down a guy to interview me, blitzed the test and moved up the following week. From there I climbed the ranks over time.

So I suppose like most things, it’s not what you know it’s who you know… Aslong as you have the skill and talent to back it up.


i think sadist could be right. dosent explain the thread to much either.

but for me i didnt really think i was going to get into 3d. i used to be interested when i had an amiga but never got into it then. i did product design at st martins for 3 years and in my last year started getting into visualising my designs on the computer using max. after college 3d took over and started doing vis for product design whilst still doing design work aswell. but i wanted more imagination and creative freedom to do unreal stuff that didnt require brittish standards 308!!! so i geared my portfolio to games and started sending my cv and covering letter around with examples. this took about six months to get ready, but i’m very lazy! finally the place i’m at now took me on. now i’m a sponge for everything 3d…

its feeding time and kevy’s hungry!

that dosent really give you any idea of how to do it. basically work out where in 3d you want to work. modeller/texturer, animator, designer etc etc and gear you portfolio/showreel to that specialism. get a diamond cv and covering letter and a few small examples apply to as many agencies as possible and send direct to as many companies as possible. soon you should get an interview. you’ll probably crash and burn a couple of times but its natural. oh, and keep working on your own stuff for that showreel!!! :wink:


and make a site :slight_smile:


Hey Lloyd (Farquar), I like the 3d_scrag char on your site. Nice :slight_smile:

I would definitely recommend the building of a personal website too. Although, I must admit, I haven’t bothered. I used to have one a few years ago, but got rid of it with the intention of creating a new one. I never did, but hope to soon.

My way into the games industry was probably different to most. I got a job in Ocean Software QA department (testing) first of all. While doing that, I had my foot in the door.

I bought a PC and started to dabble with some graphics and stuff. When I had something worth showing, I pestered the relevant people and made it known I’d like to end up as an artist. Eventually, I was given a chance and my first assignment was to do some sprites for Jurassic Park II on the Super Nintendo.

Ever since, I have remained a games artist, yet I have no qualifications in art or the like. So, it goes to show that there are different ways of getting into the industry.

Right then, I really need to get my site done, don’t I? :slight_smile:

Oh, I can say that some companies DO hire on the strengths of a website. I know where I work now, this has happened on numerous occasions.

Wiro, is a prime example. He’s a great artist and is a real asset to the company. Although, he can’t make a decent cuppa tea :wink:


we’ve had testers turn artists a few times over here. its a vrey good way if you can hack all the testing.

we need more examples of getting into the industry people!! these are only two unique/not so unique ways. come on guys, tell us how you made it into the job where you do the thing you did as a child but with more gizmos!!

yes, definetly make a site. i am, and its taken me about a year so far… :hmm:


SO I got my start by going to a school that specialized in 3d. Finished up school, did a 2 month unpaid internship at a game company, then I sanded furniture for a while. A couple of months later, a friend of mine’s boss saw my website through him and they asked for a reel, and a few weeks lated I had a job. Now I’m looking once again, but it’s so much easier with unemployment (as opposed to sanding furniture and looking) to support me while I look :slight_smile:

So… the most valuable thing i think (other than your work) is contacts and a website.

Anybody else?


I went to school at Cogswell College in the bay area, got a BA in Computer & Video Imaging with an emphasis in game design. Then I got extremely lucky by posting my work on cgtalk. The senior artist at Nufx near Chicago got in touch with me after seeing one of my posts with a Lombard Street scene. Hang in there and keep posting your work on sites like this one and cgchat. There are a lot of industry professionals browsing these sites. Making a site would help a great deal as well as constantly updating your reel. One word of advice too…don’t take this the wrong way…but your previous post entitled “don’t be a sissy” makes you look like you have an attitude. Not necessarily a good thing when looking for a job. Hang in there, you’ll find some work eventually.


One thing (and it may sound obvious) is as you build a reel or a website, make sure you keep the samples of your work to a minimum and only show the best stuff. Quality over quantity always looks better. The first showreel I did was crud because I overloaded it so much art, and had too many sections to wade through.
Even with my website now, I left alot of ok art samples out because I wanted the site as simple as I could make it.

Just a suggestion anyway.


These are what I consider the three most important aspects of getting a job in any industry, and this is how I got in.

  1. Self Promotion

I think this is most important. Remember when you were a kid and your mom told you that if you get lost in the store to just stand still and let them find you? The same applies to looking for a job in my opinion. Let me explain.

You are only one person, so if you spend all of your time searching out companies to work for, tailoring yourself to their expectations, and not making yourself available and reachable to others then you are the one that has to do all the work. You are only one person seeking out many.

If on the other hand you promote and market yourself correctly then you have the opposite, you have many people and companies seeking out you. The last two jobs I had I never even applied for, they contacted me with job offers completely out of the blue.

-Make a portfolio website and promote the hell out of it. Make yourself known and visible. Every time you make a new piece of art post it and link back to your site. Word of mouth travels fast and then you no longer only have one person working on finding you a job (yourself) but you have hundreds of people working for you. The odds are in your favor now.

-Make contacts. Talk to people who are in the industry and people who are talented up and comers who may be there in the future. One day these people may be working someplace that is in need of a good artist, and you might be the first person that comes into their mind to fill the position. Especially if you helped them earlier on their career.

2. Ambition

-Never let yourself be content and never let yourself be comfortable. Once you get into the industry that is not the end of the quest, that is the beggining. If you are at the same job for a year and you have not advanced your role on the team, increased your responsibilities and contribution to the project, recieved a performance based raise and increased your value as an employee then you are preparing yourself to be replaced. The next eager college kid who comes through the door, full of piss and vinegar and with salary requirements half of what they are paying you will be sitting at your desk!

3. Continuous Self Improvement

-Never stop learning. I know so many people who start working proffessionally and all of a sudden their portfolio stops growing. The people who were before making leaps and bounds in progress every day trying to find a new job have halted their progress with the day to day activities performed at work. Technology is always changing and you gotta keep with it. Because when you lose your job (and this will probably happen several times) your old demo reel may not be what it used to be when compared to the current market. And the stuff you make at work often is not your best work because it is influenced by time, 3rd party input, and many other factors.

Finally (Please don’t flame me for this. It’s only my opinion and experience).

School means nothing! Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! Unless you are incapable of teaching yourself. The only people I find who disagree with this statement are the people who went to school. I can understand why also, If I make a 40k investment in my education I would expect it to carry with it some value as well. I am 22 years old, self taught, been working in the game industry since I was 18.

A significant part of my daily routine is spent teaching college graduates (who are older than I am and hold entry level positions) things that I know that they do not. If you need to go to school to learn the skills then by all means go. But if you think it’s going to look shiny on your resume it’s not. You can learn everything you need form a few books, the internet, and a lot of hours of practice.

School is for making money for the establishment, not for educating you. Schools are a business. They are in the business of selling you a dream of a career. They are not in the business of providing you with realistic expectations and a pertinent education. If they were there would not be 100 times as many students studying to get into the game industry as there are people working in the game industry. The job section here at CGTalk would not be filled with so many recent college graduates who have been searching for work unsuccessfully for six months.

Take a sampling of the richest people in the population. And then ask yourself how many of them got to where they are because of structured schooling and traditional education? Creative, Ambitious, Independant people are the ones at the top: Musicians, Actors, Directors, Sports Stars, Businessmen with Alternative Approaches to Business. People with Passion and Desire and an Idea that no-one else has. Not people who were fed through a predefined and structured educational machine that is designed to “manufacture” sucessfull people. Those are the people who make up the middle class. Not surprisingly the middle class makes up the largest portion of the population.

I’m only using financial status as an analogy here, but I believe that the same approach can be taken to reach any goal (such as getting a job in the game industry). If you take the road less traveled you shoulder the most risk, and you also stand to make the most gains if you are sucessfull. If you do what everyone else does then you are only as valuable as everyone else. If you learn what school teaches you then you know as much as the other 30 students in the classroom, unfortunately there are not 30 jobs waiting for all of you.

Sorry if I sound preachy, I’m very idealistic :slight_smile: But now you have my opinion so I’ll shut up. Good luck in getting a job.


Yo Erik,

I partly agree with your statement about school and education not being totally important with the games industry. Employers are more interested in your work and talents, rather than qualifications.

However, it does become a problem if one wants to work abroad and gain a visa. Let’s say a British guy wants to work in Australia as a games artist. Without the right qualifications, he has a slim chance of gaining the visa. Some countries are very choosy and won’t entertain an application without the necessary quals. There are ways round this, but it might mean the applicant would require 10 to 12 years of industry experience.

Just a point worth noting. The right qualifications can open up more options.


Well the producer at DICE once told me that some developers may look in your resumé after High School graduation or higher to see if you can finish something that you’ve begun.

This may be a argument against your “school means nothing” but I definetly share your opinion about.

You’ll teach yourself alot better than any constructor does. If you are lucky to find the right school who uses the right app. They will not teach more than you already know. A big waste of money.

Anyway… This is my opinions.


Yeah but to them I say that there is a difference between a dropout and someone who decides never to go to school in the first place.

On the other hand some people drop out of school to start a job early in the field that they were attending school for. These people aren’t quitters, they are overachievers. If the ultimate goal of school is to get a job then I don’t see how achieving that goal early could ever be considered a negative point. And if the ultimate goal of school is to recieve an education I’m sure everyone will agree that you’ll learn twice as much your first year on the job as you did four years in school.


I agree with everything Erik said in his original post, especially about self-promotion.

Post your work in public places and let people comment on it. This will help you improve and let potential employers see your work. I posted an image from my student demo reel in an internet gallery, and was asked if it could be used for box-cover art for a game (this was 3 years ago). CG Talk is perfect for this kind of help and exposure.


Okay, as an advocate of higher education, I would like to address the comments made by Erik Asorson. I agree with most of the points made in your first post, very good advice from someone who obviously has experience. But I believe that your opinions about the importance and benefit of getting a college degree are not correct. And don’t worry, I’m not going to flame you, but I am going to disagree with you.

I’ve heard these kind of statements regarding school before. Most often by people who never attended college, or did and dropped out of one. Also, often by people who like to talk a great deal about “the establishment.” College isn’t for everyone. Frankly, not everyone is cut out for it. But also, not everyone really needs it.

This is partly true (at least in the past) in the game industry. The game industry is one of the few high-tech and high-paying business areas that will frequently employ people without a college degree. This is because, as stated by Mr. Asorson, it is possible to acquire the skills neccessary for a game job through self-teaching.

However, this is changing. More and more often I am reading interviews with game companys and seeing job postings that emphasize the need for at least an Associate’s degree if not a Bachelor’s degree as a requirement to work for them. The game industry is getting more competitive, and the needs for a solid education to distinguish yourself and demonstrate responsibility are rising. In the past it wasn’t as much of a consideration since there were no schools that taught game-specific courses/skills (at least in art and design) and very few that taught digital/3D art and multimedia. Now there are many schools which have entire 3D art and multimedia majors, some schools which teach courses in game design, and even some which are dedicated entirely to game-oriented education (like Digi-Pen.)

Going through college is time-consuming, expensive, and very demanding. Managing to get through a 4 year school is an accomplishment that takes focus, dedication, and responsibility. All traits that are valuable not just in the game industry, but any industry. It shows potential employers that you have the ability to stick with something when the light at the end of the tunnel may be far off, that you can meet deadlines, perform to or above others’ rigorous expectations, follow directions, and interact with other people. Essentially college teaches you not just a profession, but also how to be professional.

Another point to make in favor of pursuing a college education is that the game industry is very hard to break into, even for those who are very talented and ambitious. The most common stories I hear of how people got into the industry is that they knew someone already in it. I don’t believe that the industry should work that way, but it does. And since taking college courses is a great way of meeting people and making contacts, both among students and professors, this is a big plus.

And while you are waiting (i.e. striving) for that dream job with a game company, you will be very qualified with your college education to get a job in many related fields (software development, graphic design, marketing, television, journalism, technical support, advertising, administration, video editing, etc.) And should you find the game industry not to your liking once you get in (as some do) other careers will be that much easier to break into with a college degree. A liberal arts education teaches you to be well-rounded and qualified to work in more than just one nitch. Your list of job opportunities will be much broader, as will be your potential for advancement within your career field.

Other reasons to go to college:

  • Large, high-tech computer labs (can you say, “render farm?”) :wink:

  • A wide variety of the latest (and legally obtained) software.

  • Exposure to new ideas and different kinds of people. Tolerance and openess to others’ ideas are people skills that will take you far.

  • Many clubs and activities for people to get together who may share your interests and hobbies.

  • Access to school libraries, expensive editing equipment, and other resources.

  • Much more potential to get an internship or co-op at a game company or company in a related field, for that much-coveted work experience.

  • Feedback about your work from your peers and betters (although nothing beats posting on the internet!)

  • Opportunities to study abroad (trust me, this can be a life-changing experience.)

  • College doesn’t just help you develop as a professional, it helps you develop as a person.

  • and the number one reason to go to college… coeds!!! :bounce: (trust me, this is worth the 40k+ investment alone! :drool: )

This all said, I am one of those recent college graduates who has been looking for a job for the past six months. Trust me, the irony is not wasted on me. :rolleyes: But at the same time, I know that my education has not been a waste. I made an investment in my future. Through my education, experience, and accomplishments in college I have come to realize what I am capable of and honed the skills that are neccessary for success. Skills that would have been much harder to obtain without the benefit of a structured and challenging ecucation. I know that I have limitless potential, and will get as far as my ambition takes me.

Although I don’t have all the answers, I do believe that my opinions are valid and hope to encourage others who may be considering university education to do so. I have been researching the game industry for years to prepare myself, and am continuing to do so. I have interned in the past at a game company and several software companies. Although I am currently seeking full-time employment, I have for the past several months been earning a living doing freelance work in animation and design. And I will continue to work hard, constantly learning, constantly bettering myself, to my dying day. College was simply one step among many I have and will take to get me where I want to be.

Okay, this ended up being much longer than I originally intended. But it’s an opinion in the opposite direction which needed to be stated. In the end, it’s up to each person to decide what is best for himself/herself. Good luck to everybody!!!

  • Me



Sanhueza, it’s good to hear an alternative opinion. Makes the conversation intersting. I have a great deal of love for education. In fact, believe it or not one of my long term goals is to become a teacher. But I think that as a whole most of the colleges today can be classified as a failure. They just aren’t producing very many people who are qualified for the job they are seeking once they graduate.

I think the reason for this is that schools judgements are clouded by the desire to make money. The more people they can charge for tution the more money they will make. They have to recruit their quota of new students each year. Whether or not those students have the potential to become a proffesional artist in the first place and whether or not they are provided with an adequate education while they are there doesn’t affect their business model. After all there are no refunds, and if you fail it is your own fault for not trying hard enough. At least that is what they will tell you :slight_smile:

In my opinion they should have much stricter policies for admission, and also much stricter grading scales. You should not be able to pass for “doing your best”. You should only be able to pass if you are hitting a quality bar high enough to actually get you a job, not just a pat on the back and a “that’s very nice” from your proffesor.

When you are a senior they should recruit a panel of people from the industry who are in charge of hiring (art directors, hr people, etc.) to grade the work just as if it was a demo reel from a job applicant, with no mercy and no extra considerations because you are a student. If the work is not up to par for an entry level position then you do not get your diploma!

If that were the case then a diploma would actually mean something. I have had the unpleasant experience of sitting through hundreds of recent college graduates’ demo reels and I am thoroughly convinced that they sell those pieces of paper at the student store!!

Besides whenever reviewing artist applicants it’s always reel first, if reel is good proceed to resume. If someone has a awesome reel and then they don’t have any schooling on their resume the hiring manager is not going to choose the next person in line who has a mediocre reel and a college education. I have sat in on many discussions about hiring and not once have I ever heard the subject of education even discussed. Experience, talent, speed, personal appearance, location, salary requirements, enthusiasm, personality. I’ve heard all of those factored in quite often, but I have never heard anyone say “Did this guy go to college?”.

Is there anyone out there who works at a studio that places a high level of importance on secondary education for artists? If so it would be great to hear the flip side of the coin. I can only speak from my personal experiences and I’d hate to be giving out innacurate advice.

Although that may qualify me for a teaching position at the local art center :stuck_out_tongue: joke


Again, I agree with everything Erik says. He’s on a roll!

When a kid goes to the store and buys a videogame, do you think he cares about what schools the artists went to? No! He cares about what the game looks like, and how much fun it is to play. If you learn how to make appealing artwork at home or at school, it really doesn’t matter. This applies to the hiring process as well. If you have a Masters in Fine Art, but your artwork looks like garbage, nobody will hire you. If you have just a high school education, but make the most amazing art a person has seen, you will be hired.

I paid $19,000 dollars for one year of school. That was the worst decision I have ever made in my life. The time I spent away from work allowed me to concentrate on learning, but it was a massive waste of my money. I should have put a down payment on a house instead.


I’ll just add my 2c hehe…

I’ve just looked through our job descriptions/requirements as we’re hiring soon. For general artists, (2d,2d/3d,3d,animator etc)theres an education and/or experience section, yet no mention of course requirements, just the ability to PROVE that you can do the work to standard.
Lead artists however, are required to have a degree behind them.

My personal objection to uni/college courses is that the majority of lecturers I’ve met don’t have the 3d skills necessary. While some people like to teach (hey I love tutoring when I have time), how many quality artists would prefer teaching about an industry over actively being a part of it.
What’s more, I’ve never seen detailed 3d, polygon, texture etc. theory as course subjects (not talking about learning specific programs either). Yes it’s nice to have a good all round art knowledge, but these courses MOSTLY suppliment the necessary skills for game art.
IMO, the best place to learn them is to pull apart current game art (whether it’s source art or even just playing games and analysing how they do things), aswell as thorough reading on technique, keeping up to date with the trends and limits, and practise practise practise practise.

To sum up my opinions…
An artist’s natural artistic ability can be seen in their folio work regardless of where and how they were educated.
A piece of paper will never verify artistic judgements and technical skill as accurately.
An artist that decides what skills are necessary and learns them by themself, without structured guidance, has just as much focus and determination, if not more so than a uni graduate.


…As a side note, I recall discussing uni education with a lead programmer when I started here. At his previous company they actually discriminated against uni education. Applicants were rarely trained for what was required, and usually had a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, where as self taught applicants were more keen to adapt to the job and learn new skills.


…but please remember.

Lack of academic qualifications does limit your options for working abroad/emigrating. Not so bad if one doesn’t intend to leave their country, but a real hurdle if one wants to work in\emigrate to another country.


Okay. The job thing. Here’s what you’re going to have to do to get a game company to hire you.

Send a demo reel with a quality of work of current 3D games’ characters, levels, etc. If it’s anything less than “pro-level,” then it’ll likely get tossed back into the stack. And make sure it’s actually made with games in mind. You’ll need to be able to take an objective look at your own work and having a community like CG Talk that can give you critiques certainly helps.

If it makes that first cut, then make sure you aren’t a jackass in the interview. You’d be surprised, but some people have a huge ego and get turned away based solely on that. We don’t want to work with a fresh new recruit who already knows it all, but in reality knows next to nothing about real game development. On the other hand, someone who draws really well but knows no 3D and has a good attitude can get hired and taught what he/she needs to know. As a matter of fact, we have a guy now that has never touched a 3D program in his life but draws some of the most amazing concept work we’ve ever seen. And he’s very humble about it.

And to give another perspective about the school thing…
I would venture to say that most game artists in Japan have some form of higher education before they’ve started working.
Of course, there are game schools all over the place in Tokyo. Namco and Konami, among others, have their own game schools which they use to find a high percentage of their entry level people. The first thing that seems to be asked in game artist interviews is whether or not you went to any kind of design school.

This has been said before, but I thought I’d say it again. A 4 year degree is a requirement for most foreigners to obtain a work visa in Japan.

You’ll learn things in school that you may not be able to learn anywhere else. Or not as easily. But schools were never meant to teach you everything you need to know. They give you the foundation of learning how to learn, which will help you for the rest of your life. So you still need to be a self-motivator and be able to teach yourself.

Couldn’t you just teach yourself all this and save a lot of money? Sure you could. I, personally, wouldn’t go back and do things any other way. College was a great time. Besides, you have the rest of your life to work. That was my thinking on the subject anyway.

Hope this helps some.