Taking out a loan in pursuit of working in the industry?


Hello Cgsociety, I need some artist advice in regards to finance.

I was wondering if anyone had experience taking out a loan to help when they were either transitioning or did begin working in the industry?

I’ve been working very hard on building up an Environment/Surfacing/Matte Artist portfolio but I’ve also been doing this while living off my current savings (which I’m now beginning to run short). I realized if were to go back to working a minimum wage job again, not only would this mean I would dramatically have less time to work on my portfolio, but I also came to realization that any money I would make would barely help me make big decisions in the long run (i.e if I wanted to move to another part of Canada that might be hiring for VFX, a minimum wage job is going to take forever to have enough money to move).

On the flipside, I understand the risks of taking out a loan. It would put me in debt that I would eventually have to pay off. But I’ve been wanting to take this risk if it finally means I’ll have the money to move to any VFX/Games Studio and once I start working, I can begin to pay it off.


Hello. What kind of expenditure the loan is supposed for? I mean, do you need it for hardware, or some expensive education curriculum? Or just to have money until you study?


I’ve graduated school and have been working on my portfolio for a few years.
So basically I’m unemployed but I had enough money saved so I wouldn’t starve.

The loan I’m looking to take out, would act as a safeguard to move to another city and begin a new life there (and pay it off with the first job working in the VFX industry).


You should consider the risks. I would first try to get in touch with companies to assess the prospects of being employed. If you are certain you’re eligible to be hired, it’s more reasonable.



I’m not sure incurring debt would be the answer (IMO). I would think you could still work on your portfolio even with a part/full time job. I am not sure which city you currently reside in, but to be honest, I don’t think moving to Vancouver( or Montreal) would make your chances any better at finding a job.


For game industry work, both cities are far more thriving in that regard compared to the current province I’m in. There’s only one or two AAA studios but there’s also 100 game art colleges pumping out students around the clock.

This is actually something I found frustrating living here. If I have to make a portfolio, it either had to be tailored specifically for one Game Studio, or I could make a portfolio for all the TV/Film/Animation studios which are far more abundant.

Because money is very much an issue, I’ve currently gone with the later (even though I still have a lot of projects I want to take into real-time).


I grew up in Saskatoon so I know what you are saying. The point I was trying to make though; is that it is probably smarter to hold out and work on your portfolio in your current city (while possibly working a part time job) as opposed to moving to a major hub, getting in debt, and spending a lot more money. Living in one of the major cities doesn’t guarantee any better chance of landing a job, IMO. If your work fits with a studio they will be happy to wait for you to relocate ( they may even help you).


A definite No!
No guarantee of a job.
Many jobs in the industry are crap.
A lot of employers are crap.
You don’t want to be someone’s bitch anymore than necessary.
Competition from fellow artists is fierce.
In my opinion, a ~16 hour day (day job + “Working” on CGI stuff when you get home) is better than being in debt. Most minimum-wage jobs are crap, but they are also relatively stress free.
In any case, future employers will want to see work experience and gaps on your CV will count against you.
For many, the “Loan” is in the form of “Free” software.


If you are good enough at 3D to get hired by the big guys, you are probably good enough to get hired by other places that require 3D work.

For example, your dream may be to do games or VFX, but you may also be able to make a decent living in the short-term from working for an architecture, construction or engineering firm, product or venue visualization firm, advertising agency, print design company, medical visualization company, broadcast graphics outfit and similar. Those companies need 3D people as well, not just games and Film/TV.

You say that realtime interests you - why not work on realtime/VR 3D walkthroughs of multi-millon dollar buildings that have yet to be built? That’s realtime too, and very likely would use UE4, Unity, Lumion or CryEngine as well.

In other words, you don’t necessarily need to work at McDonald’s, in package delivery or at a Dry Cleaners for minimum wage or something.

You could - potentially - make better money in the short term doing 3D work for a non-game, non-film-and-tv firm.

3D is used everywhere - education and professional training, architectural visualization, engineering, product design and prototyping, medical/scientific imaging, simulators, urban/road planning, visualizing crime or accident scenes in 3D for court trials, and more. Any of these jobs should pay better than minimum wage.

Wouldn’t it be worth trying to apply to companies like I described for a few weeks, than working a crappy minimum wage job or getting a bank loan?

Maybe your current 3D skill level is just fine for what they need, and they’ll pay you enough money to keep you afloat + save some money for your big move to a bigger city?


I agree. You are already Canadian so visa’s aren’t an issue. So spend quality time making a portfolio that matches the studio’s you want to work at.
-Then show it to them
-get the interview
-get the job
-then relocate.
Its the portfolio that gets you the interview over all that competition from CGI schools.

Moving to town with a crap portfolio will just put you in debt. There is no charity in this industry. So don’t move before you are ready.


You’re getting some great advice, especially the last few posts. I want to echo some of this:

DO NOT take a loan and move. The only way you should move is if you A: have a job offer signed and accepted or B: have a rock solid portfolio and enough experience where you’re 100 percent sure you can land a job after moving. Or maybe if you have enough savings you could last 8-12 months there, but that’s super risky. Also, what about if you move and then get an actual job offer in a different city… you have to move twice?

Next, please read Skeeter’s post and look for jobs RIGHT NOW that need 3D and CGI but may not be in the industry of your dreams. People are out there in other fields right now having great careers and doing awesome work, using the same tools the game industry uses and it’s only growing. At the very least, this is a great stepping stone if you still want to do games some day. Wouldn’t it be better to be paid creating environments and surfaces at an architecture firm rather than practicing those same skills at home all day? If you have to get a non-3D job, at least aim for something in an office or with technology to make it as relevant as possible.

Lastly, you should post a link to your portfolio and ask for critique and maybe even guidance on your practice right now. If you’re serious about getting a job, nobody will be able to give you the proper advice unless we can gauge where you’re at. Also… unfortunately I’ve seen this before and it’s worth saying… 1,000 hours of practice isn’t worth squat if you’re practicing the wrong things. It would be a shame if you’re sitting there burning through savings and not learning real, relevant, current techniques and technology and building marketable skills. Folks here would be happy to give advice on that if you post up your current work and the areas you’re training in.


I certainly agree and similarly urged he avail himself of peer review in his duplicate thread on Polycount.


Taking a loan isn’t the best idea and the risk in huge.
My advice is to find a day job that will pay the bills and then devote as much hours as you can from the rest of your day to build a portofolio and start hunting some freelance jobs online.
That way you will build a portfolio, gain experience, and have an extra income. After a year or two you will be able to make the desired transition.


As I said before, you will probably be a lot better off working a non-game, non-VFX job that also requires 3D graphics skills for some time, than betting on loans or minimum wage jobs.

If you manage to get a good 3D design or visualization type job - architecture, urban planning, virtual product prototyping, scientific animation, venue design, advertising, print illustration, whatever - you should actually earn decent money, and you’ll be able to practice 3D every day while working.

Lots of industries use 3D graphics these days - automotive, aerospace, electronics, home/consumer products, architecture, engineering, construction, you name it - and there has got to be some company of this type near you that might give you a 9 to 5 job doing 3D for them.

If you earn decent money this way, you may actually have the option to spend the next 2 - 3 years preparing and applying for your dream job, while you are safely employed in another type of 3D job.

People don’t always get their dream job right away. Sometimes one has to have a plan B, and a plan C, and working a different kind of 3D job is not necessarily a bad option.

So what if you do some virtual 3D landscaping for an architecture firm for a while, or light and render concept cars for an automotive company, or visualize a trade show’s floor layout in realtime UnrealEngine? Not the end of the world.


at the end of the day i read through most of this, My question is what dose your stuff look like. We all agree not to take out a loan, but what no one has seen your work to maybe aid in getting you a gig.


I’m going to post my work soon which will be 3 detailed environments (one is a city split into two parts, another is a Panasonic robotics factory, and the last one is stylized art based on The Iron Giant movie).

I should mention this is not actually the first time I’ve gotten critique/direction on my current portfolio. Back in 2016 after I came back from a failed job interview, I got advice on Polycount that I needed to make my art more ambitious. All my old art is being remade to take advantage of PBR, digital sculpting & displacement maps. I also received advice on Cgsociety as well that said the same thing (more complicated hardsurface props, more organic modelling etc). It’s now a matter of me just heeding all this advice and making my final portfolio reflect everybody’s comments.

I can confirm however, I wont take out a loan.


Good. Debt will not help you. It will hurt you. There are many ways to make money online and freelance for now.

This video is free for you. Part of the video shows you how I’ve made over $100,000 online.


This has some ideas you can use to start making money in CG.

Here is another one.
It is how I’ve made money in the past.