Hey Charlie! First off, I adore your art. It gives me all the feels. Secondly, since you're primarily a self taught artist I'm wondering if you have any resources you strongly recommend for someone hoping to someday have a similar job to yours in concept art? If you've already answered this question just let me know and I'll comb through your blog to find it!
I think, along with resources, I’d always recommend having a good idea of what ‘area’ you want to work in too. My job is kind of a strange one (in that it’s an house job but we’re not producing the games or films or actual products.) We are a step in the production line. I get to be part of sweet projects, but also I get to be part of many… I’m not locked into whatever a studio might be making for 2 or 3 years etc. My fingers are in a lotta pies.
The reason I say that is because a lot of people coming into concept will likely need more skills than I have. I am 95% a 2D artist. I work with 3D but very rarely, and not enough to know the inns and outs. I like 2D… and I consider illustration to be the sweetest spot of all the work I do, so I’m quite happy with that balance (and I’m an old fucking curmudgeon and I don’t wanna learn no 3D.)
If you went for a traditional role in a games studio, it will probably be more expected for you to be fluent in 3D. Not always of course! But it’s likely another good skillset to have. Purely 2D (just art focused) roles are not something that I see as often as mutiltasking roles. Which makes a lot of sense. 2D art is often mostly needed at the beginning of a project, and briefly at the end. In my seven years at Atomhawk I’ve seen a lot of people in other studios laid off, and a lot of studios go under. So, multitasking roles mean people will always have something to do.
APOLOGIES. I’M SOUNDING A LITTLE DOOM AND GLOOM. Great jobs exists! People will always make cool stuff!
I’m very much a jack of all trades and my job demands a lot of different things: characters / turn arounds / outfit designs / expression sheets / illustration / marketing art / pitch art / but it’s all primarly focused around characters. So. If characters are what you want - look into that! I would say that when it comes to apply for / getting work etc, we always love to see range. If someone isn’t showing me all the process behind their work it’s likely the first thing I’m going to ask for when it comes to an interview. I think if you have shiny work (on a freelance basis) a client would have enough confidence in the end result. But for a production role like mine, I wanna see that stuff.
Rough sketches through to shiny polished work. The whole lot. I want it all. I want to see people’s thinking! I’m rambling.
First of all: be able to draw well. Know your characters. Know your figures. Know your anatomy enough to make it convincing and be able to twist it when you need to. We get a lot of people who apply, who, quite simply (don’t hate me) are not good enough yet. We have people who work in tons of different styles and methods but at the heart of it, they can draw well.
DESIGN. Mother of god. Design. Drawing well is the first step, but you also have to have that creative flair to be able to come up with ideas and be able to sell them convincingly. Drawing the thing is only half the battle. No one wants a beautifully rendered character wearing the most impractical / boring outfit you’ve ever seen (just an example). Thinking logically about design is something I’ve seen underestimated many times over the years. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s more important than someones drawing abilities. When it comes down to it, drawing is just the tool to represent the design.
Resources wise: the internet is your oyster! Cast a wide net. Create the kind of work you want to do but also push yourself. I think the results are usually better when artists find an area they’re good in and the push the boundaries of that. Better than trying to be a jack of every single trade possible. Don’t have an awesome portfolio full of character work and then think ‘oh, wait, this is just characters, maybe I should stick a fucking car in there too?’ YOU KNOW? Do what you do - and do it well.
Briefly just a few of the things that helped me most: any massive black videos you can find. Mostly for process. Jason Chan’s videos easily had the most impact for me, both in learning how to improve my process and painting the kind of characters I wanted to. Micheal Hampton and Mike Mattesi (force) for anatomy and energy in poses. Your peers! Your favourite artists in the industry at the moment! The places and people you will learn the most from are always so very individual.
Shit that was long. Good luck!
PS. It’s also my humble opinion that you should never take all of your advice from just one person - just take the pieces that click for you :)