29 April 2010

Punk, Steam and Robo

For the AIB Jumble. I try to make my entries for that blog a way for me to experiment and try different techniques and approaches. Something I dont want to do is find a single method or style that I make my one strength and become a one-trick pony. It helps me to evolve a bit and think about things in different perspectives and I think these kind of experimentation help me to grow.
It is coming up to the end of the school year and people might be starting to look for work. I just want to share a bit of my experience having graduated last year and managing to get a job as a concept artist as I wanted. Well, it can be tough but very doable. There is no secret, actually your grade doesnt matter (for art based work anyway) nor does it matter if you are the best in your class as your competition when you step out of the classroom is the world! Students from all around the place as well as industry veterans. This might sound scary but in the end all that matters is your portfolio, that does ALL the talking. So this is what I focused on in the end.
Sorry for the long story but hopefully it is useful and someone can learn from my mistakes. Sooo... this time last year I was about to graduate and I sent an application to a big games studio in the UK. They got back to me expressing interest in hiring me and sounded keen and gave me a test to do. Im going to be honest here and say that I was complacent and lazy! And I didnt give it my all as I should have and blew the chance. Having then graduated I couldnt find much success with my applications since. I spent time to research and send work to as many places as I could find but to no avail. It can be quite tough mentally but this is natural, not everyone is hiring every single time so it can be down to just bad timing but you want to be prepared fully when an opportunity comes up so you should always try and improve your folio.
Anyway... what was I doing immediately after university? Not much. I was sitting on my ass waiting for an opportunity but then (thanks to some wise words from Bobby Chiu's videos) I changed my attitude and realized that if I want to compete against the big guns I will have to work like them and probably work twice as much so I could catch up to them. When I adopted this mentality of "screw it, Im tired of waiting for an opportunity Im going to get it myself" I spent every day painting and drawing and after 2 months I got my first interview. From that I got my current job as a concept artist. Did I stop working and trying to improve? Heck no! Not after how I let the earlier opportunity slip by because of complacency when I had a chance. I have beaten myself up for slipping up then and ever since I have made complacency my enemy hehe :P Its hard when your future looks uncertain but I managed to stop wasting time worrying about it and just do it and trust that that will get me to my goals. That is also why I strongly believe in hard work over talent (which is a silly word because talent comes from hard work). In a way I was pleased to have been knocked down otherwise I would have got my goal a lot easier and would not appreciate it. I would probably still be complacent about my work but now that I have gotten somewhere through hard work I am beginning to imagine what else I can achieve if I continued and so there are new goals set up and more reasons to kill off complacency! Its a hard road but if you are the one who dares to walk it then you are on the right path for sure.
Good luck everyone!

OK some PLUG for my friend and colleague Martin Johnson's work. Awesome guy and no nonsense XD He uploaded some of the art he created for Dead To Rights: Retribution. Check it out here.


the WARREN'S said...

Hey man, thanks for the inspirational story. I'm in the same boat you were (It's an awful boat by the way, it's cramped and leaky like a sieve). I'm and animator that just graduated and I want to get into games. It's a terrible time to try to break in right now. What with all the studios that are closing I have to compete with dozens of animators that have years of experience. It's no cake walk. I think I've applied to every studio I've ever heard of and every one I haven't. But like you said, perseverance beats talent any day of the weak. So I'll just keep on trying. Cheers.

-Brad Warren

Ricky Earl said...

Good advice!

Ben Ho said...

Cheers guys. I forgot to mention about experience. Again if your portfolio is good enough it doesnt matter how much experience you have on paper. The end result is all that counts. I had absolutely no experience, didnt even have a proper job before and applied for a Senior's position when I saw an advert for concept art role. I didnt expect much of course but I ended up getting the job and ahead of people with more experience than me. Not to blow my own trumpet or anything but I just want to give some encouragement that it is possible if you really go for it :)

PaoYunSoo said...

nice one man ! keep rocking !! hope everything are going well for you : )

Ben Ho said...

Thanks Paul! Everything is going well here. Im sure you are enjoying all the great stuff happening with you too ;) Maybe see you in Paris or Annecy if you are coming.

Anonymous said...

Very honest and helpful advice Ben!
You're the man!