5 Career Tips For Aspiring Video Game Artists

Illustration by Anna Magura via Dribbble

Whether you want to work as a freelancer, in-house at a dedicated studio, or at a game art outsourcing studio, there are a few essential things you should do to start a career as a video game artist.

So, how do you get into it?

While game art is a highly competitive field, there’s also a huge demand that’s guaranteed to grow exponentially. New game technologies for the metaverse and beyond are yet to be created. And you could be a part of it. Of course, the bread and butter of 2D, 3D, and VR gaming will continue to boom as well.

This guide will laser in on 5 things you should be aware of when getting started in this exciting and rewarding career.

Video Game Artist Jobs

Before we discuss how you can become a video game artist, it’s valuable to get an idea of what kinds of jobs you can expect in this career.

Luckily, there’s such a wide variety of jobs that it’s easy to narrow them down and find one that aligns with your interests, passions, and hard skills.

Do you enjoy integrating traditional art skills into digital applications? Creating immersive backgrounds or Studio Ghibli-esque atmospheres? Coming up with rich and compelling characters, mythical creatures, or objects? Designing a sleek, addictive user interface?

Job specialties in the field include all of these and more:

  • Character artist
  • Character animator
  • Environmental artist
  • Concept artist
  • Illustrator
  • User interface artist
  • Level designer
  • 3D Prop artist, rigger, modeler
  • Motion Capture Artist
  • Art Director

Video Game Artist Job Settings

Video game artists work in many kinds of job settings, including:

  • Freelancer
  • In-house video game studio
  • Entrepreneur or with a startup
  • Consulting
  • Game art outsourcing studio

Video Game Artist Income

Incomes for video game artists vary widely. However, the average annual salary for a video game concept artist is $69,200. (Source!)

5 Career Building Tips For Aspiring Video Game Artists

1. Get a Relevant Art Degree

Many video game artists get art degrees. Your art degrees can focus on traditional art skills. There are also many game art programs that focus on digital and game design skills.

Whichever you choose, you’ll get foundational experience in rendering 2D and 3D images. You’ll gain an essential understanding of art elements like light, composition, shadow, and texture to bring a vision to life. You’ll also get mentoring and support as you explore and begin to develop a unique point-of-view and aesthetic.

Employers look for candidates with demonstrable talent and a strong aesthetic. An art degree can help with both.

2. Conduct Self-Study and Learn the Software

If there’s one industry that thrives on passion, it’s the video game industry.

Not only are the artists and designers passionate about what they do, but the gamers are raving fans.

If you want to be a video game artist, you’re going to need passion. Not only will you fit into the overall gamer culture more, but this passion will motivate you to sit indoors growing, honing, and perfecting your skills.

You’ll need to practice art skills, learn and refine software applications, create workflows, and generally keep up with your field.

As for software, focus on learning digital illustration, effects, and editing. Many game engines incorporate all three for 2D, 3D or VR.

There are many ways to get your practice time in. Look for internships or apprenticeships through an education program. Make fan art. Start a blog, Tik Tok, or any social media account where you can practice and share your art.

3. Showcase Your Skills and Talent with a Portfolio

Whether you want to be a freelancer, an employee, or work with a Pingle game art outsourcing studio, you’re going to need a portfolio.

Your portfolio should represent professional-grade skills, experience, talent, and a strong aesthetic.

The vast majority of employers and clients will ask to see your portfolio. So, start building one as soon as possible, and include the projects and pieces you’re most proud of.

4. Network Online and In-person

The importance of networking in-person and online cannot be overstressed. Luckily, there are a plethora of opportunities that make this easy.

Joining online groups of aspiring and professional game artists will expose you to new educational opportunities, mentoring, and potential clients or employers. Another way to network and market yourself online is through building a website and social media.

You can house your portfolio and work experience on your website, using it to showcase your skills and social media presence. As we all know, social media is a great way to market yourself to potential clients, establish authority, and demonstrate passion.

5. Build Industry-Specific Job Skills

Working as a video game artist requires certain professional skills you should be aware of.

First, collaboration and communication are key. You’ll be working with other artists, designers, and programmers to bring a game to life. The ability to take and give direction, collaborate on projects, and provide feedback is essential.

Next is the ability to work within deadlines and budget constraints while still producing high-quality work. This requires time management skills, creative problem-solving, and an understanding of the game development process.

You’ll also need to be able to adapt as technologies and trends change. The video game industry is ever-evolving, so it’s important to be proactive about keeping up with the latest software, techniques, and processes.

Other important job skills include:

  • Knowledge of game development and industry-standard workflows
  • Creativity
  • Technological skill
  • Detail orientation
  • Job application and interview skills

Becoming a video game artist requires passion, dedication, and skill. While you don’t need to have all the skills listed here from the start, becoming familiar with them will help you throughout your career.

So, which is right for you? Do you want to be a freelancer, an employee, or work with a game art outsourcing studio?

With the right mindset, a commitment to grow, and dedication, you can become a successful video game artist!

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