What is a dream job? The job that people wish upon every star they ever see that they could get. For many in the VFX and film industry that dream job is Pixar.
A dream job is the pinnacle of fulfillment. It is the job where you are happiest. That kind of motivator is invaluable to an artist trying to break into an industry like film and video games. Here are five tips to help get you closer to the dream.
1. Work hard and keep making as much of your art as you can
While learning new skills it can be challenging to stay motivated and confident in your work. In the beginning your work won't be as good as you envision it in your mind. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book Outliers: The Story of Success, states that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to become an expert in any field. 10,000 hours of dedicated practice and hard work to improve ones abilities. The best way to learn and improve your work is through interaction with others, which brings us to number two.
2. Have a web presence
Be registered with multiple online forums that focus on the industry you are most interested in. Online forums are places to meet fellow artists while critiquing and viewing their art, and get feedback on your own. Most of the artists are employed in the industry and enjoy seeing new work and showing theirs. Participation in online forums is your introduction to people in the industry all over the world. The internet has no hours of operation, or ideal time to post something. If you post something at 3am local time, someone on the other side of the world is on their lunch break and sees it. Many forums have competitions, some with prizes, and others just for bragging rights, but all these competitions are great for getting your name and art in front of people to see.
There is a mentality among students that they are incapable of producing professional caliber work. That is False. Students should be creating work at professional level by the time they are finished with their program. You may make many mistakes before you get it right, but all your hard work will pay off in the end.
3. Attend Industry events and join local groups
There are industry events all year long and many of them having student discounts or asking for student volunteers. These events are great for networking with people in the industry, seeing what new technologies are coming out, and meeting people whom you have collaborated with in forums.
There are also many local groups. From sketch groups to life drawing groups. Some more formal than others, but these local groups are great for meeting fellow passionate artists in person. That doesn't mean join every group you can find just to expand your networking ability. Join groups you have a genuine interest in. Nothing turns people off or away more than insincerity.
A Businessweek article from May of 2012 says:
“For the most part, technological advancements don't help people get a foot in the door. What does matter is a recommendation and personal assessment. A large body of academic research shows that half or more of all jobs come through informal channels—connections to friends, families, and colleagues—according to Limited Network Connections and the Distribution of Wages by Kenneth J. Arrow of Stanford University and Ron Borzekowski of the Federal Reserve Board."
It's great to make contact with a company or particular artist that you really admire. While you are still in school you can email or send a private message to most artists in the forums. Simply state how you admire their work and ask if they would be open to answering answer a few questions.
4. Portfolio should only be your best
Your portfolio should consist of examples of your best work. It is not about the quantity of work present but the quality. The quality of your portfolio should show the top stuff you created. They say your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest piece. The presentation should be simple, clearly labeled and well organized. Present your work in a manner that is easy for someone who is looking at hundreds of portfolios to digest. You can still make your portfolio stand out, but make sure the content is still clear.
5. Be courteous and nice
Seems obvious, but being courteous to people around you is a good policy. It doesn't matter how good you are if people can't work with and count on you. Video games and films are made by teams of artists, engineers, writers, etc. If you make amazing work, but no one can work with you, you wont be there very long. Be nice online, in person, wherever. Remember it's a team effort, if you don't believe me just stick around and watch the credits at the next movie you go to.
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