Advice on what to do with my life

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Joost Polycount Sponsor
Some backstory: I dropped out of high school due to various reasons. It was stupid and I really fucked things up for myself. I'm 20 now and since then I've had an internship at a local 3d studio. My boss said he'd rehire me but it hasn't happened yet because there's no big projects to work on. I actually worked for free for about 2 months just for the work experience.

Right now I'm working on my portfolio and trying to get some freelance work in the meanwhile. Once my portfolio is good enough I want to start applying to studios. I live by myself so I need to find a way to earn some money. If I can't find any freelance work I'll have to get a crappy part time job. I still want to finish high school, but I want to get a job first because I have to pay my rent.

I could still go to uni, but there's a special procedure you have to go through if you don't have a high school diploma. And 3 years is a pretty long time for a piece of paper.

Appreciate any advice, thanks.

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  • Two Listen
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    Two Listen polycounter lvl 8
    Interestingly enough, the only place I've ever worked that actually asked about or cared to see my high school diploma was when I worked for a high school as a night shift janitor. Everywhere else was more concerned with my credit scores.

    Honestly it seems to me like you've got a pretty good feel for what you need to do. Snag a crappy day job to pay rent, keep working on your skills. Probably good to snag your GED as time allows, but I wouldn't sweat the whole "didn't finish high school" thing too much. My high school gave us the opportunity to "graduate" a semester early if we'd had enough credits - which I did (didn't take any off classes or study hall or what have you for the last two years). It was a really, really unpopular thing to do; teachers and fellow students alike couldn't understand why I'd want to do it. But I did, and it was probably one of the most intelligent education-related decisions I've ever made.

    Granted, I still got my diploma mailed to me later, but it's been collecting dust.
  • Fwap
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    Fwap Polycount Sponsor
    I could still go to uni, but there's a special procedure you have to go through if you don't have a high school diploma. And 3 years is a pretty long time for a piece of paper.

    Do it man, the piece of paper is just the cherry they put on top of the ice cream for looks.
    I just started going to uni again, i put it off for ages because i was like "pfft, i won't learn anything" and while i haven't learnt anything life changing, i have learned some things here and there, but most of all its the peer support and socialisation.
    Never really had anyone in my immediate area to spin shit about game art to, now i got 25 people in my class who are like minded, it's improved my approach to my art 10 folds.
    Its probably the best decision i've ever made in my life.

    But each to their own, i know people who hate it.
    gotta roll the hard 6 i suppose.
  • unit187
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    unit187 polycounter lvl 3
    I have barely seen any uni graduates' portfolios with 3d art or animation that any close to level of even a junior artist. Don't waste money, IMO, learn by yourself, buy some educational DVDs and in case you will work hard - you will learn all you need.
  • ysalex
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    ysalex greentooth
    Personally I say go to a state university if you can. Don't go to " game school", but look for an art school that teaches you the fundamentals of art - color, sculpting, drawing, theatre even, any type of fine art that is not computer based. Basically if you find yourself learning 3d from a teacher run in the opposite direction. These are skills that will let you move easily in any direction once you graduate if you are determined to work in games. You can learn all the software you want on your own time, software is extremely easy , but the fundamentals of more traditional art are much less easy and you will benefit from having teachers, courses, mentors, and other students around you.

    You could also go the self learning route. Nobody really cares about that piece of paper, they care about the skills. Most polycounters I believe are self taught and there are plenty of amazing artists here to prove that it can definitely be done without the formal training.

    I did the self learning route. If i am being honest, I would say that with the chance to do it again is definitely get into a fine arts program, as I see the quality of true fine art students who learn drawing and sculpting transitioning into 3d, and it is much easier for them, and their work is clearly above the average person doing self taught for the same length of time.

    In the end, just finish whatever you start and you'll be good.
  • Joost
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    Joost Polycount Sponsor
    I don't know if any of you guys actually looked at my portfolio but here's a link:
    http://joostvanhoutte.com/

    I'm not at a professional level yet, but to be honest I'd be looking for a special type of internship we have in Belgium that runs for a year and usually leads to a contract afterwards. Or at most a junior position. I don't think I'd need 3 years at uni to get to that point.

    This is the uni I'd go to: http://www.digitalartsandentertainment.be/page/15/Student+showcase

    There's some impressive stuff there. I know Xoliul went there and I think he taught/teaches there as well. But I think those people were just mostly self taught. I've worked with people who went there and honestly, their work was very sub par.

    @Ysalex, I definitely think learning to draw and sculpt would help me immensely, but I suck at drawing so I'd need to practice for like 2 years to even get into a fine arts school. I'm thinking of following a drawing course though.
  • RyanB
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    RyanB Polycount Sponsor
    komaokc wrote: »
    If I can't find any freelance work I'll have to get a crappy part time job. I still want to finish high school, but I want to get a job first because I have to pay my rent.

    Once again, take an apprenticeship in a trade. You'll get paid more than minimum wage to start, get regular raises, regular training, and probably don't need a high school diploma. Do all the game art you want in your free time.

    Working part-time minimum wage jobs is a complete waste of your life. You'll have nothing to show for it.
  • NegevPro
    Fwap wrote: »
    i have learned some things here and there, but most of all its the peer support and socialisation.
    I wish I could say that about my uni experience. As a computer science major, I spend most of my time writing papers for pointless English classes and the only socializing I end up doing is helping other people with their programming assignments (which actually results in me basically doing half their work since I have trouble telling people to fuck off in real life.)

    As for the OP, I'd say you should definitely keep working on your portfolio while working at a day job rather than attending university. It seems like attending university is a mixed bag in this industry in the sense that many schools are pure shit and only the most expensive ones will be useful (at the cost of being in debt for several years.)

    You're portfolio actually looks pretty nice, I've seen junior artist portfolios with what seems to be your level of skill so I'm sure you can land an industry job in the near future. The important thing is to set realistic goals for yourself, don't give up on the dream.
  • Joost
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    Joost Polycount Sponsor
    Well I thought it would be nice to update this thread. Maybe someone else is in a similar situation.

    When I made this thread I was pretty desperate but about 2 months later I found a job. I'm moving to the UK next week and starting as a 3d artist at a relatively big studio (not sure if I'm allowed to share which one yet) the following week. Luck was probably a factor and I've by no means 'made it' yet. BUT I guess it shows that portfolio really is key. They didn't even ask about my educational background.

    Thanks for the advice guys!
  • d1ver
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    d1ver polycounter lvl 9
    Congratulations Joost!
    Nice to know that things worked out. Best of luck in UK. :)
  • Joost
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    Joost Polycount Sponsor
    Thanks Andrew! Sorry for the really late reply, I've been busy moving and I'm on shitty 3g internet atm.

    By the way, this video was quite an eye opener for me,
    I'd recommend anyone to watch it :)

    http://youtu.be/UX2PzNHwabE
  • Tobbo
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    Tobbo polycounter lvl 5
    (late) Congrats! :)
  • peanut™
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    peanut™ polycounter lvl 12
    komaokc good work, i'm happy to hear that everything worked out like it did, live long and successful.
  • slosh
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    slosh interpolator
    Congrats man! Your work is solid man. I think you will do fine. I wish more intro artists would focus on smaller props to begin with like you did. Good luck at your new gig!
  • gdawe5
    How did you did this work as it might help others too in the same situation as you..
    komaokc wrote: »
    Well I thought it would be nice to update this thread. Maybe someone else is in a similar situation.

    When I made this thread I was pretty desperate but about 2 months later I found a job. I'm moving to the UK next week and starting as a 3d artist at a relatively big studio (not sure if I'm allowed to share which one yet) the following week. Luck was probably a factor and I've by no means 'made it' yet. BUT I guess it shows that portfolio really is key. They didn't even ask about my educational background.

    Thanks for the advice guys!
  • Joost
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    Joost Polycount Sponsor
  • Torch
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    Torch polycounter lvl 7
    Ooo Frontier Developments? Sick!
  • JacqueChoi
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    JacqueChoi greentooth
    CONGRATS man! That's AWESOME!

    :D

    But keep making art in your spare time!

    Getting your first job is really just the start!
  • LRoy
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    LRoy polycounter lvl 6
    Glad everything worked out for you.
  • Mongrelman
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    Mongrelman polycounter lvl 12
    Awesome :)
  • Joost
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    Joost Polycount Sponsor
    @Torch: Thanks, I'm really excited about working there! Not working on elite though (yet)

    @JacqueChoi: Thanks! :D It's tempting to just do the job and nothing else but I want to avoid plateauing. I want to keep growing as an artist. So I'm definitely going to try to keep making my own stuff.

    @LRoy, Mongrelman: Thanks! :)
  • Casey Wagner
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    Casey Wagner polycounter lvl 3
    Congrats :)

    I've been where you were, having that goal in mind but knowing that rent was going to need to be paid soon, then things just worked out.

    Hope your new job is lots of fun!
  • Canadian Ink
    I was your typical teenaged troublemaker and got kicked out of Highschool. Spent my 20s partying and working the crappiest of jobs. Once I matured at got some real goals, there was no stopping me. I ended up getting a Master Degree and and very happy with my level of success and an Artist/Writer.

    There is always a corner to turn and like a new day to have. I know that life can be depressing and set you back at times, but it always moves forward and you can to. :)
  • Shiniku
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    Shiniku polycounter lvl 7
    Congrats! Very cool success story and a nice thread for others in a similar situation to look at.
  • Mark Dygert
    Congrats, it's awesome this story has a happy ending!
  • Nam.Nguyen
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    Nam.Nguyen polycounter lvl 3
    that's a big move, congrats !
  • KurtR
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    KurtR polycounter lvl 4
    Hey, thanks for sharing your journey. I started out 3D close to two years ago, after 14 years in pre-press/photography editing work, I'm 37, I lack the papers, I feel "too old" to start this new journey, but I found inspiration through reading this. May your journey be full of inspirational moments. Wish you the best.
  • reverendK
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    reverendK polycounter lvl 6
    we should start a highschool dropout club.
  • Joost
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    Joost Polycount Sponsor
    @Casey Wagner, Shiniku, Mark Dygert, Nam.Nguyen : Thanks a lot guys! :)

    I was your typical teenaged troublemaker and got kicked out of Highschool. Spent my 20s partying and working the crappiest of jobs. Once I matured at got some real goals, there was no stopping me. I ended up getting a Master Degree and and very happy with my level of success and an Artist/Writer.

    There is always a corner to turn and like a new day to have. I know that life can be depressing and set you back at times, but it always moves forward and you can to. :)


    Thanks for sharing your story, nice to see I'm not the only one. Would you say getting a degree was key to your success or do you think you could have achieved the same by self teaching?

    KurtR wrote: »
    Hey, thanks for sharing your journey. I started out 3D close to two years ago, after 14 years in pre-press/photography editing work, I'm 37, I lack the papers, I feel "too old" to start this new journey, but I found inspiration through reading this. May your journey be full of inspirational moments. Wish you the best.

    Thanks! It's really awesome that this thread inspires other people! I don't think it's ever too late. I've met quite a few animation guys who wanted to switch to games. Your transition is a bit more extreme but it can definitely be done, provided you have the drive. Even if you don't get a job straight away there's plenty of indie devs looking for artists. Also you should definitely post your stuff on Polycount if you're not already. Getting critiques on here really helped me grow as an artist. Good luck!


    @reverendK: I don't think it should be a hindrance or a negative thing, unless you make it that. If you can prove to people that you can learn things by yourself and are passionate and disciplined enough to do so, then in my opinion it's more impressive than just taking a course and only making the assignments given by the teachers. I suppose a combination of both would be ideal, but people shouldn't be punished for not having a piece of paper. Likewise I think people shouldn't be given preferential treatment just because they have a degree. Especially in an industry like ours. I suppose I'm biased though.
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