Income Potential.

polygon
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Bletzkarn polygon
What is the income potential of 3D artists? I work in 3D art in the construction industry and I see project managers getting a lot more money than it seems a 3D artists could ever get. I feel like I should more focus on getting into design management than 3D art...

I mean if you work really hard for 5+ years you can get a good job on 90K... but comp-sci grads are outearning 3D veterans. Sometimes I feel I picked the wrong direction.

It's really difficult to prove the financial benefit of 3D art and therefore people don't want to pay for it.

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  • Elithenia
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    Elithenia interpolator
    Most of 3D artist picked this direction, not for the money, but for their passion for making games and or art. 
    However, the potential to earn a lot is still there, you just have to be a master in what you do and find a niche that you are the go-to person in. Usually higher salaries come with added responsibilities above just making art. 

    If you're only working in 3d for the money, it might be tough to stick out crunch time, harsh environments, studios shutting down etc.
    You say you are working in the construction industry, and maybe that is not where the big money is in terms of 3d, but rather where other types of jobs will get the higher salaries for what they do for the projects.
    It is about finding where you can leverage your skills the best, and them getting the best return of your skills (i.e. your value to the employer) that is directing the level of pay you get.

    I would say you should try to find what motivates you to work. If it is money, then do what you think can bring the most money. If it is Art, then do what you think can be the best art etc. This highly subjective, but it is a choice only you can make. And just because you've made it once, doesn't mean you can't shift in the future... multiple times. I think so far I've switched careers about 6 times or so.. 

    I have a comp sci degree first and foremost and have added art on top of that. However for me personally, the prospect of sitting and doing art all day gets me all excited to work whereas thinking about sitting and coding all day as a programmer makes my mood sink like a stone. For me, it is more important that I'm happy with what I'm doing, instead of selling my life to the highest bidder (which working for a salary technically is) just because I want the money. 

    Maybe 3d in the construction industry just isn't where you will get the most of your 3d career. Maybe look into arch viz or something else? 
  • Eric Chadwick
  • JordanN
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    JordanN greentooth
    Elithenia said:
    If you're only working in 3d for the money, it might be tough to stick out crunch time, harsh environments, studios shutting down etc.
    I might be an exception, but I honestly came to the conclusion I would rather do 3D art for the money.

    I'm already doing 60 hours per week job outside of the industry, and I hate it. The money I've made doing these side jobs are still terrible, while having to witness some of the most horrifying imagery I've come across in multiple workplaces.

    I've looked around at wages in 3D art and the fact a lot of jobs start out at $40,000 ~ $60,000 (Canadian)  is good enough for me to finally get an apartment and seriously consider paying off all my software/computer equipment costs.

    Of course, my perspective may change when I do start my first day in the industry but I'm at a point now where things can't get worse. Doing a job you actually enjoy and get paid for is infinitesimally worth all the risks that come with it.


  • Bletzkarn
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    Bletzkarn polygon
    We have game industry salary research links here
    http://wiki.polycount.com/wiki/Game_Industry#Salary_Research
    Seems I was right, upper range is 90K

    Elithenia said:
    Most of 3D artist picked this direction, not for the money, but for their passion for making games and or art. 
    However, the potential to earn a lot is still there, you just have to be a master in what you do and find a niche that you are the go-to person in. Usually higher salaries come with added responsibilities above just making art. 

    If you're only working in 3d for the money, it might be tough to stick out crunch time, harsh environments, studios shutting down etc.
    You say you are working in the construction industry, and maybe that is not where the big money is in terms of 3d, but rather where other types of jobs will get the higher salaries for what they do for the projects.
    It is about finding where you can leverage your skills the best, and them getting the best return of your skills (i.e. your value to the employer) that is directing the level of pay you get.

    I would say you should try to find what motivates you to work. If it is money, then do what you think can bring the most money. If it is Art, then do what you think can be the best art etc. This highly subjective, but it is a choice only you can make. And just because you've made it once, doesn't mean you can't shift in the future... multiple times. I think so far I've switched careers about 6 times or so.. 

    I have a comp sci degree first and foremost and have added art on top of that. However for me personally, the prospect of sitting and doing art all day gets me all excited to work whereas thinking about sitting and coding all day as a programmer makes my mood sink like a stone. For me, it is more important that I'm happy with what I'm doing, instead of selling my life to the highest bidder (which working for a salary technically is) just because I want the money. 

    Maybe 3d in the construction industry just isn't where you will get the most of your 3d career. Maybe look into arch viz or something else? 
    Yes I'm already marketing myself as arch viz as the salaries seems to be higher on average, 110K AUD was the highest I've seen.
    Trying to morph myself into digital designer / 3D UX Designer as I think it will have higher potential. 
  • ToffeeApple
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    ToffeeApple polycounter lvl 5
    Hey

    Yeah I'd say 90K (US) is probably the maximum and then as mentioned above you would be in more of a lead role - so less art and more running a team - organising workloads, time-scales, outsourcing etc. But even 90K (US) might be hard to reach from what I've seen. I've seen Lead wages in the 60 to 70 range. I'm in the UK so it may be different where you are. So 5 years of hard work may not get you to that wage. As pointed out above it's a career of passion. The industry can afford to pay less because it's far more competitive with people more than willing to take less. So it's not really an industry where you can make a lot of money. I've had several friends leave the industry, re-train and make double the money easily. So if money is your objective - look for a different career. And also even when I've felt the money I was earning was 'good' all my friends in different industries earn more now. I do live in an IT hub though where there is great earning potential - but the point is it's easier to earn more money quickly from other industries. 
  • Jonas Ronnegard
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    Jonas Ronnegard Polycount Sponsor
    There is always ways to take to make more money for any sort of job, if there is demand for you and you have skills that are hard to come by, anything is possible, also I do know very specialized artists that still work on art that are quite a bit up on the 100k range.
  • Bletzkarn
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    Bletzkarn polygon
    Do you guys have ideas on how to utilize a 3D skillset to maximize income? 

    I know Jonas you sell assets and templates. Other examples I think are:

    - Online tutorials like Udemy courses.
    - Profit sharing agreements. Maybe doing some work with small indie companies on % profit sharing instead of upfront payment in the chance it blows up. 
    - Going into Art Management, directing other artists.

    Personally I know a little coding and want to be able to pump out Unreal VR apps. 
  • Eric Chadwick
    The asset stores can be lucrative, if you do a bit of market research, and fill a need. We have some discussions about it.
    http://wiki.polycount.com/wiki/Freelance#Selling_Assets

    I'm working full-time as an art manager. That requires experience as a prerequisite. But when I negotiated this position I made sure to retain my freelancing as a side option. Not that I use it, too beat at the end of the day. But it's there if I wanted some extra cash.
  • Neox
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    Neox interpolator
    there is also the steam workshop, if you get your stuff in. it still is highly profitable. But of course there is the risk of not getting anything in.

    but seriously if you pick your job just based on the money you can potentially make, probably its best to search somewhere else.
  • Ashervisalis
    You shouldn't really compare your salary with that of a project manager in the construction industry. Project managers get a ton of money. It would be like trying to decide whether to do nursing, but comparing a nurse's salary to that of a surgeon.
  • Bletzkarn
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    Bletzkarn polygon
    You shouldn't really compare your salary with that of a project manager in the construction industry. Project managers get a ton of money. It would be like trying to decide whether to do nursing, but comparing a nurse's salary to that of a surgeon.
    This is true. However the training and apptitude to be a nurse vs a surgeon is pretty large gap. 3D art takes a lot of dedication, skill and talent and isn't rewarded the same way. However I understand why. Perhaps as technology increases and VR / AR hits the mainstream the market will demand more artists.
  • JordanN
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    JordanN greentooth
    Bletzkarn said:

    This is true. However the training and apptitude to be a nurse vs a surgeon is pretty large gap. 3D art takes a lot of dedication, skill and talent and isn't rewarded the same way. However I understand why. Perhaps as technology increases and VR / AR hits the mainstream the market will demand more artists.
    Actually, couldn't this have the opposite effect? 

    The demand for artists already exists but there is also a high cost in employing them while actual 3D games/movies sometimes struggle to break even/post a profit.

    It's why we might see automation start to enter the arena, because despite the growth in technology/consumption of 3D, the studios needed to create them are under fear of layoffs/going under, unless something is done to make art production faster.
  • Bletzkarn
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    Bletzkarn polygon
    The gaming Industry is making more than enough money to support artists. It's just more profitable to hire an external studio, send them bankrupt by paying them too little in a heavily competitive market, and maximize profits. I think the role will evolve. Having user experience design and coding skills will be valuable in the 3D space as business to business sales and services increases. 3D data visualisation I think will have some growth.
  • Eric Chadwick
    It's easy to portend doom and gloom when you're on the outside looking in. 

    But if you develop the skills, the work will follow. Simple as that.
  • sziada
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    sziada polycounter lvl 5
    If you're a freelancer you can make way more, honestly, if you build a big enough following and want to make bank, you can make packs kits, you can take on multiple clients, sub-contract to other artists when you are overburden with work. Just depends on what you want to do.
  • brianshray
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    brianshray polycounter lvl 2
    Regardless which studio you work in,
    if you're only working on the art and not taking on any managerial roles, you'll cap out on salary at a certain point. 
    You'll have to move up into positions where more people/time management is required to break into higher salary ranges.
    Unfortunately this mean you'll end up spend a bulk of the work time on an Excel sheet, rather than on a 3D Software.  

    At some point you will have to think about how you can market your skills and make money from them passively.
    Most artists who have skills worth sharing, choose to make tutorials to sell or hold workshops/mentorships, etc to supplement their income.
  • Bletzkarn
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    Bletzkarn polygon
    Regardless which studio you work in,
    if you're only working on the art and not talking on any managerial roles, you'll cap out on salary at a certain point. 
    You'll have to move up into positions where more people/time management is required to break into higher salary ranges.
    Unfortunately this mean you'll end up spend a bulk of the work time on an Excel sheet, rather than on a 3D Software.  

    At some point you will have to think about how you can market your skills and make money from them passively.
    Most artists who have skills worth sharing, choose to make tutorials to sell or hold workshops/mentorships, etc to supplement their income.
    That's very true and seems to be true to any industry. Earning a wage is not a good strategy to wealth.
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