So what should a junior or entry character artist portfolio look like at the very least to not get laughed at. I feel like a lot of pros are too vague on this when people just want a to know if they don't have enough skill or if they are marketing wrong. Example would help a lot of people.
I can show you a few of the candidates we hired in the past years
everything until zameen was done prior to us hiring him. by now Tim is a lead and has his own project
we just hired him earlier this year
as your vatar shows you are going more for realism i can't really help or judge on that front.
Personally in my opinion, while there is a benchmark of sorts, its the positions that are rare to find. A lot of hiring in this industry is through referrals and recommendation, not to say that each candidate hired is ultimate rockstar, ninja, samurai.
Mostly everyone here knows this, but few point it out publicly for fear of being blacklisted (not sure if this actually happens, but its horribly excessive for what could be resolved through civilized dialog)
This makes the entire industry feel like a gulag. It needs to change/become more organized. Its just horrible mismanagement, surprising considering how many of them run on government grant money.
Then there's the aspect of requirement, i.e if the position advertised actually exists or is simply there since company is too lazy to take it down.
One way that this fact is twisted here is "they are always looking for talent."
But realistically its project and funding determined. I've seen studios liquidate a week after hiring a bunch of people.
Also in AAA industry you might be doing a characters boot rather than tackling the character in its entirely, so not sure why there is a mad emphasis on becoming top tier (Vitaly Bulgarov level) from the get go.
Like always good to push yourself for yourself but I've seen way too much disparity in the hiring process, not to mention companies also prefer to poach artists from other companies with very little understanding of whether that actually merits a net benefit for the company going forward.
In this case published game titles plays a big part in them considering you, even if what you've worked on has little to no relevance on what you'll actually be doing.
HR is horribly disconnected like that from ground realities. Maybe its more of a thing in the NA game industry, I've heard better from Europe and Asia.
The better character artists (like Bulgarov) who really push the bar and have tremendous skill , their work speaks for themselves and usually they stick to freelance and their own designs.
Many worked in AAA for several years and then moved out when it was no longer a challenge/too much internal politics.
Neox said: Thx. I think this help us a lot.
Yes, junior isnt only just based on the quality of work but also on the work experience behind. Number 1 had a little more work experience than Number 2. Number 2 showed a lot of promise considering there was no prior work experience.
So far it works out great and it's not like if a junior shows senior capacities that they can jump up the chain quicker than others might.
Quality or Amount of work isn't the only measure going from one level to another.
Reason I ask is because as far as juniors go, I've seen hiring practices either consider individual merit, or comparitive merit both of which are totally at the whim of the people hiring, and both heavily dependent of timing and budget.
There also seems to be zero emphasis on soft skills and other professional backgrounds.
These last two bits aren't emphasized enough I find, most of the focus being on getting the portfolio top tier.
For instance hiring an experienced artist as an intern after telling them that the internship is a way to learn the pipeline, then tossing them into the workplace and expecting them to pick up skills without any training whatsoever.
Or having a competition between fresh graduates for an apprenticeship where the wage is way lower owing to a "probation" automatically crippling negotiations or an fair increase at market value when the artist becomes full time.
Meaning its either you take the incremental increase of f* off.
(both these practices I've seen in major AAA studios)
Also many of these students do graduate from programs that simulate a studio space, with their teachers being from the studios that eventually (hopefully) hire them.
So in a sense they have experience, probably not the same level, but if all they'll be doing is "boring grunt work" and present with senior level portfolios, is there a test done to calculate if they can work with the same speed as industry seniors or is that time dependent with the opportunities withheld to prevent an increase in wages?
I'm finding that in cases where the hiring has an HR intermediary the process is even more messed up, with several greal portfolios completely dismissed since the prospective candidate doesn't know someone in the company.
In this case, its seen as a safe bet to go with someone that is known to a current employee, I can't say that the same checks of portfolio and background apply here, or if they even matter.
So it makes me wonder what real merit a great portfolio has towards a candidate being hired as a junior.
For instance they ought to have the skills to do work at a junior level in a company which is likely all they will have for the first few years, but need to present with senior level portfolios to show potential while being held back from doing actual senior level work owing to a company's corporate structure.
All in all it really seems like anything goes, expected given it is the entertainment industry and in many respects sales/advertising/marketing.
I think not having candidates from more diverse backgrounds and real world experience levels is also affecting the sort of people hired.
And Its made worse by a capitalist free market mentality, but luckily we have the option to refuse bad practices, some of us anyway.
Personally what i look for in juniors? clean enough work, work that aligns somewhat to our work, likely also my taste. Messy, bumpy work turns me off, dirty noisy textures as well. I want to see that an artist understands the full process of the workflow. That applies to any artist, Junior or Senior or Lead. We want artists who are able and want to do the whole process, fun bits and more technical bits. We turned down really experienced really good sculptors for that reason, its a hard No for people withou much experience on our end,
I don't expect a junior to be fast or know everything, we can teach a lot. but they need a solid artistic foundation to work with. a foundation that aligns with our work. someone who likes gritty dark designs will not be happy at our place. someone who wants to do super realistic weapons will not be happy at our place etc.
Besides all that, there are of course business based reasons, do we need a junior? can we even support a junior? with enough meaningful work? with support and training? We don't have many juniors in general, clients expect quality work, so we have to make sure this applies.
Like even in the airborne studios example, that first artist is way more skilled than the second, but they are both juniors as far as the company is concerned.
And that's just how that studio works. Many studios work this way.
What I can't get my head around is that how much of that portfolio and great quality art to get eyes on your work actually translates to the work you actually do in a studio.
Like its perfectly reasonable to approach a studio to find the kind of work they do and tailor to that and it does work some of the time, but looking over hired candidates I see so much disparity its bizarre to think that all of them hit some imaginary bar that got them into a company.
And honestly atleast in Montreal, every single hire I know of has been through and internal referral, and I really can't say too much about their portfolios save for the fact that there's potential, I mean why wouldn't there be, lol.
Also many seniors are poached/leave their companies to join other companies because of working conditions. They apply for junior-mid roles too, which is why I emphasise that something needs to be done to remedy that, for instance improve working conditions to match the IT industry so people stay with companies longer and there is more growth internally, not just a talent swap.
Like the mad amount spent on marketing with multiple titles released to the public in a single year is one approach, I prefer the other approach that is more focused on delivering a quality product and taking the time to release it without killing your developers or wasting their time.
And it is possible to do this by changing the way AAA development currently operates in a mad competitive and secretive model that prioritises investors more than the artist.
Heck seeing the disgrace that was Mass Effect Andromeda, it doesn't seem like they prioritise the audience either, that one game is a great example of a company that see's more incentive in marketing for profit than actually caring about quality.
If there were more organised standards, a job seeker wouldn't need to jump through so many hoops to perform what is essentially a service rather than some obsessive dream. It really is more about making sure that everyone benefits, but the games industry has the added issue of the workforce being uh unconventional, so very easy to manipulate and abuse.
The fact that rockstar, ninja, samurai in game studio adverts actually works is quite symbolic of this larger problem.