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WIPs in Portfolio When Applying to a Job

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HarlequinWerewolf interpolator
So, I understand that it's generally not good to have works in progress in your portfolio but there's been a handful of job posting popped up looking for more realistic work and the only realistic work I have are a couple of works in progress. I hope to get one finished and uploaded by the time I apply, but it doesn't have a human face, rather it shows some Marvelous Designer clothes. So is it worth uploading a 'High Poly' sculpt version of my, as yet, unfinished realistic work? My fear is that this job posting won't be there forever so if I try to finish this project I'll rush it and it'll be sloppy. 

Any advice is greatly appreciated as I desperately try to claw my way into the industry

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  • Biomag
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    Biomag sublime tool
    You can have completely polished sculpts in there, but if you don't have anything that answers the question if you can get that into a game ready polished asset then it won't help you much.

    Always look at your application as 'what do I have in there or what do I lack that will get me potentially thrown out of the race'. Don't look at it as 'what is in my application that will make them want to hire me despite of x, y, z'. Your application/portfolio has to show that you can do everything they ask for in their job offer. Everything that is missing from that is probably going to have you rejected because someone else in applying has all bases covered. Companies are not in short supply of applications, its completely a buyers market, so little reason for them to settle with somebody they think 'might have potential'.
  • HarlequinWerewolf
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    HarlequinWerewolf interpolator
    @Biomag
    Thanks. That helps. I think I need to take a step back and take a good hard look at my portfolio 
  • Biomag
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    Biomag sublime tool
    It really helps to focus on a specific company and those with very similar artstyles. 1-2 really good portfolio pieces will do the trick. Again, employers want your portfolio to kill their doubts about you, so for beginners trying to be all over the place won't make the cut. It doesn't sounds intuitive to limit your portfolio and applications to increase your chances to be hired, but with such a saturated job market you need to be able to stand out among those applying for the job. So if you are trying to get into an AAA studio, be really focused in your art style. It still might get you jobs with smaller ones, if you really nail a style as you show artistic quality. The smaller ones don't get the top picks among job seekers, so they might have to 'settle' for potential to match their needs.

    And again always when looking at your portfolio look from the perspective of someone looking for artists, not someone looking for a job. They have very limited time to go through hundreds of applications and they are looking for ways to reduce that pile to 3-5 candidates as fast as possible. If you keep that in mind and use that strategically to prepare yourself you will be better of the vast majority of the people looking for a job :) 
  • HarlequinWerewolf
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    HarlequinWerewolf interpolator
    @Biomag
    Thanks again! So the idea is to find a focus and push to create solid work in that style. And then even if that doesn't hit the AAA mark, I can still use it for smaller studios/indies? 
  • Biomag
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    Biomag sublime tool
    Oddly enough its easier to say what is needed for an AAA-studio then others. With indies or smaller studios its harder to get the idea who is applying there. For example what I've seen while I was in Finland, they have access to big investors even for small mobile projects thus they can go for experienced AAA artists who look for a start up and more influence on the project than they would have in a big company. On the other hand there are endless small studios everywhere that start as hobby projects and turn to proper indie studios. Therefor you can say that there is a huge range of different situations those small/indie studios find themselves in.

    With big studios its easy, pretty much like any big sport league team they can go for experienced talent or the new class of top tier rookies. Makes it a hell of a competition for the candidates applying. But on the other hand you have their previous projects already out. You can see what kind of style they like, what kind of solutions they go for and so on... making them a clear goal you have to reach.


    Now for beginners who don't have endless time to learn everything, it makes most sense to learn what their dream job at their dream company requires. Most AAA have also very high quality standards for their art. So if you learn how to make high quality art you also learn to 'see' what makes things look good, independent of the style (and you learn the tools). The actual experience in production usually just makes you a bit quicker, more versatile in problem solving and a bit more independent of guidance thus a more senior arts. But qualityvise a junior is expected to pretty much be able to do AAA-level art. Since the market is, as said before, well supplied with artist, the big studios usually go for mid to senior level, because they don't want to hustle with training, if it can be avoided. Nor do they want to take risks with picking up people who might not hit the ground running (both when it comes to style or technical issues) because they use up too much time of other team members.


    Since the big studios get the biggest talent pool and have a lot going for them, the indies, smaller studios and outsourcer have to make their pick from what is left. If you see an AAA-level artist that might just lack experience its actually quite a good pick, especially for outsourcing studios who actually work on the AAA-projects. The candidates don't even need to be doing exactly the same style because even if the market is saturated, truth to be told, it lacks really high level artists. There are tons of students, but a majority of them is simply not there yet. So if you have a good portfolio, even if not perfectly suited, it might be worth for a studio to take the gamble and train you for their style.


    In the end its all about quality and how to get their as quickly as possible before having to broaden your skill set. Sorry for the long version of the answer, but maybe it makes it a bit clearer :) 
  • HarlequinWerewolf
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    HarlequinWerewolf interpolator
    @Biomag
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this out. It definitely helps and I know I have a long way to go but I'm feeling more focused now :+1:

  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    I would apply anyway with what you have. And at the same time do what you need to bring your work upto standard.
    I used to look at job applications as "portfolio gets you the job" though over the years I've found that it really comes to many factors, more importantly how, when and to whom you pitch yourself. 

    Also I've had situations, where even if I was rejected by a studio, building a rapport with a lead/senior involved in the hiring process helped me get a client outside the studio for freelance work.
    (They thought the dog in my portfolio was cute and it led me to contribute to a random prop for a totally different project)

    Really depends on how corporate the operation is and the circumstances you meet the hiring team. 
    Showing my portfolio in a mixer event gave me totally different results as far as feedback went than using an online system.
    Sometimes HR was interested in my background more than my portfolio, and this applied to some art leads.

    I mean what do you have to lose?
    The way I see it most companies and recruiters prioritise work experience over portfolio, I mean they give you art tests after seeing your portfolio so maybe an application is one way for them to grant you an art test to process the application further. 

    Also with big AAA studio getting the best talent pool, that kinda depends on the way you look at applications to an opening.
    Sure you have their recruiters attempting to poach talent from other studios as well as recruiting for positions internally and working through referrals to find best candidates.

    Then there's the online portal that receives a large assortment 90% of which might very well be utter crap.
    I mean I don't see it as crap, I try to see potential, but they have limited time so there may be situations where you application might not even come up for review.

    So make an application for the experience of applying and if they reject you or ghost you, keep working on the portfolio and be aware of more in person opportunities to pitch yourself.

    With regards to the work, realistic character art in AAA is divvied up into several tasks assigned to various people with a variety of skillsets and a lot of the work is outsourced.

    A colleague of mine only does retopo of scans, he is still a realistic character artist for all intents and purposes even though his portfolio prior to applying had no characters.

    His portfolio after the role has screenshots from the game, he does get offers to interview at other studios for roles he cannot realistically manage because of what recruiters assume he can do. They are after all trying to meet a quota which is how they get paid.

    Again his being internal certainly helped move into the appropriate team, but it really came down to how he saw and pitched himself.
    Well he didn't pitch at all, there was just an opening that was languishing for several months and he happened to be offloaded from a canned project.
  • Eric Chadwick
    To echo Biomag's points, this article still holds up after all this time, and does a nice job clarifying what it's like seeing portfolios from the hiring end.

    Your Portfolio Repels Jobs by Jon Jones 

    More on our wiki
    http://wiki.polycount.com/wiki/Game_Industry
  • HarlequinWerewolf
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    HarlequinWerewolf interpolator
    @NikhilR
    Thank you for taking the time to write that out. It helps a lot. 

    @Eric Chadwick
    Thanks Eric, I think I read that article a few years ago so it was a good refresh! I'll dig through the wiki some more.

    I think I'll just avoid WIPs for the time being and focus on rounding out my portfolio a little. I'll send out some applications in the mean time and see what happens, as Nikhil said, what do I have to lose?
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