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Didn't make it as a concept artist; what can I do with my skills?

Constantini
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Constantini triangle
Hello polycounters;

I made a portfolio critique thread last year, as I had been trying to get my first concept art job for 5 years. Today marks 6 years of me trying everything I can to finally break in, and have finally given up hope. I'm in somewhat of a dilemma, as my last 4 years worth of resume experience have been in 2D layout for pre-kinder shows(that's all we get in Canada), but the career is low paying, rarely offers benefits and contracts are often very short and you end up spending 2-4 months unemployed between them.

I was wondering if anyone has any tips on areas that I might be blind to in which I can use the skills I learnt along my years trying to break into the industry, something that's perhaps better paying and more stable than pre-kinder animation? I'm aware that there are divergent career paths such as illustration for card games or board games, but I've also had 0 luck in those areas so I'm at a loss of where to go with my current skills, as they seem to be mostly irrelevant outside the niche and I'm not too keen on going back to school at age 30.

Thanks in advance!

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  • sacboi
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    sacboi polycount lvl 666
    That's tough, irrespective of living under the covid cloud for the past 18mths many have and continue too endure.

    As for other fields where a 2D skillset can be useful, I'd suggest looking on Linkedin to begin with which appears at a glance opportunities are quite diverse, in your region.

    For example Illustrator job listings :
    • Graphic
    • Medical
    • Technical
    • Freelance Artist / Illustrator
  • Constantini
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    Constantini triangle
    sacboi said:
    That's tough, irrespective of living under the covid cloud for the past 18mths many have and continue too endure.

    As for other fields where a 2D skillset can be useful, I'd suggest looking on Linkedin to begin with which appears at a glance opportunities are quite diverse, in your region.

    For example Illustrator job listings :
    • Graphic
    • Medical
    • Technical
    • Freelance Artist / Illustrator
    Thanks for the input, I appreciate the reply. Those fields require more specialized skills that I don't have a showcase for; it would likely take me a very long time to make a portfolio for them. I don't particularly want to do any of those(did try freelancing, but I also have never heard back from freelance postings), but it seems like those just might be the only options open to me unless I plan on making a barely livable wage.
  • jStins
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    jStins greentooth
    It would help if we could see your work. Got a link to your portfolio? Have you considered 2D production art for games?
  • Constantini
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    Constantini triangle


    jStins said:
    It would help if we could see your work. Got a link to your portfolio? Have you considered 2D production art for games?

    Yes actually, I should have probably started off by sharing that, my bad!:
    https://www.artstation.com/c0nstantini/albums/83219

    I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 2D production art, a quick google search gave me what is essentially concept art but then also 2D layout(which is what I currently work in), though as I mentioned earlier 2D layout is not a great career path as time has shown me.
  • Constantini
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    Constantini triangle
    jStins said:
    It would help if we could see your work. Got a link to your portfolio? Have you considered 2D production art for games?
    Yes actually, I should have probably started off by sharing that, my bad!:

    https://www.artstation.com/c0nstantini/albums/83219

    I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 2D production art, a quick google search gave me what is essentially concept art but then also 2D layout(which is what I currently work in), though as I mentioned earlier 2D layout is not a great career path as time has shown me.
  • Constantini
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    Constantini triangle
    jStins said:
    It would help if we could see your work. Got a link to your portfolio? Have you considered 2D production art for games?
    Yes actually, I should have probably started off by sharing that, my b:
    https://www.artstation.com/c0nstantini/albums/83219

    I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 2D production art, a quick google search gave me what is essentially concept art but then also 2D layout(which is what I currently work in), though as I mentioned earlier 2D layout is not a great career path as time has shown me.
  • Constantini
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    Constantini triangle
    jStins said:
    It would help if we could see your work. Got a link to your portfolio? Have you considered 2D production art for games?
    Yes actually, I should have probably started off by sharing that, my b:
    https://www.artstation.com/c0nstantini/albums/83219

    I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 2D production art, a quick google search gave me what is essentially concept art but then also 2D layout(which is what I currently work in), though as I mentioned earlier 2D layout is not a great career path as time has shown me.
  • jStins
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    jStins greentooth
    2D production art as in 2D assets that are actually used in a game engine (isometric tile sets, inventory icons, etc). Some examples: https://www.artstation.com/jstinson/collections/55437
  • Constantini
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    Constantini triangle
    jStins said:
    2D production art as in 2D assets that are actually used in a game engine (isometric tile sets, inventory icons, etc). Some examples: https://www.artstation.com/jstinson/collections/55437
    I see what you mean, yes I have tried at that too, actually had 4 art tests for 2D production but as is the norm in the industry, I never heard a peep after delivering. A lot of people want to get in to that as a stepping stone for concept art so it's just as hard, it seems.
  • sacboi
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    sacboi polycount lvl 666
    Briefly skimmed through your work and generally really quite solid to be honest so just wondering if you've thought of Matte Painting at all, like for example as a potential career aspiration?
  • Constantini
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    Constantini triangle
    sacboi said:
    Briefly skimmed through your work and generally really quite solid to be honest so just wondering if you've thought of Matte Painting at all, like for example as a potential career aspiration?
    Hey Sacboi, thank you for taking a peek at my work! To your question, yes, I actually have been doing research into that lately. Although I haven't started working on a MP portfolio just yet, I have definitely thought of giving it a chance. Positions are still scarce in the area but I have seen many more than concept art in general. It is not my dream job by any means but I'd be perfectly happy working as an MP with a decent salary.
  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J veteran polycounter
    Did you not get outside critique until five years in? 

    Looks like you know how to do work and finish it, and I imagine by now you are proficient with the tools. 

    I am not an expert but I think if you focused on better shape language, learned more about color theory, probably those two key areas could make a big difference in how your art is received. It's the kind of thing where somebody probably only needs to paint over your work a few times and then you'll get it, I would imagine.

    I can understand burn out.. but six years is a big time investment to throw away. Maybe take a break and then come back with intent to get as much expert advice as you can and then execute on that?


  • Constantini
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    Constantini triangle
    I actually did; it's been lately in the past year and a half that I've had little to no luck getting reviews. Big part of my frustration is that as far back as 3 years ago when I had a couple reviews, one from a blizzard concept artist, was that aside from general art feedback, I was ready to start working and should be able to land a job. Last review I had little over a year ago said the same, that I should be able to get work. 

    Maybe worth mentioning but Ive had a number of art tests and actually signed NDA's before but been ghosted or never replied too after. Maybe I've been *this* close to getting in but not had the luck. 

    Also, if you don't mind me asking, was there anything that immediately came out to you that you thought looked bad/weird/wonky or could be better? I will take any feedback necessary to polish up as much as I can.

    And thank you!


  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J veteran polycounter
    Well it's just purely opinion of course, but the art (basically all of it) seems like its somewhere between cartoony and realism, but doesn't strike a pleasing balance. 

    The shape language feels really consistent throughout most pieces and is a little weird too me. A lot of heavy, chonky shapes, there are very few elegant curves or sophisticated details. Especially with the man-made items, I see so many simple geometric shapes it feels unfinished, and besides that they just aren't pleasing shapes to look at. 

    The art has a feeling like it is all dioramas of plastic toys - but like the cheap kind. 

    Colors are sometimes all right. In general I think if you used less and especially used high contrast colors more strategically, you would achieve a more serious tone. 

    Does it got to be always a serious tone? No, but the way you are composing these shots - many of them big epic panoramas - it just feels like a clash of styles to me if there is also chonky, cartoony buildings/characters with bright clashing colors.


    Hopefully you don't take it personal, art is subjective and this is just my take on it, but if I am looking to hire a concept artist and I review your work, basically I only see one style and it is not like anything else I've seen so I don't know how to use it. If I designed a game to match your style I am not convinced it would sell. There isn't a clear, distinct style, it's a weird mash so I don't know who the audience is. 

    I would say to just straight up copy work from selling/big name concept artist, and try to get a feel about what they are doing differently. And try lots of genres and themes too, even if its not something that interest you. Look for global, common principles that exist across genres. Once you can identify that, then start tweaking the recipe to put your own personality on it. I think your work is just a little too out-of-the-ordinary. Certainly there will be some who identify with it but I think if you want a job you have to broaden your audience.




  • Constantini
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    Constantini triangle
    Alex_J said:
    Well it's just purely opinion of course, but the art (basically all of it) seems like its somewhere between cartoony and realism, but doesn't strike a pleasing balance. 

    The shape language feels really consistent throughout most pieces and is a little weird too me. A lot of heavy, chonky shapes, there are very few elegant curves or sophisticated details. Especially with the man-made items, I see so many simple geometric shapes it feels unfinished, and besides that they just aren't pleasing shapes to look at. 

    The art has a feeling like it is all dioramas of plastic toys - but like the cheap kind. 

    Colors are sometimes all right. In general I think if you used less and especially used high contrast colors more strategically, you would achieve a more serious tone. 

    Does it got to be always a serious tone? No, but the way you are composing these shots - many of them big epic panoramas - it just feels like a clash of styles to me if there is also chonky, cartoony buildings/characters with bright clashing colors.


    Hopefully you don't take it personal, art is subjective and this is just my take on it, but if I am looking to hire a concept artist and I review your work, basically I only see one style and it is not like anything else I've seen so I don't know how to use it. If I designed a game to match your style I am not convinced it would sell. There isn't a clear, distinct style, it's a weird mash so I don't know who the audience is. 

    I would say to just straight up copy work from selling/big name concept artist, and try to get a feel about what they are doing differently. And try lots of genres and themes too, even if its not something that interest you. Look for global, common principles that exist across genres. Once you can identify that, then start tweaking the recipe to put your own personality on it. I think your work is just a little too out-of-the-ordinary. Certainly there will be some who identify with it but I think if you want a job you have to broaden your audience.




    Ouch. That stung deep; but most people who succeed listen to the most brutal of feedback instead of bouncing to the positive, so I'll do my best to take that in stride.
    I can't deny any of what you're saying, specially reviewing my work along your comment, so I'll try going a bit more streamlined and see if that garners more attention perhaps. It's probably worth it to just say fuck it and go for straight up the most overdone route, if my style isn't working out.

    Regardless, thanks for taking the time to write that up, I do really appreciate it!
  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J veteran polycounter
    I spent like 9 months working on a really complex character. I got some feedback from a professional artist and he was pretty impressed with the work but said people wouldn't like it because the face wasn't pretty. Lol. And it seems like he was right.
  • adriancgmask
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    adriancgmask polycounter lvl 2
    jStins said:
    2D production art as in 2D assets that are actually used in a game engine (isometric tile sets, inventory icons, etc). Some examples: https://www.artstation.com/jstinson/collections/55437
    I see what you mean, yes I have tried at that too, actually had 4 art tests for 2D production but as is the norm in the industry, I never heard a peep after delivering. A lot of people want to get in to that as a stepping stone for concept art so it's just as hard, it seems.
    I struggle to break into the industry after 5 years of 3d game modeling and it's definitely been a brutal ride its a competition in a sense and for a bigger company like activation, it's more like winning a lottery lol look at the bright side bro at least you living in Canada and can go to us easily to find a job. Im from the middle east and I just get banned from cgtrader wildcat and all my hard-earned money is gone and I can't work on any American website because of sanctions and cant have PayPal and...bro consider urself lucky u gonna make and I love all ur concepts and I will follow you on Instagram and give some love and respect @adriancgmask
    and I agreed to Alex clear distinct style goes a long way ur concept is somewhere in between
  • ludoviclotoah
    Hello,
    Firstly let me say that you have some very nice art on your portfolio. I am sure you must have tried before, but may I encourage you to look for work with small studios and  indie developers.

    You have some nice looking 2d characters, could I just encourage you to focus and them and maybe just learn how to animate such characters in unity. I know that may seem far from what you are looking for but many indie gaming today do focus on animated 2d characters and unity in most cases is their engine of choice. Might be a good plus.

    Don't give up and if I may encourage you is to work harder and produce more great pieces.

    Also take a look often at the job post on ArtStation. Like their is this one now :

    Good luck for the future.

  • Neox
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    Neox quad damage
    what companies did you try to apply at? i can not believe that you can't find work with that portfolio. did you get answers why you have been turned down?
  • Constantini
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    Constantini triangle
    Thanks for all the replies everyone; I had honestly given up completely but I feel very encouraged to push for a little while longer now, not what I came here for but I'm glad it turned that way!

    jStins said:
    2D production art as in 2D assets that are actually used in a game engine (isometric tile sets, inventory icons, etc). Some examples: https://www.artstation.com/jstinson/collections/55437
    I see what you mean, yes I have tried at that too, actually had 4 art tests for 2D production but as is the norm in the industry, I never heard a peep after delivering. A lot of people want to get in to that as a stepping stone for concept art so it's just as hard, it seems.
    I struggle to break into the industry after 5 years of 3d game modeling and it's definitely been a brutal ride its a competition in a sense and for a bigger company like activation, it's more like winning a lottery lol look at the bright side bro at least you living in Canada and can go to us easily to find a job. Im from the middle east and I just get banned from cgtrader wildcat and all my hard-earned money is gone and I can't work on any American website because of sanctions and cant have PayPal and...bro consider urself lucky u gonna make and I love all ur concepts and I will follow you on Instagram and give some love and respect @adriancgmask
    and I agreed to Alex clear distinct style goes a long way ur concept is somewhere in between
    Thanks for the follow Adrian; and I'm sorry about your banning situation, I can't imagine that makes things easy for you. Unfortunately, I'm an immigrant to Canada and contrary to what people think, it is NOT easy to immigrate to the US specially now(I'm actually Peruvian so my passport priority is way down the list if I don't have a job offer. But I'd go if I could). Regardless, thank you and I'll take heed to the fact that my style is not quite yet developed. I think I'll push a few more streamlined pieces and divide my portfolio half and half.

    Neox said:
    what companies did you try to apply at? i can not believe that you can't find work with that portfolio. did you get answers why you have been turned down?
    Hi Neox; I swear this is not hyperbole but I have applied to quite literally every single job posting from every company in Canada or remote for 6 years, just name a company and odds are I've applied(and also tried cold calling/messaging HR through linkedin prime credits). I also have never heard back from anyone except for the automated application decline. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I had a couple big companies reach out to me and I got as far as signing with them, then never heard from them again.
  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J veteran polycounter
    would be a huge shame to delete the thread with such a great ending. great job! persistence always wins.
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