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Think Tank/Vertex School in my career path

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mhuang97 polycounter lvl 4

Where I Am

I'm an Environment Artist who's worked at an indie game startup and then indie film startup for a total about 3 years before leaving. For the past 11 months I've been building up my skills and took the Env Art for Games as well as Organic Worldbuilding courses at CGMA (which consist of the first two pieces on my portfolio).

My portfolio: https://michaelhuang97.artstation.com/

In terms of my job hunt, I've sent out 200+ applications over the course of 2 months, applying to Junior, Standard, and even Senior level Environment Artist positions or related positions, and have only gotten 2 interviews which never progressed past the first stage. Since then, I've just been focusing on building my portfolio.

While money is a concern due to being unemployed so long, I'm considering taking Vertex School's 9-month Game Art program or Think Tank's 4 month Env Art program, both are around $9000.

I recently had an interview for Vertex School and the reviewer evaluated my current portfolio at a level of 6-7/10, with 8/10 being entry level and 10/10 being in the industry having some experience with shipping a title. He recommend I still partake in the Vertex School program, with the goal of raising my skill level to qualify for a AAA studio at the start rather than an indie studio.

My Question

I've seen the work done by some Vertex School graduates and would like to reach that level. However, 9 months and $9000 is a long and heavy commitment, and given that I'm this far ahead in the job hunt/skill level, I'm not entirely sure if it will be worth it.

The advice I'm seeking is, based on my currently portfolio and with that evaluation of my current portfolio, is it a good idea for me to enroll in these costly online programs? Has anyone who's taken either of these courses who would recommend them based on how far I am? Or would it be better for me to just push for that last 1/10 to reach entry level?


  • nOLpte8
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    nOLpte8 triangle

    Posting here because I am curious about this as well (more interested on the VFX side as opposed to environment art). For the expensive programs like vertex school, CGmasteracdemy, cgspectrumm gnonmon etc... on a casual google search I really have not found many reviews, youtube videos, blog posts or anything. I know there must be people who took one of these programs but for whatever reason they just are not posting about it...whether it is people who thought the program was a waste of time/money to those who said the program helped them land a job- there are no posts, no reviews it is very strange.

    As for deciding to go to vertex school or not I would argue that 11 months is a long time to be working on a portfolio (not knowing your money situation, are you working on the side, have money saved up etc...) I would probably lean towards the program OR maybe give myself X amount of months to see if you can land that entry level environment job on your own. Now assuming you are not able to get the art job on your own in X amount of months then assuming I could afford it, I would go with the schooling option. I just imagine you don't want to be in a situation where you've been working on the portfolio for the past 3 years and still no luck where in those 3 years you could have went to vertex school or wherever.

  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator

    So I work at Electronic Arts and the Vancouver office does recruit many candidates from Think Tank Training center.

    What I'd like to clarify is that while a portfolio certainly matters, there are enough resources online to get it to the 10/10 level as far as portfolios go.

    Now I don't really agree with the way the people from vertex evaluated your portfolio on the 0/10 scale.

    I don't know what 6-7/10, 8/10 etc means, and 10/10 doesn't mean portfolio + industry experience with shipping a title. That is garbage advice since it doesn't have a absolute outcome of getting hired. There are many factors besides your portfolio and experience that influence the hiring process.

    Obviously if you do have industry experience and have shipped a title you might be taken more seriously and be sought after by recruiters. Especially if you are currently in the industry.

    This is aspect of the industry I don't really agree with and usually what I do is send recruiters over to others even if they want to poach me which I feel isn't polite, but then they are working with their mandate which is all they know.

    Its a fact that hopping about from company to company can help you raise your salary and many who do this see themselves as top tier. Personally I think the top tier bit is nonsense since companys can be quick to liquidate entire departments to meet projections starting with these god tier individuals who then may have trouble getting hired regardless of where they are at in their careers.

    The key thing is to love what you do and learn what you can to better yourself.

    When it comes to the industry what you really ought to do is find ways to network and get in the industry with the understanding that while you'll always be learning you will also be networking and building connections.

    This is where the schools come in, since your teachers are likely to recommend you and some have placements at the end that gives you more industry experience.

    However you can also network at industry events and get a portfolio review right here on polycount from people working in the industry. I'm a character artist though I could point you in a direction that could be meaningful to developing as an environment artist.

    In case you have an issue with being discipline and following a regimen, or you're just not very good with being resourceful and self learning a school can work for you there too.

    Also I'd be very aware of the market that you're applying in. It always helps to drop in an application since the turnaround time for a response can vary on the company's needs (i.e if the opening is actually in your time frame + internal hiring)

    The super ultimate portfolios that get thousands of likes on linkedin are one way to approach the market.

    Many students, alumni of the various schools also do this on artstation for each others work and that drives something that may be drivel in many aspects to the front page. Does it get you hired, not really sure since you will have to do an art test regardless of where your portfolio is at.

    Also company's do look at work experience to determine your seniority, so even if your work is far better than one of their employees working 15 years, you'll be joining as a junior because that is their policy and being good at your job is way more than just being good at doing game art.

    Doesn't mean that the job won't challenge you, there's a lot of work you'd have to do to set your goals and objectives to grow in the company.

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