I am currently a student attending a city university member college. I am also taking courses at an Atelier while exploring employment opportunities in writing and editing. No idea why I came here, but I'll hopefully figure that all out soon.
Someone contacted me for advice on getting into the industry of freelancing and gaming. Since it’s a wall of text, but useful text, I decided to share it here for anyone else that might be interested in that advice!I hear you about the drama regarding art, it’s not too different in “the industry”, sadly. There are the bigger-named celebs like Feng Zhu, Kekai Kotaki, etc. These guys generally get the run of the show in the industry, they get the bigger jobs, the better jobs, the glamour jobs. The rest of us kind of pick up the scraps of what was turned down, and as terrible as it sounds, it’s not all bad.To answer your questions, there was no real point in which I “decided” I was no longer an amateur. I always feel like an amateur, and that is no joke. It will always feel like you’re riding the coat tails of the bigger artists that will inevitably be “better than you”. But, if I had to think of a point in time in which I could finally call myself a “professional” it was my first gig doing contract work for a local gaming company in the Bay Area. When companies are starting to finally see you and approach you for work on their own accord, you can safely bet that you’ve emerged from that precarious “amateur” stage. Still, I’d stress the point that as artists we are always learning, and always evolving our techniques. If you’ve met an artist that told you they’re just “done learning” they’re full of it :)Anyway, looking through your gallery the biggest thing I can see is the sheer variety of styles you have going on. You know the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”? That is what most people will see if they are reviewing your portfolio and see just a little TOO many varieties in style. My advice to you right now would be the boil down your portfolio into pieces you’d LIKE people to see your work as; if you’re into painting and creature design, show off more of that. If you like doing cartoons and sprites for 2D mobile games, fill your portfolio with that. This way, if someone working on a mobile 2D game needs sprites, they’ll come across your work and see that you must clearly “know what you’re doing” (I mean, from their perspective, it’s basically all you do, right? ;) ). So, find pieces that speak to you as an artist, commercial or non-commercial, and let the people seeing your portfolio “know” you as an artist. That way, if they have a project for you, they know who to call for it. You won’t get *every* job. In fact, you may get bites and realize that they aren’t willing to pay you nearly as much as you deserve, and you’ll have to turn them down. It’s all a part of the gig. My advice on payments would be to never lower your amount. Aim high. If they can’t meet the cost they aren’t worth your time.A typical day for me? Busy! :) I work about 10-12 hours a day, even weekends. The teaching gigs are things I get between work orders, sometimes I’ll make a tutorial myself, but a lot of the time they are commissioned classes, as well. Most of what I do is commission-based. I work with a handful of clients fairly regularly, and that is the best bet you can have. Getting clients that will always have a demand for you, but making sure you have some spare time to expand your portfolio and practice (since most of the time, the work you do on-commission can’t be shown to the public because of NDA agreements, or by the time they’re able to be shown off, they’re a year old and no longer up-to-date with your skill level). I have a whole couple of folders of “stuff” that hasn’t seen the light of day by anyone but the people who’ve commissioned them, and that’s just kind of how things go. In the span of 6 months my work will have shifted and changed into something more relevant, and the backlog of stuff bites the dust. I USED to work in-house at a gaming studio, but the work hours were about the same and I was working for people who didn’t utilize me effectively and it was causing me a lot of stress. The gaming industry is great to have guaranteed income, but it can be hazardous to your health regarding long work hours, unpaid overtime, no holiday breaks, and the dreaded “crunch modes” where you’d be lucky to see your SO other than to say “goodnight” and pass out once you get home! It can be tough, but some people thrive in those environments and more power to them. The only way to know for sure if it’s something you’d love to do for the rest of your life is to give it the old college try and see how it works out for you. Though, a word of advice would be that if you land a studio job, don’t think of it as a permanent home. Studios open and close every day, and you may not see it coming. Always keep a list of clients outside of the office for freelancing opportunities, if you can. They will really come in handy as a security blanket should something happen and you receive a pink slip.I could go on for days, but that’s about the gist of it. I hope I’ve helped shed some light for you! As far as marketing yourself, the best I can say is; set up a facebook page for your art, set up lots and lots of galleries from different KINDS of communities, because you never know who is browsing. DA, Facebook, Art Station, Drawcrowd, Behance, just throw all of your portfolio pieces all around the net, and set up a LinkedIn account to get yourself situated and hopefully looked at by some potential clients. Hope this helps!