View Full Version : Too late to get into concept art?
July 13th, 2007, 11:20 PM
Hello all! I've been looking around this site with jaw to floor for the past 45 minutes or so - so much amazing work and so little time :)
For a while now I've been considering the possiblity of trying to get into concept art as a career. I spent a couple of years at art school studying painting, between the ages of 18 and 21, but found the teaching nebulous and uninspiring and felt that the tutors were more interested in students who could bullsh*t the best than those with genuine talent. Also, I was young and lazy and didn't put in as much effort as I should have. In any case, I ende up getting kicked out when I pretty much lost interest altogether and stopped producing work. I decided to change direction altogether and get into science. Cycle forward five years, I'm now 26 and next year I will complete a masters degree in neuroscience. But over the past few weeks I've started to return more and more to drawing and painting. As much as I love science I know it's not really for me and I'm thinking that when I finish the degree I'd like to pursue art as my career.
My question is - is it too late for me to do this? How important is it to have an arts degree to break into the industry? Can you find work as a concept artist on the basis of a good portfolio alone?
Apologies for the long preamble, and thanks in advance for any help offered :)
PS if you're interested, I have a few images online here:
Not a very impressive body of work, but might give an idea of what I like to draw.
July 13th, 2007, 11:59 PM
Its plenty reasonable to get a concept art job without a BA, and on the strength of a good portfolio alone.
Your age isn't a factor.
Giving it to you straight, your portfolio looks nowhere near good enough to get into a concept art job, but seeing some of your drawing vids on the second site shows you have some good foundations, but I'd estimate it would take a solid year or two of busting your ass to get a concept art job on staff.
Also, its not about what you want to draw, but what you are asked to draw that is important, you're judged more often on the things you hate to illustrate than that which you love, and your strength of design and rendering on the things you don't feel particularly passionate about determines your true professionalism.
Anyone can draw something well if they're into it, it takes someone special to put all their creative effort into designing a new type of rubbish bin.
Also, you gotta draw on demand, this is a big one, so think it through if you have the minerals.
Have fun, good luck, m.
July 14th, 2007, 12:42 AM
Hey thanks for the advice, and the brutal honesty! ;)
I wouldn't have had the hubris to describe that as a portfolio, tho - just some odds and ends that i had lying around the dusty corners of my hard drive.
Thanks again though - what you said was really encouraging. Better get to busting my ass!
July 15th, 2007, 01:16 PM
Magic Man is correct. Your portfolio is nowhere near good enough.
The most important tool in your artistic arsenal is going to be having the ability to see, to know, to intuit, to understand exactly and precisely how your work is not up to a professional standard, or even up to a great professional standard. Once you're able to see where you're 'not', that gives you great clues and direction on how to improve your work, because you're able to see that goal of what constitutes a strong professional portfolio of work.
What I see in your work so far are 'pretty pictures'. Pretty pictures alone don't show you know how to create a world, an environment, or believable characters with convincing clothing/weaponry/whatever. They are simply drawings of things with no real context or purpose. If you're wanting work, then you need to build a portfolio that literally speaks for yourself when you're not around. You want your portfolio to make people easily understand that you know how to create a believable world with convincing characters.
I don't see that in your work at all. Only a bunch of drawings that demonstrate you have some pencil and Photoshop skills. I don't get any sense that you understand how to draw environments (industrial or organic), or that you know how to draw people.
I'm not saying you can't do these things. In fact I'm convinced that you can. I'm just saying that you haven't yet demonstrated that you can do these things. One convoluted drawing of a female whose anatomy you've hidden in darkness, whose environment is vague at best, does not even remotely demonstrate your ability to convey a... well, a workable concept that any company can easily see how your work can represent a finished product. An example of the opposite would be the color illustration of the 'Search and Destroy' helmet that you did shows a lack of understanding of the engineering & manufacturing of something like a military helmet. You need to show that you know these things.
The 'Still life with Head' piece is the only thing that really shows me you know what you're doing. It's a very beautiful piece, and clearly demonstrates your understanding of how to illustrate something convincingly real.
This is a great standard for the finished look of your work. But you still have to demonstrate that you understand construction (ancient, contemporary, futuristic, organic, industrial, whatever), along with, well... everything else. Every job will be different, so you have to be able to do everything convincingly.
'Still life with Head' is how I know you'll have a very good shot at getting concept work, provided you build a portfolio that convinces everyone that you can do any kind of job that is asked of you.
Do your research about how portfolios are built. Ask all the right questions from people who have gone through the pain of building their own. I have to build one kind of portfolio to do concept work for video games, and another kind of portfolio to get work for animation design. Sometimes you can combine elements of various portfolios, sometimes not, depending on any client's requirements. So having a library of items that you can mix & match for whomever you're submitting your work to is a good thing.
Are you sure you want to engage in this extremely giant pain the ass kind of work?
Aw, come on... you know you want to.
July 18th, 2007, 07:01 AM
Magnut - sorry for not responding and thanking you sooner, I didn't realise you'd posted a reply. You've given me a great measure of where I am now and where I need to be in the future. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.
And by the way - yes I do want to :)