I'm a freelance 3D artist, and recently I've been looking into getting a full-time job as a character/environment artist (character prefered) and up until now I've only been doing unpaid commissions with two small paid jobs along with my current paid commission, a cinematic for a modding company.

My issue is this: nearly every game artist job, no matter how large or small the studio is, requires at least two years experience in the field before most will even consider looking at your portfolio. Only recently have I gotten out of college, and I'd like to think that I'm extremely competent and self-motivated, but it's impossible to find any serious companies who won't consider me a risk for having such a limited amount of real-world experience. I've been doing free commissions to expand my portfolio for nearly 3 years to the date, but I'm fairly certain this doesn't qualify as "experience" in the eyes of employers.

So the question stands. How do employers define experience, and how do I go about gaining that 2 years of required paid experience, or do employers care once they see your portfolio?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


closed as off topic by MichaelHouse, msell, Sean Middleditch, Anko, Nicol Bolas Jun 2 '13 at 13:30

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why don't you think the employers will accept your free commissions as experience? You can put it on your resume and I assume you have source for these works you can show off? I don't think this question can really be answered, since each employer is different and there are so many ways to gain experience it's a little out of scope for the site. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse May 29 '13 at 5:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Try internships to start out with if they're available to you (they're usually unpaid, so it may not be an option). Then build up to entry-level jobs that are looking for a reasonable minimal experience in the industry, assuming your internship doesn't turn into a real job. Then move on from there as appropriate. Specifics are, as @Byte56 put it, not really something the community can answer, but if you are concerned you could ask some hiring directors for more details. Conferences like GDC are a decent-ish place to meet HR folks and ask question or find internships. \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Middleditch May 30 '13 at 0:21

nearly every game artist job, no matter how large or small the studio is, requires at least two years experience in the field before most will even consider looking at your portfolio.

The first part of this is a reasonable assertion. The second part is a potentially very false assumption on your part.

What "experience" means, how it's measured, how many years of it you need for a particular position, and indeed what "required" means all vary from studio to studio. It's not always the case that the people who write the copy for the job requisition are the people who actually do the hiring, so sometimes there's a disconnect there. There can even be variation within a studio.

Best thing to do is probably to not worry about it, and apply to positions you think you are qualified for. You're unlikely to be blacklisted for applying and being under qualified, and you may find yourself being considered for an unlisted junior position (many studios don't list junior positions because they don't need to, given the flood of incoming applicants).

Experience or not, your portfolio is your biggest focal point, especially as an artist, and that is likely to matter far more at this stage of your career.


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