The other day I took some time to write about cover letters and art tests in the following article:
As I mentioned there, I can’t entirely agree with these methods to recruit people. From my own experience, I found that they sometimes might block your applicants from actually being motivated to drop you a line regarding a job opening.
So without these tools, what can you as an artist develop to make sure you cover 75% of the job openings requirements out there?
For this article, I will explain the different factors that make you a good candidate depending on the position you are applying for, and I’ll do it as follows:
Remember those pricing pages in many websites, where you get a list of advantages of getting the free plan vs. premium vs. enterprise? Something in the lines of “all included in premium + X, Y and Z.”? We’ll do the same here.
As a disclaimer, I won’t talk about leadership positions, as those are heavily dependant on each company, making a generalized description of a required skillset a bit more complex.
Let’s start from the beginning. Note that I can’t cover every single good-to-have. It would make this article infinite, so I’ll describe the key qualities I look for in artists and have worked for me when applying for positions.
As a Junior Artist or Entry Level Artist, you require the following basic skills:
- First, it is important to be a good communicator. You might not have all the information required to develop your job but can communicate your issues in time so that your blockers don’t affect the team and they can aid in solving them, for example.
- A humble person goes a long way at the beginning of their career. No one wants to work with a cocky person that talks too much about what they don’t master. A respectful candidate will be able to receive feedback and understand everyone makes mistakes.
- An eager-to-learn candidate is the most valuable attribute companies look for. Be a sponge and want to absorb all knowledge possible. This will ensure a bright future within the company.
- Organization is key, and you need to show this to your potential employers. A well-formatted CV and Portfolio are two ways to show you care about tidiness.
- Someone that doesn’t require constant care is also a great candidate to get the job. There’s nothing worse than artists asking teammates to solve issues that they could have fixed with a 5-minute google search.
- Lastly, and what I care about the least, is a good portfolio showing good practices and clean work. I don’t need to see a huge environment to understand a candidate’s ability to perform tidy work. Investing in their development will bring these artistic skills naturally.
As you can see, these keys represent a reliable artist. You are someone you can bring into the company and, with a bit of training, make yourself useful. You are also able to grow with the company and return the investment they made in you.
Many junior artists think that a job is not as worthy if they aren't able to work on their portfolio. Once you land a job, the importance of a portfolio isn't as big as thinking about getting promoted within the company.
As an Intermediate Artist, or Mid-Level Artist, you are expected to have all the previous skills plus these other attributes:
- You have developed a solid understanding of the game development pipeline. Sometimes, you are comfortable enough to suggest new methods and conduct your own research.
- Guidance is almost not required anymore. A mid-level artist is the one that gets a piece of work and can take it to completion all by themselves.
- You have taken almost all, if not all, the steps necessary to complete the art aspect of a game, from pre-production to bug fixing. You are willing to optimize every step of the job to get faster and more efficient.
- An itch to guide junior artists starts to grow in you. You are already in a position where you can start to offer help to others with less experience.
- You understand the importance of the project. Most junior artists think their work is their portfolio. An intermediate artist knows the importance of a project-first approach and will risk their own interest to be useful for the project.
The previous qualities describe what is also known as a Regular Level Artist. People who know what goes on in a company and understand the importance of every step they take to complete their work. They are used to making sacrifices, receiving feedback, and start to give some.
Next up, Senior Artists. These are the core of every team, showing skills like the aforementioned, with the following additions:
- You tend to help others often, and you are keen to do so. A senior artist shows great leadership skills, ensuring all their teammates are comfortable developing their work and aiding them if they aren’t.
- The quality of your work is superb and is very consistent. You can maintain the same high standards throughout the entire project and beyond and across various asset types.
- You have multiple titles under your belt, from start to finish. The confidence that you can go over the same process again and again with a high success rate is big.
- Descriptions required to develop your work are little to none, often a concept or description, and if necessary, an explanation of the requirements of the environment is more than enough.
- Cross department work is your everyday bread. You have developed greater communication skills over the years and understand the need to be good at understanding and being understood.
As you can see, a senior artist mostly differentiates from a junior in their experience. They can both have the same art skills, but their consistency can’t be compared.
I often get requirements like 5+ years of experience, many AAA titles, among other things. All these are just guidance for me.
What I described in this article is what I look for and what others see in me to cover certain positions. If these are within your skill set, chances are you don’t need much profiling at all!
Every single case out there is different, and it’s the hirer's duty to understand if the person they have in front of them is fit for a position.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, as always. Thank you, and take care!