Having to review portfolios, I see three common mistakes that should be common knowledge for every artist. I want to share these with you so you can start building a portfolio that gets you hired.
Look at your portfolio from a CEO’s perspective.
I want to start with what might be even more important than the three tips themselves. Imagine that you are running a creative studio. Or perhaps you are in charge of leading a team of artists. It just so happens that you are short of hands and need to hire an additional artist fast! You post a message in public spaces like Polycount, Artstation, or social media. Soon you find yourself overwhelmed with more than 100 responses. It’s good that the interest is high. But now you need to combine finishing your daily tasks. And finding the right person to help you complete the project.
Think about this situation for a moment. If this was you, what would you do, who would you accept and have a talk with, who would you disregard, who would you hire? Your time is precious, so you need to make smart choices who to spend time on. Remember that deadline? Better to filter away 95% of the people, so you can spend your energy and time on the top 5% that match your needs. Note the word ‘need’, not the best artist, but those who fit your ‘needs’ the best.
Learn to look at your portfolio from a CEO’s point of view. Would you spend more than 10 seconds looking at your portfolio or click it away? Would you hire yourself? If not, ask yourself why. To help you answer this question. I want to make you aware of three common mistakes that you can avoid.
1. Focus your work so people know what you’re good at.
Often when a team or art director is looking to hire. They need a specific role to be filled. For example, a character artist, an environment artist or a specific art style. Many artists out there show good work, but it shows everything they ever did. It doesn’t show what type of role they are good at. It doesn’t mean that this in itself is bad, if anything, a very good all-rounder is a golden member to have in a team. But when comparing an all-rounder to those other 100 applicants. Those that better fit the need of the company, simply jump out more. It’s human nature that if you need to find a good environment artist (the problem). That you will be drawn more towards someone good at environment art (the solution). Someone who shows a lot of environment art as his main skill-set.
So focus your work and show that you are the best in a specific need. It doesn’t necessarily mean choosing only one skill. It could mean you are good at multiple things. Perhaps environments and particle effect. But make sure this is easy to see in your portfolio. Building a portfolio so the one who is reviewing your portfolio sees what you are good at.
2. Remember that you are judged on your weakest work.
Sadly for most art directors and art managers. They have worked with or hired people who at first looked amazing. But once hired, they just did not have the skill and competency to do the work they hoped they would do. Not only losing money, but also precious time on guiding them. A tough and painful mistake. What is the result? When art directors review your work, they are trying to do all they can to prevent these mistakes. To prevent the wrong hire. Which means that they will hunt for your weakest work and mistakes. To get an impression of who you are and your competency level. In other words. Your best work is good for an amazing first impression. But the choice to hire you is done on your weakest work. So remove your weakest work that does not represent your current artistic skill.
3. Learn to present your work and yourself with good presentation and branding.
We are artists, right? We make cool things, creative things. Entire worlds full of detail and wonder. Characters with emotions and charisma. Objects and machines that tell stories of their history and use. But why do so many artists skip putting in the time and effort to present their work? To render their assets with good lighting, composition, and effects. And why do most artists never think about building a good website and brand. If your work is amazing, great. But if you have a terrible website or present your work with bad rendering. This in itself becomes your weakest work. Make sure you take the time to present your work. Have a consistent way of presenting work, perhaps a house brand with a font, color scheme, and logo. This might mean building a portfolio website from scratch. But it shows you care about how you present yourself to the world. It shows that you think above art and understand that art in itself is not the only thing that runs a business.
Building a portfolio with the perspective of the person that is hiring, is the most important tip. Look at it as if you are the CEO of a game studio. Not only looking at your artistic skill but also from a business standpoint. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to us here at High Priority – Game Art.
Founder & 3D Artist