Game Art Education Question
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Posted 16 August 2014 - 04:41 PM
Im an indie game artist... Like the rest of the world. Ive been making games forever and im ready to upgrade to a real job in the industry, or at least find a larger indie team to join with a possibility of a real, paying career.
Im looking into a game art and animation educating. Bachelors degree would be great. So far the best school for the money I've talked to is Fullsail University with a 32 month degree for around $60k. I've also talked to Sanford Brown, Art Institute and a local school here in Arizona but they're all 3 to 4 years and more expensive.
I want quality over affordability, but i know game artists aren't millionaires. The best return on investment is what I'm interested in.
But my real question is this: Will anyone hire me with a game art degree from a school like Full Sail? They tell me they're the Harvard of game schools, but they're salesmen. We all know that.
How much does the school matter up against an awesome portfolio?
Any opinions, suggestions, recommendations, criticisms or straight up trash talk is so very welcome. Its a big investment and there's a lot of pros and cons to consider.
Thanks in advance.
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Posted 16 August 2014 - 05:43 PM
Portfolio > school.
How much does the school matter up against an awesome portfolio?
HR cares about degrees/diplomas. Everyone else cares about what you can show and do. Artists often get interviewed based on their resume and portfolio, and then hired based on an art test.
If you've been making games forever, do you already have a portfolio? Are you already trained in the software packages that you need to know? Do you need to go to a games school?
P.S. If you want a degree that will look nice to HR but also develop your talent as an artist, also consider fine art courses instead of games-specific stuff
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Posted 17 August 2014 - 02:26 AM
Very few people will discredit your application for an art job based on your schooling (and lets be honest, if they do you probably don't want to work for them).
No one will see that you went to full sail and bring you in right away just on that, but it's possible for someone to click through to your portfolio and be entirely convinced that you're the talent they need. Portfolio over Degree. A degree will only barely increase your chances at getting a job, because in the end it's about your art and whether or not you'll fit in with the team.
I'm of the opinion that a degree is not required at all as an artist in this industry unless you really want a focused environment in which to learn your trade, and you can't get it otherwise. But if you've really been making game art for this long, theres a chance you don't really need it (eg... there's nothing new they will teach you).
Game art schools are... Well, by the time you finish your course, the methods you learned tend to be pretty outdated. You also don't get a chance to specialize in most schools, they put an emphasis on generalising, which if you want to get into bigger studios or have a career being a specialist is not much of a plus. I know this from researching many schools before I chose mine, attending mine (and even while I'm overall happy with it, it still fell into a lot of these categories), and hearing horror stories from other students and teachers.
That's not to say it won't benefit you, I'd just think real hard about why you're going. What do you want them to teach you? Do you just need the time/access to good hardware and licenses to work on your portfolio freely? Do they offer a chance to specialise? Do they teach this one thing that you don't know and won't learn unless you're in an acedemic environment?
I personally went because my 3D ability was sketchy at best, while my illustrations were already pretty decent. While I could easily have improved my 2D tenfold by myself within the year, 3D kept going over my head, so I needed tutoring to get started. And I did need that; I want to be a character artist/designer, and not having 3D ability cuts an already slim pile of job opportunities in half. In the end, I paid over 40k specifically so I could have an environment in which I could pick up the skill I needed most but was still lacking, make contacts (INVALUABLE), and access licences for all the programs I needed.
I don't have any regrets, but I'd wanted this pretty specifically for years. If you've already made assets that have ended up in a game, and know general workflows, it may actually be kind of detrimental to go to a game art school (though perhaps a good experience to take a real art course for a degree).
Got a portfolio link? Or can you name any games you worked on that actually got released?
If you don't, when you do manage to get your art together, make sure to post for a portfolio review here. There are a number of very qualified people who generally answer those threads with good advice.
Checking out the Polycount forums is also a fantastic idea, if you don't already frequent the site. They have long ongoing threads on this topic, with many industry professionals weighing in. I'd suggest having a browse (you'll find those threads in General Discussion).
Edited by BagelHero, 17 August 2014 - 02:27 AM.
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Posted 17 August 2014 - 11:48 PM
Wow. Let me first thank both of you for your superb replies.
I perhaps sounded a bit more skilled in my original post than I should have. By "forever", I meant I've been making flash games with pixel and vector art for about 5 years. Before that I thought I was a game designer who didn't need to learn programming or art and used software like RPG Maker. Now I do a bit of digital painting with a graphics tablet and a small amount of traditional sketching when I'm not working on game art. I'm definitely naturally talented when it comes to all art and design skills and that might be because of my passion in it, but my portfolio only shines in the graphic design department (10+ years in Photoshop creating banners, logos and typography). I love simple pixel art, but I want to be more versatile.
Being a versatile artist is honestly my goal, so a more general education is great for me. I want to work in more independent projects, as I really enjoy working directly with fans on smaller teams. My studio is only a 2 man team; me and my programmer friend of several years. We're both about the same level of talent, so it works out. But we can't seem to make any money off of the dozens of little games we've released (nothing you've heard of.) I want to learn 3D to up my game and get into bigger projects to turn game development into a career.
Working for a big studio would be amazing and I wouldn't turn down the opportunity to present a portfolio worthy of applying at one, but my goal isn't to be a famous game artist working on the next big franchise game.
In short, I think a game art school is specific enough for me to learn what I actually want to learn, yet generalized enough to be able to wear many hats in smaller teams. I have access to much of the software packages I need to learn 3d, but I don't have the dedication to learn it outside of a formal setting. It's taken me years to finally be happy about my skill in 2d art.
But again, thanks so much for the inspiring words. I definitely couldn't get a job with my current portfolio, but I'm glad to know that I can go with a school that fits me and my budget and still make it in the world of games. I'm one of those people who goes way out of the way to learn more about something that interests me. The downside of that is that I find a lot of things interesting...
Edited by Siren Games, 18 August 2014 - 03:27 AM.