Are you interested in becoming a concept artist? Would you like to become a professional artist that designs book covers for the many authors on Amazon?
For many of us artists, we have big dreams about making it in the art world. Some of us see ourselves working at a big game studio like Blizzard or Bungie, making epic concept art that will soon be rendered in a top-selling title.
Some of us dream of having our illustrations depicted as a small but tastefully crafted rectangle on a Magic card, or as the stunning cover art on an Amazon bestselling novel.
And for many artists, they simply want to turn their passion into their profession by landing their first art gig.
This can be one of the finest moments in an artist's career — the moment when someone else has deemed your skills valuable enough to put a price on it, to treat your craft as skilled, honest work.
For me it was a simple book cover from a small publishing company in the US. I had no idea what I was doing, and hadn't been creating digital art for more than six months. I had to create the cover design, arrange bar codes and logos on a printing template—pretty much had to learn as I went along.
Fortunately, not everyone has to go blindly into that big, scary world of professional art! You have this blog and the countless artist resources that are connected with it on your side to help you.
So, I want to share some great tips about finding gigs and making it as a professional concept artist in today's industry. Are you ready? Okay, let's go:
1. Show passion and interest in your work first – money will follow.
Don’t worry too much about what you should specialize in, whether you do fantasy or sci-fi, characters or environments, creatures or props, etc. because you think one thing will make more money or get you better jobs.
Just start with what you love doing, put the time into it, and the money will follow.
2. Fit your portfolio to the job, or find jobs that fit your portfolio
If you were applying at Naughty Dog, or Rockstar, you probably wouldn't want send them a portfolio filled with cartoonish, brightly colored, stylized fantasy characters. And if you were applying at Blizzard, you probably wouldn't want to send a portfolio filled with gritty dystopian environment matte paintings.
Know where you are applying and what they want. It's not always about how skilled you are, but sometimes more about style and what the studio needs.
3. Be realistic.
No need to go straight for the biggest studios out there. Be willing to work on smaller projects and less "glamorous" roles. There are so many concept art jobs out there that aren't lead character designers or senior environment artists at Bungie, where you can make a living and still make art every day.
4. Be as visible as you can.
Use the power of the internet and social media to your advantage. Nobody will hire you if they can't find you! Make sure you have a strong portfolio of your best work, and use social platforms to engage with people and share your process.
5. Invest in yourself and your art.
Ultimately, you have to really put actions behind your plan. You can't just submit a few applications and then spend weeks waiting for a response.
Put the time in to improve your art and marketing skills, develop your portfolio, and make connections. Invest time and resources in yourself as an artist and entrepreneur. Every time you do so, you are closer to making your dream of becoming a concept artist a reality.
And to help you along the path towards landing art gigs for yourself, check out my bestselling art marketing eBooks.