How to Apply for a Job as a 2D Artist/Animator
It’s a very specific title for this week’s post. That’s mostly because my knowledge is very specific, and I don’t want to cause any confusion or imply that I know more than I do.
However, I’ve been working at Zipline Games for 10 months, and I’m about to add a second shipped title to my credits, so I figure I can start throwing advice around.
One of the things I do at work is go through art applications, of which there are piles and piles. We’re still just a little mobile company, and we get so many portfolios. I can’t even imagine what big studios get in a day.
So after seeing so many artists and their applications, I’ve been compelled to make a list of things to be aware of, should anyone reading this be applying for work as a game artist.
Regarding the application:
1. This is absolutely the most important. Don’t apply multiple times for the same job. The people reviewing applications won’t forget about you. If you haven’t heard anything, it’s because they’re not interested or not really hiring. Special caveat: if you’ve made significant and meaningful changes to your portfolio contents since your last application, it’s okay to submit again with a big “updated portfolio” note.
2. Don’t waste time on your cover letter. I won’t say it’s completely irrelevant, but it’s usually seen last. If it’s a formulaic cover letter (“Hello, *name*, I found your advertisement for a 2D Artist position on JobListings.com, and I believe it’s a perfect match for my skills”) then you’re better off without one. Getting a standardized cover letter is like getting a generic birthday card that just says “love, Mom” with a quarter taped to the inside.
3. Make sure your portfolio address is clearly visible at the top of your application. Bold, underline, and brightly colored if at all possible Don’t hide it or bury it.
4. Read the description of the job you’re applying to. I see so many 3D portfolios come in on a 2D listing, and the only conclusions I can draw are 1) the applicant believes 2D and 3D are the same, or 2) they’re too busy to include relevant art samples, and figure a bad application is better than no application. I assure you that’s not the case. More than anything, it shows a lack of attention.
Regarding your portfolio:
5. Try your best to show work that looks like it will he a good fit for the company you’re applying to. Don’t send chibis to Arena.net, or blood and gore to Nintendo.
6. Show the entire piece of art in the thumbnails. Don’t do little thumbs of a zoomed-in section of your drawing. It makes it hard for art directors to remember which picture was with which thumb.
7. Flash-based websites are only useful if you’re applying to be a Flash web developer. As an animator or artist, your time is better spent on portfolio pieces than on making an overly-ornate presentation for them.
8. It doesn’t really matter where your online portfolio is hosted. DeviantArt, Behance, Carbonmade, Worpress, Geocities, I don’t care. The artwork is what matters.
8b. It does matter if your portfolio is ugly (artifacting, blurry images) or confusing to navigate.
9. Get to the art immediately, if not sooner. Skip the intro page, entrance page, animated reveal, or anything else that stands between a potential employer and your artwork.
10. Variety is the spice of life. And portfolios. No one needs a one-trick pony, so be sure to show a range of artistic capabilities.
These are just a few things I’ve learned so far from my experiences. There’s just one more thing you should remember when you’re job hunting. Right after I graduated, there was something I heard a lot from folks in my situation: “Don’t bother. No one’s hiring. ”
Ignore that bullshit, and never let nay-sayers tell you what can’t be done.
So that’s it. I hope this has been helpful. If not, let me know, and I’ll try harder next time.