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What is the best way to land a job as an illustrator?

I plan to major in illustration/animation at San Jose State University but am clueless on how to go about finding a job after college. I've never had an adult who was into the arts the way I was, so I haven't found much solid advice. I realize that it will take time and experience, but my goal is to become a concept artist (I'm still undecided for what media so any advice is welcome). #illustration #animation

Thank you comment icon Hey Netanya, It always goes back to what you’re passionate about. No matter what the industries or the world tells you what’s or how’s the right way to do it. Do what you do best and do it diligently. You’re good at painting? Make the greatest painting like it was your last. You wanna design or animate something? Make it so that people see your essence in your art. You don’t owe the world anything the world owes us your art. Michel
Thank you comment icon Hey Netanya, my best advice is absolutely, 100% work with your career adviser, talk with your professors and find out how they got started, be passionate about your work (make all your personal projects passion projects) or if you're working on a school assignment, find something within that to show who you are as an artist. Keep drawing no matter what because you will always find new ways to create and you never know who you will meet. Start working on a portfolio as soon as you can and always be prepared to share some of your work. :) You've got this. Courtney Brewer

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Subject: Career question for you

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Karen’s Answer

Always be creating--draw every day. Draw all sorts of things. Draw from life, draw what you see (a direct representation of a person leaning on a building), and then draw what you want others to see (instead of a direct representation of a person leaning on a building, draw a pirate leaning on a ship's mast... do so by looking at the person leaning on the building as reference and blend in your experience and imagination to create something).


Identify art that you love and try to find a "making of" that artwork. This is easier for film art (art books and behind the scenes extras on blurays). This will give you a better understanding of the things people do and how they approach creating the art that they create. This will help you settle your eyes on what you want to do as a career and hone in on your craft. As it is, you mentioned being a concept artists. You can be a concept artist for different industries--gaming, television, film--and for different objectives within the work--character, props, environment.


If your aim is to be a concept artist for characters, you should have a solid foundation in drawing human figures and anatomy. Take figure drawing courses and read figure drawing books/youtube figure drawing channels. Many community centers or arts centers will have figure drawing classes (not for academic credit, but your skills will improve markedly). Draw from live figures, not just books or youtube channels.


If your aim is to be a concept artist for environments have a solid understanding of perspective and drawing organic figures like trees.


If your aim is to be a concept artist for props, have a solid understanding of drawing an object in many different ways (20 different backpack concept for a character, for example)


As a 3D animator, I would suggest at least expanding your thoughts to 3D modeling and 3D sculpting to make yourself more versatile in the digital realm. This could be used in gaming, film, or TV/advertising.


Lastly, always help another artist. Animation is a small community and people remember who helped them be a better artist--connect with your fellow artists at school and always be involved in groups or guest lectures. Ask questions of professors and visiting artists. You never know where connections may lead.

Karen recommends the following next steps:

draw all the time
research art that you like to figure out what you want to do
use that research to direct what kind of art you should create all the time
learn some 3D skills
always help another artist
Thank you comment icon Great advice, Karen. I found that collaborating with friends helped me build my skills a lot! I teamed up with a designer after work and we had fun pushing each others artistic limits and seeing what kind of fun new things we could make together. It helped having someone hold me accountable for practicing, and to get feedback. She is an illustrator and I'm a motion graphics artist, so most of the time she would give me an illustration with a vague idea of how she imagined it moving, then I was responsible for making it come to life. I also agree with Karen in studying 3D modeling. That is very much on the rise and will be more and more in high demand as the years come. The ability to translate on-point concept art skills to 3D will be a very valuable skill. Kelsey Wilkerson
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Eli’s Answer

Your portfolio will speak louder than your degree. I was helping clients visualize their goals before I ever graduated but I was lucky enough to have a network that already knew about me. I'd start by participating in groups of other artists on Facebook and share your work with relevant tags on social media. Make a page on Squarespace and invest time and energy into yourself and your craft. Save for an Oculus Rift and a high end computer and download Medium to learn 3D. There's will be absolutely no reason to learn how to make 3d with a keyboard and mouse once you learn VR. It's a game changer.


I have never been able to produce at the capacity I am now and it's because I've introduced Vr into my workflow.

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Gautam’s Answer

Practice , learn, draw as much as you can , read books , make collaborations with artist , join some art forums, research on industry, make your art as not last , keep creating!

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Wayne’s Answer

experience and determination

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PARISA’s Answer

In my perspective illustrator has some special capacities that Photoshop does not have.Most of time when i make a motion graphic I try to make a picture with this software.As we know After effect has an ability to show vector pictures with vector format that helps our work seems very sharp.Another thing is that using of this SW for creating Illustration books

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Xavera’s Answer

Make sure you have a professional demo-reel, that highlights your best work. This should no longer than 20-30 seconds visual of what you specialize in, and want to pursue in your career.

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Anna’s Answer

Hey Netanya, my name is Anna and I'm a recent graduate from college. My major was in 3D character modeling and graphic design. I'm still in the job searching process but I do have some advice for you. I know college can be intimidating but just keep at it and remember to always put 100% into your portfolio. Like most of the people above said, companies tend to focus more on your demo reel/portfolio than your resume. I would also suggest trying to apply for internships during the summer to get experience because that will pay off in the long run. Make sure to get to know your classmates better because they might be able to help find a job later on. Go to school career fairs as much as you can. Talk to your academic adviser periodically because they will be able to help you get into the best classes for your particular field. Never give up on your dream. You seem very passionate about the arts and animation which is already a plus. The industry wants people to who are passionate about what they do. Keep trying and focus on the goal at hand. You got this and always remember that everybody goes through the same struggle after college so don't feel like you are the only one. Last thing, keep in touch with your classmates and friends from college.
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Katrina’s Answer

First off, you really don't need a college degree to be an illustrator (or any field as an artist) since most employees will be looking at your portfolio and barely your resume (like maybe a few sec on average). I say this because most people who go to college are in debt and art college is no different. So unless your filthy rich, won scholarships, grants etc. then go for it. Other wise stick with online classes only like CG Master Academy, animation mentor, schoolism, or try looking up one of your favorite famous artist and see if they can offer a mentorship with you; doesn't hurt to ask. This is up to you but this way you'll save A LOT of money on the long run. The key here is really about keeping a steady and healthy (DON'T procrastinate and try to have a healthy diet) effort in enhancing your skills as an artist. By that I mean try drawing everyday (even 30 min is enough) on anything.

Like everyone in here, passion here is the key in being an artist. You have to ask yourself "why" do you want to be an illustrator? What made you even want to pursue such a career in the first place (my reason, always wanted to pitch and create my own 2d animation show on a renowned network)? Whose your audience? Is your art suitable for children or more for adults? Where do I work the US, international, or go all online? I feel like these questions you haven't really answered yourself with so get a notebook, write these down and respond to them to get a clear thought of your goals for your future. Cause this will let you know if you actually see yourself doing this for a living and making money out of it or is this just another hobby to you?

And finally, once you've taken all this in and had time to think about it, start planing your portfolio. Not only do you put your best work, but it also depends on WHO your trying to present yourself. Someone like say Disney would probably not take you in if your art style was more like say Capcom. You gotta do some research and think what is it that they want from you? What are they looking for right now. Since your a beginner start with 10 of your best artwork and ONLY 10 for now(quality over quantity; ALWAYS) . So focus more on your portfolio then your resume. I mean your resume still has to look good and professional, but like I said they only glimpse it a few seconds. Here are a few links that I would recommend seeing for further extra help on setting up your portfolio. Cause again, THIS will be your true resume, so make it count. And don't worry, not everyone gets their fist gig right off the bat. Just keep doing it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn5zcCseRcg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGOg4hLnBis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d1t32P7Q-Q


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Eli’s Answer

It really depends. For one thing, you should start off making an online presence, whether it'd be through a website or even a business card. That, and you should always brush up your portfolio so you can create quality content that will impress clients and potential employers who wish to showcase your work. Bottom line, just get your work out there to everyone as much as possible.
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Donnie’s Answer

Freelance and stay inn contact with major studios.

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Jon’s Answer

It's best to get a head start, look for internships where possible, and always constantly be building your portfolio. I know it can be frustrating, but do not shy away from unpaid internships. It's experience and the opportunity to network with and learn from other knowledgeable, talented artists.

Jon recommends the following next steps:

Seek out internships .
Network with other artists.
Get a head start.
Believe in yourself, but be prepared to work hard.
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Luis R’s Answer

Draw all the time, draw hands, draw people postures, draw flowers, etc. use different techniques. Keep all your drawing. Do it for the love of drawing an illustrate several themes. Money comes later. Research the work of other illustrators and find your own style. Try 2d illustration with paper.
Never stop having fun while you practice your illustration skills.
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Nahúm’s Answer

Be determined by what you learn. Be specified in your portfolio, then, you will capture the attention of companies that are dedicated to it. Maybe you could dedicate yourself to the design and art of characters for videogames or digital animation.

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Todd’s Answer

I've worked as an illustrator and animator for most of my career. I started a little late in the field of animation, so options for work are limited. My advice is don't be afraid to put your name and work out there. You don't need a degree to do that. The internet is a great learning tool. Use it to advance your knowledge in your chosen field. There are many options for learning. But your work ethic will determine your level of success. The harder your work the better you'll be. People that don't apply themselves to their education are wasting their time and money.

Todd recommends the following next steps:

Identify your area of interest as a concept artist.
Draw, draw, draw.
Get Feedback from Qualified Sources.
Apply knowledge and feedback.
Repeat steps 2-5.
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Marcelo R.’s Answer

In my opinion, the best way to land a job as an illustrator is to constantly practice your illustration skills, whether it'd be drawing by hand or for a digital computer, also looking at other illustration pieces as influence, perhaps to gain some ideas for yourself or a client.

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Nelson I.’s Answer

Create and put together a strong portfolio that will stand out during an interview or job application.

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