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If I want to be an artist in the gaming industry, is it best to go to college first?

Right now I'm a running art student and I have decided that I want to be a concept artist. I am thinking about going to Digipen in Redmon WA but its expensive. Is it worth it to go to art school, or should I try to start working right away? I have a lot of motivation to go far in this field, but I need to know which direction is best. #college #art #higher-education #video-games

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Andy’s Answer

Hi Elliott,


That's a great question. Higher education costs can certainly be prohibitive, especially at for-profit colleges so this is definitely not a decision to be taken lightly. While it is possible to get into the gaming industry without a college degree the vast majority of artists in the industry have attended college and completed art degrees, including myself. To be fair, having a degree won't guarantee that you'll get into the industry either. But you will be much better prepared.


Completing a degree program will demonstrate that you have the responsibility and determination to complete long-term goals. The assignments can prepare you to complete assignments with constraints and on a deadline. Critiques from instructors and classmates will toughen you up for feedback and corrections from your future art directors. Colleges and universities will also offer you access to internships within the industry to get you on the job experience. They can also help with placement after you complete your degree.


Ultimately your employment in the games industry will depend on the strength of your portfolio. Make sure to demonstrate solid foundation skills and also showcase your creativity.

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John H.’s Answer

Hi, Elliott: you're already getting a lot of good advice, so all I'll add is that you really need to find a mentor in your target industry. I just did a cursory Google search and found sites like this: http://chrisoatley.com/category/art/concept-art/ that should help you get started. Don't be afraid to contact people in the industry out of the blue. You may have to make lots of attempts, but people do like to mentor, so it's just a matter of time before you find some people in the field who will give you time and advice. College is an excellent way to develop contacts and find mentors . . . in other words, it's one good reason to go to college. So, you'll want to find a college that helps develop the skills you need to be a concept artist. Ultimately, you'll need a portfolio of your work in order to get a job in the field. College helps you develop this portfolio and make it look professional. You can try to do this on your own without college, but it's so much more difficult. Besides, you'll probably enjoy college and benefitting from all your peers and teachers. They'll have lots of ideas and resources that will only help you. As for the cost of going to school perhaps you can find some scholarships or grants. Here's a site that might give you some ideas: http://staff.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/3subject.htm. Hope this gives you some leads. Good luck.

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Ellen’s Answer

Hi Elliott
Nice to hear that you have a direction you want to go in, and any computer/tech field seems like a job with a future. However, I know you may want to jump right into a career in gaming, but I really think you might want to consider college before. In my opinion, having a broad education in the arts, sciences, humanities, social sciences, and history gives anyone experiences that can be applied to any number of fields, even in technology and gaming. A college education will expose you to ideas and experiences in different fields, which will benefit your creativity. In addition, many colleges and universities have internship programs, which will give you valuable experience and references. Although I wanted to do art, my parents insisted on my going to college, which I did. Having those academic and social experiences in college made me a better artist and art teacher. Remember, success in the fine arts field is a matter of skills AND ideas. So, yes, if you can, go to college, even for an associate's degree. I read another volunteers response on ways to get a college education for less money, (community colleges, state universities, etc.), which was really good advice. ( I would stay away from for-profit colleges though). Besides, if for whatever reason a career in gaming does not pan out, you'll have a college degree to use in other fields. Best of luck!

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Vickey’s Answer

Definitely go to college first. You can learn all the cutting edge information and techniques for your chosen profession, plus, you might be able to join different associations where you can network with people, maybe make some helpful friends.


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