Artist Applications – Do’s and Don’ts

Hey Internet People!

My name’s Rob, I’m an Art Director here at Arrowhead. We get a lot of applications for artist positions, and I’m the guy who usually sits down and reviews them. It takes quite a bit of time, and there are some things I see again and again from people applying. I thought I’d pour out some of my thoughts onto the Internet about what I feel are do’s and don’ts when applying for an art job. Others may disagree with what I’ve written here, and that’s totally cool; like I say, these are just my thoughts. To make things interesting, I’ve made some animated gifs for you too, hoorah.

Let’s begin.

  • Check your email before you send it! I’m always surprised when the font is different in different parts of the email; sometimes I’ve seen three different typefaces used in one email. Some emails are a mix of font size too. If you’re applying for an art job, make sure your email isn’t a mess. Don’t use Comic Sans.

  • Get the name of the studio you’re applying to correct. It’s not hard. You’ll not look like a fool, and will be closer to getting a job.

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  • Copy-paste emails are pretty obvious and show us that you’re not that bothered about joining and are just sending emails out to lots of companies. We can tell if you have sent us the same email as many others.

  • If you do send an email to a lot of companies, make sure you don’t put them all in the “to” field. I’ve seen emails where I could see all the companies the sender had applied to.

  • Research the company first, play their games a bit or at least watch videos of them.

  • Make your portfolio easy to get to from your email. I don’t read emails fully; the first thing I do is find the link to your site. Make sure this is visible. In my opinion a good email sums up quickly your experience and then gives me a link to your portfolio.

  • I also tend not to read cover letters. People disagree with me on this, but I will look at your portfolio, make a decision on whether or not we’d like to contact you, and then bring you in for an interview. A lot of the stuff in your personal letter we can get a feel for, or ask, in the interview.

  • Be mindful of how you behave when it comes to contacting a studio. Have patience; we tend to look at applications once a week, and we have a lot to go through. If you don’t get a reply super quick, do bear in mind that the company you’re applying to probably has far less time than you think to do this sort of stuff (we have games to make too y’know).

  • I’m really sorry, we cannot give feedback on each applicant’s portfolio. A lot of people ask for this and I would absolutely love to have the time to do so, but yeah, we need to get on with making games. Please understand; ask friends, or online on forums.

  • I’m not fussed about education. It really doesn’t matter to me what school you went to, or what course you did; what matters is the quality of your art. We employ a range of people from different backgrounds, some studied art through university, and some are self trained. As long as you make good art, it doesn’t really matter to me how you got there.

  • We generally prioritize quality of art over anything else. It’s really great if you have experience, as this means you’ll fit right in quickly, and we know you can work in a team. Experience can be working on a mod (loads of us are from modding backgrounds) or at a professional studio, but don’t worry if you’re applying for your first position, we’ll spend the same amount of time on your application.

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  • Check that the link you send us to your portfolio actually works. Sometimes people send us links that point to broken sites, it sounds crazy, but it does happen.

  • Your site should be fast to load (again, lack of time available to us) and showcase your best work immediately if possible.

  • Bear in mind how your portfolio pages look; you’re applying for an art job after all, and if your site is hella-ugly, you’ll lose points.

  • Filter out the crappy stuff and show only your best work. Less is more, so they say. It’s better to show us how good you are now, and not how bad you were back when you were learning.

  • When it comes to showreels, don’t use music. I usually have to mute the audio (unless it’s animation with lip syncing stuff) because your taste in music probably isn’t something I want to listen to in a meeting room, going through portfolios. You can tell me about the great music you listen to once we’ve hired you.

  • Long turn-arounds of models bore me. I’m sorry, but they do. Seeing the same asset spinning around 6 times is just boring. Once or twice is enough to see how awesome an asset is.

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  • I look at artistic talent when viewing peoples portfolios and showreels. Generally, wireframes of assets don’t excite me. You can be taught how to make your topology better, but you can’t be as easily taught the fundamentals of form, composition, colour, lighting etc; and these are the things I look for. Show us your imagination, and your passion for 3D art.

 

So there you go, my opinions. Some points apply across studios, and some are a bit more specific to us; but hopefully you’ve found them all interesting and worthy of a few minutes of your time and thoughts.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions and I’ll do my best to reply!

  • Jasen Langley

    Thank you for the honest and frank admissions of your evaluation process. I will work on polishing up my portfolio and website and we will see if I get the chance to tell you about all of my cool music.