SoCal employment decisions..

Tough decision to make…I’ve recently moved (aug. 09) from the east coast to Southern CA to try and pursue a higher creative ID design position. However, what I thought was 8 years of good solid work back east turns out to be mediocre at best here on the west coast. Not to mention, competing with the likes of Art Center Grads and alumni, I think I’m losing the battle trying to get my foot back into the ID door. So recently, I’ve turned my focus to Concept Art in hopes that I can try and transition my foundation design and problem solving skills into the entertainment and gaming industries. What I’d like to know from anyone, is:

  1. By not having an Art Center ID Degree, are my chances of landing work in SoCal slim to none?
  2. Has anyone transitioned from ID to Entertainment design successfully, without going back to school?
  3. Am I just impatient with finding work because the market is in the tank right now?

I guess the next best thing is to post my p’folio for better feedback …

  1. are you talking about ID or Concept Art? There’s not that many ID firms in Socal to begin with. Concept Art? tons of jobs, but really competitive. As I haven’t seen your portfolio, I can’t say much.
  2. Yes, but you have to put in as much as, if not more, work than those in an Entertainment Design program. That is, if you want to land the sweet jobs. Concept Art’s a really tough field. I’d suggest taking some classes at Concept Design Academy while you’re in Socal. They’re taught by professionals, and they are very friendly and supportive and will probably give you the honest run down of your chances when you show them your portfolio.
  3. I think you should’ve found a job before moving. But what’s done is done. Go take some classes, go figure draw on the weekends, get badass at digital painting, and push out a portfolio.

Thanks for reply. Don’t get me wrong. I had a job setup before I got out here. The plan was to transition out of the current job and into the new one. I have applied to the Gnomon school of Visual Effects in Hollywood. It seems they have a better network system for job placement. I’ve already taken a digital painting class and finished it out with a progress painting. See the pic below and let me know your thoughts. I also have my work in progress p’folio that I’m still trying to tweek. I have only at this point, 2 designs in production, some more to release later. I’ll send a post of it soon just as soon as I can get permission. Hope you can give feedback as well on that.

…painting is the scene from the book Silmarillion by Tolkien…this book was the prequel to the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

Technique wise it looks good, but unfinished (I think you said it’s unfinished, right?). I think the focal point could be brought out a lot more, with more contrast (i.e. making the edges of the painting darker, framing with sails, ropes, clouds, etc). The birds in the top right are kind of distracting and the position you’ve arranged them in is weird. Have you tried cropping this painting to give it a different feel?I think you also flatten the boats out with the perspective you’ve put the sail in. Aren’t sails usually positioned perpendicular to the boat (correct me if i’m wrong, I’m no sailor)? It’d help add depth.

I did this real quick in illustrator. Slight darkening of the edges and cropped the painting (the details on the closer boat were really nice, but I cropped it out for the comp). What do you think?

Anyway, your painting technique looks good! Just gotta work on that composition. Do you have other stuff? Most concept artists that people want these days can do all of the major 4: character, environment, prop, vehicles. They also like to see process work just as much as we do (thumbnailing → linework → value studies → color/comp)

i don’t know if having an art center degree actually helps, but it is one of the local talent pools in LA. i’m not from AC. only 3 of 8 of the product designers on staff at my office are from AC. it’s about the talent. i recently met a trans designer from CCS who was attending the entertainment program at AC.

LA is a weird market. there are so many industries for designers, but the jobs aren’t really advertised.

it’s easier to get work here is you are located here. relocation programs are sort of rare in this economy. it’s just my opinion, but there fewer “nut and bolts” designers here but a LOT of good stylists and conceptualists. it’s worked well for me.

Since you aren’t from AC, do you sell your design engineering skills more than your front end concept development? The few freelance clients that I have are actually engineers and they prefer I solve my own design solutions before presenting final concepts. But I’m not sure if that is necessary in a corporate design dept. Do corporate design depts. prefer more of the front end work? Do they ever need to problem solve moldable, toolable file sets or do they throw the designs over the fence and hope for the best? Maybe this question is for another forum or perhaps already answered. Thanks for earlier advice…

Those are really good questions. I think what works best in my favor, for my skillset, is the balance of interdisciplinary knowledge. I like to learn how different disciplines and departments work in the development of a product and what their directives are. It really makes it easier for me, my department and the process. All too often it’s the “us vrs. them” mentality that bogs the process and hinders exploration. If you can solve a problem holistically, speak the other departments’ “language”, and learn how to negotiate effectively, it REALLY improves a perception of YOUR process and effectiveness. I made it a point to grow my knowledge of manufacturing, engineering, sourcing, marketing, branding, sales, logistics and am now trying to learn a bit more on the financial end.

I have both consultancy and corporation job experience, so I leverage my experience to work with people. A good dose of humility also helps, too. Sometimes, in my current corporate position, I have to do more front end work, but it depends on the complexity and team. The fact that I CAN follow a project from end to end really gives me a lot leeway and my input is more valuable. Really, though, you have to put your skills out there. Sometimes you have to be delicate about it to avoid ruffling feathers, but the more you can show people what you can do, the more it can open their perception of the importance of design. Walk softly, but carry a big stick I guess.

Showing this in my portfolio is sometimes difficult, so when I interview I know I have to touch on more topics than those discussed to try to show my range beyond what I can do visually.

Kung Fu Jesus…If you don’t mind, I would like to refer to you as SiFu

Once again, thank you for the thoughtful insights. I very much agree that demonstrating the teamwork dynamics process is very difficult to represent visually in your work. The funny thing is that after I would interview, where possible, I would always request feedback as to what turned them off to my work. When they would ask me about my designs decisions, I very much hated to answer them that the engineer didn’t feel the design necessarily needed the surface breaks, and the marketing dept felt it didn’t look enough like the competitor. Though they appreciated the honest answer, I realized they were trying to find my design sense, rather than the answers to my department driven solutions. It felt very deflating. I felt since then that I am going to need 2 portfolio sets with every sendout; one with produced solution, and one with my non-constrained design solutions. Although the former provides very interesting stories, perhaps the latter demonstrates the technical design senses better. I’ve never had a corporate interview, so I’m just speculating…Tao Sifu

Sifu, heh, I don’t look like a red panda.

It sounds like you already know the answer. It would be best to show what you intended the product to be AND the end result.

Telling someone something is one thing, but showing them your process, your explorations, abilities and how you tie it all together is more indicative of your range.