How To Be An Illustrator | So You Want To Be An Illustrator?

Marc Brunet

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So You Want To Be An Illustrator?


Oh, hey, something’s not quite right much better. Oh, hi, I’m art an art teacher. A professional artist and today’s video is for you. If you’ve ever wondered or considered the career of a professional illustrator, I speak from experience when I say that it’s pretty nice to draw for a living. So if that’s something that you’re interested in, let’s get it. [MUSIC] All right, so you want to be an illustrator? There’s always a lot of confusion about the job and often people will confuse it with concept art, but that’s not what illustration is about. If you want to learn about the job of a concept artist. Though I made a video about it recently, you can find in the top right corner of the screen and down in the description below where I will talk all about it. This video, however, will cover what I feel is the most important to know. If you’re curious about the job or if you ever want to become an illustrator, we’ll cover four specific areas in this video, starting with the job definition of an illustrator, the lifestyle, the career path. And finally what you’ll want to have in your portfolio to get the best chances at getting the job, I’m fortunate to have done both concept, art and illustration throughout my career, so I’m able to talk about it, but keep in mind that this is typically not the case and you’ll normally be doing one or the other, at least for your first couple of years as a professional, meanwhile, in the background here. Well, I’ll be working on a new painting. So if you can’t be bothered with the topic of the video, at least you’ll be able to watch a new illustration, come to life. Ah, yeah, so lets. Go right into it and start with. Um, the job definition to get a better understanding of the differences between illustrators and content artists simply put concept artist’s, design, things environments characters while illustrators don’t instead. Well, they’ll take those designs and create promotional art with them. Beautiful illustrations typically meant to sell a product or sell something, of course, our illustrators who also design their own characters, but keep in mind that we’re talking about the fundamental differences here what those roles would look like if working in a big AAA studio like like Blizzard or riot games, when we look at indie studios and freelance artists, the line between concept, art and illustrators might blur a little bit more since you know, artists on smaller productions will tend to wear more hats than the specialists in the bigger studios, Just FYI, so illustrators will work on illustrations. Duh, which is basically an image, meant to convey emotions, typically at least, which is why it makes for great promo art. If she can pull the emotional strings of people, he can get their money, so you’ll find the work of illustrators on like trading card games on the cover video game boxes, novels as posters for movies or splash screens for loading screens and games, You could also be an illustrator for for children, books, medical illustrator, focusing on anatomy illustrations working for a publication like a magazine, a newspaper creating illustrations to go on merge and so much more. Let’s say you’re an illustrator in a studio, though your job will typically look something along the lines of first, the art director or the art lead will come to you with some sort of brief a goal for the illustration. Let’s say it’s a splash screen for video game. Something that you’d find you know when, uh, when the league of legend game is loading, for example, normally that will be featuring a few characters from the game characters that have already been designed. So your job will be to take these characters and pose them in a cool way to tell a story, however, simple normally you’ll start by working on a few sketches to figure out the composition get that approved. Then you’ll get started on the final illustration and depending on the task. It might be a few day’s worth of work or it might be a few weeks along the way you’ll be checking in with the team to make sure that everything is on the right track and to make adjustments to the image based on the feedback that you get, There’s usually a lot of feedback if the image will be seen by a lot of people if it’s freelance, though the same will apply, but it’ll be with clients instead. Your interaction that is, I personally feel like being an illustrator is one of the hardest job An artist can have in terms of skill requirements, and I’m talking about illustrators and big studios here only because basically, you’ll need to have great fundamentals across the board, whereas a concept artist, for example, will need to focus on fewer fundamentals for their job now. If I lost you here, and you’re wondering what fundamentals there are even well. I have a tutorial about it right here. In the top right corner of the screen again and down below, check it out. It’s been pretty popular now. Let’s talk about the life changes that you might expect as an illustrator or that you might expect to become an illustrator similar to a concept artist or anyone really looking to work in a studio in the film or video game industry. Relocation will usually be a big part of the discussion. There hasn’t been much of that this year. Thanks to a certain worldwide pandemic and it’s kind of unclear how, or if relocating employees will ever be something that companies do in the future, but if it ever goes back to normal, we’ll expect to move for the job. I myself moved from Canada to California when I was 22 and 99 of everybody that I know in the industry also did. I’m pretty sure that makes it a rule. So there are only a few hubs for entertainment companies around the world. So unless you’re lucky enough to already live there, you’ll probably have to relocate there. Once again. Look up Gamedevmapcom link in description to find local studios in your area. It’s a great resource. There are also outsourcing studios that will not create the games and films themselves, but we’ll have games or film studios as clients and we’ll just make the art for them great place to work for illustrators. If you don’t want to work freelance and don’t or can’t work for a game studio directly with that, said there are a lot more freelance illustrators than there are freelance concept artists. So if relocation isn’t something that you’d ever consider, there might still be a lot of venues for you to make a living as a freelance artist working from home. If that’s your choice, though, be ready to turn yourself into a marketing expert as well as an artist because when working freelance, you have to hunt for gigs initially, at least and establish yourself online for people to discover you handle your own communications and negotiations with clients and, of course, handle the payments invoicing and contracts. You’re basically a mini company with one employee yourself when working freelance, it can definitely be a little stressful at first, sometimes for a long time since you likely won’t have much back to back gigs, especially if you’re not well known and it takes a while to build up a reputation and enough exposure that the jobs come to you instead, but it will happen Eventually, with illustrations, there’s a lot of opportunity to focus on a very specific niche, something that might not translate as well for concept artists again, giving the example of a medical illustrator. That’s pretty dang niche, so there’s a lot of opportunities to become a big fish in a small pond and make a good living. Okay, So now we know what the job is about and how it kind of is being an illustrator. What it entails seems cool, right. Yeah, but how the heck do you become one, though? If you like most, you probably heard from adults in your life growing up that you need to go to art school to get a degree if you want to become an artist and then probably to avoid all of that in the first place because there’s no money and art. There’s no future find something better. If you do go through with art, then maybe you’ll get to finish your degree and then you’ll magically find a job and you’ll live happily ever after. Yikes, bro. I have so many issues with this. None of this represents reality as an illustrator. The set of skills that you need to have is pretty simple. You need good Overall fundamentals and knowledge to create good illustrations. That’s it, and if you’re going to work freelance, well, you might want to slap on entrepreneurial skills to that list as well now. Do you need to go to school to get good? If we go by statistics in the US based on the US. Census data, we can easily find that about 90 of students who go to our school, never make it as artists and eventually just settle for an unrelated career. Maybe it’s just me, but I find this pretty sad. Also, it just goes to show how going to school is usually 90 of the time. At least a waste of money, not great odds. Imagine going to the casino with only a 10 chance of winning. No, thanks, now, that’s not a big problem. If education is free, where you live, you might very well be part of that 10 who makes it, but here in the states, the best programs once again, keep in mind. The 10 placement rate will cost you as much as a Phd of medicine, so best avoid traditional schools like the plague. Unless you absolutely need the physical presence of other human beings to keep yourself motivated and, yeah, unless you or your parents are loaded and don’t care about potentially wasting a crap ton of money. There’s plenty of far cheaper and far superior ways to get an art education online right from home. And you know which one I recommend? Now let’s say you went through a program. You feel pretty confident about your skills or maybe you don’t. It doesn’t really matter what, then, like, most artists, the main tool that you’ll have to get hired in studio or freelance will be your portfolio. I’ll talk about how to put together the best one possible in a minute, but at this point, good or bad, you’ll want to get it out there. Your portfolio only works. If you have people looking at it, so as soon as you consider yourself an artist. However, good or shitty, you might think you are start working on your exposure. Start an account on Facebook, plenty of very active art groups on there highly recommend Instagram, Twitter, Tic tac. If you’re into that sort of thing and host frequently, I used to recommend portfolio websites too, and I guess you could also upload on every single one of them to maximize your exposure, but they don’t get nearly as much traffic as all those other social media platforms from what I’ve seen. I might get one percent engagement on portfolio websites. If I’m super lucky while I typically get upwards of 10 on social media as your skills improve, though, and you get pretty solid as an artist, you’ll definitely want to be on those portfolio websites unless you’re really good, though. Probably not really worth it on social media for best results post once a day. If you skip too many days, it just kills your reach, so stay active post frequently and don’t stop even if you don’t notice any growth initially because chances are that you won’t, and that’s normal. If you don’t go through that phase where you feel like you’re wasting your time, you’ll never see the other side where you get like, 10 000 likes every time you post something. Just don’t expect much at the beginning, or you’ll be very disappointed over time. If you keep pushing and improving, your social media accounts will grow and opportunities will present themselves. This goes much faster. If you engage with the art community, leave constructive criticism, join forums or discord servers, where other artists hang out and treat other artists. The same way as you would like a nice neighbor and by the way to learn how to improve your art faster. Check out my video on that exact topic in the top right corner of the screen here and down below. Yeah, it’s such a small industry and everybody ends up working together. At some point, it feels like, so. Yeah, don’t be a jackass because it’ll come back and bite you, but yeah, going back to engaging with the art community every time that you do, engage with someone else’s content, You essentially leave like a breadcrumb back to your own profile, a link back to your own profile, a new way for people to land on your page, the more the better, so keep working hard so that you are in a position to take advantage of opportunities when they do, in fact, present themselves at first, A family member or friend might ask you to do something for them. Do it paid or not? The process of going through and completing a project after getting client feedback very valuable practice over time, some publications or brands might reach out to you, and there might also be people who are interested in you drawing or painting commissions for them. Once people start to reach out to you directly via like DM direct message, that’s a good sign that things are progressing nicely. It’s a good time also to open a Qrush store selling digital art assets like brushes and tutorials, start a patreon or launch a merch shop on websites like teespring, redbubble society6, etc. Keep it up and the big opportunities will be next things like job offers. Hey, that’s exactly how I got mine. At first at a smaller studio in Montreal and then from blizzard simply by growing my social media accounts and engaging a lot with the art community, Of course, no need to wait for it to come to you, though. You can definitely be proactive and apply everywhere that interests you and keep applying every six months until it pays off now. Hopefully you have a better idea of the path to becoming an illustrator, but we haven’t yet discussed the most important part. What your portfolio should look like. It’s the key to finding the job you want. After all, you might know where to find the door, but without a key, better go home, kid. So then what’s an illustrator’s portfolio like the good news is that we have examples of it everywhere, fine working professional artists and for best results, people that are what you aspire to become. You know, like those that currently have your dream job and copy. Don’t copy the content of the portfolio, of course, but copy their decisions. If you want to work as a magic, the gathering card illustrator find artists that already do that and aim at putting together an equivalent portfolio or as close as you can get it typically around 30 to 40 Art pieces is a good number to aim for and only keep your best ones in there. You’ll be judged on your worst ones. I know from experience. Judging dozens of portfolios during my time in blizzard, if you still have pieces in your portfolio, that are like two plus years old, and you’re actively looking for work that sends a negative message that you’re not very productive, so you should be able to completely revamp your entire portfolio on like two-year basis, so not only keep the good ones in there, but don’t keep old art unless it’s a masterpiece. But as an illustrator, you’ll want to have 90 or more of the content to be illustrations that kind of fit what I’ve mentioned so far, so it’s best if you focus on environments or on characters and make it obvious for those looking at your portfolio. Which is your preference slash specialty in some jobs you might do both, but specialists almost always make more money. And you pretty much have to be one. If you ever want to work at a big studio, so what’s nice about illustration work is that there are a lot of waster and money, especially as a freelance artist. You don’t need to be the best artist either. There are a lot of opportunities for a wide range of skill sets when freelancing on the flip side, though if your only goal is to work in a big studio or big film studio or game studio. The bar of entry is as high as it gets as an artist, Why so different because big studios typically don’t need that many illustrators, they’ll hire a ton more concept artists in comparison, but they only ever need a handful of illustrators at most, so because there are only so few positions, only the best of the best. Get to snatch them up, that’s. What, I mean, of course, there are smaller studios, too, so there’s a lot of options out there for illustrators. It’s just those AAA studio jobs that are more out of reach until you become a rock star artist, so I hope this shed some light on this mysterious for many at least industry, and maybe it’ll provide you with better tools to make your own decision when it comes to your own career. I hope it helps. I’ve been making progress on the painting in the background here, illustrating a duel between two characters of my Chroma island project. I have a playlist dedicated to the project, so have a look. If it intrigues you, basically a mini series that I started about world building. Anyways, The painting isn’t done yet, so I’ll be posting the full time lapse video on the channel soon. So make sure that you got those notifications turned on to not miss it. I’ll work very hard to make it worth your while. A lot of brushes I used here are found in my brush bag too that I offer for free. In case You thought some looked delicious. I’ll put a link to download them down below, but you can only grab them. If you leave a like on the video, it’s the law, and if you end up, creating something, you’re proud of with the help of the brushes, tag me on Instagram or Twitter so that I can share the post and send some of my traffic Your way. Also I love you. Thanks for watching [Music] you?