Interested in a career in game art? Gusto Games art supervisor Gavin Cooper presents his tips on improving you prospects.
Gusto Games has had a remarkably low turnover of staff over the years, but we’ve needed to recruit heavily for the art department in order to cope with new projects. Unfortunately, “No interview, thanks,” is my most frequent response to the job applications forwarded on to me.
I’ve dealt with hundreds of applications for the art department in the last few years, and regardless of the seniority or experience level of the job we’ve been recruiting for, the submitted documents and work has varied greatly in quality, from careful and considered to careless and poorly executed. So there are some basics that I now consider to be generally important:
• A beautifully designed CV will certainly be appreciated, but above all else, it should be well written, clear, concise and informative.
• If you’re not the person we’re looking for, no amount of ‘creative editing’ of the CV will change that fact. The usual ways of padding out the document – statements of the obvious, jargon, and exaggerations – will only reduce the chances of a successful application.
• Just write who you are, what you’ve done, what you can do, and maybe what you’d like to do. Generally, anything else is just unnecessary.
• Maintain a positive, factual tone. We’ve all had our ups and downs, but negativity and accounts of failures don’t come across well. Also, a CV isn’t the best place for an autobiography.
• I’m not convinced of the value of a ‘Personal Profile’. I tend to skip them because they’re mostly just more padding. But if you must include one it should be brief and informative.
• Show us some good art. This is blindingly obvious, but when recruiting for an art position it’s the standard of the artwork that’s being presented that really counts, so quality is more important than quantity. Present a consistently good standard, using just the best, most appropriate work and get rid of any old, irrelevant stuff. We’re interested in examples that demonstrate a capability in the role applied for.
• In respect of the more junior art positions, it’s understood that the applicant is unlikely to have industry experience, so good basic art skills are what’s important. Most job-related skills and knowledge – such as creating artwork specifically for games – can be gained on the job.
• Assuming artistic ability is not in doubt, displaying a positive attitude with a willingness to communicate is important, as this will allow the interviewer to form an opinion of the applicant. Unfortunately, having no opinion in this respect is effectively the same as having a bad opinion; both would result in rejection of the candidate. Interviews can be difficult for both the interviewer and the interviewee. You have to meet someone for the first time and, in the space of a few hours, come away from the process with an opinion and enough information to make a good decision. This is very difficult if either party is withdrawn and guarded.
• An interview should be a two way process, so it can really help if the interviewee is well prepared and able to present themselves effectively. Think of some good questions concerning the role, and be ready to explain why you want the job and why you’re the best person for the job.
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