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How can digital artist make a living

How to make money with digital art.  I got this question in my e-mail a lot.  So I will try to answer you with this post.

From my experience, many of us are working as professional 2d concept artists, 3d production artists for video games, industrial design for products and all kind of films, Lord of the ring trilogy, Starwar Trilogy, Avartar, etc. It can be full-time, contract, freelance depending on the terms you have with the company you work for. There are probably more things you can do being a digital artists but mostly working with clients. 
And a lot of you ask me if the pay is good?  Well, it varies.  It is a different eras than your parents, artists do make very decent salary nowadays.  If you are really good, you can get pay almost as good as a dentist or a mid level surgeon.  It is all up to you.  But those are a few of the bunch cream of the crops.  Most of them just get pay as much as regular white collar workers.  ;-)
Hope this info is helpful.

character concept design for GW2 by Xia Taptara

These are a lot more career choices for digital artists as professions than you might think.  You will just have to do some hard research, some of the field are still really small and secretive.  But here are some of the most common career choices you can choose from doing digital art.

Concept artist - They are usually looking for an exceptionally skilled environment concept artist for a team focused on specific game genres. The ideal candidate has experience developing concepts for a diverse visual range of environment prop assets. An exceptional understanding of industrial design, form, structure, color, and light is essential, as is a creative imagination. The concept artist should have a basic understanding of game art creation (low-poly modeling and texturing) and be well-versed in related tools -- Photoshop, Painter, Maya, etc. The ideal candidate works well in an environment of peers who are passionate about making great games.
In addition to that, you will work closely with the Art Director and Art Leads to establish a style and feel for the environments, characters and objects for exciting titles. You will also work closely with the production art team to help them envision what the finished results can be for the in-game content they are creating. As the ideal candidate, you should amaze us with creative designs and artwork and have the capability to inspire greatness in those around you.

Enviromental artist (3d) They usually arelooking for talented individuals to help create awe-inspiring visuals for breath-taking gaming worlds. This is an amazing opportunity to work with world-class art talent to develop a visually-inspired. It is essential to have a solid grasp of form, color, and light for both 2D and 3D art assets. The 3D environment architectural artist must have experience working in a team and have a skill in another art task as well (illustration or concept drawing) and be well-versed in related tools -- Maya, Photoshop, etc. And so on

Animator, the ideal candidate has experience animating both human and non-human characters and can easily work alongside other talented artists in a team environment. A solid grasp of the principles of body movement, anticipation, follow-through, forward/inverse kinematics, and other facets of 3D animation is essential. We are looking for a self-motivated individual with good communication skills and a great team-player attitude. Also Animation Reel showing keyframed character and creature animation
and ability to create weighted and well timed animations

There are many more jobs such as Cinematic layout artist, Matte painter, FX artist, web designer, technical artist, UI artist, character artist, storyboard artist, comics colorist, logo designer, etc.

The best way to find out how to get your career going is go to any of your favorite game company website and look for jobs or career page. Then you will find the specific job title and its description. Then you can make your portfolio base on the requirement. Most of the same job title has the same requirement all across the industry (games, films, etc).

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Nathan T said…
Thanks for this!

I have a question, though. Do concept artists specialize in a specific area once they are hired? For instance, one artist might do only character work and another may do props, environments, etc...
idrawgirls said…
@clean3d Good question, that depends on how big the project or how big the company is. If it is a large project like MMO or Hi-end shooters game then yes, you will get assign to specific task (character concept, environmental concept, cinematic concept, props concept). But you are in a small game company and there are only a few, you will get to do all sort of concepting all the time.
Unknown said…
Thanks XIA you don't know how much this is helpful to me :)

from your experience, do you think that finding such jobs is hard ??
I mean is there too many artists relatively to the number of jobs available ??
John Stone said…
Cool! Enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing.
idrawgirls said…
@Jimmy Thank you brother, I am glad it is helpful. From my experience and observation, landing the first full-time art gig is the hardest part (It takes years for some). Once you are there, just work your butts off, do your best work and really get to know as many people as you can in the industry. If you do all I just mentioned, you will be fine and prosper. ;-)

@John You bet brother. Cheers!
elwiko said…
Thanks for this mini article ;)
Now I know how long way is before me...
Anonymous said…
I really appreciate this article. It's very insightful coming from someone with experience. I have a long way to go...
Unknown said…
Hello, my name is Daniel and i am very interested in the art world. Have have been for quite some time and now taking art classes in high school to perfect it. What i want to do now is start practicing animation and start a group at school who specialize in doing that. I was wondering if you had any advice on that. If so, then i am dying to know.
idrawgirls said…
namae> You are very welcome. Early start is good, you will get way ahead of the crowd. I didn't start until after 22 yrs old (long story).

Black Tech> Read all the post and watch all the vids, draw everyday. And better yet! goto to join. You will see tons of pros' work and start interact with them crowd. It will be good.