Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to art, let’s make some money.
I would be lying if I said I want into this field purely for the artistic merit. I’m a very firm believer in if a job is worth doing it’s worth excelling at, and that anything you excel at you should never do for free. With that in mind it’s time to acknowledge that this is not a field where wealth will just come to you. The general consensus from not just the relating lecture but also most of my fellow students is that unless you get your foot in the door at a major company (the end goal), you’re going to be chasing a lot of small fish on a regular basis to make ends meet. So how do we get there? Games and animated film in Australia is hardly dead, but there are fairly limited options for ambitious progression. If your end goal for instance is to work in AAA games development (my dream job) the only real option in-country at the moment is 2K Australia (Bioshock, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel).
Honestly though the chances of getting in with a big studio, at least initially, are fairly slim, even with a willingness to travel internationally to get a job. So for the moment it may be prudent to focus on the more accessible, if less secure option of working for short-term contract. It’s not something I’ve experienced being perfectly honest. My previous working experience has all either been based in working for a full-time wage or a situation of moderately predictable casual employment. Tangently this could be grouped in with the ‘day job’ as discussed in the lecture, as my present casual working arrangement, much like many of the other students at SAE, permits me time to balance both academic work and make some money on the side. But if the aim is to completely focus myself onto artistic exploits in the foreseeable future, what I really want is to build a client list. There are two primary ways to go about this as I understand,
Firstly if the aim is simply to pay bills then taking local and/or non-specialised work may permit me to continue in the field and advance my portfolio while not specifically engaging where I want to be. For instance, a quick search on SEEK at the time of typing this (I won’t embed the whole ad, it’s fairly extensive), lists several companies that are looking for someone who is an animation graduate with Autodesk Maya skills to assist with a contract assisting the ADF with technology development. This kind of work is very accessible at the end of our degree and would be a good building block for a continuing portfolio. Not to mention it pays well.
The other primary option is trying to get a foot in with short-term work from the kind of studio that in the end I would love to work for full-time. Several of the full-time artists and 3D developers at Riot Games for example began their work with the company as short-term contractors, with their work eventually opening the doors for a regular work. Kienan Lafferty as a specific example has done a number of character-splash pieces for Riot, and now work in 2D production for the company, alongside publishing his own webcomic and offering frequent free tutorials on YouTube; all of which generate income. He’s funded for his webcomic by fans through patreon, which in my opinion is a much better arrangement to the next topic I’m discussing in this post.
So that’s more dream stuff, but there was one more point from the lecture that I found noteworthy, which was crowd-funding.
Going to be honest, speaking purely as a consumer, I’m not entirely behind the idea. I see the use, and some cool things have come through sites like kickstarter in the last few years, but there’s also been a lot of fully funded ideas that flopped or never reached completion. I can certainly see the potential for great things to be achieved that otherwise wouldn’t have reached the public through more conventional funding channels, but there’s very little accountability to hold the developer to their word, besides… their word.
Oh, and there’s Star Citizen. Hope that pans out.
There are options. That’s the bottom line.
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