So, you want to become a Concept Artist?

Being a concept artist is not easy, it is not relaxing and it is not a job for the average joe. However being a concept artist is a key role and one of the most important positions when producing a game. Without concept artists, there would be no games pretty much. They are the foundations to every visualised idea.

So why isn’t being a concept artist all fun and games? Well as an artist myself I can tell you that producing one piece of artwork can take hours. And I don’t mean 1-2 hours, I am talking near enough 30-40 hours for a professional and realistic piece of art. But this doesn’t mean that you have to hate your job. Remember the more you hate the job you’re doing, the worse your performance gets which ultimately means that you will receive a lower paycheck at the end of the day. Being a concept artist is a job for the skilled. You cannot just walk in and expect the games company to accept you just because you’ve got a BA in Sociology. You have to train yourself over numerous years to become good enough, and even so, you would still need a degree in an art course to secure your place. It’s a tough job to get into and do, but its worth it.

A prime example of concept art produced by Brian Sum for Mass Effect 3

What overcomes this barrage of negativity is what happens throughout the time you’re doing the job and what you will receive at the end of the day. Most new concept artists receive around $20,000-30,000 per year which is terrific for someone in their early mid 20′s. But even so, that amount could still rise if the game you helped develop becomes a huge hit! The more experienced you are, the better it is for you. The professional concept artists who have been doing their jobs for over 20 years will receive around $80,000-$100,000! Imagine doing the job you love, doing the hobby you love, and getting near enough a six figure salary per year! So if you’re interested, what are you waiting for?

An early example of Concept Art created by myself. (I know it's rubbish but it's only an example!)

Take me for example, I have drawn all my life but I only started to take it seriously in the past three years. During that time I’ve produced a full A1 sized portfolio with pencil illustrations and digital concepts as well as designing an official book cover. Next year I will hopefully go off to university to study BA Illustration and then after that, that’s when the fun begins.

The gaming industry is always expanding and as a result, more and more games are becoming noticed and respected by both developers and players alike. This increases the games’ success rate and ultimately gets more money to your bank account.

Yes it’s a pressurizing job, yes it has deadlines and yes it needs skill. But when you think about it, you’d be in one of the biggest industries in the world, possibly in one of the most successful companies in the gaming business producing what may be the biggest game of the year. And even so, wouldn’t it be great to see your name scroll into view in the credits after the game has finished?

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