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I simply love the idea of making concept art, and Id like to know, what skillsets are most important for someone who is trying to find a job in the industry or do some freelance work.

Whats most important and how can I work on it? Im not thinking only in technique terms, like "you need to be good at making texture overlays" or "every good concept artist should work on his crosshatching and shading techniques", but also a broader sense, like "you need to be flexible and able to mimic someone else's style, to fit into the existing style of the product youre working on. If you are to design some new items for World of Warcraft, you have to make sure they fit the existing ones". Or maybe its somethign completely different, like "you have to know how to market your work and get people to check out your portfolio"?

Those are only examples, Im hoping to hear a lot more from people who actually work in the industry. Any advice on how to improve would also be welcome. How can I work on those crucial skillsets? To follow my own example - how can I practice being flexible?

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Concept artists aren't really graphic designers (in the professional sense--they are different industries). Not sure if you'll get many answers here. –  DA01 Feb 22 '13 at 22:50
    
We were having a conversation about the name and scope of the site on the meta, and we decided we should give such questions a try, and try to attract such specialists, even if they arent here yet :) Have a link, dear sir! meta.graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/354/… –  K.L. Feb 22 '13 at 22:57
    
If you like concept art have you thought about story boarding? –  Matt Feb 25 '13 at 22:46
    
I never thought about it, but it seems to be awesome too :D –  K.L. Feb 26 '13 at 0:52
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Well, it's not an easy thing to answer, as basically: More than often concept artists need to have a knowledge exceeding one of traditional illustrators by a long mile.

Perhaps instead of playing smart-guy myself, I'll just provide you few links to excellent discussions on this topic:

Where to start?

  • Draw a LOT. Master digital tools (photoshop should be in your little finger, knowledge of Illustrator (at least to some decent degree) is also must-have), buy yourself a professional tablet, big screen, and draw, draw, draw, paint, paint, paint (10 000 hours rule! Sooner you get there the better for you).
  • Consider joining one of game Modding groups as a concept artist for a specific mod - this will allow you to create good portfolio of works and get known of basics. Try to stay in touch with people who will implement your designs - perhaps they can give you some hints
  • Build a solid portfolio of high-quality works (pick best-of-the-best rather than 1000s of arts)
  • Apply to some smaller, more relaxed company to get known of the industry
  • Learn to be efficient and fast. In large companies you'll need to pull ideas out of your sleeve and draw something good during the discussion (if you can draw and talk at the same time - it'd be best)
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