I spent the past year deep diving into the reason behind hiring artists. I interviewed animators, illustrators, publishers, game designers. I discussed within art communities, to peers in games or publishing.
This research taught me how important connections to others are. We learn from our surroundings, we also hire from it.
It’s unfortunate for us that we would prefer to live in our own heads, drawing and painting all day long. I won’t teach you shit here: we need others. At least for our mental well being.
What did I find?
3 factors seem to come back from full time freelance artists. The first and most important one being the human factor.
As a beginner artist, I loved to tell others I was "self taught". I learned through the internet, books, friends, a bit in school but never got a diploma. But let's be honest: I never succeeded alone. People write books and online tutorials. Art friends motivate us and bring us back to the right track when we get lost. I wouldn't have had my first job if it wasn't for my girlfriend and the team at Robotpencil. Or my former Art Lead and the studio manager who gave me the opportunity. From the interviews, I see that over and over again. We get jobs thanks to the people we met and will meet.
Artists and recruiters alike favor recommendation. As one boardgame publisher puts it: it’s the “Golden ticket”. Recommendations ducks the hassle of browsing the Internet to find the perfect artist. It's a lot less time and money spent while bringing down the involved risks. Yes portfolios are important. There is no denying it. As people, we don’t want to take risks. Getting to the unknown is scary, it costs money, time. Finding someone with the skills is easy. Finding someone reliable, that fits the company’s culture is way more seldom.
You might be thinking: "Yes sure, this is networking, we know about this". And you'll be right. But I'm not talking about collecting Linkedin connections like pokemon cards. Or doing it for the sake of knowing more people. We're not follower counts. We're people.
And people, under their thick skins, hide a freaking marvelous treasure: their lives. From there, you can dig into their passions, their experiences. You can discover how rich and colored they are. How cool they are. And if things go well, they can even become friends! Who knows. (Though I'm not here to tell you how to make friends. I'm not the most extraverted out there.....)
How does one create relationships as professionals (from most introverted to less introverted):
Don’t underestimate the skill to listen to people. In the end, art is one more tool to communicate with others.
Here are 3 more interviews you might enjoy :
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We draw. We can help people connect, make them feel special, help them escape reality. We can help projects get funded, raise awareness on social issues or ease the workload on game productions. Art can decorate a home, be used as investment and tax deductible assets (like the Art market).
Truth is, it’s fucking hard to deal with the anxiety beforehand. You might forget what you wanted to say, lose track of the discussion, let your voice shake. Even after a year I’m still not there and I mess up All. The. Time. Every freaking interview! But you know what? It’s ok.