Normally I don’t reply to these anonymous messages because I can’t send the response privately (so if you are asking me something totally use your name :P ), but since this is a pretty general question that I’ve answered a bunch, I guess I can write a post on it. I usually say mostly the same things to people who send me questions like this.
-In terms of style…I don’t think I ever set out to intentionally develop “a style”. I just think I unconsciously mimicked aspects of styles that I liked and it came together eventually to be what I do now. It takes a while, but that is totally natural; it’s not something that happens instantaneously. I look at a toooon of animation art so I have a pretty good idea of what I gravitate towards (My personal preference is simple design, highly stylized, heavy on shape design, so its what I try to do in my own art). It really just takes time, and I’d suggest looking at a lot of differently styled pieces of art so you don’t get stuck with a limited breadth in terms of drawing styles, so to speak (people speak of the “tumblr art style” which I don’t know a ton about, but it sounds like what I’m talking about now). Also it is good the be able to vary your style a bit since, at least in my case, the stuff I do at work is constantly changing style (anything from highly realistic and rendered, to very stylized), and ideally I have to keep up with that to stay useful. Just keep drawing and looking at all sorts of art, and style will follow.
School and Work:
- People who are in school often ask about advice upon that matter, and graduating. I actually went to school for 3d animation and didn’t take many drawing courses in college, overall. I wish I had taken more, but I never knew I’d end up doing art, and to be fair, I think 3d knowledge has helped me in this job as well. I’ve learned a ton by just working a job (as is often mentioned, you learn a ton more on the job, and I’ve experienced such). The two aspects I think that are the most jarring changes are the speed at which you have to work (school assignments are at a snail’s pace compared to most real work assignments I’ve had) and having to match the style of a project (sometimes you may be designing your own stuff and this doesn’t matter, but a lot of the time you are working on a project in someone else’s style).
-People often ask “how good” they have to be to get a job. Well this depends on a lot of factors, but in school I wish I had been more aware of the types of people who were graduating and finding jobs in art positions; I think its the best reference to look at in terms of “doing things right”. I wouldn’t necessarily say to look at these people to “copy them” but more to see what they did to stand out from the crowd, and use it as inspiration. These best new grads from all sorts of schools, and other professionals are the ones competing for the same jobs as you. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the school bubble, but it doesn’t account for the whole industry. Granted, there are ton of factors at play when looking for jobs. Now that I’ve worked in a studio I can see why so much luck and timing is involved; you can be the best artist ever but if you haven’t gotten lucky and applied at the right time, things just won’t pan out, and it isn’t your fault at all.