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The realities of the Game World. Advice from a professional Game Artist.

Art students have a clear idea of what they want to do in the future, they want to work in the art world and this could lead their careers in many different directions. To help students get a better idea of what is available when they graduate and what they need to know before taking a direction in their career, EPAC Swiss art school regularly invites professionals from the art world. This allows students to gain valuable insights into what the future may hold for them and helps to give them direction for when they graduate.

The Game Art industry is highly competitive and requires artists that have a degree of skill and competences to be able to work in several domains. This week at EPAC Swiss art school we have been privileged to have two Game Artists, Amir Erfani and Taraneh Karimi, present a workshop to our students. This has helped students to refine their artistic knowledge for character design, storyline and what it takes to make a career in Game Art. This workshop was also enjoyed by visiting students from Ming Chuan University in Taipei, one of our international partners.

At the moment, Taraneh is working on her own project, "Lona: Realm of Colors" as well as Gamehouse's narrative-based games and creating a package of products that studios can use to make their own games. A product which already has several companies using her package, a combination of art and software.

This blog is based on a Q & A session with Taraneh about what is required to make a successful career in Game Art and what students need to be aware of in the future.

What skills do you need for a career in Game Art?

Taraneh points out that there are so many domains and skills needed in Game Art; Graphic Design, Animation, 2D, 3D, modelling, texturing but it is important to begin with the fundamentals of art. Learn as much as you can about art and design. All of it will be useful at some point in your career. This especially includes knowing the software used to create games.

On the less artistic and technical side, Taraneh recognises the importance for art students to improve communication skills. Artists are not always good communicators but they will need to know how to sell their ideas, obtain the contract or job and create or work within a team. As she says, students focus on their own work but Game Artists need to function as part of a team.

In Taraneh’s situation, having her own company means that she has to find the customer and much of her time is spent in business activities rather than game creation. She has developed the skills needed to sell her project and ideas to customers by listening to their needs and adapting what she can provide to meet these needs.

How can you make a career in Game Art?

Taraneh’s advice is to take all jobs that are offered to you, even if you think the jobs are not good enough. It takes time to make a career and reputation and for this you need to master as many areas as possible, maybe starting as a generalist with 2D, 3D, design or storytelling. Her advice is to take all offers, be flexible and learn from each experience. Each contract and position will lead to something else and help you to hone your skills.

What are the obstacles to being successful in Game Art?

One of the main obstacles for students after graduation is to stay motivated. Recent graduates probably won’t get the big contract straight away. Graduating artists generally value their own work higher than the Game Art industry will value them so accept that you still have plenty to learn after leaving art school and that the professional world judges your work on different criteria. Challenge yourself to keep learning and stay motivated no matter what you are doing.

What is the future direction of Game Art

In her experience, the Game Art world is moving towards creating a more lifelike experience which sees games becoming more like a cinema experience. With Virtual Reality, games are providing experiences that are more physical and can involve the players in a more emotional experience.

To illustrate this Taraneh gave me the example of her work which is targeted to women from 19 - 45 years old and is more narrative than action based. Using the slogan, “to inspire women” Taraneh has created a game which recreates situations that allow the gamer to interact and direct the game. This creates a more emotional bond with the game rather than an adrenaline rush provided by action and adventure themed games.

Advice to young who want Game Art career.

Taraneh's final word is to stress the importance of experience. Gain as much as you can in the art and Game world. Master the skills needed to be an artist as the game world is an extension of art, not the other way around. The more artistic skill you have have, the more you can create. Take all the work you can and create a reputation as someone who is reliable, serious in the work and capable of producing what is required of a professional artist.

It was a pleasure to have Taraneh and Amir with us for a few days and we look forward to another week with them next year.

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