What do these art job titles mean?

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smaragddrache
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What do these art job titles mean?

Post by smaragddrache » Thu Aug 28, 2008 3:01 pm

Hello all! I have a somewhat stupid question. What exactly do production artists, graphic designers, technical artists do? I have found "definitions" of the positions, but never a real answer as to what the work is, what the work load is like, etc. I would appreciate anything anyone who has had these jobs or knows about them has to share. I'm a recent grad, and trying to decide what path of "art-job" to take, and therefore evaluating where my skills fit.

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Post by Blom » Thu Aug 28, 2008 5:26 pm

I do not think it is a stupid question, the tittles for jobs changes all the time just to sound better if it is hard to get that kind of people or to make the job sound better for there costumers. Often are they the same as you know under other names.

My guess (As far as I know, but it might change from company to company.) is:
Production artist; If we think for film here it can be a number of jobs, it can be a one who come up with how the look and feel of a scene is going to be. A production designer is often one who makes the design. If it is on stage a production artist can be both in the prop department or stage department making the stage. Some of the people I worked with at The Norwegian Opera had tittles like that, but did the same as lets say a stage worker. But I guess the bottom line is that they produce art in some way. And then you have to look at what type of company it is and what they produce.

Graphic designer: This is an easier tittle, this is often connected to printed work. Let say that someone is making a book with pictures drawings and text, then the graphic designer can do things like; creating the font for the text, the graphic style /or say style of the book and makes everything ready to print. Graphic designers can also work in other media; like Motion Graphic design that is animation graphic for tv and film.

Technical artists: This can be something completely different from the above. If this is for a computer game company they often give the tittle to people who is building up codes and the interactivity of a game. But if we go to animated films, I know that they often called it technical artists for everything that was animated and not was a figure in the movie, like : leafs, cars/ rain and water and so on.

It can be a problem finding the right way trough the jungle of working tittles. But I guess the best thing to do is to find out what you like to do, and if you see an ad for a job, call them and ask them if what you like to do is the thing they are looking for. This way you find your way trough the jungle of nice and fancy tittles.

About work load, any of this jobs has a high workload, but it also depend upon where you want to be. The more fancy position name it got, the harder it is to get, and the more money it pay, and the more work load. But that can also be wrong, because jobs that is low on the floor have also nice names to get people into it. Like BEST BOY in films is the one who brings everybody coffee. Then again that might be a fun job to have if you like it.

So the answer comes down to "What do you like to do?"
A good job is one you enjoy doing, it don`t matter where and what it is.
I hope this gave you some ideas about what it is, and this page might be a good place for you to search for more answers or ask the questions; http://freelanceswitch.com/ , or here.


Remember that a job that is fun for you is the best one, and not the job others say is the best.
Good luck in your search. :D :wink:
Tor Harald Blom

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Post by nateomedia » Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:09 am

A Production Artist, if used in reference to advertising/graphic design, is the person responsible for doing final preparations to a job before it sees print. After the creative part of the job is finished, the art director or designer passes it off to a production artist to deal with any minor revisions that might happen at that stage, fix typos, adding die-cuts, and place hi-res art.

Production is extremely important -- if you're spending millions on a campaign, production is the last chance to catch a costly mistake -- yet many agencies see it as an entry level position. A graphic designer entering the advertising field might start as a production artist and work his way up the ladder to junior designer, designer, senior designer, art director, senior art director and, finally, creative director.

Smart agencies see production as a separate career path from design and look for individuals that are technically minded and highly skilled on the computer, but such agencies are rare. Most people can't understand why you'd pay a lot to have someone fix typos, but a good production artist does so much more.

Production Artist is a flexible term though. If you are referring to film, it's a whole different thing.

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Post by smaragddrache » Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:40 am

Thank you so much, guys! I was looking at more of a print/advertising type of production artist/graphic designer. Your answers have helped me get an idea of what these titles mean.

I'm in kind of a pickle, because my art degree taught me skills that are somewhat incomplete. I feel like I have a good handle on form, color, etc, but not the correct output: digital. I have a pretty much traditional-media-only background. I'm trying to figure out what kind of skills do I need to learn/hone to make myself more marketable. Hence the question about what these art job titles mean. Once I understand that, I can ascertain what job I would like to go for, and therefore what skills to learn. I'm pretty sure the Adobe creative suite is standard, but are there other programs I should be looking at?

As for what I like to do, I'm not sure, since I haven't had a chance to do it. I enjoy drawing by hand and creating, but I'm pretty sure that kind of job is not entry level. Paying your dues and all that, which I'm okay with. I just want to get on the track to that place, and I have no idea where that track starts. :oops: Again, any thoughts are welcome!

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Post by nateomedia » Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:37 pm

Well, I graduated from college with a degree in Illustration and ended up in print advertising doing design & art direction because there was a lot of money in the field. However, I eventually left because it wasn't satisfying. I can do design, but I don't enjoy it like I enjoy drawing.

I entered the field in 2000 with no computer skills. I was lucky to be paid to learn how to use Quark, Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign on the job. I have a feeling that there is a greater expectation now that one enter the market knowing these programs because there are more digital art classes being offered in school. However, there's no reason why you can't learn these programs on your own: I did. Buy some books and read them. Practice a lot. Or take a class -- just make sure you get a good instructor.

However, I would caution you from chasing the money. There are entry level drawing jobs. If there are any local animation houses or game studios, approach them about internships and associate programs. I know Disney is actively pursuing college grads. No one is going to hate you for asking for a job. You need to find the businesses in your area that use artists and cold call them and asking about job opportunities.

Don't talk yourself out of a career because you are inexperienced and there are things you don't know. There will always be things you don't know. That's life. Go after what you want to do, show your portfolio around, listen to criticism and see what happens. If you get a sense in an interview that you're not going to get a job, ask them point blank why, shut-up and listen to what they say. The feedback may be brutal, but you need to know -- no sense worrying about what you think may be your weaknesses, it's better to hear it from potential employers.

And when you're interviewing, make sure to ask questions. You want to know what a production artist does? Ask. Ask for a tour. Ask how the creative department works. Ask about who the company's clients are. There are no stupid questions. They already know that you don't know anything, so why not use the opportunity to change that?

In the end, you might have to take a job that's not ideal and "pay your dues." But just be thoughtful about it. I mean, I don't know that doing production art is going to get you to a drawing job -- at least, not by any direct route. But there's nothing saying that your career has to follow a straight line anyway. Who's does?

But yeah, you can't go wrong learning Adobe Creative Suite. Especially Photoshop.

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Post by Blom » Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:59 pm

I am going to continue down the traditional road, but pushing it trough photoshop to get the look I want. And I think you can go the way you want, but you have to want to keep going a road for some time before you see it start working right. So it is important that you find the choice that is fun and good for you as a work.

If you want to go the digital way then:
Photoshop is the first important one. Also all the other Adobe products is nice.
If you want a more artistic feel to your digital work flow then maybe take a look at Painter.
If your into 3D design:
3D Studio Max, Mudbox, ZBrush. Two of them are made with the artist in mind, 3D Studio is more technical. Maybe something to look into. ;)

Print stuff:
Quark and InDesign.

Animation:
Flash and toonboom

Motion Graphics
Adobe and Apple programs.

8)
Tor Harald Blom

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Post by smaragddrache » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:14 pm

At this point, I'm so new to the digital creative job world that I don't really know what kind of job I would like. I have a ton of questions once I get into an interview, but it's getting an interview in the first place. I'm flat not qualified for practically all artist jobs I've seen advertised. I haven't really seen any entry-level drawing jobs, but maybe I'm not looking in the right place. Do you have any suggestions of where I should be searching, nateomedia?

An internship or something like it would make this a lot easier, but I can't afford a lack of a paycheck for an extended period of time. Also, most of them require you to still be enrolled in college. How does one approach a company about internships if none are advertised or you don't qualify? Most places I have found do not have any way of contacting them regarding employment except via the job submission system.

Oh, portfolios. Anyone have recommendations on size, format, etc? I've found mixed advice regarding those. Who do I show it to? All information, as always, is welcome. I apologize for the flurry of probably-obvious questions, but I truly have no idea where to start!

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Post by Nick » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:18 pm

These guys have covered a fair chunk of stuff, so i'm mindful not to cover the same ground.

I'm kind of under the impression you don't know which path to take your career down, it's important to understand that the paths are interchangeable, though strong decisions may reduce the need to tread the same ground; just don't be afraid that if you choose a path, that you can't swap to another later on.

In your heart of hearts i suspect you know what you want to do and if you don't, then i bet you have an better idea of what you don't want to do ;) In which case you can start striking things off the list.

For example do you see yourself as a 3D artist, modelling rooms or characters? No? Then you don't need to know things like maya and Zbrush. I'll admit there can be crossover further down the line, but not at the start.

If you want to be an illustrator, it will help you a lot to know something like Photoshop BUT don't think of Photoshop as this huge piece of software with hundreds of tools and options; very few people know the whole thing. You learn what you need to, to do your job. With illustration you'll need to know the brush tool, how to pick colours, eraser, layers, from there you can spread out to learn about custom brushes etc Just don't think about the software in it's entirety, just focus on what you need it to do and the rest comes in time.

I know what i've said sounds very basic, but that's the best way to go about this. Keep it simple, start small and go from there.
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Post by smaragddrache » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:36 pm

Nick, I think you hit it on the head; I'm not sure where to go, and am afraid of getting stuck in something I don't like or wasting time learning something I don't need. At this point, I have a working knowledge of Photoshop from dabbling on my own for some classroom assignments, and I know I need to brush up on Illustrator. As for types of art, I see myself as a strongly 2D focused. I enjoy drawing by hand, pencil and paper kind of thing. I do own a tablet, and am working on becoming adept at inking/coloring via digital means. Mostly I enjoy drawn elements rather than collage-style design. I just don't know where that fits in with industry jobs! :?

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Post by Nick » Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:14 pm

I know where you’re coming from :) Now that the web allows us to see so very easily what artists are doing all over the world it can feel like there’s a lot of pressure on your to ‘perform’ and it all moves so quickly, so it feels like there’s even more pressure to not waste time, but a lot of these stresses are self imposed and it certainly isn’t the end of the world if you learn something you might not immediately need, as usually these skills become interwoven later down the line :D For instance I use Zbrush to help me make brushes in Photoshop, but I’m primarily 2D myself.

I studied Graphic Design Ba for three years, when I graduated I realised it was a complete waste of my time and that I was an illustrator in denial. Funnily enough the first art forum I went to was this one through a link from Penny Arcade. I saw what others were doing here, it inspired me, I took a year out to brush up my illustrative skills and landed a job as a concept artist. In that time I did a little freelance, I was a runner in London between production houses and I was even on the dole (or however it’s spelt) but whatever cash I got I pumped back into my art.

Basically all I’m trying to point out here is that I ‘wasted’ three years in a sense, but I chose to jump to another path and things turned out a’okay and the skills I learnt on my Graphic course have come in handy along the way. As long as you have a goal, something to aim for it doesn’t matter if the path leads you into other areas along the way. I HATED being a runner in London…never knew where I was going :P

If you’re into 2D then check out forums like this or the Drawingboard or Conceptart.org, see what people are doing, see what you connect with, follow their tags back to their websites. Bookmark your favourite artists, see what they’re doing for a living. They usually hint about it somewhere on their website or blog. If you get a rapport going with a few they’ll probably be happy to help you out with things like illustrator. Check out the link section of their sites, if you like what they do, chances are they've linked to others along a similar line. The more feelers you have out there the better.

Don’t be daunted by what’s out there, that’s a whole other can of worms and we’ve all opened that one. You’re doing the right thing though, visiting forums, seeing what people are doing, which allows you to take the pulse of the industry so you can tailor your portfolio. You’ve already got a website which is a good start, instant, easy access to artwork is a big plus.

Set yourself honest short and mid-term goals, long term goals are allowed to be fuzzy ;) As long as you know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter so much how you get there or how long. like I said, search for artists that do the kind of stuff you want to do in the way you want to do it and see what…well…see what they do for a living, it may help give your more focus. :)
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Post by nateomedia » Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:04 pm

You're not going to understand an industry until you get into the industry. You need to get a job. Don't worry if it's ideal. You will never know what you want to do until you do it. And that requires trying things.

And, as I wrote before, the secret to getting a job is...

CALL PEOPLE.

No one wants to do this. Everyone wants a job dropped in their laps. They think the only job openings are the ones that get posted on the internet. They think submitting a resume and samples via email is sufficient to set them apart from the other applicants. None of that is true.

The truth is that if a company needs more help, it means that the people working their currently are swamped. It means that the job applications that roll in from a job posting sit in some art director's inbox until he's forced to look at them. It means that the applicant who takes the time to call the company will probably have a better chance at scheduling an interview, even if there are no publicly listed job openings.

It's simple, when you call, ask to speak to someone in the creative department responsible for hiring. Then ask for interview. Repeat. Some will reject you. Some won't. Just keep calling.

As for recent graduate programs, it took me two seconds to find one in your area:

http://www.pixar.com/companyinfo/jobs/index.html
We have a new program titled Technical Director Resident. This position is similar to a Technical Director position, but specifically designed for recent graduates. To be eligible for a Technical Director Residency at Pixar, you must be a new graduate from a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD Program at the start of the residency. The goals of the program are to provide new graduates the opportunity to apply their academic training and knowledge to a real job at Pixar. Residents will work on Pixar’s films and will have the opportunity to build their skills and learn from our creative and talented workforce. All technical “Residents” will receive ongoing mentorship and training throughout their time at Pixar. The residency is a twelve-month program. Residents will be evaluated during their term and may be considered for ongoing employment, dependent on overall performance and Studio needs. Recent graduates interested in being a Technical Director are also welcome to apply for a regular full time position with Pixar. The Technical Director Resident position is just a great way to start off your career.

If you are a recent graduate interested in other positions at Pixar, please feel free to apply for a full time position or an internship. Positions will be posted on our website when they are available.
In general, at Pixar we look for broad artistic and technical skills, rather than ability to run one package or another. We concentrate on finding people with breadth, depth, communication skills and the ability to collaborate. If you have those attributes, we can teach you the tools.
I don't care what kind of career you eventually have, I can't see how spending a year at Pixar could ever hurt you.

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Post by smaragddrache » Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:05 am

Thanks everyone for your advice! I have started pulling things together, and perhaps getting a better idea of where to go. Thank you Nick for the tip about looking up artists... I never really thought of approaching it that way. Now I have a reason to brush the dust off of my account at Conceptart.org!

Nateomedia, I am aware of the Technical Resident positions at Pixar, and plan to apply once I get my portfolio together even though the next session doesn't start until next summer. I am also applying to some additional positions not directly relevant to my artistic skills, but as you said, a year at Pixar doesn't hurt anything. :D In addition, I'm gathering all of the networking power I have to get my name to someone close to the evaluation of applications.

Any tips on putting together a portfolio of 2D work?

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