How Old Is Too Old For A Rookie Concept Artist?

This is a post based on reader questions. You can submit a question and it may find it's way onto the blog, either answered as an individual post or on the podcast.

tung

First off, love your site. Wish I found it sooner. It seems to allay many of my fears and doubts. I hope you’re around for a long time!

I do have two questions though: 1) How many concept artists could be working on a game at one time? There’s an abundance of talent online. So much so, that I worry that some may be unemployed at the moment. If one game requires 30-50 concept artists, then I don’t feel too bad! 2) What’s the age of the oldest rookie concept artist that you know of? I’m making a career change of sorts and age is an obvious hangup of mine.

Hey there,

Thanks for the kind words.

Your first question has no definitive answer, not even a range. A game company can be so small that they hire just one concept artist for a game or just a handful. A production can also be so huge that the developer/publisher works with multiple outsourcing studios, which internally work with 10, 20 or even more artists. Many productions also use a lot of contract artists/ freelancers instead of hiring someone for full time positions.

If you look at film, animation and television, you have even more job opportunities. The demand is there and plenty of it. The question is how do you stand out from the crowd of people who want to get into that field? Proper portfolios and applications are necessary, but also significant skill.

As to your age question, I’ve seen people go into concept art in their 40s and make it work. However those people transitioned from other fields such as industrial design. Actually starting from scratch at that kind of age is really hard. The games industry has no particular ageism problem. I mean, ageism is everywhere but games is not particularly a young people industry.

However being an in demand concept artist is dependent on work experience. Art education can only get you so far, but the actual problem solving skills that make you a great concept artists are learned in the field. Companies often offer art internships and junior positions to shape a rookie’s perspective on concept art to their liking. Companies want you to grow into the kind of concept artist they need. And this could get awkward if the people who teach you the ropes are younger than you.

It’s very likely that entry level positions are rather given to youngsters because they appear to be more “moldable”. So, if you bring years of relevant experience to your new career, it can work as a buff for you. But if you actually are a complete rookie and a generation-x person or older, you have quite the uphill climb ahead of you.

I know, not really good news, but I hope that helps. Good luck.

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2 Comments

  1. This question and answer is what I need! I heard there are more concept artist than positions available compared to other career path such as animators, texture, 3D modelling or programmers. This is really awkward for new artist to join the industry. But I heard once you are in, you won’t stop due to lack of jobs out there. The catch is getting the 1st step into the industry. I’m thinking of a career change myself from architecture to concept artist and it’s a tough decision to make.

  2. Thank you for the taking the time to reply to my question. I hope that it answered others that might have had the same concerns. Yes, you may have delivered not-so-good news. I see it as a kick in the pants to work even harder to make my portfolio stand out and maybe even inspire people my age to get into it.

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