I love a good success story.
They always re-affirm for me that if you want something bad enough,
If you are willing to do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true,
If you truly find the courage to put yourself out there in the face of rejection,
If you are willing to disappear for a while, sacrifice and work on what is important to you,
As cliche as it sounds, you can have that career as a game artist that you’ve always wanted.
This is Nick’s story, a story of someone who never gave up on his dream to work at a triple A game atudio. It is my hope that after reading it, it will inspire you to follow in his footsteps and never give up.
Nick, as of me writing this, has just landed a contract job at Ubisoft Toronto! Here’s how he did it…
Nick was one of my students in college. Nick was new to 3D environment art and was learning his base skills in school.
Something I see quite a lot of is students thinking that their college gamer art is enough to land them a job in the industry.
While in school, Nick was lucky enough to land an internship at the studio I was working at, Blot interactive. I remember Nick was just like any new aspirant in the games industry. He was excited and worked really hard to get his foot in the door.
After that, Nick graduated and again, was fortunate to find a job doing 3D work. Many grads out of games art programs aren’t so lucky, and end up being forced to work any old job to pay student loan debt.
Nick worked at a marketing company but quickly found he was dissatisfied with the work. He got very little direction, found that he was pretty much left on his own with no guidance and found the work to be quite boring.
He realized that even though this was a 3D job, he still felt a passion to work on games.
That’s when Nick and I re-connected.
At the time Game Arts Academy was just an idea in my head and I started to put together a pitch to run environment art boot-camps designed to assist grads like Nick to attain the jobs they really wanted.
Nick joined and we began the first Game Arts Academy Boot-camp in September 2018.
After an intensive 12-week boot camp, Nick produced his best work yet, Nick’s Bar and Grill. A charming environment that captured the spirit of a northern Canadian bar.
Nick used a sound clip of Stompin’ Tom Conner’s “Good Ol’ Hockey Game” to infuse his level with an extra bit of warmth and story…
Take a look…
During the process of creating this environment, Nick learned many things that he simply did not get an opportunity to learn in college, such as advanced lighting, better composition skills, master material creation, post-processing, and portfolio presentation.
When he completed his new “flagship portfolio” piece, Nick felt much more confident about the state of his new portfolio.
And this is where the story gets interesting…
After completing his flagship portfolio piece Nick did something courageous.
Nick reached out to his friends who got work at Ubisoft Toronto and started working his networking muscle.
Nick visited them and got them to introduce him to some higher up’s working at the Triple-A studio.
Nick eventually became acquainted with one of the art directors and got feedback on his new environment.
Unfortunately, at the time, Ubisoft wasn’t hiring but that didn’t stop Nick from keeping in regular touch with his new contacts at Ubisoft Toronto.
Instead of throwing in the towel, like so many others would have done, Nick persisted. He wasn’t going to give up on his dream so easily.
And really, in this day and age, in super-saturated job market in video games it takes something extra special aside from a dazzling portfolio: You have to show that you are not only talented, but that you are a person of great character.
So Nick hit the pavement once again and applied at other studios. Nick found that his new portfolio piece was beginning to open new doors for him.
He was actually getting call-backs, interviews and offers.
Aside from sending out his new portfolio, Nick decided to work on another portfolio piece.
Nick loves history, and calls himself a history buff. He is also a fan of the HBO series “Band of Brothers”.
Nick’s new portfolio piece “NUTS” tells a powerful story about the WWII conflict “The Battle of the Bulge” which, as history discloses was the turning point of World War II.
Nick used a sound clip from the show where a soldier recalls what it was like to fight the overwhelming German forces in the bitter cold of the Ardennes forest in France.
One of the things that I love about Nick’s portfolio pieces is his talent in using sound clips, music and excellent camera angles and movement to tell a great story.
I wasn’t the only one that noticed Nick’s talent for telling a good story.
Nick’s contacts at Ubisoft (who he made sure to keep in touch with) were also starting to take notice of his skills.
Nick showed his new portfolio piece to the people at Ubisoft and they graciously gave him feedback on how he would improve upon his WWII piece. Nick humbly took their feedback and applied to his work.
One of the things that I see trip up aspiring games artists is their reluctant to show their work and get feedback. This can be a huge hindrance in your ability to find work and grow as an artist.
Eventually, Ubisoft found a need and role suited for Nick’s talents and after much patience and persistence…
Nick was hired at Ubisoft Toronto.
I can’t say for sure what it was that got him hired. I think there were many factors.
Yes, his work is excellent and he’s always improving…
Yes, he never gave up…
But I think it was his character and courage that ultimately got him the job.
People, especially those who are in hiring positions seem to respond very well to people who exhibit strong character traits like courage and humility.
I think it shows them that this person can be trusted not only to take feedback and apply it right away, but they are trustworthy and tenacious.
People like Nick are what make companies like Ubisoft so successful, and I think they recognize and see that too. They know that they are not only hiring someone valuable, but that this person can flourish and grow within the company and give them a great return on investment (ROI).
This “inner game” that Nick developed through his courageousness is what I see many aspirants are lacking. You really do have to have something extra to get hired in triple-A these days.
Gone are the days when you could land a job on your portfolio alone. With the thousands of other people you are competing against for these highly sought after jobs, you really have to prove that you have the guts to sacrifice and do what it takes.
And that is why at Game Arts Academy, we focus on not only technical skill, but also “Inner game” skills.
As Nick’s story proves and demonstrates, not only do you really have to “want it” but you have to prove to the Universe with your actions that you do. And I believe if you do that, the mystery that we call life responds and rewards the courageous.
Congratulations Nick for realizing your goals and dreams. May you be successful wherever you go.