A Day in the Life of a Concept Artist
If you dream of becoming a concept artist, you’ll be excited about drawing for hours each day.
Concept artists help developer teams with visual problem-solving. This includes building environments, characters, and objects to support a rich storyline.
However, just like in any creative job, concept artists need many skills. To help understand, this post will discuss the activities a concept artist may do in a single day.
Everyone’s experience will be different. But you can always expect to work in teams; to go through some personal development; and to look after administrative tasks. Drawing will always be at the heart of your work, even if it is not the only thing you’ll need to do.
Team work makes the dream work
Concept artists very rarely work entirely on their own.
It’s your job to take a description, idea, or suggestion, and turn it into reality. So, you’ll need to have excellent listening skills. An artist helps their employer when they understand the employer’s problems, and gives good solutions.
Sometimes, you could brainstorm closely with others. A writer or lore developer may have ideas about the history of their world. How can you help show that visually, through landscape, plants, or architecture? What will be possible and impossible? A concept artist’s skills are essential in these conversations.
Some days, a concept artist will need to work on their own. But their successes are always defined by their contribution to teams.
Concept artists spend lots of time drawing
The specific drawing tasks you do will vary depending on the stage of your project. But when a professional concept artist works on drawing, they use their creativity within confines.
If you’re working on a game early in its development, you will have freedom to imagine the appearance of a character, landscape, or machine. You might end up with hundreds of ideas in the recycling bin. This is all part of the creative process!
If the project’s further down the line, you might understand the ways one character reacts to attacks, or the shape of a specific tree.
Or, if you’re putting together marketing materials, you’ll need to refine an ambitious scenario.
Overall, your work will involve a lot of drafting and re-drafting, bringing your team’s ideas to a final form. You will get feedback on a daily basis: which you must use to improve your work.
Taking care of business
As a concept artist, there are numerous ways to earn a living. Whatever way you generate income, you’ll have to spend some time each day looking after the ‘business’ side of a creative career.
Working in-house for a studio, you’ll have a stream of emails, meetings, and deadlines to keep. Perhaps you’ll have a pitch to contribute to, or a client meeting to attend. This is all just part of the job.
If you’re a freelancer, you’ll have a few more tasks to keep up with.
You will need to be actively networking and marketing yourself: through LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social media. You’ll probably make outreach calls to clients who might need a concept artist.
Many people love having the autonomy of work as a freelancer. Others prefer the stability of life as an in-house artist. Either way, you’ll be spending time on business and administration on any normal day.
But your learning will not stop there. Good concept artists dedicate regular time to updating their knowledge and skills.
Developing your knowledge could involve:
- Reading concept art books;
- Playing new and innovative games;
- Learning about architecture, plants, animals, and more;
- Getting to know about lighting;
- Becoming an expert in colour theory;
- Expanding your digital drawing skills (such as photorealism, line art, and digital painting).
In all these areas, your formal education will give you the nuts and bolts.
But there’s no end to the knowledge you can acquire. Just look at the ways buildings, clothing, and technology have changed throughout time, across the world. The breadth and depth of visual culture is huge.
Taking some time to find inspiration helps in the long term. You’ll know better how to solve the problems raised during your day job.
Every day is different in a creative career
Every day in the life of a concept artist will be different. The exact amount of time you spend on each activity will vary according to your career stage, your current project, and the exact nature of your role.
New freelancers could spend their morning reaching out to businesses, their afternoons working on current projects, and their evenings brushing up their portfolio. A seasoned professional may spend their whole day on a sketchbook, before checking in with their team for an hour at the end of the week.
If you’d like to know more about the working day of a concept artist, you can start by getting to know more of the artist community online. Artists at all levels are often happy to pass on their wisdom.
Working on side projects
Just like your reading and interests, side projects are another amazing form of self-development. Pursuing your creativity in unpaid projects will provide you with satisfaction that is never guaranteed in paid work.
Your passion project is only limited by your imagination. It could be:
- Writing and drawing an illustrated story book;
- An indie game you’re working on with friends;
- Live streaming on twitch;
- Working on portraiture, landscape painting, or other forms of artistic expression.
All of these areas can contribute to your portfolio, as well as giving you personal satisfaction. You don’t need to worry about finding your passion projects – they will find you!
For creative people, working in concept art can be an exciting career. But good concept art requires a special type of creativity. You must work with a brief, in teams, offering innovative approaches to visual problem-solving.
Plenty of people flourish with these conditions. After all, it is inspiring to help other people make sense of their initial thoughts and plans. However, other people will struggle to please other people.
The only way you can know for sure is by getting started in the world of professional concept art.
There are many ways to do this. The courses offered by MAGES Institute offer one way in. Take a look, and you’ll find a great introduction to the skills you need to succeed.