An artist starts his career from one company or the other. As he grows in his career path, he coordinates and interacts with lot many people and other artists. During this stint of growing professionally everyone makes mistakes sometime. There are few set of common mistakes that everybody do that are known as professional snag. There are few best practices that need to be remembered. This article covers few of them.
Many artists get their first jobs before they have truly mastered the important foundations they need to know as professional artists.
From that first job on, they just tread in the same spot and virtually stop growing and learning as artists aside from what they do at work. Don't be one of them. Keep on learning and strengthen your weaknesses, learn new tools, and try new methods.
Professionally, communication will be both with co-workers and the lead.
Communicating with peers is one of the main sources of inspiration and learning. Mostly, it seizes to happen on regular basis due to work pressure and deadlines. Everyone has his own way of performing task and using techniques. Sharing such tips and tricks is really important among co-workers. Strong art cultures are built around this level of engagement. Managers or leads cannot create this environment if the artists themselves are not committed to it as well.
During profession, there is limited time for learning and sharing from someone and this is really important for professional growth. This can only happen with constructive feedback and interpersonal communication, reviews, and suggestions.
With Managers and Leads
Every organization has its own set of hierarchy and attached role and responsibility. Interaction between lead and artist is a must for timely delivery with utmost quality. Main issue comes when people assume that the leads /managers are perfect and right all the time. Blindly following the lead decision will not lead to any creative output if the artist has even a slight thought of doing the task differently.
An artist cannot agree with all the decision a lead makes and that is perfectly okay. Problem comes when people think that they cannot speak when they see a mistake that might be due to reason like fear of dismiss or revenge.
In both the cases, outcome will be same. Not speaking out at the moment might generate the wrong output delivered and it adversely affects the artist’s performance. It also fractures lead-subordinate relationship.
Leads cannot always be perfect in their decision and at times they rely on the artist for supporting their decision. It is a mutual consent on the final decision. Just remember: Preventing a problem is always better for both lead and artist than reacting to the problem later on.
However, in the absence of more effective options, that problem may have to stand in the interest of meeting the goals of the project. Therefore, if you're going to actively bring a problem to the attention of others, then you should also be ready with options to discuss. How do you intend to avoid the problem? What are the benefits/risks of your alternative? Is it a reasonable plan?
PS: Problems and mistakes are not the same as failures. Mistakes are made in many aspects of game development; it is expected and understood as the normal practice of learning and experimentation.
However mistakes are always needs to be avoided since it carries the burden of untimely delivery and/or poor quality.
A professional in a gaming industry need to be half technical and half artist. Even though one might be too good in one form of art or perfectionist in a particular software, he need to constantly improvise on his skill set and upcoming technology. Artists who hold too tightly onto out-dated ways of working will quickly lose influence if they can't communicate on the same level as the rest of the company.
Broaden your Horizon
A company will always like to have such artists who are willing to go beyond their specialized skills and help the company during crunch (or else) to take up varied task. An artist's approach to task diversity affects both their career growth and their artistic development.
A common mistake mostly with junior artist is that they tend to avoid such task or perform the task half-heatedly. From an artist’s perspective it is understandable that they deliver low-quality work on less-desirable task. Keeping apart personal preferences, an artist must execute the provided task with utmost quality and commitment.
Artists who are capable of tackling a wider variety of issues are understandably more valuable to their team as those individuals can have greater impact. Projects are always hungry for people who can problem-solve in a variety of areas.
There is very thin line of difference between having professional ego and personal pride. Professional ego means having sense of fulfillment of his/her work which motives a person to grow his skills and improve upon time. If uncontrolled, this can lead to personal pride where the artist portrays himself above from his peers/colleagues and view others as less valuable or talented. This hampers the working relationship between the artists and they stop considering constructive feedback (of other artist).
In this situation, such artist rarely achieves higher creative potential and since their attitude restricts them to get creative input, this limits his potential career growth.
Realize that although you have your own artistic style and personal taste, as a production member, you have to work well with others and be able to follow orders.
If you disagree with every art direction, refuse to make changes, and march to your own beat regardless of what's asked of you, then don't be surprised if you're the next person to be let go when it's time for a layoff.
Do not be a Production Factory
As a creative talent, an artist is hired for his creativity, not just for his software skills. Don't just do what you're told and nothing more -- be creative, come up with ideas, and suggest alternative approaches. Artists who just go through the motion with no sense of artistic pride or sense of ownership are typically called hacks.
Apart from these issues there are few recommendations for every artist to grow within the company. These are, by far, not really necessary for survival but for growth, both personally and professionally:
Perform your job better than your boss expects and makes sure your boss knows about it. Focus on producing results that will make both you and your lead look good, and develop a reputation for being a problem solver. The qualities companies take into account when considering employees for promotions include consistent demonstration of effort, good interpersonal skills, leadership ability, and a self-starting attitude.
Public relations or "PR" is not just for big companies, and it's not just about press releases and exclusive screenshots, rather, PR can be applied on an individual level. Sell yourself in a positive way and think of creative ways to get your-self noticed.
Writing articles or newsletters for gaming magazines or online websites is a good way of getting noticed not only inside the company but outside too.
Game companies value employees who stay current on development and trends in the industry. Ways to keep yourself fresh and on top of industry developments include attending conferences, seminars, or workshops such as the Game Developers Conference, E3, and D.I.C.E. Naturally, you should also regularly read publications such as Game Developer Magazine, GameDaily, Gamasutra, Develop Magazine, etc.
If you're weak in interpersonal skills such as communication or management ability, then train yourself by participating in relevant networking groups and seminars, even develop a language speaking ability - any specialized knowledge you develop will only serve to increase your value.
People who demonstrate leadership skills advance in their career, so practice developing these skills. Volunteer to lead a project. Be the first person to learn a new technology and then teach it to your team members. It is expected that a leader makes decisions and solves problems, so learn how to problem solve. In demonstrating your leadership skills, be sure to treat other coworkers with respect and don't come off as swagger.
Office PoliticsIt's simply unavoidable, office politics exist in every company. You can get office politics working for you by participating in company events and building relationships with people in and outside of your department. Definitely doesn’t be a snob. Exhibiting obvious arrogance because you believe your position or skills superior to another is no way to win friends and influence people. And keep in mind that you are not playing office politics for any other reason than advancing your career. Never share information you're told in confidence and don't criticize or gossip about others. In short, when playing office politics listen, don't contribute.