If Every 3D Job Requires "Job Experience" How Will I Ever Break into the Industry?
This is a question that almost every single 3D artist has had at some point in their career. It's probably the most frustrating aspect of finding a job and can be a huge demotivator for someone actively trying to break into the industry. It can seem like an impossible goal to try and achieve. How is any new graduate or student ever going to land their first job in the 3D industry if it seems like every single job opening requires you to have several years experience in the industry.
You've also probably heard before that studios don't hire based on a résumé or a degree but rather your ability as an artist. This idea can seem like a huge contradiction to what the studios are actually putting on their application pages. Because no where under the job requirements section does it say just, "Amazing demo reel" there are usually a slew of other requirements and 2-5 years experience is one that typically falls into that section.
While you've probably come across a huge list of job openings in the industry requiring previous experience, it doesn't mean it's impossible to break into the industry. You just need to know the right places too look as a new graduate!
Let's take a moment and step into the shoes of 3D artist who has either just graduated or feels their demo reel is up to the quality level required by studios. They plop in front of the computer and begin searching studios; DreamWorks, Disney, Industrial Light and Magic, Bungie, Rockstar, Ubisoft, Blizzard. These are likely all the studios that first come to mind, the problem with this is that these studios are at the very top of the industry. These are the studios your friends and family are familiar with, even if they don't study 3D.
As you can see from the image below, this is probably going to be the same sight you see over and over. After searching through all these studios, only to find yourself at a huge wall that seems impossible to climb over which can be a big demotivator.
To get around this "Job Experience" requirement you need to look in the right places. Every 3D artist had to start some where. While it would be great to land your very first job working on the next Avengers at ILM, or get to animate Master Chief at 343 Industries. This is usually not the case.
Your dream may be to work on the next game from Blizzard, but in order to help get there you need to start small. Animate on a commercial at a studio in your hometown, or work on the game assets for a tiny indie developer for mobile games. Just because it's a smaller scale studio and one that is under the radar doesn't mean it isn't a great company to work at. A good place to start your job search is on a site that lists all the studios in your country, the big, the small and the smaller.
Your goal as a new 3D artist is to get your foot in the door, where that door leads is not necessarily the most important aspect. The important thing is that you're getting job experience. You'll start to build contacts and valuable experience that's appealing to other studios; a job at a small studio will lead to the next, and the next. Eventually you'll find yourself at the door step of ILM, looking back and realizing that the very first job you got at that tiny four person studio is what got you here.
Do you have your own questions about 3D job experience that you want answered? Post them in the comments below!