In most careers, a person’s level of success is determined by their résumé and list of accomplishments. In a digital arts career, it’s all about your portfolio or demo reel, which contains samples of your very best work.
No matter what you study—be it animation, graphic design, motion graphics, illustration, or script writing—your student-produced work could prove essential in landing your first job, and could continue to serve you well throughout your career.
No “Minor” Projects
Each class project you complete while in school is an opportunity to create artwork that’s worthy of putting in your portfolio or on your demo reel. As you progress through your projects, you’ll be amazed how your art matures over time, with new work replacing old.
Of course, you’ll learn fundamentals of your craft, techniques of seasoned professionals, and the latest software packages, but the end result is the work you do. If you feel confident in the work you’ve done and what you show, you’ll carry that into a job interview.
Surveying the Job Market
While attending school, you’ll also want to keep your eye on your particular industry. What’s going on out there? What are the trends? What are the hot companies? Who’s doing great work? Study what’s out there. Be inspired. As a designer or animator, you’re always going to spend time learning and growing and being influenced by others in your profession and the culture.
The cool thing about attending a college dedicated to the arts is that it’s the place where learning and creating are the central activities. For example, with animation, you’ll learn the skills and techniques for two dimensional and three dimensional motion art, be it a cartoon, a comic strip, or an animated film. With these mediums, the emphasis is on the narrative and storytelling, not just cell creation, and it all comes to life on your demo reel.
With every project, you’re a sponge, absorbing everything-so when it’s time for you to create, you have an ever-expanding inventory of thoughts, designs, illustrations, animated scenes, and more to pull from when creating your art.
Experience through Art Internships
Your first real-world test comes when you pursue an internship while in school. A-level material helps make a great impression. Be prepared to talk about each project, from how you came up with the idea and how you executed it to the challenges you overcame.
Moreover, an internship, if you’re lucky, is where you’ll work on real projects for real clients. Work from an internship can start to populate your student portfolio or demo reel. You’ll be rightfully proud of your student work, but over time actual work samples will start to overtake projects completed in school.
At every stage-student, intern, first-year professional, and so on-your portfolio or reel can grow with you and lead you to each new opportunity and an exciting career. But where does it all begin? It begins with your student portfolio and demo reel that you create in art school.