Wow- good question. And a hard one to answer- I can’t give much more than my own anecdotal experience, and that’s all from the perspective of having attended an art school and benefitted from it.
I do truly believe that the most important aspects of your ability to “make it” as an artist are skill (I wouldn’t say talent, because I believe a lot of it is learned and practiced), drive, and the ability to network.
If your skills are up to snuff, then your portfolio will speak for itself. This field is, unfortunately, not a meritocracy- I wish I could say only the most qualified land jobs- but sometimes they don’t, and it’s baffling. What I will say is that honing your skill and having a killer portfolio is the single biggest thing you can do to control your chances.
That said, drive and networking are important. Drive, because you will need it on the days you don’t feel inspired. You will need to want this hard enough to keep at it despite discouragements from others.
Networking is a bigger piece than most people talk about- for me, the art school experience was a huge boon, but it’s not the only way to do it well. You have to be personable; have a mind to market yourself and put your work in front of people and be approachable and pleasant while you do. People will respond to how you make them feel- and that will determine a lot of whether you do or don’t land work in the long run- you can have all the talent and the drive in the world, but if you are an unpleasant person then you will have a hard time connecting with work (no matter what field you’re in). My experience at RISD was formative for me, but so was my experience at comic cons- many of the best jobs I’ve landed have been the result of bringing my portfolio and some snazzy business cards with me to cons and shopping it around. There are ways to build a network of creative friends and coworkers without having to pay for art school. Even the internet is a HUGE tool and a gamechanger- tumblr, twitter, deviantart, and behance have all contributed in one way or another to any success I have had. We’re actually part of an age where, more than ever, the ability to get your work and name out there is in your hands with a minimum of gatekeepers preventing you from doing so.
I think it’s really important to talk about that last piece, because it’s a huge part of an artist’s career and you don’t actually have to shell out a college tuition to make it happen.
Don’t despair- if you want this and you have the skills you can actually make this thing happen. I can’t promise that it will all work out (hell, you guys remember 38 Studios? Sometimes things just go sour), but it is far from hopeless. Art on!
Ah! A Dawngate related query! Very good then.
Although, I can only answer…the first…question…
I like the southern shapers and the silly shapers! So far my favorites to work on have been Zeri and Renzo :) Theirs are the closest to the sort of stories that are nearest and dearest to my heart.
Also Eidolus, if he counts. THE DRAMA. I feel that.
As for the other two questions- I’m going to be honest: I…don’t actually…play.
In general I’ve played far fewer video games since I’ve started working in the industry than I used to. The games I do like to play are very different- I’m a nintendo kind of guy (and a Sega kind of guy back in the day): I like puzzles, adventures, platformers, and rpgs- but the competitive aspect just doesn’t usually motivate me. Once I feel like I have to measure up in order to have fun, I…generally cease to have fun.
I have made it my business to know a whole lot about the game- the game’s world and lore are my chief concerns, and I’ve spent some time familiarizing myself with those aspects! I’m fond of Kahgen, Faris, Dibs, Mina, and Kel for lore and design reasons- but if it’s not Monkey Island 2 or Riven or Pokemon or Journey or Professor Layton or Skies of Arcadia or Cooking Mama 8: This Time It’s Kale…I’m probably not playing it >_>
THIS is a lovely ask!
They may not all rock a mean stache, but we all know my own stache is just a way of covering up my artistic inadequacies. These cats need no lip-fuzz! I follow TONS of amazing artists, but some favorites off the top of my head include:
Barukurii. I love her work so. so much- the texture and warmth of it all really gets to me…it plucks at my watercolor places.
Tony DiTerlizzi? TOTES BEGOTES. That man is a champion- beautiful character design work.
Let’s be real: Sam Bosma has been on an incredible roll lately, and you should probably be following him BIG TIME.
Fabien Mense is my latest Big French Art Crush. His character designs have such life and energy. Love love love it.
Killian Eng blows my mind. I think there’s something pretty powerful and inspiring about his work.
Speaking of which, Man Arenas is a huge inspiration- his compositions and the sensitivity of his work really make my heart ache.
Enrique Fernandez is classic. Just a champion of hand-achingly artful comics work.
I have insanely talented friends, and I want to list so many of the people I know, but if I start I won’t be able to stop and I’ll leave someone out and it will make me feel like the worst. SO those are some of the far-away beautiful art-butterflies I gaze at from my little art-cocoon and wish someday to be nearly as beautiful as. Good ask :D
Dawwwwww- you are the best, anonymous friend. I won’t even pretend you are Emma Stone :p
I have tried to feather my internet-corner with as many pleasant jokes and warm thoughts as possible. The world seems abnormally crappy lately, I think it is the least we can do (we who are lucky enough to have time to waste on tumblr) to be excellent to eachother. What’s the point of all the war and the violence if there’s not something worth defending? Maybe even tumblr could be something worth defending o_o MAYBE?? SOMETIMES?
You know where else is a pleasant corner of the internet? Louie Zong’s corner. Also Miumzoo.
If you need the artistic version of a warm hug- they are some of my very favorites. Accept no substitutes!
Also, HI TUMBLR! I’m cleaning out the ol’ askbox tonight. Come at me, bros.