CG Career Feasibility

I need a career change. Mostly, I need to get out of the job I am in and CG is something that interests me. What I’d like to ask is whether its feasible to try to pursue CG as an actual way to make a living. Not whether people some people do it because, well, Pixar exists so of course some do, but rather whether its a reasonable path to try to make a decent living or something that should remain a hobby.

EDIT: also, if this is the wrong section, I apologize.

It’s very difficult to make it a career. You can pick up some side jobs, but I certainly wouldn’t quit your day job.

There are a lot of people out there, just like you. The market is pretty saturated.

My advice is to try to add some CG work on the side while maintaining your current paycheck. Once you’ve been doing it for a while and you have a portfolio together, you might be able to consider making it a bigger part of your income, but that will be driven by the work that you get.

If you are serious about this, consider specializing in a particular field. For example, architectural rendering, visual effects, character animation, or medical illustration, etc. In many cases you would have to go back to school to get a solid background, unless your portfolio is outstanding.

It is also possible to land a job IF and only WHEN your work is absolutely outstanding and is on par with the best in the industry.

Or just start doing some side jobs, just as SterlingRoth mentioned.

Do not expect great pay - it depends a bit, but visual effects artists, animators, and modelers don’t earn that much. More importantly, depending on where you work, the CG industry can be abysmally bad in regards to working hours and pay. An example: an acquaintance of mine used to work as an animator: lots of hours per week and low pay. He hardly spent time with his family, and was exhausted when he did find some time. He switched to home painting as a job, and earned twice as much, and had a relaxed work schedule, and could spend the weekends and evenings with his family.

Working in CG is often glorified by those who do not work in the field. Do not make the same mistake, and talk to people who actually work in the industry.

How are your drawing/drafting skills? Do you paint, or what is your current experience in 3d work? I saw some samples of your work here on BlenderArtists, and so far it is all quite simple work. What type of CG work do you have in mind?

Is a career in computer graphics feasible? Absolutely.

I might suggest that the chances of earning a higher income and benefits increase as you look for CG jobs further away from the entertainment industries.

What other industries do you have in mind beside entertainment ?

i’m barely mediocre and fully recognize that. Mostly I am attempting to think ahead a bit. Basically, is this something I should consider as a viable option and seriously consider dumping alot of time into; or will that also get me nowhere and I should be looking elsewhere for something with long term viability. Based on other threads I have read and the few comments here, I think I have my answer.

The car industry pays pretty decently and the advertising industry isn’t bad either. At least in Germany.
The car industry can be rather boring because you are payed to handle massive and therefore very sluggish sets of data while your creative freddom is somewhere below zero. On the other hand you earn decently and help producing useful things.

The advertising industry is fun because you get to do a lot of short, diverse projects. The negative side is that you basically create shit (advertisment) that annoys people and helps selling them crap they don’t need.

I don’t think so. If it’s not something you really want to do anyway, I would advise against it.

If you must look at it negatively like that, most jobs are about selling goods and services that people don’t really need. Then there’s the infrastructure around making those sales. Another big part is a health industry that extends the ineffectual lives of the people that are supposed to purchase those goods and services. To top it off, there’s a sprawling bureaucracy that regulates all these rather pointless enterprises in an increasingly kafkaesque fashion.

If you just try not to look for self-fulfillment in your job, you may find it elsewhere.

We have to turn the world around and place the art in first place and not money/bureaucracy.

The bad thing about advertisment isnt so much that you can push things people dont need onto people but that you can push shit people dont need onto people. You dont need most things but a lot of things are useful and be it “only” for entertainment purposes. However, advertisment makes it fairly easy to sell outright crap my means of false or at least unrealistic implications.
Also, advertisments are annoying.

Well most people don’t like advertising.

Thing is, a lot of the world’s entertainment (y’know that sweet stuff that either enriches our lives or more likely helps us temporarily forget our lives) wouldn’t exist without advertising. It actually pays for it.

The OP has said he would like to be a working CG artist, not an “I’m like totally above crude commerce” elitist.

A relative few trained and able artists actually get paid to do CG work. Even fewer may get to do stuff they choose or doesn’t compromise their artistic integrity.

So if you actually want real work, you may not get to be so picky.

You sound a bit disheartened but you shouldn’t necessarily give up. It’s true that art ability is valuable but technical skill can be useful too. If your serious about getting CG work then be prepared to work hard. Get skills, get a good portfolio and get out there. Expect competition for full time jobs/freelance.

If you’re looking for an easy ride, you should probably look elsewhere but anything’s possible with the right combination of assets. Good luck whatever you want to do.

Oh, I wasnt stating that one shouldnt go into advertisment. In fact rather large chunk of my income is from advertisment. The user Soul asked for possible industries relevant to CG-Artists besides entertainment industries and I gave two examples along with what I consider to be their main positive and negative attributes.

Just from the top of my head:

  • Automotive design
  • Architectural visualization
  • Industrial design/visualization
  • Television advertising
  • Medical illustration
  • Instructional video
  • Event/conference AV production

And that’s not an exhaustive list. There’s plenty more that I haven’t thought of. We’re getting to a point where there are quite a few industry sectors (especially ones that involve technology) have positions that make use of computer graphics training. There are many that wouldn’t be obvious at first glance. It just takes some looking.

Disheartened? thats a bit of an understatement honestly. Wont bore you with the details on job stuff. Suffice to say, I am not one that gets taken seriously by anyone, in general, about anything, so anything that isnt at least moderately feasible is basically a non starter for me. Its not that I dont enjoy working with blender, its also not that I dont think I could do it or excel at it, but anything that constantly relies on other people thinking the same thing (continually getting individual freelance jobs) just goes no where.

Problem with technical areas is they usually have people in-house for this, most likely a full-time technical designer/engineer who does the visualization work when it comes up since they already do it as a hobby. They’ll have all the specialized knowledge of both the industry and project at-hand as well as being covered by any NDA’s. The latter gets very important when dealing with a client that’s finicky with their IP - sending items to a third-party company (let alone an individual) is increasingly unacceptable.

This assumes that you’re freelancing. The question was about a career change. That means it’s completely within the realm of possibility that you be the person on staff doing this work.

Companies in technical areas do hire freelancers. Furthermore they hire studios which then hire freelancers. Some wont send out sensitive data to freelancers but often you can work on site.
I have never seen a visualisation by a larger company that was done by a technical engineer because visualisation is his hobby. Have you ever seen a car advertisment that looks like it has been done by a hobbyist?

from what i heard from people on artstation, is that if you do get your skills to a high professional level, it is not hard to get a job. So it’s up to the person whether they can do that.
But it will probably take a while. Ideally you will want to save some money on the side to put some back in some products that will help you meet your goals faster as well. That is one of my issues. I know if I had money and could buy a few things it would speed up my progress.
Anyway, I think it’s feasible. But in general changing jobs after college is a hard thing in general. I love 3d work, and art in general, and so I try to put in as much time as I can and hope I can get there. I wish you the best of luck.

I think the more pertinent question is, “How do you know that advertisement/graphic/etc. was done by a dedicated artist and not a technical designer?”.

I’ve seen more than a few done by users of Revit, SmartPlant, and other programs. Not always the highest spit-and-polish finish you’d get from a studio of professionals, but some are very good. Not to say that freelancers or outside studios are not used at all anywhere; but when the graphics side is a very small portion of the overall business it just makes more sense to utilize people who are already in-place.

Hi everybody,
I can tell you about my experiences regarding two of those industries, since I work in them: industrial design and to some lesser extend automotive design.

While those fields “traditionally” DO employ specialists for rendering the trend is rapidly moving away from that. Very few industrial design houses still employ a specific “render and CG guy”. Nowadays rendering is a skill that the designers just do themselves (just like CAD-modelling, something that was exclusively done by specialists just 15 years ago, nowadays designers just do it themselves. Only areas where really really high quality class A modelling is required they still employ surface specialists, like for example for car exteriors).

At this point it is simply expected of every designer to render their own work and therefore a supplementary skill. This is mostly fueled by software like Keyshot that focuses on usability and a dead simple user interface. And it works. Everybody who isn’t an idiot can learn to render decently in Keyshot within a week or so. Keyshot will do most of the heavy lifting and takes you 90% where you need to go. In most cases that is already more than good enough. Also look at Vray and their latest Rhino-release and how they streamlined the process of rendering. The reason is simple: in industrial and automotive design Keyshot is eating every bodies lunch right now - usability trumps features.

A developement that won’t stop there but will seep into other industries as well. So to everybody who is looking to work in any sort of pure CG-job should ask him or herself the question: What else apart from pure software mastery do I have to offer? Being good at plugging a lot of complicated node setups into each other is a skillset that is going away, if a designer or engineer can do most of your job himself by simply offering him an easy enough to use software you are in a bad spot.

So what can you REALLY do with your software that can’t be automated by a better user interface or a clever preset? The only way to survive with CG in the future will be either to specialize (and I mean REALLY specialize) or to choose a career as someone who does rendering as a supplementary thing on the side like industrial design or design engineering.