How To Become a Concept Artist

How To Become a Concept Artist

What is a Concept Artist?
A Concept Artist is a designer who visualises and creates art for characters, creatures, vehicles, environments, and other creative assets. Concept art is used to visualise ideas so that Modellers, Animators and VFX Artists can make these ideas a reality, ready for production.

What is the job?
The role of a Concept Artist involves getting the project started by imagining and sketching characters and worlds that don’t yet exist across film, animation, VFX, video games and advertising. You’ll have to apply imagination and artistic skill to create images of people, creatures, places and moods.

A Concept Artist has the opportunity to work across many areas of visual media, such as animation, comic books, and films. Any project involving a visual story will likely require a Concept Artist. You can choose to specialise in one area of concept art, such as character (producing mainly human characters), creature (illustrating non-human characters) or environmental (creating detailed scenes and worlds).

At the beginning of a project, you will be required to produce work to tight deadlines. You’ll be responsible for creating quick and detailed drawings and paintings of environments, characters, buildings, vehicles and props. You’ll also use traditional and technological approaches to create designs in 2D and 3D through drawing and painting. Other roles and responsibilities include efficiently interpreting briefs, explaining and pitching your ideas clearly to the client and design team, and responding positively to client feedback.

On top of this, part of your role will involve researching topics and information for points of reference and ideas to use in your designs, creating specification sheets, as well as accurately noting dimensions and details for others to follow.

Key Skills

  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to meet tight deadlines
  • An impeccable understanding of, and ability in, artistic fundamentals
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Ability to work well in a team, as well as being able to work independently
  • Good resilience when receiving constant feedback on your work
  • Research skills

Salary & Working Hours
The starting salaries for an entry level Concept Artist or Junior Concept Artist are between £17,000 and £20,000. From here, experienced Concept Artists can earn anywhere from £24,000 to £30,000. Once you’ve gained ten years experience or more, salaries can reach up to and above £37,000. You can also work as freelance, and rates would be around £14 per hour initially.

The working hours for a Concept Artist are most commonly full-time. You’ll likely be offered flexible working hours, or time off in lieu, to support the creative process. Due to flexible working hours being available, paid overtime isn’t usually offered. Part-time work is possible but this would likely be through freelancing. This will involve you picking contracts and jobs that suit your availability.

How To Become a Concept Artist
To become a Concept Artist, there is no formal entry route and it’s a role you can acquire without first obtaining a degree. However, something that is vital is having a portfolio which showcases your work, as this will be the main thing potential employers look at.

If you wish to obtain a degree before entering this career, an artistic subject will help you demonstrate an understanding of key design principles and fundamental art skills. This will give you a significant advantage. Degrees in relevant fields such as fine art, illustration, animation, graphic design and games design could all be useful. In addition to this, it is a good idea to learn the basics of creative software, as there will be heavy use of this in your role.

Gaining any experience you can will be highly important when entering this field. On top of this, building good industry contacts and having a strong portfolio are all of equal importance.

If you’re interested in becoming a Concept Artist, take a look at this video which will give you some top tips on how to get there:

Where Can It Take You?
For most Concept Artists, the career will begin in an entry-level creative position. Once you’ve worked in this position and gained some experience, you can expect to be promoted fairly quickly if you show potential. Promotion at this point will usually be into a Junior Concept Artist role, or a role involving some concept art work.

From here, you’ll have the opportunity to continue building your industry knowledge, skills, portfolio and contacts. This will enable you to move into freelance work if you wish, or move into a role involving more responsibility. At this point, you can choose to remain at this stage, and gain more experience and a higher reputation, which will allow you to gain more high-profile and larger projects, or you may choose to move into other areas of pre-production and post-production.

Another form of career progression could be seeking Lead or Senior Concept Artist roles, which will include a range of leadership and management responsibilities. To do this, you will need around seven to ten years’ experience.

Latest Concept Artist Jobs

Become a Concept Artist
If you are ready for the next step in your career, why not take a look at the latest Concept Artist vacancies on our jobs board? You can view our latest Concept Artist vacancies here.