Monday, April 16, 2012

5 Tips To Breaking Into The Art Dept

You've taken courses, worked for free, now you want to get paid. I am often asked how one goes about breaking in to the Art Department. Having been in both positions, Art Department Assistant looking to get in, and later as Art Director recruiting newbies during a feast season, I compiled a list of steps that you can make that really make a difference.

1. Have a Trade. Your Art Dept choices are Graphic Design or Set Design. Illustrators are moving into the Pre-Vis department. If you are an Illustrator, maybe check out the VFX industry. Its booming. If you have a trade, you will be indispensable to the Art Department when there is task overload; as a bonus you will get opportunities to add work to your Portfolio. Its OK to say you want to be a Production Designer or Art Director one day and your Trade is that you are indispensable on the internet and with Art Department organization.
Be clear. What do you eventually want to spend 12 hours a day doing? A Career as  Graphic Designer or a Set Designer can be an extremely challenging, yet hugely rewarding career. Follow your Dreams.

2. Own the Kit. Be Professional. You need a cell, a car, a camera, a computer, programs, printer, scanner. You need weather gear and sometimes a drafting board and your own chair. If you've got a Cricut papercutter or any other useful novelties, they will only help you be more useful.

3. Have a neat portfolio showing Art that is related to what it is you want to do. Make it a reasonable size. Often interviews take place in restaurant booths or trailers. Show what interests you. If you want to be a Graphic Designer but all you have is stuff you did behind closed doors, show it. You don't need to be an Art Superhero to make a really good and successful career in the Art Department. You need to be able to 'pump it out'.

4. Put it out there. Make a nice neat resume package and advertise yourself online. Fax your resume to current productions. I cannot emphasize this one enough. In our day and age of internet and social networking, the fax remains effective. You may not be in the Social Network where the jobs are advertised or referred. By faxing, your resume lands in the inbox in the Art Department. It gets physically handled. Now there's a chance it will get filed, or at least noted. Also, during the Production, sometimes they suddenly need extra help because it went crazy. If your happy resume is in someone's inbox, you are an instant source of help available. Its a powerful tool if you get the timing right. Keep faxing. You can locate Production Office Fax numbers on Film Comission lists.

5. Don't give up, and don't ignore other Departmental opportunities. Sometimes its easier to get your foot in the door through a less competitive department, where you are still working within the area of your goals. By working in the Paint Department, a Graphic Designer can become involved with Signage, which builds their portfolio, and connects them to key players in the Industry. Likewise, a Set Designer can make great headway as a Carpenter, gaining firsthand knowledge on how the Set is really built, giving them a leading edge when they make a break into the Art Department.

Last but not least, If you do get the interview, just remember. Get get the job, or be remembered.

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