( Note that this originally appeared on Shenandoahs site. I am not looking for artists now though some may still find this valuable – what an Art director is looking for and needs when he looks at your site … yes I know … do as I say .. not as I do )

We’ve recently been looking for an artist to take up a leading role in the Philadelphia office and we’ve had a lot of interest from some amazing talent. But, as someone who’s trying to gather information and portfolios from these applicants and make informed decisions on their suitability for the role there’s a number of recurring issues I thought I’d point to that might help other job hunters.


1. Flash based websites/folios .. NO NO NO. Unless you provide a means for downloading your images

Firstly, we’re currently an iOS focused company. We regularly use our iPad/iPhones to browse the net and answer emails but Flash doesn’t run on iOS devices.

Secondly, while I’m scanning dozens and dozens of resumes and portfolios, I need to be able to make collections of the most representative/memorable/best art with the resume so I can refer back to it or share it with the team without having to go and find a website and click through some slide show. With a Flash site you become memorable simply for having no representative work in your folder. Yes I could do a screen shot but unless you’re exceptional I usually won’t. (And if I’m on the iPad I can’t)


2. Quality of work.

I’m only interested in what you consider your best work. If you just have a portfolio of random images of wildly varying quality (especially with no written explanations) then you will be judged on your worst piece simply because YOU have judged it a good enough representation of your skills to be worthy of a place in your folio. YOU are saying THIS is how good I am. It’s better to have fewer good works than have some that drag the rest down.

Oh and I never thought I’d have to say it but … you are an artist. No portfolio. No job. The simpler and more accessible the better, divided into skills.

Unless I’m looking for a General Artist I’ll have a certain skillset in mind; illustration, graphic design, sculpting, modelling, texturing etc.. I’ll want to go to that first and if that matches my needs then I’ll browse round to see what else you bring to the mix. If I have to hunt around trying to find what I want initially .. well its not the end of the world but if yours is the 20th folio I’ve looked through, it’s late on a Friday afternoon after a long week … you want to make it as easy for me as possible.


3. Order of work

If you’re dating your work, make sure its laid out in date order. Don’t mix it up. I want to easily see what kind of work you are doing now and at what level. I don’t want the first image I see to be a pencil sketch from 1998 of your auntie’s cat.


4. Collaborative Work

More often than not projects require teams and screen shots may well contain the work of multiple artists. Make it absolutely explicit what you did either in a written explanation or by editing the image to highlight your work.


5. Covering Letter

Most job descriptions will have a list of requirements. Your covering letter is your chance to explain how you fulfill those requirements and what extra skills you bring to the table; to explain why you are THE person for the job. Tailor each one to each application. For an artist position, being a programmer too isn’t really that important unless its Python or HTML5/CSS which are often of benefit to the art dept. In fact giving too many disparate skills can, on occasion, work against you.

It’s also a good idea to run it through a spell check. Now I’m not one to criticise as my writing skills are almost as bad as my mental arithmetic so I try not to judge but really .. after your portfolio this is the second impression you make. Make it a good one.


6. Resume

Now this will not be the case for all jobs but what I’m looking for in a resume/CV is facts. A complete employment history. A brief list of your responsibilities at each company. Maybe a line giving your greatest achievement or the biggest lesson you took away. Particularly if you can relate this to the job you’re applying for.

I really need to see a list of your skills and experience levels with different software. Simply listing that you can use 3DSMax is meaningless. Quantify it somehow and your portfolio should reinforce this. Saying you’re an expert with Illustrator but having no examples to justify this claim does not look good. Don’t forget to include your email address and website URL.


7. Applying via an Industry Website

If the website gives you fields to fill in with your name and other information, fill them in. Don’t leave them blank. Especially your name.


8. Research the Company

We’re an iOS development studio, currently making 2D wargames. The ability to create large scale high quality 2D game boards/maps is really pretty important. Likewise the ability to create interfaces, buttons etc. are an important skill. So a portfolio that shows none of that but is full of astoundingly beautiful and technically perfect 3D modelling and texturing, UV’s to die for, luscious Unity, UDK or CryEngine environments or stunningly sculptured and shaded characters in Marmoset … really won’t do you much good. It’s not what we do.

We have no plans to do cartoony/casual style graphics.

We have no plans to do fully 3D games.

We won’t be making first person shooters, temple run clones, or anything similar.

Telling us your objective is to work for the best VFX company or want to work on the next AAA blockbuster won’t do much good either. We make niche games for a niche market.

Our company goal is to bring traditional boardgames to handheld devices and that includes much of the aesthetic. If you haven’t already done something similar then spend a little time to work something up. Go onto the BoardGameGeek, find a suitable map/board and either reproduce it to show you have the base technical skills or create your own version, showing your technical, artistic and design skills.

And we’re small. If you’re used to your own team of tools programmers, swarms of juniors to do your bidding, a fully stocked mini-bar or a renderfarm the size of a small country .. I’d suggest you lower your expectations.



Anyway, all jokes aside, I hope this has been useful and may help you get the job you actually want. Maybe even with us.


(Note: Originally Published on the Shenandoah Studio Blog)