Kaitlin Moon asked: "It would be awesome to hear about how you got started as an artist and things you learned as a professional artist about working with clients and marketing yourself."
This is a resume about how I got started (and how it went until now):
At 19 years old, I had my "applied arts" diploma (BAC Arts Appliqués), it is like a high school degree, but more related to art history and design. Then I started studiing at Emile Cohl Art School (Lyon - France), where I learnt academic arts; sculpture, traditional painting, drawing, anatomy, comics and animation basics... It was a private school but fortunately my parents were able to afford it. The program was tough, sometimes quite repetitive and boring, but nothing else could replace how much -and how fast- I learnt there.
After two years spent there, during the summer vacations, my cousin who was a programmer in a video game company, introduced me to the art director, to get a two months training (at WSG, in Lyon - France). They taught me the basics of 3D in Maya; it was a super condensed formation so quite hard since I've never practiced 3D before. My goal at that time was quitting school as soon as possible because I was convinced of learning faster directly in a company, and I was super motivated to work for games.
When the training ended, they proposed me a job as a 3D environment artist. So I didn't go back to school, I did miss the last 2 years program and I didn't get any degree. In 2004, I was happy to be independent and to be able to learn at work, even if the first year was mostly in 3D. I was doing digital illustrations during almost all my early mornings, lunch breaks and evenings, to compensate the fact that I couldn't draw for work. I was used to post and have feedback on the CFSL forum, a second friendly school somehow.
Then I have been freelance, and employee again, at Gameloft thanks to another friend (met through the CFSL community). I switched from employee to freelancer several times... I did pixel art, UI, resizing images for mobile games... it wasn't fun all the time but I learnt about the mainstream and popular trends in mobile games. That had affected my art in a good way since I had the bad habit of doing only dark unaccessible subjects. It has kept evolving since then.
During and after 2008 was a difficult period of time with the economic crisis. Not much work, late payments from some clients, the interesting commissions were rare; I was loosing confidence in my work, and myself. I was participating in exhibitions but it didn't bring much money. Of course I enjoyed creating personal illustrations, but I had to pay my rent, so working with galleries wasn't enough. At some point, art commissions for games (and MTG cards) came back slowly.
In 2010 I had the opportunity to work at Gameloft Montreal, so I decided to move in Canada (I had something with this country since I was little, partly because of the X-Files series_I know it was filmed in the west coast, but still, it is the same continent!). After 2 years in that company, I get my permanent residency so I decided to go back freelance again, for games projects but also for shows (Cirque du Soleil), It was time for a career change.
The transit year was difficult because I didn't know anybody in this field. I felt basically like I was 10 years ago when I started in video games. Thanks to some contacts and friends in the same area, I finally ended up at 4U2C in 2014 as designer, lead and art director. I recently moved to Moment Factory to have a different experience in a new team.
All that being said, the most helpful things that allowed me to get jobs and art commissions are:
- Being active in a (online or not) community to start, where I met a lot of great people, friends, future clients, future opportunities,
- The world of mouth in the industries,
- The fact that we can easily showcase our work online,
- Being open for new opportunities and challenges,
- And of course being passionate to work for myself: to keep practicing and learning, anything.
The thing I'm currently learning is that it is never too late to make a career change; it can be scary but also really exciting.
Amélie Hutt and Kaitlin Moon asked: "Do you have any advice about marketing and to find clients?"
Answers here: Marketing and Clients