Are there Jobs for Artists in SA?

Hi there I'm a 3D artist and i have been working in a advertisement studio for about 2 year. i have taught myself unreal engine and unity. Been thinking about jumping in to the game industry since i started 3D. i was wondering is there jobs for artists in South Africa, I know there is lots of game companies out there but a lot of them are really small and cant really hire people. Is the game industry growing... if there is jobs out there what do you think they would like to see(Full Levels , small Areas, Open world, props) and in that engine? If you guys have any ideas of the best way to get started i would be really grateful. thanks a lot
Thanked by 1JamesRay


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    We were chatting about this at the most recent Cape Town meetup (a little bit).

    Currently there are about 500 people employed in the South African games industry, which is pretty small, like you say.

    The industry is growing. At the last Cape Town meetup the figure that was floated, based on IESA survey results, was something like 50% year on year growth.

    That seems a bit high to me, but certainly our company is growing slowly (we've hired two 3D artists this year).

    About 90% of the companies in South Africa work in Unity (based on the IESA survey results).

    I can only speak for ourselves as to what we're looking for.

    - The most important thing we're looking for from a 3D artist is that we can foresee a way to use their aesthetic in our games. This will be different from company to company. Check out what South African companies are doing and consider building a portfolio that might be useful to the companies that you think you'd like to work at. We want to hire artists that will be useful to us, but also artists that will enjoy making the things we need them to, and the most obvious indication of that is that they're making work we can use in their own time.

    - Whole scenes (like small areas) impress me a LOT more than isolated characters or isolated props. I want to see that the artist can create a consistent world for a player to be immersed in. Our projects are too small to hire a specialist character artist and a specialist environment painter AND a specialist art director to get the other two to understand each other. We want to hire artists that can take a lot of responsibility and need little oversight, so we need artists with a holistic understanding of 3D worlds.

    - Showing enthusiasm for making games goes a long way. Like participating at game jams, like teaming up on small projects on the forums. It's much more convincing seeing art in a game under all the constraints that making a game entails than seeing a render presented for PolyCount.

    - Showing technical work in Unity is a plus. Artists who can integrate their own work in Unity add less work onto the programmer, and also are a lot more empowered to make decisions on the project.

    - Showing passion for making indie games is a plus. PolyCount is full of artists passionate about working at Blizzard or Riot. Our company is not Blizzard nor Riot, neither is almost all of the South African games industry. We want to work with people who are passionate about making the type of games that we are making.

    - Seeing an artist participate at game jams and on these forums gives me an idea of how fast an artist is learning, and the ability to learn new things is a plus.

    Also, come to meetups and game jams and meet us. And then you can ask these questions in person :)

    I may be giving the impression I think PolyCount is rubbish (and by extension all the other communities like it, like CGSociety, Artstation etc). It's not that these places are rubbish, it's that the way to get attention in these places isn't the way to become a more useful artist to a indie studio (like for instance PolyCount heavily favours presenting a character floating on its own, an exercise which doesn't teach artists to think about how entire scenes are put together and are made harmonious).

    And a lot of the artists who participate at PolyCount will work at indie studios, and they'll be pushing the games they're working in perverse directions, because they learnt to push in those directions in order to succeed at PolyCount (or CGSociety etc).

    At least that's how I see it.

    Hope this information helps!!
  • Thanks for the information, very helpful, ya so my end game is to be able to make a game fully myself. i love indie companies (Im the Definition of Jack of all trades but a master of none). I find my biggest flaw is i don't really getting out there to meeting, chatting and face to face game jams. I enjoy just working on own projects, and learning a little to much. Interaction with people in the industry can only be beneficial.

    most of my interactions are internet based though like Artstation and CGSociety.

    Thanks for the information will focus more on unity and posting work.
    Thanked by 1EvanGreenwood
  • Thank you, Really great and insightful answer. It is really useful to know what the guys who provide jobs in this field like to see in specific. Its really hard to decide on what to build your portfolio on when its obvious that our local studios have very different needs to studios elsewhere in the world.
  • Adding to what @EvanGreenwood said. Optimization is king, if you can find an artist who knows how to optimize and work within an engine, then it offloads lot of work for a programmer. As you can see on attached snaps below, the artist is building the world and I focus on making the game logic and AI outside the game. This makes things extremely easy for both of us because we can work separately and test on a third machine.
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    Thanked by 1EvanGreenwood
  • As a supplement to the above: if you're someone who likes to make AAA-looking art, or make things that would trend on ArtStation, or make the Polycount recap, etc., there's certainly space for that in South Africa too -- you don't have to leave the country if "indie-like" art isn't something you're interested in.

    In particular, Balisti (Triggerfish's games division) offers art outsourcing services, typically to AAA game studios in the US and Europe. Last I heard, they had around 10 artists working there. There's also a satellite branch of ex-Luma Arcade artists in Randburg, where they also do a bunch of outsource work, with something like 10 artists there too. There are also a couple of freelance artists who float around, whether it's between those two studios, or work remotely for other overseas outsourcing studios like Atomhawk.

    Since those places typically have more artists, when they're hiring another one they're generally looking for a specific role to fill, so that what they're looking for would be tailored to that. Broadly, it's typically some combination of (1) actually being a good artist (i.e. strong art foundations and visual storytelling, not just slapping textures on models and calling it done), and (2) being a good game artist (i.e. evidence that you can specifically make optimized art, like wireframes, game-res meshes, well-packed UVs, clean bakes, and presentation in an actual game engine using the limited abilities of game materials rather than renders from VRay/Arnold/whatever). (More info on the Polycount wiki.)

    Whether or not this path is actually desirable, though, is obviously very individual. The work becomes much more like a pipeline, where you constantly have to churn out assets on fairly tight deadlines, and just do what an art director tells you. Your work necessarily has to look like the established art direction elsewhere in the product, and there's little creative wiggle-room, but you get to work on fancy-looking things.
  • optimising is the real challenge, that effects everything, even down to the download size, but i think it will get easier as things get more powerful and tools get a lot better.

    its very important because even now i can build a level and get it to look the way it should, but the optimising. I would suffer at, because i don't deal with that in the same why at my job.
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