Barton, G. Don’t Get a Job…Make a Job

These are some of my notes from reading “Don’t Get a Job, Make a Job” by Gem Barton.

Release early and release often. Don’t just rely on a cv to tell your skills, create proof! (p.23)

Your personality is your brand. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself.

Going Mobile

Go to the clients, don’t make them come to you.

“Having a hook that is a perfect match for your business needs as well as a strong brand identity is the ideal situation to put yourself in.”

“…we learn most when we act on our ideas instead of questioning them to death.” –

the Free Architecture stall idea broke down the barrier for having a conversation with architects.

Build your ideas for the world to see so that you become a familiar name. e.g. an architecture student built his masters project inside a bus which he then drove around to present.

Specialism versus Diversity

Be t-shaped.

Tough Calls

Competitions that you entered for well know brands are a good conversation point in interviews. Think of how you are spending your time now . This might prompt a tough decision of what you need to give up in order to pursue what will realistically get you the jobs that you want.

Experience – “work for others in order to understand how the industry works from the inside, how to deal with clients and suppliers, and how to manage a studio in the best way.” (p. 78)

“…always be alert to what surrounds you, work for others before you start your own studio, and be very patient”.

“The results are stronger when you exchange ideas with people. ”

“Build best case scenarios in your imagination”. Write a few fake CVs of possible futures and print them out.

Going it alone vs teaming up

“Hard work and commitment beat almost any other trait” (p.95). Do what you love and trust your instincts – this is common advice but at the end of the day you still need to support yourself. It’s up to yourself to put your name out there.

“Getting a diversity of experience matters, particularly if you’re going solo.” (p.96)

When you’re making a name, don’t think of who you are now, but what you want to become.

Don’t become a hermit. If you’re going it alone then networking outside the studio will be even more important. “Look for arenas to continue critical dialogues to test your ideas”. (p.97)

“Even within a team you need to be individual”

“Do everything yourself at the beginning – book-keeping, meetings, clearing up, building, drawings – it is important that you have an understanding of all aspects of practice as well as the life of the things you design.” (p.105)

“When starting a collective, it is important to set out a shared goal, a mission statement or similar, summarizing who you are, who you want to be, and the ethos behind the work you hope to produce.” (p.107)

“work out who you are and then express that”

“Don’t wait for things to happen – you are the one who can create your opportunities. Draw the art you want to see, create the events you want to attend, write the books you want to read” (Mega, p.121)

“If you have to show your portfolio to someone, highlight your ideas instead of your technical abilities….Get out of your comfort zone”.

Podcasts: Finding Jobs

I Graduated…Now What? GSG Podcast Ep. 93

These guys offer some advice on getting a job after graduation with a design degree.

  • Networking is key. Start networking and visiting studios as a student.
  • Don’t be ‘the best person in the basement’.
  • Go to events and meetups. be active online in forums and slack channels.
  • Make yourself memorable as a specific skill based identity. E.g. when people think of ‘concept artist’ they should think of your name. This is your personal brand. Market and compartmentalise yourself in a crowd.
  • Ask other junior artists how they got their job.
  • Our work is all about trying to catch people’s attention. Apply this to yourself.

Becoming a Better Artist – with Emilie Stabell

  • Do projects in your own time to find what you’re talented at.
  • The first impression in your portfolio decides whether you’re skipped.
  • Why you instead of the other applicants?
  • Cater to the company or find a company that suits your style. Display the skills that they’re looking for. Make your application personal.
  • Soft skills matter a lot in this small industry. There are maybe about 40 character modellers in London VFX.
  • Going in as a concept artist is the hardest role in this industry. Mentally exhausting to come up with new ideas everyday.
  • Storytelling/concept is a muscle that you can train. Be aware of the difference between concept art and production. Get the idea across. You are an idea artist. Use kit bashing. Create a lot of quick ideas.
  • Quantity matters. You need to explore. Create 200, throw them out and create 200 more. You need to push beyond the limits. Quantity makes you go crazy and create mad decisions.
  • Low intensity over 10 years is better than high intensity for a short time. Be analytical and have a critical eye of your weaknesses. Be consistent over a long time with a focused, clear goal. Be the water in the grand canyon. The rewards on hard mode are more rewarding than easy mode. There are stupid limitations like not having undo or save. References and the challenge of not using references. By setting yourself up to fail deliberately you learn more from when you do it again e.g. draw a horse from memory and then look at reference.
  • Get a really shit idea and then critique it until it’s amazing. Don’t just through it away. Finish projects. 
  • Put up your work for critique, don’t be afraid. Fight the words with good art. You are not your work.
  • Your first job is usually your hardest.

Getting Your First Job and Internship as a 3D Artist

  • They both made industry connections through internships which got them their jobs.
  • Tailor your portfolio. Personalise your cover letter.
  • Junior positions are more plentiful than internships.

Killer Portfolio or Portfolio Killer 2018: Advice from Industry Artists

  • Prepare yourself for lots of rejection and don’t be deterred.
  • Get rid of portfolio weeds. Quality over quantity.
  • Stills might be a better format e.g. an artstation portfolio, if you don’t have animation in your reel.
  • There is an advantage in showing a specialist skill plus a complimentary secondary skill.

Animation Development David B. Levy Notes Part 01


Animation Development David B. Levy

This book is a great introduction to the process of creating a pitch bible and the process of pitching to and working with development executives and networks. Two main emphases have been made so far in order for a pitch to be successful:

  • Demonstrate your industry experience as proof of your ability to put a team together to drive your ideas onto the screen.
  • Demonstrate the strength of your ideas with unique characters that drive stories specific to how they react to the world and conflict you put them in (the pitch bible).

I’m aware that my industry experience is relatively small at the moment, with only placement year behind me, but I’ve often read that ‘projects are the new portfolios’. Hopefully by working hard in final year, we can create an outcome which will be proof of our abilities with teamwork, storytelling and production.


Audiobook Notes Chapters 01 – 03:

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9 Easy Ways to Remember Your Presentation Material

I never trust my memory all that well, particularly if verbal communication is involved. Presentations are less terrifying than they used to be but they’re still my least favourite activity. It always helped to hear that content is more important than how you present as a person, within reason I suppose.

9 Easy Ways to Remember Your Presentation Material

  1. Build a memory palace
  2. Use mind maps
  3. Remember the importance of focusing for 8 seconds, uninterrupted.
  4. Use the 20-20-20 rule. Go over the material for 20 minutes and then repeat twice more.
  5. Rehearse out loud.
  6. Record your presentation. Now you have an auditory memory aid as well as a visual one.
  7. Improve your working memory.
  8. Practice to music. I always thought that my addiction to music was a weakness of mine. Maybe there’s more to it.
  9. Practice before bedtime.


How to Study and Improve

Anthony Jones (2014) How to Study:

These are some helpful takeaways from Jones’ video on how to study:

How should you think about study?

Be aware of the differences between studying and copying. Studies can involve things like: colour guessing, value guessing, breaking down the shapes, negative shape study etc.

Start small and work-out in small steps. Train like an athlete. Train all the muscles in unison.

Avoid information overload. Train each area in manageable amounts.

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Anthony Jones’ video Shortcut to become an Amazing Artist (2014) also gives some points to think about. It mostly focuses on the value of hard work which is good to hear about every now and again.

How do I work hard (smartly?)? How will I become an expert?