Are you looking for your studio dream job?
Breaking down into 7 basic rules, I want to go in-depth on the mindset and behaviors needed to land your dream job in a studio. Although there are no shortcuts to finding great jobs, there are certain principles that apply to your journey.
A lot of this is anecdotal to me, to my experiences of working in different studios and agencies environments but also having interviewed more than 100 students, artists, and animators. Having interviewed a lot of artists in studios and freelancing, who have their dream jobs, I’m amazed at the commonality of how they landed these jobs and what aspects made the difference.
1. The artist’s work must be good
The best restaurants hire the best chefs and the best studios hire the most competent, passionate and talented artists.
If your dish is no good as a chef, you’re not getting the job. If your portfolio is no good as an artist, you’re not getting the job.
Communicating an idea through images and animations isn’t enough to declare that a piece of work is good. You shouldn’t have just an average portfolio, you should aim at having the best pieces possible to show in your portfolio.
2. The artist must be easy to work with
Making client work is hard enough without diva-artists adding to the complication. Being “easy to work with” is more than just not throwing garbage around the office and cursing everyone out.
Being easy to work with means you’re not going to add problem and drama where none should exist. Studios want people who bring solutions, not who bring problems. It’s something important for your employer and teammates that you are actively seeking to solve problems instead of creating them.
A couple of examples:
Rough round of feedback? No problem, that’s all part of the gig. Sometimes we receive changes from the client and that’s all part of the business.
Not happy with your role on the team? No problem, you’ll come to your boss with transparency and authenticity instead of holding it in and giving a half-assed effort because deep down you’re not happy. How you deal with adversity is also important for how good you are with people.
Being easy to work with, is not easy unto itself. It takes a mindset that you will show up each day with a positive attitude, ready to work and understanding of the pressures on your leadership team and peers.
3. The studio must know you exist
You need to find a way to be able to meet this rule. It’s gonna be hard for your dream studio to hire you if they’ve never heard of you. Getting on their radar is essential if you have any hope of being considered. It’s obvious to say it but after having talked to a lot of students, it’s worth establishing it here.
If you have any hope of being considered by your dream studio, you have to be on their radar one way or another.
Fortunately, adhering to this rule is easier than ever. Most studios have proper channels you can work through. Vimeo, Facebook Page, Website, Email, Linkedin…
You can use your creativity to make a social media splash.
Bee Grandinetti created a short film asking to be an intern at Giant Ant.
Her portfolio is good (rule one is checked), so this move to get on their radar was brilliant. She ended up being contacted and offered an internship at Giant Ant.
Unfortunately, she didn’t get a working visa with Canada to make it work. The team members at Giant Ant were really excited about the possibility of bringing this person in even they didn’t know who she was.
Sometimes, a love letter (in the form of animation) isn’t a crazy idea. If the portfolio is there, maybe a creative way of getting on their radar is a good solution.
4. The studio must have a need
Sometimes your dream studio isn’t just hiring. So it stands to reason that if you want a job there, it’s important that they actually need more billable hours in their shop.
Research the studio, search their job listings or send an introductory email with your portfolio and find out what their business needs are.
If they aren’t’ hiring right now, don’t panic and certainly don’t burn any bridges. When they have a need, you’ll want to be someone who they have good feelings about.
5. The artist must be realistic about money and work
Supply and demand is a hell of a thing. Although we’d all like to make $500k a year as a Netflix critic, sadly that is not likely.
Many artists would love to make $100k a year as a motion designer but many studios, and markets, simply cannot bear that cost. We have to be realistic.
Living in Kansas City, and working at a studio probably means you’ll make somewhere on the order of $35K-$70K for a fulltime position that demands at least 40 hours a week.
Living in San Fransisco, and working at a large tech company on their internal design team, might yield $80K-$160K for a fulltime position.
Of course, depending on the city’s cost of living, these numbers can fluctuate.
It’s important that you should be aware of that context, understand the market you’re in, what type of business we are talking about.
I’ll encourage you to watch some videos on Chris Do’s Youtube channel to learn more about how to grow your career and freelancing.
One struggle that Chris Do share about salaries is that large tech firms like Facebook or Apple sometimes pay more their interns than he can afford to pay his senior designers. Even though his design studio, Blind, is an award-winning, very successful studio.
6. The artist has a growth mindset
This rule doesn’t always take effect at the start of the relationship, but it inevitably comes true given time. Artists may be able to fake out their employer for a bit, but eventually, this reveals itself.
If you want to keep your dream studio gig, you must have a growth mindset. Which basically means you understand that you will, and must, learn new things in your role.
I highly recommend having a growth mindset. Over time you’re gonna have to get better. Whatever skill you’re walking the door with, if you’re not better a year from now, two years from now, you have a big problem.
Hopefully, here at MoGraph Mentor, we have a selection of on-demand workshops that can help you keep your skills up to standards. Make sure to check out our workshops if you haven’t done it before.
7. The artist doesn’t feel entitled to the job
Last rule and it is subtle but I stand by its accuracy.
You don’t grab the money with one hand and stick the other hand now and say “Now, what else do you have for me?”.
Entitlement oozes off of people and it’s not terribly hard to spot as a creative director looking to make a hire. It is most obvious, not for what entitlement displays, but for what it doesn’t display, which is gratefulness.
A grateful soul is immediately comforting to those around. You want to be around people that have a grateful disposition and not an entitled disposition.
Why gratefulness is an advantage you would ask.
A grateful attitude makes it clear to your potential employer that you won’t show up on day one with a long list of expectations, adding more pressure and stress to the team environment.
The entitled artist will work slowly, spend too much time on his phone and display their sense of over importance in a million little ways.
The grateful artist will work quickly and efficiently (understanding they are replaceable), make sure that their office hours are devoted to office work (not social media) and be open to poignant critique without having a hissy fit.
The entitled artist mopes while grateful artist brings energy and positivity. The entitled artist complains while the grateful artist brings positivity to those around them.
The entitled artist waits for their boss to thank them, while the grateful artist reaches out with, “I’m grateful for this opportunity to work and show you what I can do”.
Some of this is anecdotal. I have worked with a lot of sub-contractors, and the people who are grateful for their position, they work hard, they empathize with your situation. They will make sure that they don’t put their teammates or employer in a bad position regarding their clients.
Landing your dream studio gig relies on a series of factors.
First and foremost, the work must be of high quality and in line with the work of that studio.
The studio must have a need and you must work to get on their radar.
After the quality of work is established, most of this depends on your emotional intelligence. Your people skills will matter a lot in the process of landing a fulltime job.
So do your best to exhibit a positive and grateful spirit to let your future employer or client know that you are not there to add to their problems, but to help solve them.