Am i a Tech Artist? Carreer focus doubts

Hy people,
I have 6 years of experience with cg and unity. I started as a 3d generalist artist, then learnt unity and now i’m kind of a game generalist. I do 3d modelling, animation, rigging, concept art, implementation, animator trees, level design, nodes programming…

So in my latest jobs i kind of did a bit of each part, most of the time i help the animators to export, setup and make animations ready in the engine, fiz mesh problems, fix simple animatios. In my last jobs i was contracted as a Technical Artist. But now that my contracts are ending and as i started to search for new jobs i’m having difficulties to find the right roles to apply. I’m thinking that i m not the right fit for a tech art position and more a generalist artist. With that i started to search for an area where i would be happy in specialyze.

So i’m seeking some advices or tips. I’m not a tools creator, i think my biggest experience and skills are related to engine, implementation and animations, props and system setups. There are demmand for this kind of stuff in the tech art area? Am i searching an area that is not comaptible with my skills? I have a lot of doubts now, here in Brazil the game industry is very small and if i want to get international opportuities i need to setup my focus and goals the sooner i can. So what do you think about that? Do you guys have any tips or advices for me?

I’d say that the confusion, at least, is pretty normal: every tech artist I know has logged a lot of hours on the question “what is a tech artist?”

We really don’t occupy a single neatly defined box --we cover a part of the specturm which connects “artist who is fairly technical” with “programmer” but there is a lot of room in that range ; some of us are engineers in all but name and others are artists who specialize in highly abstract, demanding kinds of content that most artists shy away from. Others of us are all-around production support people who do whatever it takes to finish off a product – that could be anything from database work to education to setting up a mocap studio or auditing assets for performance.

The work you have been doing certainly sounds like work that a lot of people whose business cards read “tech artist” do. You will need to be careful when applying for more TA work in the future to understand what different potential jobs require: three companies advertising “tech artist” jobs can easily have three completely different people in mind. You’ll want to pay close attention to the language in job ads and to do extra research to find a good fit – but you can be sure that the kind of work you’ve been doing fits at least some of the many competing definitions of “tech artist”.

The real dividing line is going to be based on how the hiring manager is trying to fit you in. Basically if the most important aspect of the hire is your portfolio, it’s an artist job; if the most important part is the ways you have contributed to making a production successful (supporting colleagues, fixing problems, or making the team more productive) it’s a tech artist job. There’s no rule that says you can’t have separate resumes or CV’s for art and tech-art jobs – many of us (myself included) have done both job at different times. When applying for either job, skills from the other job are a plus – but you want to tailor your application to the job on offer (you might find this article helpful).

You will probably have a somewhat easier time in a techart job search if you also learn some scripting; you don’t have to be a full-blown C++ programmer but a lot of techart jobs are easier to get if you can honestly say you are able to work in Python (or to a lesser degree MaxScript or MEL) .

When working in an area with a limited game industry you should also remember to check related fields: video and film production and also educational software that uses game engines (Unity experience is a big help there). That helps to give you a few more opportunities in fields where the same skills and experience are relevant if there are not a lot of companies close to home,


Thank you for a so complete answer. I have some basic C# knowledge but i foud that learn python is a great plus and required in a lot of jobs so i’m starting to learn. Thanks

While I am late I thought I would still my 2 cents into the pile.

As was mentioned before, and now you are encountering, Tech Artist means a lot of things to different people. I am no different. But being a tech artist is about attitude, “Are you willing to do WHATEVER it takes to get the art in the game or deliver the art to film?”. Are you autonomous and pro-active? If you can honestly answer “yes” to all of these questions, then you are a tech artist. That was simple :slight_smile:

The next part is not so simple. How do you get the rest of the world to recognize what kind of TA you want to be? There are just so many options! You can be as technical as you want to be or as creative as you want to be. The best programmers I have ever encountered were TAs. Similarly, the best fine artists I have ever taught were TAs. You can be as social or as isolated as you want to be. Do you want to work with one type of asset or do you want to be involved with all of the assets? The entire spectrum is yours. Ultimately, if you are not ONLY creating motion graphics, keyframe animating characters, or Modeling and painting characters, props and environments, then you might be considered as a tech artist. This is where you really need to dig deep into your soul and decide who do you want to be, for the moment.

When you work as a tech artist, you’ll be working in one of 4 topic areas: Pipeline, Animation/Rigging, VFX or lighting/Rendering. (yes I realize there are technical animators that deal with everything from Hair to MOCAP to procedural motion … but that is still not keyframe animation). There is a fifth area and I consider them as unicorns. These are the rare breed who have spent 5 years doing each of these 4 catagories, professionally. These folks can call themselves generalists. When you have 20 years of professional experience and have mastered each of the 4 topic areas, you are generalist.

The next question is where do you want to work? If you must be a generalist and you don’t have that 20 years of experience, you can’t work in a AAA studio. Nothing fries HR brains more than generalists. You justy can’t exist in their versions of reality. Of course there are generalists working in AAA studios but they did not go through HR on the way in. They used their years of professional connections to get their job. If you must be a generalist, stick with smaller studios. They love and appreciate generalists. Most importantly, they know what to do with them.

Long story short, Market yourself exclusively as the type of tech artist you want to be and the oportunities will open for you. You must brand yourself as a tech artist then start doing tech artist things. If you have to go in as a specific artist then evolve into a tech artist role … go for it. Of course you’ll want to do what Theodox sugested and learn everything you possibly can. Always be growing and learning