Just wondering what artist's do in the game industry. I've been thinking lately that if a studio is gonna start laying off people an artist will be first out the door. Now I know an artist covers a lot of things from concept art to textures, it's just I cant imagine such a fun job actually exists in this country with such a small industry. Are artist's expected to do 2D and 3D in Australian studios? I there much room for someone who just specializes in 2D stuff?
I work for a smaller independant developer who currently specialises in the wargaming market (www.battlefront.com). Im currently the only full time graphic artist there, though we have recently started another guy working for us now on a contract basis.
Basically I do work in just about every field. For our last game for instance I did most of the 3D work for the vehicles and textured most of them. On top of this I had to texture all of the environment, buildings, skies, etc. Whilst doing this I also had to do any ad work that needed completing, plus some graphical work for our web page and some graphical work for other games we publish.
So basically yes, doubling up is very common for the smaller companies Id say :). Im sure that the larger developers out there would have guys that just specialise in certain areas, though Im not sure they would keep a full staff on full time unless they had a game in progress at the time? I guess most develeopers always have some game in progress though. Smaller companies would probably tend to be able to keep their artists busier, but be prepared for some very late nights when deadlines draw close, hehe.
Either way if you love games and art, its a great job to have! :) I live in queensland even though the guys I work for are based in Boston. Im sure there are such companies over here and you should start to see more Id think, particually as more and more companies start to investige online selling of their games.
Hope that answers the question a little, anyways.
The larger studios often hire both 3D and 2D artists as individual separate jobs. I believe it's much more productive if you can find artists who can do both very well (being able to produce good concept art as well is a big plus) otherwise you can run into communication difficulties from time to time eg: a 3D artist requires specific textures to be mapped onto an object and because the 2D artist doesn't have a good knowledge of 3D or more specifically UV mapping, he/she may not get it right the first time (this may not be such a good example, but you know what I'm getting at).
You're right about artists being the first ones to get layed off when things get tough, the general thought is artists are a dime a dozen and there's plenty out there breaking their necks to get into the industry, while good programmers are much more difficult to find and are generally greater assets to the company.
Here at Irrational we have a 2d concept artist which is also the art director and are about to hire a new 2d artist. But the rest of the artist texture what they model for the most part, and then there is the animation which is again done by a different team. So petty much we have Concept artist, 3D artist (include texturing) and animators. They some time cross into each other and people may change into a different area on a new game.
I'm now doing charcater animation for one game and character modeling (not texturing) and animation on another.
Thats a damn good question. What the hell do we do? I work at Microforte in sydney and before that worked for Ratbag in both the adelaide and sydney studios.
Although having a wide range of skills is very much a bonus in games, I have probably come across more specialised artists than I have all rounders in my time. I think as people are employed they start to learn more things or atleast master the things they already do know and decide to branch out into other things. Concept artists are quite often contractors, since near the end of the project, there isn't a lot for them to do. I've also noticed that Art directors do a fair bit of concepting from time to time. Texture artists and modeller combinations are pretty common, though there are people that just specialsie in just one of these. Animators and level designers seem to be fairly specialsied and I havn't noticed a lot of overlap in these areas.
My advice to anyone looking to get in is to do atleast one thing very well. Atleast then you can stand out as a kick ass texture artist or a very solid modeller. Also try to have related skillsets. Concepting and animation are at opposite ends of the pipeline and you most likely wouldn't be assigned to do both of these things on a project. However concepting and texturing/or modelling are quite closely related in the pipeline, so it would be concievable that you could be required to do both of these things.