Reader request: character artist degrees versus portfolio?

From reader Ashan, a question about character artist degrees and portfolio work:

I was hoping you could  provide some answers for questions I’ve been having – if I wanted to become a character artist, would a degree in digital art/art be more valuable than a solid portfolio?

So: are character artist degrees more important than a portfolio?

Character artist degrees vs portfolios:

When it comes to getting a job, your portfolio is absolutely the most important element. If your portfolio stinks, nobody will even glance at your résumé to see where you studied.

In that regard, character artist degrees just don’t matter – being a good character artist is what counts, and your portfolio speaks louder than words! Your portfolio is absolutely what gets you a job, in any artistic discipline.

So character artist degrees are totally useless???

Not at all! In order to become a good character artist, you need to learn the fundamentals. And not just computer animation and design software – you need to learn artistic fundamentals, like anatomy and composition and color theory.

The ideal character artist degrees will offer exposure to everything you need to be a successful artist. You study to learn your trade. You’re not in it for the bullet point on your résumé, like most other jobs.

How to choose a major?

Your education is absolutely important, unless you have the immense willpower and concentration needed to absorb information directly from the internet without actual instruction.

When it comes to character artist degrees, I think the major is probably less important than the classes you take. I suggest focusing heavily on traditional art classes, such as life drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, lighting, color theory, visual composition, etc.

Learning the software like Maya is only a small part of what you’ll need to know! Focus on becoming a good artist – Maya should be just another tool in your arsenal.

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