Illustration and Design Resources

One of the first things I did upon deciding to pursue the artistic career option further was to trawl the web for information, instruction and advice. I thought I’d share with you some of the most helpful resources I’ve found thus far in my attempts to discover my calling and improve my skills to meet the upcoming challenges. If anyone knows of anything I’ve missed, please do let me know!

1) DeviantART Forums
I’ve been a member of dA for around 6 years now I think, but I had never really registered the existence of the forums. I think I glanced at them once and decided they looked boring and/or scary, and so left it at that! Recently, however, I’ve been trying to make connections with other artists aspiring to work in games, films and other artistic industries, and so I gave the dA forums some long-deserved attention. The system of forum categories is actually very helpful, since there are specific boards for self-promotion as opposed to general discussion, meaning you don’t feel embarrassed posting blatant plugs on boards intended for conversation. I’ve found plenty of like-minded people struggling to push their artwork closer to a professional level, and even spotted an offer for an internship in the UK on the ‘Job Offers’ board!

2) Ctrl+Paint
These free tutorial videos are a brilliant way of getting some of the discipline of an art college into my daily routine without being locked into a timescale or exorbitant fees. They might be described as ‘art school lite’, but serve wonderfully as a guide to the sorts of practice an aspiring artist should be doing in order to improve their fundamentals. Matt Kohr’s teaching style is gentle and encouraging, simplifying and explaining everything so that I’ve understood exactly why each exercise is valuable. This is so important in getting the full value out of each form of practice, so many thanks to Matt!

3) Chris Oatley’s many online works
From his self-directed online art academy to his promotion of caring artistic communities, Chris Oatley’s contribution to aspiring artists everywhere is phenomenal. I’ve recently begun listening to his ArtCast, in which Chris interviews successful industry professionals, as well as the Paper Wings Podcast, which focuses on comics and visual story telling. Chris’ approach to the world is contagiously exuberant, and I’ve found some of the stories of how various artists, old and young, broke into the industry incredibly inspiring, and even more reassuring! Once again, thanks are owed to the team Chris Oatley has gathered for helping me to believe that an artistic career could well be possible. I am seriously considering taking a course from the Oatley Academy, though it would have to be after I graduate, since I know I cannot get the most out of that and my university course at the same time.

4) FZD School
Feng Zhu’s design cinema videos on YouTube have given me some highly valuable insights into the mindset and techniques of the video games concept art industry since I began watching them a couple of years ago. I really enjoy watching this master paint, and his advice (while occasionally discouraging!) presents some harsh truths that nevertheless have helped me get a better idea of what I might be letting myself in for should I choose concept art and design as my career path.

5) LevelUp
This is another community of artists, begun by Wojtek Fus and Darek Zabrocki, and now joined by Jonas De Ro, whom I have followed on dA for a while. I’ve joined their facebook page, which seems to be full of so many supportive people, willing to give advice and share their difficulties with each other in a very constructive manner. I’m looking forwards to diving further into this community, and would love one day to go on one of their ‘Quests’ – expeditions to interesting places intended to expand the participants’ visual libraries and forge friendships between them at the same time.

6) My First Job in Film
To end with perhaps a more pragmatic resource, this site lists various opportunities for work experience, internships, apprenticeships and low-level positions in the UK film industry. While it requires membership to apply for jobs, and most of the positions are accessible only for paid premium members, I’ve found it useful just to see what possibilities are out there. It seems as though positions come up very last-minute (I’ve even had emails flagging up jobs beginning the next day!).

I can’t wait to delve deeper into the amazing communities of artists that have been forming online over the past years. I feel like the potential for meaningful interactions online is in the process of moving to a new level right now, and the opportunities for artistic collaboration and support that this unlocks are hugely exciting!


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