The creative path is never easy – and becoming a successful architectural visualization artist is no different. Many 3D artists dream of landing at a creative agency where they can work on exciting projects, but instead end up doing tedious, repetitive work at what amounts to an “image factory”. So how do you get hired at a creative agency that will challenge you to grow as a professional artist?
As a founding partner of a leading creative agency, I receive dozens of resumes for 3D designers, but, unfortunately, toss the vast majority of them in the trashbin. I see many artists make the same mistakes on their resumes and portfolios time and time again, so I decided to share some concrete tips for jobseekers. If you’re looking to get hired as an archviz artist, follow the steps outlined below to present your work in the best possible light. Most creative agencies that care deeply about the quality of their work – and not just making a quick profit – look for similar characteristics when hiring 3D artists. Note, this advice is for professionals who already consider themselves established archviz artists and probably won’t apply to 3D artists just starting out.
1. Showcase Large Architectural Projects.
Many candidates provide renderings of a “bathroom in a private residence” or a “high-end kitchen remodel”. These small projects don’t spark our interest. At Transparent House, like other creative agencies, we work on large projects for high-end property developers and retailers, so we need to see examples of complex work. If you’ve worked on a residential high rise, stadium, museum, mixed-use development, or a pedestrian streetscape with retail activity, then we want to see these projects. What if you haven’t worked on a project of this caliber yet? Then create a big design on your own time to show us what you’re capable of. A perfect opportunity to create this kind of work is to participate in a design or architectural competition.
2. Take it Outside.
When it comes to creative samples, exteriors are crucial. We want to see full-height building shots during the day, night, and dusk. Show every angle – from street level, to aerial, birdseye, and beyond. Of course, you’ll want to include both full CG exteriors and photomontage work. For photomontages, the rendering should match the photograph perfectly.
3. Don’t Forget Landscaping.
Artists who create lifelike, realistic greenery go to the top of our “to interview” pile. I don’t want to see rows and rows of similar-looking trees; anyone can do that. A talented archviz artist will create trees, plants, and shrubs that look natural, just like foliage in real-life. Photorealistic greenery shows nuances like varied heights, shapes, colors, and shading. Also, landscaping should always match the location. For example, a great archviz artist knows that the palm trees in Dubai look nothing like the palm trees in Hawaii – and your portfolio should show this level of detail.
4. Play Up Street Activity.
Plants aren’t the only place we expect to see an artist’s talent for photorealism. We also want archviz artists to be adept at creating a realistic mix of 3D and 2D people, cars, bikes, and other objects within the streetscape. If people are plopped haphazardly into a rendering – if their clothes are the wrong style, they’re out of scale, or their shadows are not accurate – it’s a red flag. In terms of cars, sometimes less flash is the right choice; a Ferrari parked in front of a below market-rate housing development looks out of place.
5. Artistic Post Production Counts.
Taking unremarkable renderings from the design exploration phase and turning them into beautiful marketing images will be a big part of your job as an archviz artist. When you apply for a position, make sure to show an example of your transformation work; include a rendering and show how you adapted it for different uses. Don’t forget to tell us what tools you used to modify the image.
6. It’s All in the Details.
I’m a big fan of minimalism, but in real life we’re surrounded by a lot of objects with diverse textures, angles, and shapes. Remember to showcase your skill creating “the little things” that make up life’s rich fabric. We look for details that give an image the feeling of a real home or office – a blanket draped on a chair, a few coffee cups and notepads left on a table, or toys scattered on a living room floor. And details don’t stop at interiors. Outside, show your skill at creating details like clearly-lettered signage, the reflection of sunshine on glass, or the bumpy texture of pavement. If your work looks too staged, it won’t create an emotional connection with viewers; instead it will feel fake, sterile, and slightly sad. Remember, if you wouldn’t want to live or work in the fictional room or building you created, no one else will either.
7. Include Examples of Commercial Work.
Agenciesare looking to hire professional artists, not hobbyists, so include concrete examples of previous commercial work. Explain the project details, including whether you met the deadline, what role you played and the size the team, what challenges you faced and how you solved them, and whether the client was satisfied with the final work. Maybe you worked on your own home project for months and polished it to perfection, and we’d like to see it as an example of your creative abilities. But any agency will also need proof that you can work under the pressure of a deadline and within a realistic budget.
8. Great Composition Matters.
Excellent renderings look like great architectural photographs and killer animation, like cinematography from an A-level feature film. When I review an applicant’s rendering samples, I look for the basic rules of composition: framing and cropping, the use of negative space, and the rule of thirds. Every artist knows these basic tenets are fundamental to creating a beautiful, balanced image.
9. Be Software Savvy.
It goes without saying you’ll need to prove mastery of several different software platforms, including rendering engines such as Mental Ray, Vray, or Corona, and be a Photoshop expert to boot. Don’t just list the software programs you know; describe examples of commercial projects created on these platforms. You get more points if you have experience with Unity or Unreal Engine, or as a coder.
10. Go the Extra Mile.
An ideal 3D artist is extremely creative, but also able to create a diverse range of deliverables – not just architectural renderings. A perfect candidate would show and describe at least one commercial project for a product client, in addition to archviz examples from real estate clients. Product renderings may require the same technical skillset as archviz work, but they demand a very different artistic mindset. Providing both types of creative samples shows the depth and breadth of your skillset. Even better, provide multiple types of creative work – from apps you designed, to graphic design projects, animations, interactive tours, or even virtual reality worlds. Of course, make sure your website is well designed to showcase your best work. A website that integrates the latest design trends, the “right” fonts, and cutting-edge style gets our attention every time.