In this interview with CGHero artist Tomas provides his insights into freelancing as a weapons artist.
Tomas is a Freelance Weapons Artist who specialises in hard surface modelling - He has worked for some of the biggest studios in the business, such as Exis interactive, Infinity Ward and Bohemia Interactive on many titles, including Call of Duty and World of Tanks. In this short interview we get his thoughts and feelings about being a full time freelance artist in the video game industry.
I'm mostly a hard surface artist, focusing on weapons, but for a longer time I also wanted to try leading or art management. I have been freelancing for a long time and recently tried a couple studio jobs as well, mostly for the art management experience. Started out as a small time game modder, but I pursued the passion into full profession.
As a freelance artist, I get to try various projects and experiment with different art styles, in a shorter amount of time, compared to when in a studio. This is really refreshing, I love trying out new things and so this is perfect for me. I have tried renting my own office space, I have worked from home as well, there are pros and cons to both. Ideally for me, I like to choose my own work space. When I need to focus, I'll definitely stay home for work, if I feel a little bit burned out socially, I'll go to the office.
Favorite thing about freelancing is definitely the freedom to choose projects, working hours, your own free time and also the pay out. Most of these things are out of the question at a studio, but as a freelancer, you can adjust your rate dynamically, plus it usually grows like 10% every year. Again, you hardly get that in a studio.
Least favorite thing? That's easy, paper work is horrible, no matter how you look at it, haha. It's better to hire someone just for that. I personally do get quite nervous with paper stacks.
This might sound funny, but no education is needed. If you're relentless, you can really teach yourself anything you imagine. That goes for responsibility as well, you will learn your preferable working hours, working tempo, etc with time. I've heard a lot "freelancing isn't for me, I'm not a very responsible person, I couldn't do it", but it all comes down to the job. If you want more personal freedom over your time and finances, you will learn to be responsible with your work.
Quitting full time work for freelancing can be very tricky. Often artists are unable to show anything from the work they were doing, so best advice would be definitely building up a portfolio slowly. Once they feel comfortable with an up to date portfolio, it's time to ask around, seeing what's being currently worked on elsewhere and begin to network with studios and fellow artists.