In the last lesson, we looked at the value of networking and how to take advantage of networking opportunities. Now, we're going to talk about the many exciting career opportunities for someone working in computer graphics.
We're going to explore these in no particular order, and keep in mind there are many careers we won't get to. But this list should help to get your gears turning and illustrate just how far-reaching computer graphics fields are.
Marketing and Advertising
Roles here could include making animations and designing graphics to promote a company, whether through TV ads, social media campaigns, posters, or any other forms. Web design can also play in. Creating a website that uses a company's branding and style guidelines, such as logos and typeface, to sell the company's services or products in a simple and consistent manner.
Movies and TV
Computer graphics can take many forms in movies and TV, ranging from visual effects sequences to title sequences and lower thirds to full feature-length animations. Disciplines can include 2D and 3D animation and motion graphics, graphic design, concept art, digital illustration, and matte painting, storyboarding; visual effects work like camera tracking, compositing, and fluid and particle simulations; and all other areas of the 3D pipeline like modeling and texturing, rigging, lighting and rendering.
These can have a lot of similar roles to what you'd find in a movie or TV show's visual effects sequences. In addition, you'll have a user interface and user experience designers who work on making simple and visually appealing menus and game interfaces. You'll also have plenty of folks working on the software development side, which can have some overlap with computer graphics, but maybe more oriented toward coding and programming.
Architecture & Engineering
From small home renovations to major architectural projects, many companies like starting with a realistic 3D rendering of their project. This can help to sell the project to many people, including investors and those responsible for approving the zoning. Engineering and industrial design can also require 3D work, with a much greater emphasis on making models that can be used to prototype real objects and machines and evaluate things like safety and the cost of materials.
Printing and Publishing
Computer graphics work is an essential part of almost all printing and publishing, making it easy to design and layout all sorts of projects and format them appropriately for a range of printing methods. Types of projects can include books and eBooks, magazines and pamphlets, comics, clothing design, event posters, billboard advertisements, store signage, and much more.
Sports and News
There is a major motion graphics component to almost all sports and news shows, from player stats to dynamic 3D animations that transition us between segments or to and from commercials. Or the titles that appear on-screen, including lower 3rds. Or think about weather reports and the infamous interactive giant political maps on CNN. Those all incorporate extensive animation and graphic design work.
Museums and Education
This is the field that I primarily work in. A lot of projects incorporate animation to make historical and educational content more exciting and easier to understand, such as animating old photos, documents, and maps or using infographics to convey information. There are also a lot of interactive educational experiences and games in the museum and education spaces, which require extensive graphic and user interface design to bring to life.
Within an organization or company, animation and video can be used to create training videos, while graphic design can be used to create branded materials.
A lot of medical training, prototyping, and even designing of implanted devices can require 3D artists to help create accurate models and animations.
You could consider becoming a computer graphics teacher. I personally tutor outside of my regular project work. It keeps things fresh, is a great way for me to stay sharp on the fundamentals, and I think provides valuable practice in reframing techniques and workflows depending on someone's skill level. This, in turn, helps in working with clients who may not understand the technicalities of what you're doing.
Anthony Marquette is an example of a talented computer graphics artist who's done lots of client work but is also passionate about education. He went on to found an art and animation school called Pixels and Polygons, where his focus is now on teaching and training new generations of digital artists.
You can use your talents to create and sell products, which in turn can generate passive income. This can include creating and selling paid courses and tutorials, stock images and videos, posters and other printed items, books and eBooks, and much more. While it can take a lot of work to start generating any degree of passive income, even a little can help to offset daily expenses and provide additional financial security.
Your task: If you haven't yet embarked on a career in computer graphics, or are wondering about a career change, consider the examples from this lesson. Think about which industries or work styles might appeal most to you. Know that you're part of a cohort that spans countless industries and that your computer graphics skills will always be in demand.
In the next lesson, we'll discuss financial stability.