I end up writing this on so many crits every day on FB group crits, I thought I would just make a post out of it.
Always ask yourself - What is this work that I am doing for?
There is (almost) no such thing as a personal piece. If you share it with the world and care what people think, it’s not a personal piece.
If it goes in your portfolio, it is an advertisement for the kind of work you can and want to do....so think of it that way when you are making it. It doesn’t matter if you did it for a client or not, people are going to see it and ask, “Does this kind of image solve the problems I need to pay an artist for?”
Every image should be made to solve a problem. Even the simplest study is made to solve problems of lighting, or anatomy, or architectural design. If your work doesn’t solve a problem, why would someone pay you for it?
If you know the problems you are trying to show that you know how to solve with your image, it is MUCH easier to figure out how to proceed with the work itself.
If you don’t know, you’re just guessing, or trying to make something “cool”. Art Directors don’t pay for “cool” unless it also solves their problems, be those story or design related.
Illustrations for games are used to show the mood of the game, and what the creatures and characters look like, and what the environments are for. Illustrations for card art are made to be very clear and read even when super small.
Video game environment paintings are used to show how a player could traverse a space, and what some potentially exciting play options would be.
Film environments are made to show the world that the actors will be interacting with.
It goes on and on. Book covers have different problems that need solving than interior art or online splash pages.
Know how your image could solve an ADs problem, and you are MUCH more likely to get hired.