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I receive resumes on a daily basis. Having looked at every single one for the past few years (even for just a brief moment), there are things I know now as to what “not to do” when approaching a prospective employer. I also receive inquiries and phone calls asking for advice as to breaking into a graphic-related field. While there isn’t a patent answer, there are some things a person searching for design jobs and work can do to help increase their chances of obtaining a job in a design-related field.

Earlier today, I received an email from a student asking how one could “break into” the field of architectural renderings.

Here’s a copy of the letter this student had written with some edits to personal information:

My name is Kris.

I am interested in graphic design but my main interest  lies within Architectural modeling, walkthrough animations and photo realistic Rendering.

I currently live in Australia  and I’m a 19 year old student, doing Certificate III Media as well as year 13 at College studying Art Production and Graphic Design.

The main reason for me wasting your time is do you have any tips to get into the industry and what programs do you use etc.

I’ve been using 3D Studio Max for about 4 years my latest project was my major last year for graphic design.

Here is my reply:

Kris, thank you for writing LunarStudio.

I receive several resumes every day for the past few years, most of which (unfortunately) are of a substandard quality. I have to say that the biggest mistake I see is a lack of portfolio. Sites such as Flickr and DeviantArt work, but there are plenty of other free websites which are available to people who don’t have too much HTML or blog setup experience. I feel that when it comes to graphic design in general, every aspect should be “packaged” neatly, just like showing up to a job interview well-dressed and kempt. This field is all about presentation. That’s just a personal preference on my part, however most of the really good designers I know are even pickier than I am.

If someone wants a career in the field of architectural renderings (or any other design-related field), you need to have a good, relevant portfolio. One cannot expect to obtain work with just a few images – there needs to be diversity. For renderings, that might include interiors and exteriors as well as a broad spectrum of lighting conditions. I do not recommend using pre-made scenes downloaded off of the web or through tutorials. These are often easily spotted by industry veterans. However, there are plenty of plans and photographs you can work off of from simply browsing the Internet.

No matter what, there is no easy shortcut in this field. If there was, everyone would be doing this line of work. It involves hard work and one needs to put the time into this whole process.

As for actual resumes, to be honest – most of the time I skip right through the writing. The first thing I always do when someone applies to LunarStudio is to look at their portfolios and images. If something catches my eye (usually I look for photorealism followed by style), then I’ll review the rest of their work and resume. If an image or two looks bad, I won’t even bother looking at the rest of their work as I get flooded by inquiries daily and simply do not have the time to review every single application.

As for what defines a “good” image from a “bad” one, there are numerous indicators. I’ve had people apply and send images that contained door handles as big as watermelons. I’ve seen images where the people they inserted touch the ceiling or simply look copy and pasted. There’s plenty of images in which people do not use Global Illumination (aka Scanline) in which their work appears “cartoony.” There’s even situations in which their subjects are simply boring (just a box with windows.)

Occasionally, I do receive a portfolio in which a person’s body of work is not necessarily photorealistic, but I can see their design intent and the work they put into all of their details – clean lines, etc. This is often enough to warrant serious consideration. However, I’m not looking to always train someone in my methods as I often have much better stuff to do with my spare-time. There’s plenty of resources on the Internet in which a person can learn the various aspects of rendering before approaching a company.

When approaching a company, show that you really want to work with a particular company. And person could send out a hundred copy and pasted inquiries and cover letters, but those are easily spotted from a mile away. Explain why you would want to work for someone. Show some passion. Show your dedication. Also explain how you can contribute and how you want to help grow another person’s company (I know that’s a bit of a stretch but that’s what someone wants to hear.) If you don’t show initiative in those areas, then I wouldn’t expect any business owner to want to hire you. My main concern in taking someone on is having to train them, and a couple of years later they take my methods and move off to “greener pastures.” In today’s day and age, people tend to float around with work as there’s little job security in general – as a business owner, you really want to know that someone is willing to stick around otherwise it could be a big loss.

As for software, if you’re using 3D Studio Max, than you are using an industry rendering standard. Couple that with Vray and Photoshop, then you should be good to go. If you happen to know Mental Ray and Sketchup, then those pieces of software are an additional bonus. As for learning them, there’s plenty of resources scattered throughout the web. Take a few months to go through some tutorials, then start creating your own scenes for your portfolio.

I realize that this reply was rather long, but I hope that might have helped answer some of your questions.

I have also previously written another article on the topic here which may be worth reading:

***Outdated Link***

Kindest Regards,

Charles