Concept artists create visual images from the ideas expressed by production designers. Those images can be made with drawings, graphic software or models. Concept artists often work for film production companies who want creative professionals to bring characters to life through illustrations and storyboards. Most concept artists work on a freelance basis in film genres such as horror, fantasy and science fiction.
Although there are no formal educational requirements, qualifications for a concept artist include skills with illustrations, graphics and 3-D computer modelling software. Since concept artists must work with a variety of influential people, communication and people skills are a plus. In addition, earning a degree from an art school that offers various courses in fine art and drafting provides additional qualifications that are ideal for a career in conceptual art.
Some aspiring concept artists begin their careers in related areas, such as graphic artists, illustrators, visual and special effects creation or animation. Many potential concept artists migrate into the career after spending time working as storyboard illustrators. According to Skillset, concept artists need a keen understanding of architecture, design and film theory and principles.
Concept artists gather from source material such as screenplays and verbal descriptions from producers and directors to learn as much information as possible about the specific film project so they can create characters that are as realistic and compelling as possible. Concept artists work closely with research and computer specialists to produce high-quality images using Photoshop, Painter and 3-D rendering software. Concept artists must illustrate their drawings accurately and be prepared to change the image at any time throughout the filming process.
Concept artists typically work in an office or artist studio environment. Most artists create their work on a drafting table or computer. While many concept artists are freelance contractors, some major motion picture studios employ full-time concept artists in their art departments.
According to Indeed, the average annual salary for a concept artist is £35,100 as of April 2010. Freelance concept artists' salaries may vary, depending on the number of assignments, required research and filming location for their work. Concept artists can increase their earnings by completing secondary art and computer graphics classes. As the artist's reputation and body of work increases, she or he will be able to negotiate better paying assignments.