Concept art schools offer students the tools to work creatively in industries like film, animation, video games, and comics. Even though portfolios can be built without formal training, industry professionals at Animation Arena recommend getting a college degree as the best way to master cutting-edge design technologies and prepare for a career in imaginative illustration.
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The concept art field is diverse and there are numerous different programs and paths to choose from like 2-D art, 3-D art, illustration, animation or video game design. Because concept art is one of the least technical positions in video game production, a fine arts degree can be more useful to a concept artist than a degree in game design. Programs vary by school and by state or country. You can earn a bachelor's degree in a four-year program or take just a couple of classes to earn a certification in a particular software. Some schools even offer monthly workshops for the curious amateur.
Concept art schools are concentrated in New York and California. New schools are opening up as the demand grows. The Concept Design Academy in Pasadena, California was founded in 2007 and offers a wide variety of entertainment design courses. Chris Van Allsburg, Steven Kellogg, Jon Foster and Seth McFarlane all attended the Rhode Island School of Design.
ImagineFX ranks the Concept Art Atelier in San Francisco as the 2010 best school for concept art, offering students a good foundation in techniques and an excellent alumni network.
Several institutions offer online degree programs in concept art. These programs are ideal for people who want to attend school part-time while they work another job. These programs also provide flexible hours. Westwood College's online animation program is available in six states. Animation Mentor's program places students in an online studio; this program has been designed by working industry professionals and is also available internationally. Both schools offer free information brochures on their websites.
A concept art degree opens the door to a wide variety of careers. You may be hired by the art department at a film studio or work as a graphic artist or illustrator. The entertainment industry needs conceptual artists to design characters and landscapes in film, animation, video games, comics, graphic novels and promotional art. The science fiction/fantasy genre requires specialised concept artists. As a working concept designer, your art will act as the bridge between an idea and a visualised, digital reality.
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