Developing as a digital artist: What career pathways are available to you? – The Area News

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The next generation of artists have been adopting digital art technologies into their work and processes at a younger age for a few very good reasons. The versatility of digital art tools allows creators and professionals alike to take greater control over their own creative projects, ranging from tasks like logo or web design, through to digital illustrations or the creation of three-dimensional environments for simulations or video games.
There are more career pathways available to people with digital art skills than you may even think possible. In fact, digital art skills aren’t just valuable in the arts and entertainment sector. These highly technological and creative skills are just as important in industries like business technology and even the healthcare industry.
Here are just a few career pathways available to Aussie students and professionals who have a knack for digital art and design.
Amongst all of the different facets of digital arts lies one of Australia’s most popular professional pathways: graphic design. Graphic designers use digital art tools to produce digital designs for a wide range of purposes, from creating corporate logos to designing digital ads, infographics, and even instructional medical or educational diagrams.
In a nutshell, graphic designers are enlisted by an array of clients to deliver different end products. For this reason, it’s common to see graphic designers specialise in particular elements of this expansive discipline. Some graphic designers may choose to solely specialise in logo production, whereas others may pride themselves on delivering their services within select industries rather than marketing themselves as being a ‘jack of all trades’.
Speaking of specialising in just one particular form of digital art production, it’s well worth noting that many of the career pathways we’ll be exploring today do tend to share a foundation in graphic design. After all, understanding how to use digital art tools and technologies like Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite, is a prerequisite for many digital design jobs.
One job in particular that requires professionals to use some gnarly software is 3D animation and modelling. These professionals use 3D modelling software to produce high-quality digital models that can act as prototypes for character or product designs. In the present day, 3D modelling skills have also been used to innovate within the realm of 3D printing, meaning that this particular digital art skill set has the potential to produce physical creations as well as digital ones!
Like graphic designers, 3D animators and modellers can be found in a wealth of industries, spanning from video game development and design to film and television, and even product development in the tech sector or for manufacturers of consumer goods.

3D animators and modellers simply have to decide which professional spaces they’re most interested in or most likely to thrive in.
Let’s continue on with this exploration of digital arts as a tool for prototyping. It goes without saying that there are many components to video game development and even film production, including ‘behind the scenes’ elements like VFX, CGI, and foley work amongst many others. But before all of these things, comes a highly crucial first step, this being concept creation.
Whilst game creators may possess particular skills that facilitate ideation, they can often lack the tools and capabilities to breathe life into these two-dimensional ideas. This is where concept artists come into play.
Concept artists are basically tasked with creating concept art that becomes a game or film studio’s first glimpse into the fresh universe that is a concept in development. It’s the role of the concept artist to produce a universe by simply extrapolating on a written or spoken prompt, and fleshing that universe out just enough to inspire curiosity and creative vision from the rest of that development team.
As you can imagine, concept artists are required to have their imagination firing on all cylinders on a daily basis, alongside being proficient with digital art technologies and software like Procreate and Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, just to name a few.

The role and involvement of the concept artist may also differ from project to project, oftentimes dependent on the size of the rest of that development team as well as whether they’re providing concept art for game or film studios.
Of course, concept art is only one of many processes that goes into creating modern video games. Large-scale video games also require a lot of storyboarding, digital environment design, and hours upon hours of motion capture work for character design and creation. Naturally, this level of technical production requires an equally high degree of technological proficiency, particularly with digital design tools.
Modern digital design technologies are equipped with advanced environment rendering capabilities that allow game designers to create highly realistic characters and game environments that mimic the physics, light, and shading of our own world. In fact, these technologies are so advanced, accurate, and readily available that game environment designers actually use a lot of the same kinds of environment rendering software that modern architects use to create building concept designs.
If video game development sounds like a career pathway you’d be interested in, your best foot forward is to get to grips with 3D modelling and rendering software, alongside enrolling in some digital design courses to provide you with a strong academic foundation.
Returning back to the realm of business now, there are elements of digital design in virtually all digital platforms, ranging from social media, to websites and business mobile apps. After all, the best digital interfaces are those that are designed with their human users in mind. And this is precisely what UI designers do! UI (or ‘user interface’) designers are basically tasked with translating software development processes and methodologies into highly human-centric user interfaces.
UI design is often perceived as an extension of UX (‘user experience’) design, although there are some key differences between these two disciplines. For one, UI design is largely concerned with maintaining a right-brained ‘design’ approach to user interface creation, whereas UX designers generally work with code in order to create the functionality and technological foundation behind digital interfaces. Together, these two disciplines are very much two sides of the same coin, and both are likely to suit any with a passion for digital arts and design.
In order to determine whether they’d make a better UI or UX designer, students simply have to ask themselves if they’re more right-brained and creative, or left-brained and analytical. Do they like to code more than they like to create visual diagrams? Or would they prefer user journey mapping to programming?

With both of these disciplines demanding candidates to possess drastically different digital tech skills, it shouldn’t take long for Aussie students to determine which career pathway suits them best.
Alongside the five career pathways we’ve outlined above, students with a keen interest in digital arts and design are also urged to look into other fields like print design, digital illustrating, storyboarding, and multimedia design.

With a little digging and independent research, chances are you may find a handful of other professional roles where you can flex your digital arts and design skills and prove yourself to be an unsurpassable and unique asset to any professional team you find yourself in.