The Necessity of Showcasing Your Portfolio on ArtStation
I’m going to make a bold assertion here: if you’re a digital artist not utilizing ArtStation, you’re essentially handicapping your own potential. And this isn’t advice limited to those just starting out—it’s for all artists who aspire to maintain their edge in the field.
ArtStation, often regarded merely as a straightforward and cost-free place for portfolio display, is much more—it’s a dedicated social media environment for artists. It surpasses the offerings of platforms like Instagram, particularly for digital artists seeking to connect with job opportunities and an audience that resonates with their work. The digital art elite have already embraced ArtStation with significant success. Yet, I notice students still clinging to personal website portfolios, which is now an outdated approach. Remember to market yourself in the context of today’s digital era, not as if it’s the early 2000s. Now, let’s proceed.
The Hub of Targeted Engagement
A standout feature of ArtStation is its focus as a social media platform tailored for artists. Unlike Instagram’s generalist content approach, ArtStation visitors are there for one main reason: to engage with high-quality art, whether it’s to appreciate, share, discuss, or seek artists for projects. Your ideal audience is concentrated here, making it invaluable.
In a world brimming with digital noise, capturing attention is more challenging than ever. ArtStation is where the key players—art enthusiasts, industry leaders, HR professionals, and recruiters—are congregating. Positioning your work here is a strategic move that can lead to professional opportunities, including job offers or a substantial following if you’re selling tutorials or asset packs. The right exposure can open significant doors for you, which we’ll explore further.
The Formula for Success: Attention and Exposure
Embrace this straightforward equation: Attention + Exposure = Opportunity. ArtStation commands the attention of those who matter in the art world, and by featuring in its top galleries, you gain extensive exposure. With the quality of your work as a given, this platform can be a treasure trove of opportunities. Given the brief attention spans of today’s audience, ArtStation offers a venue where your work has a fighting chance to captivate viewers.
ArtStation ranks within the top 300 most visited websites globally, a significant feat given the competition among countless websites vying for attention. Crafting a personal portfolio site often results in a forgettable URL, but ArtStation circumvents this by offering a platform where admirers of your art can easily follow you. With every new artwork you upload, your followers are notified, enhancing the visibility of your creations. This can lead to a compounding effect of increasing followers and exposure if your art resonates with viewers.
Consider using ArtStation to showcase your portfolio
Imagine you’re an exceptional vehicle designer aiming for your first industry role. After half a year of sharing top-notch vehicle designs on ArtStation, you’ve attracted 200 followers. Among them could be someone like “Bill the art lead” from Infinity Ward. If he’s impressed and follows you, he’ll get a direct update when you post new work, like a military-style vehicle design. Should Infinity Ward be on the lookout for a vehicle artist for an upcoming Call of Duty game, Bill might spot your work in his notifications, be reminded of your talent, and reach out for an interview, possibly before the job is even advertised publicly. This scenario echoes the strategy of ‘attacking from the side’ that I previously discussed.
And even without a follow from Bill, the engagement from your 200 followers could propel your work into ArtStation’s trending gallery, catching Bill’s attention anyway. From personal habits, I can vouch that most ArtStation visitors routinely check their notifications and the trending gallery.
ArtStation to Introverts
ArtStation can also appeal to introverts in the gaming industry, a group not uncommon within the field. Unlike other social networks that might necessitate self-promotion through personal videos or images, ArtStation allows your artwork to speak for itself. This platform supports artists who prefer anonymity or those who choose to use a pseudonym, ensuring that their work remains the focal point. This approach can result in job opportunities coming directly to you, emphasizing merit and skill.
Displaying your artwork within a community like ArtStation offers immediate insight into how it measures up to other artists. Your work appears alongside hundreds of others, providing a clear, visual gauge of how it compares in terms of quality. It’s common to hear concerns about the difficulty of standing out on ArtStation, particularly for new accounts lacking a base of followers to drive engagement and make their work trend. However, expecting immediate success is unrealistic, akin to hoping a novice backyard football team might claim the Super Bowl on their first outing. Dedication, hard work, and a smart approach can increase your chances of recognition.
Fear of not meeting the highest standards of industry quality
In many cases, the fear of not meeting the highest standards of quality may lead some to prefer showcasing their work on a lesser-known platform to avoid direct comparison with top-tier artists. But this mindset is counterproductive. It’s like wearing blinders, convincing yourself of your unmatched talent, and dismissing any criticism as mere jealousy. This approach not only hinders growth but also limits exposure to potential opportunities that come from being part of a larger, more competitive artistic community.
While it might sting initially, comparing your work alongside that accomplished by more seasoned artists can be illuminating. It helps pinpoint the specific areas causing the disparity in quality. It’s beneficial to shift your mindset from self-criticism like “I’m nowhere near as good as Jimmy Badass” to a more constructive perspective, such as “I notice some differences in character anatomy and lighting between my work and this remarkable piece; I should hone those skills.” Adopting this attitude will likely accelerate your artistic development—enduring short-term discomfort for significant long-term improvement.
ArtStation’s platform is optimized for mobile use and operates swiftly
Consider the amount of time the average person spends on their mobile devices—commuting, in bed at the start and end of their day, it’s a constant companion. People are increasingly consuming content and even working through their phones. If you’re setting up your own website or blog, it’s crucial for your chosen theme and layout to be mobile-friendly. Failing to do so could mean missing out on half your potential audience, not to mention the time sunk into selecting designs, arranging hosting, and maintaining site updates. By understanding the how, when, and where of content consumption, you can tailor your approach to fit these habits.
Artstation for Job offers and HR Search
For instance, you can’t predict when someone like Bill, the art lead, will come across your work. He’s likely occupied with art creation and team management throughout the day, but his commute might provide him the chance to explore the latest in the art community. The same goes for recruiters and HR professionals in gaming studios; they prefer to engage with content in brief intervals on their smartphones. Assuming they’ll only search for candidates using a desktop browser is a significant oversight.
ArtStation boasts a design that’s not only mobile-responsive but also comes with its dedicated app—often as frequently used as the Facebook app during bus rides. The platform presents images in a clear grid format, prominently displays your name and contact information at the top, and allows images to expand, maximizing the available space on the screen. In contrast, image galleries on many personal mobile website layouts tend to be small and difficult to read, prompting visitors to leave before they’ve had the chance to appreciate your art. You have a brief window to capture someone’s attention, so it’s crucial to use it wisely.
Furthermore, ArtStation exhibits impressive speed. It’s rare to encounter image loading issues or bandwidth warnings that might replace the actual image. Its reliability likely surpasses that of many smaller hosting services, and it offers free accounts, which stands in stark contrast to the costs associated with most hosting plans. Consider the frustration you feel when a Netflix show buffers even for a mere three seconds—it might seem trivial upon reflection, but it speaks volumes about our current expectations for instant gratification. Avoid causing such frustrations to potential employers or customers who might consider hiring you or purchasing your products.
Fan and loyal audience
Your audience of loyal fans/followers is one of your most valuable assets in the world of marketing. If you are an artist, you should think of yourself as a media company or personal brand first, and not just a creative who likes making pretty pictures. Every piece of content you put out paints a picture of who you are and what you are passionate about. Chances are other people are passionate about similar things and are interested in following you. If you put out enough great content on a consistent basis, those followers will turn into loyal fans, hungry to consume and promote your work or buy that tutorial you just spent hours making. ArtStation is adding the ability to sell digital products directly within the platform, making it easier than ever to monetize your content. And your fans will always know where to find you.
Looking for work advantage
This means that maybe two years down the road, if you get laid off and switch your job title to “looking for work”, potentially hundreds of other people could take note and slide your portfolio to HR or friends at other studios, simply because they are fans of your art and you have been providing them little hits of value over time. Maybe you spend a couple of weeks creating a set of useful substance materials and launch it to an existing group of followers. Think an extra couple of thousand dollars a month in income from that pack could help tide you over until you find a new job. What happens when you have three or four of those packs released and making you a decent side income?
Popular platform for digital art job recruitment
This means that when you reach out to another artist in their direct message, they can click on your profile picture and instantly have context to who you are and what you are all about. You don’t need to hop over to LinkedIn to get info or try to find your random portfolio link should you accidentally forget to attach it. In fact, ArtStation is becoming a popular platform for digital art job recruitment, and it wouldn’t be surprising if it arbitrages LinkedIn out of the game in the near future. ArtStation provides instant visual context with zero extra effort and makes networking easy.
Not only can you receive and provide feedback directly next to your work, but with a pro account, you can also create long-form content and document works in progress using ArtStation’s new blogging features. Industry veterans like Rogelio Olguin are embracing this to provide value to their audience and demonstrate they are thought leaders in the community by joining in the conversation about a wide variety of industry topics. In my experience, studios tend to be eager to hire experts or recognized thought leaders.
It’s important to see this as a tremendous chance to demonstrate your industry awareness and forge connections with fellow artists through comment discussions. With time, this can establish your reputation as an authority in your field. Employers are on the lookout for individuals who are not just passionate about their craft but are also engaged in the industry dialogue. If your art is appreciated, it’s likely your opinions will be too. Rather than just claiming to possess strong written communication skills in an interview, you can showcase a proven track record. Additionally, every time you publish a new blog post, your followers are alerted, which not only recaptures their attention but also enhances the visibility of your personal brand.
Send me your ArtStation
Lately, I’ve noticed a shift where the term “ArtStation” is replacing “portfolio” in common parlance. People now commonly say “post your ArtStation” or request “your ArtStation” rather than asking for a portfolio. This is reflected in job applications as well, with many now featuring a field for a ‘Portfolio/ArtStation Link.’ If you’re considering submitting your work as a hefty ZIP file or a lengthy demo reel, I’d urge you to reconsider. There’s a strong chance such formats will be ignored, with recruiters unlikely to follow up for a web-based link. They tend to favor moving on to the next candidate. Remember, we are operating as if it’s 2018. HR departments and recruitment agencies are familiar with and trust ArtStation links. It’s essential not to create unnecessary hurdles for yourself.
Second best time is now
The best time to get on board was 2014, the second best time is now. As with any online platform, those who are quick to embrace it will gobble up a large audience. When fewer people are posting, there are fewer options to follow, and early adopters tend to amass large followings rather quickly, provided their work is good, of course.
Like building any type of audience or online following, it’s going to take time. Just remember that everyone starts from 0. The best time to start is now, and consistently posting good artwork, giving out good advice, and joining in the conversation will allow you to steadily grow your audience over time. I would recommend not putting too much focus on the number of followers you have, but rather on the consistency and quality of the content you are putting out.
Focus on those two aspects, and with a little patience, you should have a group of fans eager to see your next piece or engage with your opinion when you deliver a well-thought-out blog post. Putting in the work and grinding it over the months and years (don’t expect immediate results in a couple of months) will benefit not only you but the CG community as a whole. The more value you provide to your followers, the quicker your growth will be.
Successful artists like:
- Martin Deschambault
- Dao Trong Le
- Chengwei Pan
- Wenjun Lin
- Sylvain Sarrailh
- Jakub Rozalski
- Anato Finnstark
- keita okada
- Gabriel Soares
- Timothy Rodriguez
- and other
They have huge following on ArtStation. They regularly upload gorgeous content and provide tutorials and feedback to the community. It’s unlikely that these widely known artists would have a hard time finding work.
Study the tactics of accomplished artists and integrate their strategies into your ArtStation presence. This should significantly boost both your growth and, crucially, audience interaction. Make it a point to acknowledge every comment on your creations, even if it’s merely to express gratitude for their visit. Address every query posed. Dedicating just a minute or two to share insight can brighten someone’s day or accelerate their learning process. True, it demands a commitment of time and the outcomes may not be immediate. However, I assure you that, with persistence, this approach can open up a wealth of opportunities for you.
The power of portfolio
In 2024, the standard for portfolio presentation is to showcase high-resolution images, videos, short clips, Marmoset and Sketchfab 3D scenes, 360 panramas, and more. A portfolio should include a cover, an overview of work, an introduction, case studies, contact information, and more. ArtStation provides a simple yet powerful way to show your portfolio and be seen by the right people in the industry. It’s super fast and sleek, and you can even sell your digital assets and prints.