Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Bucks Graduate Mike Swan lands job with Architectural Visualisation leader ThinkBDW

Mike Swan recently graduated from the animation, games and interactive media course at Bucks, and since then has forged a successful freelance career, doing excellent 3D work for a variety of private clients. Gradually building up a solid portfolio of digital artwork, he recently landed a full-time job with ThinkBDW, a company that describes itself as "The UK's leading property marketing agency". Mike told us how the job came about, and what he had to do to get it.

Architectural visualisation by Mike Swan

Bucks: You've just secured a job as a digital artist at the property marketing company ThinkBDW - tell us about it!

Mike: I start at ThinkBDW in four weeks. For me it will involve relocating to Essex, which is really exciting. I will be going into the company as a Junior CGI Artist to further my skills as an architectural visualiser. I hope to specialise in photo realistic stills but I am keen to learn about the other areas and skills of the company.

Bucks: How did you get the job?

Mike: I have been applying for positions online since I graduated last year. Most of the time these positions are put out by agencies and head-hunters. In this case, I was given a project task put forward by the company to the agency. The agency in turn asked applicants with a strong CV to complete the project and then pass the work onto their client. Below is a task I completed recently: http://www.facebook.com/l/GAQHAmeoMAQFABKaHzjq7j3tD5kTdGpbnsro72q0SR6vbxQ/mrredoko.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/fi_michaelswan_02.png?w=1000&h

This got me an interview at ThinkBDW, who then offered me a position!

It was hard work though. I had to have strong enough skills to be considered for an interview by completing the task to a professional level. The task tests on you key elements, such as (but not limited to):
  • being able to read an elevation plan, and autoCAD blueprints
  • accurate modelling
  • realistic texturing
Without meeting their standards on every part of the image I would have been turned away. It's really tough, but if you put the work in, people will give you a chance. Then, you can learn the steps and techniques in an environment of professionals who will help guide you to take your images to a professional level.

Bucks: What advice would you offer to a student who wants to pursue this kind of work?

Mike: My advice for anyone looking for work after completing a degree course is to not give up, and to keep practicing. I am currently teaching some 3D software to some second year students at Bucks New Uni and the advice I tell them is that they should treat their work tools like an instrument. Turning up to lessons is only half the battle, you have to practice in your own time to learn and develop. Practice, practice, practice.

(Editor's Note: For more practical advice on careers in the digital arts, read what Blue Zoo has to say about demo reels. See also advice from Disney, Sony Pictures Animation, and watch our video on how to create a great demo reel. Read about what our graduates had to say at the recent Graduate Panel. Check out this post on how to set up an small business. Also learn about your first client project, read out our post on Portfolio Careers, and read this piece on Survival as a Freelancer. Study the nuts and bolts of freelance life by reading our guide to invoicing clients, and our guide to freelancers and taxesFor more on careers in general, check out our guide to animation careers here, and also take a look at this map of digital studios - a great place to start your search for work in the business. Finally see our article on the jobs page at awn.com )

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