George Krallis on Building a Robust Career Despite Difficulties

George Krallis is an artist based in Xanthi, Greece who specializes in graphic design and 3D art. In addition to providing services through his company Natural CMYK, George serves as the Art Director for Fairytales of the World, a team of artists that makes short, animated films and works as a 3D Modeler with D&D Creations. For a clearer look at his work, check out his showreel below.

Below George shares his insights on art education, finding work as an artist, making a career in an area hit by economic hardship, sharing a robust portfolio online, and using online resources to improve one’s work.

Did studying graphic design in school help you succeed as a professional? Do you think that formal training is important if one wants to work full time as an artist?

George KrallisI think it depends on which school you will study. There are many good schools in Greece, but I attended in a public school in Thessaloniki where my lessons were dispersed over four and a half years. Our teachers taught us Word and Corel for one and a half year and they left Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver for the last six months. Because this school did not to help me learn practical skills, I had to improve my skills and knowledge independently.

Of course, formal training is very important for someone who wants to work full time as an artist, but even top-of-the-line training is useless if you don’t love what you do. You need to be 100% devoted to your work.

Do certain types of artists make more money than others? Does 3D art and digital painting pay fairly well or fairly poorly within the art world?

Throughout my years spent in the industry, I have seen some people make a lot of money doing nothing at all and other, incredibly talented and hard working professionals make very little. Yes, there are many artists who make more money than others, but earnings depend on many things, such as one’s choice to be a freelance artist or work for a company. Many companies pay full time employees very well, whereas others choose to work with freelance artists. Both my colleagues and I have been in situations in which our clients or companies have not paid us for our services. Unfortunately, there are many who either don’t pay well or pay at all, caring only for their own profits. This is something every artist should be aware of.

Were you able to make a full time living as an artist from the beginning, or did you have to take on additional non-art work to support yourself before you built up experience and a client base?

When I first started working professionally as a graphic designer in the 3D animation and VFX industry, I didn’t need to do non-art-related work to support myself, but even so, I did not earn as much money as I would have liked.

Keep in mind that I live in Greece, where the economic situation is very bad. It’s very hard to find a job that pays well. Even now that I have built up experience (something I will never stop doing) and a client base, things are very difficult.

Is it difficult to find work in the gaming world? How did you first begin to collaborate with gaming companies abroad and create 3D environments?

 

Now is the ideal moment to mention that a good portfolio is everything. In the art industry, a curriculum vitae is not generally needed. All you need to have is a very strong portfolio. My DeviantART portfolio is what enabled me to begin to collaborate with companies based overseas.

I know many people are shy and nervous about showing their work in public, but to keep everything hidden is a huge mistake. The more you make your work public, the better odds you will have of your work being spotted.

Has your presence on DeviantART significantly contributed to your professional success? If so, how?

 

DeviantART was the place where I began posting my first projects; it helped me develop a reputation outside of Greece. Beyond that, watching the work of skillful artists on DeviantART inspired me to try to reach their level of quality with my own work. Critiques on DeviantART, especially the negatives ones, also helped me. Of course, all good critiques are welcome, it’s the strict critiques that really helped me identify mistakes in my work. Many people don’t accept negative critiques, but that’s a big mistake. We must use them to improve our work.