Multimedia artists and animators create two- and three-dimensional models, images that appear to move, and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Duties

Multimedia artists and animators typically do the following:

  • Use computer programs and illustrations to create graphics and animation (images that appear to move)
  • Work with a team of animators and artists to create a movie, game, or visual effect
  • Research upcoming projects to help create realistic designs or animation
  • Edit animation and effects on the basis of feedback from directors, other animators, game designers, or clients
  • Meet with clients, other animators, games designers, directors, and other staff (which may include actors) to review deadlines and development timelines

Multimedia artists and animators often work in a specific medium. Some focus on creating animated movies or video games. Others create visual effects for movies and television shows. Creating computer-generated images (known as CGI) may include taking images of an actor’s movements and then animating them into three-dimensional characters. Other animators design scenery or backgrounds for locations.

Artists and animators can further specialize within these fields. Within animated movies and video games, artists often specialize in characters or in scenery and background design. Video game artists may focus on level design: creating the look, feel, and layout for the levels of a video game.

Animators work in teams to develop a movie, a visual effect, or an electronic game. Each animator works on a portion of the project, and then the pieces are put together to create one cohesive animation.

Some multimedia artists and animators create their work primarily by using computer software or by writing their own computer code. Many animation companies have their own computer animation software that artists must learn to use. Video game designers also work in a variety of platforms, including mobile gaming and online social networks.

Other artists and animators prefer to work by drawing and painting by hand and then translating the resulting images into computer programs. Some multimedia artists use storyboards or “animatics,” which look like a comic strip, to help visualize the final product during the design process.

Many multimedia artists and animators put their creative work on the Internet. If the images become popular, these artists can gain more recognition, which may lead to future employment or freelance work.

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Work Environment

Multimedia artists and animators held about 71,600 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of multimedia artists and animators were as follows:

Self-employed workers 59%
Motion picture and video industries 12
Computer systems design and related services 6
Software publishers 5
Advertising, public relations, and related services 3

Many artists and animators work in offices; others work from home.

Work Schedules

Most multimedia artists and animators work a regular schedule; however, when deadlines are approaching, they may need to work nights and weekends.

Education and Training

Most multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or a related field to develop both an impressive portfolio of work and the strong technical skills that many employers prefer.

Education

Employers typically require a bachelor’s degree, and they look for workers who have a good portfolio and strong technical skills. Multimedia artists and animators typically have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, computer graphics, animation, or a related field. Programs in computer graphics often include courses in computer science in addition to art courses.

Bachelor’s degree programs in art include courses in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Degrees in animation often require classes in drawing, animation, and film. Many schools have specialized degrees in topics such as interactive media or game design.

Advancement

Multimedia artists and animators who show strong teamwork and time-management skills can advance to supervisory positions, where they are responsible for one aspect of a visual effects team. Some artists might advance to leadership or directorial positions, such as an art director or producer or director.

Other Experience

Skills in graphics and animation can be honed through self-study. Multimedia artists and animators can develop these skills to enhance their portfolios, which may make it easier to find job opportunities.  

Personality and Interests

Multimedia artists and animators typically have an interest in the Creating interest area, according to the Holland Code framework. The Creating interest area indicates a focus on being original and imaginative, and working with artistic media.

If you are not sure whether you have a Creating interest which might fit with a career as a multimedia artist and animator, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Multimedia artists and animators should also possess the following specific qualities:

Artistic talent. Animators and artists should have artistic ability and a good understanding of color, texture, and light. However, they may be able to compensate for artistic shortcomings with better technical skills.

Communication skills. Multimedia artists and animators need to work as part of a complex team and respond well to criticism and feedback.

Computer skills. Many multimedia artists and animators use computer programs or write programming code to do most of their work. Those with artistic talent, however, may be able to find work that does not require strong computer skills.

Creativity. Artists and animators must be able to think creatively to develop original ideas and make them come to life.

Time-management skills. The hours required by most studio and game design companies are long, particularly when there are tight deadlines. Artists and animators need to be able manage their time when a deadline approaches.

Pay

The median annual wage for multimedia artists and animators was $75,270 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $40,250, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $139,940.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for multimedia artists and animators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries $86,270
Software publishers 80,290
Computer systems design and related services 71,980
Advertising, public relations, and related services                  70,510

Most multimedia artists and animators work a regular full-time schedule; however, when deadlines are approaching, they may need to work nights and weekends.

Job Outlook

Employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Projected growth will be due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, and television. Job growth may be slowed, however, by companies hiring animators and artists who work overseas. Studios may save money on animation by using lower paid workers outside of the United States.

Consumers will continue to demand more realistic video games, movie and television special effects, and three-dimensional movies. This will create demand for newer computer hardware, which will enhance the complexity of animation and visual effects. Additional multimedia artists and animators will be required to meet this increased demand.

Further, an increased demand for computer graphics for mobile devices, such as smart phones, will lead to more job opportunities. Multimedia artists will be needed to create animation for games and applications for mobile devices.

Job Prospects

Despite positive job growth, there will be competition for job openings because many recent graduates will be interested in entering the occupation. In addition to having a robust portfolio, those who specialize in a specific type of animation or in a specific skill, such as drawing or computer programming, should have the best opportunities.

For More Information

For information about accredited schools of art and design, visit

National Association of Schools of Art and Design

For more information about careers in video game design, visit

Game Career Guide

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. On this site, you can take the Career Personality Profiler assessment, the Holland Code assessment, or the Photo Career Quiz.

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