Florida has a lot to offer game artists. For starters the state hosts a wide variety of gaming conventions such as Florida Supercon (Miami’s Comic Con), MegaCon Orlando, and Otronicon, which is presented by Orlando Science Center. Next, the state is home to hundreds of gaming venues as well as a variety of annual tournaments, gaming organizations, and retailers. Finally, in response to explosive growth in the video game industry, Florida’s academic institutions have either developed new game art programs or expanded existing ones to help meet the demand for top talent.
Florida is home to 223 Title IV colleges and universities. They offer art and design programs at all degree levels as well as certificates, diplomas, and even enrichment programs. However, to get your foot in the door as a game artist, a bachelor’s degree or higher is usually preferred. Fortunately, programs are available at schools from Miami and Jacksonville to Sarasota and Boca Raton.
Besides a variety of schools that offer art and design programs, these cities and others offer a lively arts and culture scene. Just a few major art venues include Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, the Miami Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville, and Orlando Museum of Art (OMA). Florida is also home to hundreds of independent galleries that are open to all types of art from folk to digital to experimental.
In addition, the state is home to a nice collection of game design companies such as EA Orlando, FanDuel, also in Orlando, War Drum Studios in Gainesville, and Firebrand Cross, which is located in the unincorporated “town” of Merritt Island near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. These companies and others are always on the lookout for talented game artists.
Florida Game Art Schools
Florida is home a variety of major art and design schools from the College of Fine Arts at the University of Florida to Ringling College of Art and Design. The state’s art and design schools and traditional colleges are home to thousands of art and design students, and the number is growing. The schools below comprise some of the best options for aspiring game artists. Scroll through the list to find out what each has to offer.
Digital Media Arts College – Degrees Offered: BFA Computer Animation with a Concentration in Game Art
The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale - Degrees Offered: BS Game Art & Design
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School) – Degrees Offered: Diploma in Game Production. This intensive, 15-month program covers Modeling & Sculpting, Game Production, Game Engine Fundamentals, Game Asset Production, and Animation Fundamentals.
University of Central Florida + Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) – Degrees Offered: BA Digital Media with a Specialization in Game Design, MFA Emerging Media with a Digital Media Track, MA in Digital Media - Visual Language and Interactive Media
Ringling College of Art and Design – Degrees Offered: BFA Game Art & Design, BFA Computer Animation, Illustration, and Motion Design, BA and a Minor in the Business of Art & Design
Art Institute of Tampa – Degrees Offered: BFA Game Art & Design
Full Sail University - Degrees Offered: BS Game Art, BS Game Development, MS Game Design, MS Mobile Gaming
Employment and Salary Trends for Florida Game Artists
According to Creative Skill Set, game artists “create the visual elements of a game, such as characters, scenery, objects, vehicles, surface textures, clothing, props, and even user interface components. They also create concept art and storyboards, which help communicate the proposed visual elements during the pre-production phase.” As such, these professionals are members of the Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media (ADESM) occupations group, and are most closely related to the subgroup “Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators.”
Florida is home to 88,590 professionals working in ADESM occupations. Around 610 are fine artists. They average $42,960 per year, up from $32,490 in 2013 when the state was home to 880 fine artists. Fine artists working in the game design industry can expect to earn a much higher salary than most other fine artists earn. Top earners in the field typically earn $65,510 to $92,400 per year. It is not uncommon for an experienced game artist to earn six figures at a top game design company.
Regarding employment outlook, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an 11 percent increase in employment for ADESM occupations overall for the 2012-2022 decade. Fine artists can expect a four percent increase. However, game artists can likely expect the same employment increase as game designers and developers. Overall employment growth for game designers and developers (or software developers) is 22 percent for the 2012-2022 decade. This is much faster than average for all occupations.
While game artists may find employment opportunities in a number of smaller Florida cities and towns, consider starting your search in major cities such as Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Hialeah, Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale, Port St. Lucie, Cape Coral, and Pembroke Pines.
Awesome Animation Fact: While all of the characters and places in Disney’s "Hercules" (1997) have Greek names, there’s actually one character that does not—Hercules! Like “Mars” is for “Ares” and “Neptune” is for “Poseidon,” “Hercules” is actually the Roman name for the Greek figure “Heracles.” If the movie were to be consistent, the main character and title should have been Heracles. However, Disney executives went with the Roman “Hercules” because they said it was more familiar to the general public. –Hypable