Game art is different from game design and game development, although these names are often used interchangeably. While game art is considered a form of computer art, game artists may use non-digital art forms such as painting and sculpture to reach a specific goal. Fortunately, the nation’s game art programs are among the best in the world, so they cover all bases. In the state of California—home to more art schools than anywhere else in the world, several schools offer top-tier programs for aspiring game artists. What’s even better is, because California is a leader in the world of art and design, no matter which school a student chooses, they will find support from the art and design community at every turn.
For starters, California is home to numerous gaming conventions. BlizzCon, Gamex, Orcon, BlizzCon, Gateway, and the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) are just a few. While most of the state’s gaming conventions are high profile, E3 is one of the world’s largest. The convention is owned and operated by Washington DC-based Entertainment Software Association (ESA). In addition to a wide variety of gaming conventions, California is home to major game design companies, such as 42 Entertainment, Activision, Disney Interactive Studios, Blizzard Entertainment, and Electronic Arts/EA Games.
California also offers inspiration for artists of all kinds, whether you decide to study in a beach town or an urban area. Head to Newport Beach and you’ll find the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) or stop in Los Angeles to visit the world-renowned Getty, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) or the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Head down to San Diego where you’ll find the San Diego Museum of Art or drive all the way north to San Francisco where you’ll find the famous San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) or the de Young Museum. Besides renowned art museums and galleries, California is home to hundreds of independent art galleries, dozens of art and design centers, and numerous performing art venues.
California Game Art Schools
According to the latest figures by the Institute of Education Sciences, California is home to 454 Title IV schools. Many of these institutions are art and design colleges, while others are traditional universities that offer art and design programs. Scroll through the list below to review California’s best options for aspiring game artists and what they have to offer.
Ex’pression College for Digital Arts - Degrees Offered: B. A. S. Animation and Visual Effects; Game Art and Design; Motion Graphic Design
Laguna College of Art and Design - Degrees Offered: B. F. A. Graphic Design, Illustration, Game Art, Animation
Employment and Salary Trends for California Game Artists
California is home to more artists and designers than any other state. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report (March 27, 2012) shows that California is now home to 274,570 artists and designers, up from 226,000 in 2002. This figure is expected to continue growing well into 2018. Salaries are rising as well. According to the Bureau, the average annual salary for California artists and designers is $71,840, up from $51,380 in 2002. This means, California artists and designers are among the highest paid in the industry.
Salaries for game artists may vary greatly depending on a variety of factors such as company, industry, experience, benefits, or location. For example, according to job sites such as Simplyhired.com, San Francisco game artists average around $49,000 per year, while Los Angeles-based game artists average $41,000 per year. Artists with game art and animation experience may average considerably more overall. According to annual Game Developer Magazine US Salary Survey, “artists and animators” averaged $75,780 overall in 2011.