Universal Arts School Graduates on Presenting a Competitive Portfolio, Working in the Industry, and Lessons Learned Along the Way

Universal Arts School Graduates on Presenting a Competitive Portfolio, Working in the Industry, and Lessons Learned Along the Way

If you are planning on entering the Rookie Awards 2023, check out these valuable tips from Universal Arts School graduates who found success in 2022.

Universal Arts School graduates Oh Holy Mary and Juan Camilo Vallejo entered the Rookie Awards 2022 and share some valuable tips for fellow creatives who are looking to showcase their projects in this year's contest, and lessons they have learned which will put them on the right foot as they embark on their careers.

Why did you enter The Rookie Awards and what were you hoping to achieve?

Juan: My main goal was to put out some pieces of quality work that show my skills and strengths as a concept artist. Also, the idea was to try to connect with some people that are equally passionate about it because I'm a true believer in the greatness of knowledge you can get just by sharing with other people.

Work by Juan Camilo Vallejo

Oh Holy Mary: I decided to participate in the Rookies Awards because it's a wonderful opportunity to make myself known in the industry and to meet people who are part of this world.

What advice do you have for other students looking to enter this year?

Juan: The main piece of advice that I have is that you need to share your best work only. Try to share something that you're proud of and also something that is relevant to the industry you're trying to be a part of.

Oh Holy Mary: If I could give advice to future students, it would be to have clearly defined goals in mind. It's essential to know your likes and interests in order to focus on the right path and work accordingly.

Work by Oh Holy Mary
I am currently working as a Character Artist at Ophion Studios. In the past, I studied a higher degree in video games and was able to learn all the necessary steps to create a video game. Thanks to that, I discovered that what I liked the most was creating 3D characters. - Oh Holy Mary

What would you tell others about pursuing a creative career?

Juan: It's the best thing you can do if you're someone that enjoys creating stuff like I do. It's super rewarding, challenging and fulfilling.

Oh Holy Mary: I know that for some parents, pursuing a creative career may seem like a very big risk, but if you really want to be an artist, you will know that there is nothing that will fulfill you more than pursuing your dreams. If it's what you really want, there's no possibility of failure. Take risks for your dreams and fight for them with passion and determination.

Tell us more about the skills you have developed during your studies and why you think they'll be useful on your journey?

Juan: I think the best thing that I learned at Universal Arts School was the ability to draw properly. Learning the rules, the fundamentals and the science behind the behavior of the light, the perspective and all of that stuff. As a concept artist you need to be judged by your design thinking abilities, never ever by your fundamentals, so you better have those well sharp.

Work by Juan Camilo Vallejo

Oh Holy Mary: For me, one of the most important things I learned while studying at Universal Arts School was understanding how a pipeline works and my role within it. I learned how to use the necessary tools to carry out each stage of the production process efficiently and effectively.

What is the most valuable lesson learned at Universal Arts School? What would you say to students looking to start there?

Juan: There's a lot of lessons to be honest but I think what was most priceless to me was the feedback that I got from my teacher Andros Martinez. I just respect him and admire him so much that I was really humbled by all the criticism that he offered me. That really shaped the way I approach things right now.

I definitely recommend the school. But before you enter there you need to know some of the basics about what concept art really is. You need to be passionate about it, hard worker like anybody else. This is not a job where you can work for a couple of hours and expect to have a great result. In order to create amazing things, you need the will, the desire, the commitment and the discipline to do so.

Work by Juan Camilo Vallejo

Oh Holy Mary: Of the things I have learned, I would say that what I value most is the feedback from my teacher Rafa Costa. Rafa supervised the whole process and guided me to bring out my best version.

What opportunities have presented themselves to you after entering The Rookie Awards?

Juan: I think opportunities come when you have accomplished the objectives that you've been working for. Mine was to have a competitive portfolio. After The Rookies I participated in a contest from a school in Poland called Focal Point School and I won a course with them to study Advanced Environment Design. It was a perfect experience to gain more confidence in my abilities.

I am someone who has always had a great passion for design, art, and creating things in general. Being a concept artist is the perfect mix of those passions. I'm able to explore different ideas on many subject matters which makes the work a truly unique experience every day. Now, I'm about to kick off my career as a Concept Artist in Canada!  - Juan Camilo Vallejo

Oh Holy Mary: I am grateful to the Rookies because it made me focus on working to presenting a competitive portfolio, as this allowed me to have more opportunities to find work. Nowadays, I can proudly say that I work as a Character Artist at Ophion Studios.

Work by Oh Holy Mary

What are your next steps?

Juan: I'm currently working on learning new tools, getting better at my craft, my design and drawing skills. The plan is to move in the next few months to Canada where I will be starting my career as a Concept Artist. Hope to share the full news soon!

Oh Holy Mary: My next steps are to continue learning about this industry so I can demonstrate the quality that I really want to offer. I feel that I still have a lot to learn, but at least I know that I am on the right path.

To learn more about Universal Arts School, check out our Directory here.

And don't forget to enter your work in the Rookie Awards 2023!