Behind the scenes
Rogue One artist Finnian MacManus shares his tips for creating a strong portfolio of concept work that will catch the eye of film art directors
Film art’s rising star Finnian MacManus lifts the curtain on life as a full-time concept artist.
When I was a student, I couldn’t find information about how to break in to the film industry. Concept artists within the profession talked to each other, but rarely with anyone outside the loop, making it difficult to understand what distinguished film work from everything else. Concept art as used in film has many facets, and these tips are specifically geared toward emphasising clarity and narrative in your portfolio.
The advice I give comes from my experiences and observations within the entertainment field, which is fastpaced and continually changing. To stay relevant, concept artists must adapt quickly, and keep ahead of the curve in a challenging environment. Understanding what art directors and production designers look for when assembling their teams is crucial, as is streamlining your process, since time is always of the essence.
Joining a project offers many opportunities and you should learn as much as possible from every one. Since the concept work on a film can last from a few months to a few years, knowing how the industry works and being able to transition seamlessly between jobs will help you stay on the production as long as possible
Most important, though, are your co-workers: building strong relationships with them can inspire and improve your own work. These friendships can be the backbone of your future in the industry, whether in the short or long term.