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How to Find a Technical Artist on LinkedIn in 2023

Hunting for talent is a bit like playing a strategy game – you need the right tactics, resources, and a sprinkle of creativity. As any seasoned gamer (or artist!) would tell you, mastering your tools is the prelude to epic achievements. At Nxt Level, we’ve unlocked achievement badges with indie prodigies and AAA powerhouses alike, including the legendary ProbablyMonsters, Counterplay Games, Cold Symmetry, and two dozen other gaming guilds, all in search of that elusive technical artist to add magic to their pixels. But, to avoid diving too deep into the game code (because let's face it, simplicity isn’t my default mode), let’s set our quest marker on finding a technical artist with a flair for crafting mesmerizing environments.


Navigating LinkedIn as a recruiter is much like navigating a complex database, and to do it efficiently, you need the right strategies and tools. Think of LinkedIn as your sprawling open-world game, filled with characters possessing unique abilities, hidden talents, and, most importantly, the potential to be your next star player. Like any grand journey, the road to recruiting nirvana is paved with challenges and distractions, but with the right playbook in hand, you'll be on the fast track to victory. Whether you're well-versed in LinkedIn recruiting or just starting out, this guide aims to equip you with effective methodologies. Let's leverage this platform to find the best technical artist talent out there.


Ready to level up?


Let’s build a list of keywords


Before diving into a search for technical artists, it's crucial to outline a list of key responsibilities. When operating within a gaming studio, it's essential to pinpoint the precise projects tailored for our specific game. When engaging with a client, I prioritize understanding the immediate features on their task list driving current needs and also probe into potential features influenced by other games.


From my past experience that could include some of the following:

Shaders:

  • Material Shaders: Custom shaders for different surfaces, like water, glass, or foliage.

  • Post-processing Shaders: Create visual effects like bloom, ambient occlusion, or color grading.

Terrain Tools:

  • Terrain Generators: Tools that can procedurally or semi-procedurally generate terrains.

  • Terrain Sculpting/Painting Tools: For artists to manually sculpt and paint terrains.

Foliage Systems:

  • Procedural or semi-procedural tools for placing trees, plants, and other vegetation.

LOD (Level of Detail) Systems:

  • Create and manage different resolution models to optimize game performance based on camera distance.

Lighting Tools:

  • Global Illumination Tools: To simulate realistic lighting.

  • Baking Tools: Pre-compute lighting information for static objects.

Destruction & Decay Systems:

  • Tools to simulate the destruction of environments or decay over time.

Procedural Modeling Tools:

  • Tools to generate environment assets like rocks, trees, or buildings based on certain parameters.

Weather and Atmospheric Systems:

  • Tools to simulate weather effects, like rain, snow, fog, etc.

Water Simulation Systems:

  • Tools for creating realistic water bodies, including oceans, rivers, and lakes.

Physics-Based Simulation Tools:

  • For cloth, hair, or even certain environmental elements like flags, vines, etc.

Texture Baking Tools:

  • Convert high-resolution models to game-ready assets while retaining details.

Pipeline and Workflow Automation Tools:

  • Automate repetitive tasks like importing/exporting assets or setting up initial materials.

Asset Management and Versioning Tools:

  • Manage different versions of environment assets and track changes.

Performance Profiling Tools:

  • Tools to monitor the performance of environments, detect bottlenecks, and suggest optimizations.

Custom Importers/Exporters:

  • To streamline the transfer of assets between different software, like Maya and Unreal Engine.

Rigging and Animation Tools for Environmental Objects:

  • Tools for animating environment elements like doors, elevators, or even trees.

Mood & Ambiance Tools:

  • Create tools to easily tweak the ambiance or mood of an environment, affecting lighting, sound, and effects.

Terminology that Technical Artists might commonly use includes:

  • Normals, Bump, and Displacement Maps: Techniques to simulate surface details.

  • PBR (Physically-Based Rendering): A shading model in computer graphics that seeks to render graphics in a way that more accurately models the flow of light in the real world.

  • Vertex Colors: Using the color information stored in a mesh's vertices for various effects.

  • Tessellation: The process of subdividing a surface into smaller shapes.

  • UV Mapping: The process of projecting a 2D image onto a 3D model's surface.


So, now that I’ve built you an exhaustive list of functions, tools, and phrases you need to decide what the “immediate need” is going to be. Typically, I identify this by understanding the interview process and how a client is going to evaluate a candidate. If we’re looking for someone to build out their world-building system I know that I am going to pick the following:

  • Terrain Generators: Tools that can procedurally or semi-procedurally generate terrains.

  • Terrain Sculpting/Painting Tools: For artists to manually sculpt and paint terrains.

  • Tools to generate environmental assets like rocks, trees, or buildings based on certain parameters.

While I understand other tools might be needed, I also need to limit my options. It’s just like building a Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy like a Product Manager. There’s a big difference between Total Addressable Market (TAM) and Total Relevant Market (TRM). The TRM in this case is a technical artist that can help with the immediate needs of world building. Everything else that would be “nice to have” will be an immediate distraction as we’re about to venture into LinkedIn Land.


Keep it simple stupid

Seriously, all the recruiting Gurus out there will give you a crazy boolean search that’ll look like a bunch of word math. The best thing you can do when you first start out is just build a simple search on LinkedIn that’s very specific to your needs.


Brute Force Technique:


The Brute Force Method is to right-click and open up every single tab. However, this can be extremely time consuming. This is why there are so many memes joking about 20 million open tabs for recruiters.





Searching Previous Employers

Maybe your game is inspired by games like God of War, Minecraft, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, No Man’s Sky, or Horizon Zero Dawn. Why do they stand out for environmental technical art?

  • "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" by CD Projekt Red: The game's vast and varied landscapes, from dense forests to sprawling cities, are not only impressive in detail but also in how seamlessly they're integrated without loading screens.

  • "Minecraft" by Mojang: Though not graphically detailed like the other games on this list, Minecraft's procedural terrain generation tooling has been revolutionary, allowing for infinite, varied landscapes in its sandbox world.

  • "No Man's Sky" by Hello Games: This game's ambition of creating a universe filled with 18 quintillion planets relies heavily on procedural generation. While it had a rocky start, subsequent updates refined the game and showcased the potential of procedural environment tooling on a grand scale.

  • "Horizon Zero Dawn" by Guerrilla Games: Its post-apocalyptic world, filled with robotic creatures and lush nature reclaiming the earth, stands out for its intricate details and dynamic weather systems.

If you’re able to identify games that inspire you it will allow you to build yourself a list of people that you can go to. You can go to MobyGames and find credits to identify the folks with shipped credits. However, for the purpose of this article, I’m going to show a screenshot of simply finding the right person.


In this case, let’s pretend that you have the Free Version of LinkedIn. That makes things a little tricky. That’s where I’m going to give you some sourcing wizardry with some recruiting word math.


Search Using Employer:

When conducting a Boolean search, it's crucial to understand which terms to include and how to connect them using operators (AND, OR, NOT) to yield the most accurate results.

Here's a potential Boolean search string to find someone who works at any of the mentioned gaming companies in the United States:

("Hello Games" OR "Guerrilla Games" OR Mojang OR "CD Projekt Red") AND ("United States" OR USA OR California OR “New York”)

Here's the reasoning for each part:

  • Quotation Marks:

    • When the name of a company or any other phrase has more than one word, we use quotation marks to ensure the search considers the words together as a phrase.

    • Example: "Hello Games", "Guerrilla Games", and "CD Projekt Red" are enclosed in quotes to search for these exact phrases.

  • OR Operator:

    • This is used to connect alternative terms. The search engine will find any of the listed companies.

    • Example: By saying "Hello Games" OR "Guerrilla Games", the search will find profiles that mention either company.

  • AND Operator:

    • It's used to ensure that all terms connected by AND are present in the results. In this context, we want someone who is associated with one of the specified companies AND is located in the United States.

  • Location:

    • Both "United States" and its common abbreviation "USA" are used to ensure that profiles that use either term will be found.

This search string can be used on platforms like LinkedIn or any other job platform that supports Boolean search. Remember, the efficiency of the search might slightly vary depending on the search algorithms of the specific platform. Also, while this string will give you results of people associated with these companies in the US, it won't filter by current employment, so some results might be of former employees.

If you are looking to search LinkedIn in specific countries you’re going to use the following logic:

United States of America

-intitle:"profiles" -inurl:"dir/ " site:www.linkedin.com/in/ OR site:www.linkedin.com/pub/

Canada:

-intitle:"profiles" -inurl:"dir/ " site:ca.linkedin.com/in/ OR site:ca.linkedin.com/pub/

UK:

-intitle:"profiles" -inurl:"dir/ " site:uk.linkedin.com/in/ OR site:uk.linkedin.com/pub/

Australia:

-intitle:"profiles" -inurl:"dir/ " site:au.linkedin.com/in/ OR site:au.linkedin.com/pub/

China:

-intitle:"profiles" -inurl:"dir/ " site:cn.linkedin.com/in/ OR site:cn.linkedin.com/pub/

Brazil:

-intitle:"profiles" -inurl:"dir/ " site:br.linkedin.com/in/ OR site:br.linkedin.com/pub/

Germany:

-intitle:"profiles" -inurl:"dir/ " site:de.linkedin.com/in/ OR site:de.linkedin.com/pub/


So, let’s build some logic for the US:

("Hello Games" OR "Guerrilla Games" OR Mojang OR "CD Projekt Red") AND ("United States" OR USA OR California OR “New York”) -intitle:"profiles" -inurl:"dir/ " site:www.linkedin.com/in/ OR site:www.linkedin.com/pub/



5,010 is always going to be too much as a result. We can really only look at the first 100 pages on Google with 15 URLs on each page resulting in 1,500 max on a good day. In addition, the core problem right now is that we don’t have any logic related to an Environment Artist. So, we now need to add some technical knowledge there.


So, we are going to go back to the core bullet points we selected earlier:

  • Terrain Generators: Tools that can procedurally or semi-procedurally generate terrains.

  • Terrain Sculpting/Painting Tools: For artists to manually sculpt and paint terrains.

  • Tools to generate environmental assets like rocks, trees, or buildings based on certain parameters.

(“Terrain Generators” OR “Terrain Sculpting tool” OR “procedurally generated” OR “world building tool” OR “scripting environments” OR “foliage tool”) AND “Technical Artist” -intitle:"profiles" -inurl:"dir/ " site:www.linkedin.com/in/ OR site:www.linkedin.com/pub/

This gives us 189 relevant targets that have the keywords that we are looking for in a technical artist. Now, if you want to make that number even lower we can adjust keywords like “Unreal Engine” or add very specific studios we want to identify.


Even if you’re not a 2nd degree or 3rd degree connection and you’re using the free version of LinkedIn you can find candidates and unlock access to see their profiles that you couldn’t organically see unless you were paying for a premium version.


Outside of just using the search bar on LinkedIn, there are additional tools and resources on the platform to attract technical artists. Some of those strategies include;


Optimized LinkedIn Profile for Recruiting:

Ensure your recruiter profile clearly states your role and the kind of talent you are looking for. This can attract potential candidates to connect with you.


Advanced Search:

  • Utilize LinkedIn's Advanced Search feature.

  • Use specific keywords such as "Technical Artist", "AAA games", "procedural environment tooling", and software/tool names like "Houdini", "Substance Designer", or others related to procedural environments.

  • Filter the results by locations, current companies, past companies, and schools, if needed.

Post a Job:

  • Create a detailed job post on LinkedIn specifying the requirements and responsibilities.

  • Highlight the importance of AAA experience and a specialization in procedural environment tooling.

LinkedIn Groups:

  • Join groups related to game development, technical artistry, and AAA gaming.

  • Engage in discussions or share your job post to get the attention of potential candidates.

Utilize LinkedIn Recruiter:

  • This premium feature offers more advanced search tools and provides insights about candidates.

  • You can also send InMails to potential candidates directly, even if they are not connected with you.

Engage with Content:

  • Share articles, news, and updates about the gaming industry, technical artistry, and tooling. Engaging posts can attract potential candidates to view your profile and reach out.

Recommendations and Endorsements:

  • Check recommendations and endorsements on candidates' profiles. This can give you a better understanding of their expertise and credibility in the industry.

Network with Industry Professionals:

  • Connect with professionals in game development, especially those in leadership or hiring roles. They might know potential candidates or can provide referrals.

Alumni Tools:

  • If you are aware of specific schools or universities that have strong game development or technical art programs, use the alumni search tool to find graduates who fit the criteria.

Engage with Active Contributors:

Some technical artists might be sharing their work, projects, or tutorials on LinkedIn. Engage with them, appreciate their work, and initiate a conversation about potential opportunities.


Check Activity and Interests:

View a candidate's activity on LinkedIn. Their posts, comments, and the content they engage with can give insights into their professional interests and expertise.


Follow Companies:

Follow AAA game development studios on LinkedIn. Monitor employees who list their expertise in the required domain. This can help in creating a list of potential candidates to reach out to.


Lastly, always approach potential candidates with a personalized message that shows you've researched their profile and believe they could be a fit for the role. This personalized touch can increase your chances of getting a positive response.


In Conclusion:

As the CEO of Nxt Level, I understand that locating the right technical artist can feel like hunting for a rare in-game artifact. But with the right strategies, the search can be both efficient and rewarding. Whether you’re keeping it straightforward on LinkedIn or going for an advanced x-ray boolean search through Google, remember that every tool and tactic has its place. It's about knowing when and how to deploy them. At Nxt Level, we believe in simplifying complexities, but we also champion the value of a deep dive when the situation demands it. Equip yourself with these methods, and you're not just recruiting – you're leveling up in the grand game of talent acquisition. Until next time, game on and recruit smart! 🚀🎮


If you need help finding a technical artist don’t hesitate to reach out. Check out our Success Stories.








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