How to approach fx studios?

Hi everyone, 
I work as an Art teacher in public school, but when night comes, I become a creature maker, designing, sculpting and painting my own creations. I want to make my passion a full time dayjob. Today, I really want to jump in and start to look for a job in the monster making industry and I have a few questions about that.
First of all, what kind of job a monster designer and sculptor can get? What are the different possibilities for me to live from my sculptures, beyond the cinema industry? I live in France, and sculpting monsters is not very common and popular here... I have to admit that I don't really know how to start my job search.

I've just finished to select pictures of my work for my portfolio, but I don't know which form I should give to it. Especially if I send it by e-mail. What organism should I contact, and how can I do it?

I know there is a lot of questions here, but if someone has some answers or advices to provide, it would be really helpfull for me!!



  • Hi Barthe, 

    Unlike a traditional career as a doctor or lawyer or tradesman, there's not a straight path to becoming a professional monster maker. Every journey is unique.

    Fortunately, there are many ways to fulfill your passion. You don't have to work in films or television to create creatures and characters.

    Here's a few other career possibilities for someone who enjoys making monsters:
    • Action-Figure, Toy and Collectibles Industry
    • Live Themed Entertainment (Walking with Dinosaurs, etc.)
    • Amusement Park Character Maker
    • Haunt Attractions
    • Mask Making Industry
    Regarding your portfolio, you should be able to share it in both physical and digital form, and you can format it however you like. It's basically a slideshow of your work, so you can customize however you want to present it. The key is that you show ONLY your best work, and hopefully work that proves your passion and the range of your artistic ability.

    While there are FX shops all around the world, we are located in Los Angeles so we are most familiar with our local FX shops. You'll find a list of them below:
    FINALLY, we happen to have a course series that covers this topic in depth!! It's by veteran creature creator Shannon Shea and it's called Garage Monsters. You can check out all 3 parts below: 
    Hope that helps and good luck with your new adventure,

  • Thank you so much Matt!! I will seriously work on it!
    And maybe when my portfolio is done, I could send it to have your opinion about it? By "you", I mean someone of your team, I know you're a busy man. 
    Thank you again for your answer, it's really helpfull and important for me, I'm currently like entering into my life's crusade to make my passion my dayjob! I'm ready to do everything I have to do, including moving into another country.
    I will continue to post on the forum, hope we meet there again,

  • Hey Barthe, 

    Glad to be of help. It's always exciting for us to see an artist make the decision to pursue their passion full time.

    Definitely feel free to share your portfolio when it's done and we'll be happy to give you our feedback on it.

    Until then, wishing you all the best from your creative family at Stan Winston School!


  • Thank you for your words, it's really motivating for me! 
    I 'll keep you in touch and defenitely will do the best I can!

  • Hello Matt, 

    As I told you a few months ago, I was working on building my portfolio. During the past weeks I had sculptures to finish, to add into, and pictures to make. It was quite a tough task to choose between all the pictures I took, but it's finaly done!! 
     If you have time to check it out, it would be really helpful for me to have your feedback.
     You will find a link to my portfolio below.
     Thank you for your time, I hope to hear from you soon,

  • Hello, Barthe.

    First off, VERY nice work!!!

    Here are some recommendations I would suggest:

    1. Try to reduce the file size of your PDF Portfolio as best you can. The content is GREAT. But, due to the file size, it makes it a little cumbersome to download. Please understand that most of the potential employers tend to have little time just to look at portfolios. So, the quicker you can impress them with the quality of your work, the better.

    2. To add to this, present the artwork that you feel is your absolute best, first. Don't leave it buried on "page 36" or later. Remember, time is precious. So, the fewer pages they need to look at before they're thinking, "Wow, this lady/guy is fantastic!!! I gotta hire her/him RIGHT NOW!", the better off you'll be.

    3. You need to decide which aspects of the process of "Monster-making" you enjoy doing most. Most employers tend to want to hire folks to do one or two specific aspects. It is rare that somebody is hired to see a project from concept to completion, completely. Usually, they will hire specifically concept illustrators, sculptors, mould-makers, painters, finishers, etc. From what I see from your PDF Portfolio, it would appear that you greatly enjoy concept design, sculpting, painting, and finishing. Which of those specific aspects do you love doing most? Try to make that the greatest focus of your presentation.

    4. It may be a nice touch to show some examples of your past work, that you mention in your brief Bio. This should be presented towards the end of your portfolio. Where it would be helpful is for use in "follow up" questions the interviewer might have. While it is likely it won't be THE thing that gets you the job, having it on hand will look good to have available.

    5. It is ok, if not preferred to have more than one portfolio. If you do have more than one, try to tailor each of them to ONE specific subject. For example, a sculpting portfolio, a concept design portfolio mould-making, etc. ... And, keep the portfolios light. Size only matters when it comes to dinosaurs. or kaiju. A physically big portfolio can be a detriment, and be cumbersome in public events. Usually, it should be no larger than your average book. This will make it easier for YOU to carry around, and for possible employers to look at in busy venues.

    6. DO NOT be discouraged if you don't get hired immediately. This is not a reflection on the quality of your work or you personally. There will be times when no one is hiring at all. Other times, they may all be begging to hire at the same time. This is more dependant on the needs of current productions than anything else. Just because they might not hire you on the spot doesn't mean they will NEVER hire you. Employment can be VERY fickle in this industry.

    7. POLITELY stay in contact with potential employers. Let them know you are still interested and available at short notice. Usually, when a production starts, they need to crew up YESTERDAY! They don't often have the luxury to sit back and pick & choose who they want to hire. It's typically a last-minute scramble. If you made a good impression, and they know they can bring you in at a moments notice, you are very likely to be one of the ones they call upon.

    8. NETWORK!!! Meet and try to get to know as many local film-makers as you can. The more folks you know, and build a good reputation with the better. Most jobs in this industry are to be had by personal referral. As I mentioned before, when most shops set up for a production, they have extremely little time to get ready. So, most crews are composed of folks they've worked with before, and/or are found through "a friend of a friend".

    9. You are only as good as the last project you worked on. By this I mean, work diligently, efficiently, reliably, and be pleasant to deal with. If you can consistently do good work, AND people like working with you, you WILL get hired again. If the quality of your work is sloppy, slow, wasteful, and you are nasty to everyone around you, they will think twice about calling on you again. Productions can get stressful enough, no one wants to work with people they can't stand to be around.

    10. Refrain from profanity, drinking, casual drug use, and other undesirable behaviours anywhere near set, or the fx shops. This is just a matter of being professional. There is a time and place for everything, this is not it. There have been many who have been caught up in this, and it has come back to haunt them, personally and professionally. No specific names will be mentioned, but there are a few well-known artists that have had shortened careers because of problems in this area. You don't want this to happen to you.

    None of the above is intended in any way as a personal criticism. But, hopefully, there is some wisdom here that you find beneficial. I wish you the absolute best in your pursuit. Getting into this field can feel very exasperating at times. But, perseverance tends to pay off in the long run. So keep at it!!!

    Good luck.
  • Hello Jeffrey.

    First of all, thank you for all your great advices!! I will work on every single one and try my best to follow them. There is still so much I have to improve in the presentation of my work, and you gave me a lot of good insights.
     I am currently trying to pursue my passion fulltime and I know that the road will be hard, but I 'm ready for that! But yeah, everything you say is great and really helpful for me at this point. There is so much things I still have to work on, broadcasting my work, to establish a social media presence and relationships, etc.

    Thank you again for your time and for answering me with so much precision, this is really motivating! 

  • Matt WinstonMatt Winston Admin
    edited November 2019
    Hey Florian,

    I've taken a look at your portfolio and am reminded of how talented you are! I'm a big fan of your work.

    Jeffrey has some very good professional advice and ideas for improving the presentation of your portfolio. A few things I would like to echo from his list:

    LESS IS MORE -  only include your absolute favorite creations. If an employer likes what they're seeing, they will ask to see more. And for the creatures you include, you only need 1 or 2 shots, not 4 or 5. 

    SHOW PROCESS - Sharing a few process images would be great (to show your versatility) and perhaps consider creating a different portfolio for each specialty (sculpture, molding, casting, painting etc.) as Jeffrey suggested.

    BE PATIENT - This is your life's mission and there is no deadline. Enjoy every step along the way and you will eventually be able to support yourself doing what you love. You have real talent and I believe you were born to do this!

    RELATIONSHIPS - Couldn't agree more with Jeffrey about networking. This industry, like many others, is all about relationships.

    Hope that helps!

    Post edited by Matt Winston on
  • Hello Matt !!

    Thank you for your answer and for your words!! I'm already working on a new version of my portfolio, according to Jeffrey's advices. I'm so pleased to have such a  feedback from you guys, and am even more motivated!! I still have a lot of things to improve, but you gave me some serious keys and tools to work with.
    I'll post my progression here, if I may, to keep you informed and maybe, one more time, have your opinion about it.

    Thank you again Matt, for your work, your time, your help and your words,

    I'll be back!



  • Matt WinstonMatt Winston Admin
    edited November 2019
    Hey Florian,

    Happy to be of help! I look forward to seeing the new version of your portfolio when you're ready to share.

    Have a great week,

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