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Ricardo Kayanan - interviewed in 2007
Sorry-- recent photo not available.
Mr. Kayanan lives in San Francisco and works as a 3d artist for Locomotion.

1.  In the digital entertainment field, how open is it-- are there  several jobs? 
The term digital entertainment is a pretty open term in  itself. That can consist of a lot of things such as video game creation, Film,  video and the internet. There are several jobs in each discipline. I'll be  talking more from the video game content creation/artist perspective since  that's what I do.
A game studio can come in different sizes from small 40+  people to a large studio that has 300+ people working on one title. It usually  depends on what platform the title will be released for or if it's a AAA title  like an Electronic Arts sports game. A handheld game will have a smaller team  than a next gen console due to the fact that next gen consoles require more  assets and is much more powerful than a handheld.
Within each team working on  a title you can have producers, assistant producers, designers, programmers, artist and game testers. Within the field of artist you can have people that  specialize in one thing such as character modelers, texture artist, level artist  and shell designers. Depending on the size of the studio an artist may have to  fill more than one role.

2.  Should I pursue a degree?  What type?
This is a really personal question you have to ask  yourself. I think college can be a great experience overall but not  necessarily a required one for being an artist. If you go to a large or  well respected school you can make some good connections for future networking. 
Ultimately it comes down to having a good reel or portfolio that shows you have  talent, a good work ethic and brains.

3.  What tools should I  learn? 
As an artist the first tool you should learn is pencil  and paper. Draw a lot and cultivate your imagination as well as technical  skills. Don't get tunnel vision on the tools if you suck or are great as an  artist it doesn't matter what you use.
As far as digital tools most  game companies use
Maya or 3D Studio Max for 3D modeling and Photoshop for  texturing/painting. Some companies are incorporating Zbrush for normal  mapping into their pipeline. If you're just starting out and  learning any current package will do. It's really good to know  your tools just don't get married to them. Software changes rapidly and you have  to keep up to date.

4.  Dough.  How much would I earn as  an entry level employee?  
This depends on your location and the economy. An entry  level artist starting today in LA or SF for an established game  company can usually start for around 40K a year. An experienced lead artist can make up to six figures depending on the company.

5.  You live  in 'Frisco-- are there regions that I should take up residence? 
It's preferable to be in a location like SF and LA  because there are a lot of game and vfx companies and a company won't have to  worry about flying you in for an interview or how you're going to get to work  and other practical reasons. Most companies will look for local talent first for  entry level stuff.
If you're really exceptional your mileage may  vary.

6.  How do I advertise/network myself so that I'm  'discovered' by the
After you have created a good demo reel or cd you  really just have to put it out there. Use the internet to find job postings on  sites like gamasutra and cgchannel and mail them your stuff. If you don't see a  posting but like a specific company go ahead and send in your stuff anyway. Try  posting on various cgi related sites to ask and answer questions as well as  showing your work.
The thing to remember is that your reel/work will always need  to improve so just keep working at it. Try not to be desperate and have some  patience. And don't forget to include your contact info.

7.   What schools do you recommend to polish my abilities? 
There are lot of good art schools out there. I really  don't have a recommendation for any particular one. I suggest you find a school that focuses on a traditional art background as well as  digital.

8.  What was your favorite project? 
My favorite project is usually the one I'm working on  :) Right now we are doing Pixars Cars for psp.

9.  The Hive,  Pixar, ILM, Rythm & Hues; are there companies that I should stay away from? 
Not when you're just starting. I'd be wary of start-ups but if a company has been around a couple of years it should be ok. I would just get my foot in the door. You'll find that you'll get more job offers once you start working :)

10.  What conventions do you  suggest I attend? 
If you're looking for a job? None. If you want to see cool stuff then Siggraph or E3-- if you can get in.

11.  Which  areas of the industry are the fastest growing? (i.e., Video Gaming, TV/Movie  production, Commercial Illustration, etc.) 
I can't really speak for the rest but gaming is huge  and constantly growing. With the introduction of next gen consoles even more  work is required to produce a title.

12.  What was the most  recent 'shitty' movie you seen? 
Rent. I saw the play in the 90's in NY and hated it then too. You just want to yell "Just get a job you slackers!" 

13.  What is your favorite movie?
I don't really have a favorite but I watch almost everything :)