Learning to Learn: Leveling Up in the Gaming Industry

Graduating and starting your journey into the gaming industry can be daunting, especially with Miss Rona causing a lot of fresh talent in the industry to start their careers working from home. As SockMonkey has grown over the past year, there have definitely been some challenges which have come with the territory of working on a new game and welcoming new faces to the team – but our latest artistic addition Emily hasn’t let anything stand in her way

Battling burnout

“One of the hardest things for me when I was trying to break into the industry was a fear of wasting time. I’m always so hard on myself when it comes to feeling like I haven’t done enough to perfect my art throughout the day.” 

As a side-note readers should know that Emily is ridiculously hard working and the above is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard her say. 

“Something I learned the hard way was that, although university taught me a lot, you can’t rely on it to teach you everything about art. At uni I always worked hard, sometimes to the point of burnout, and it was only recently I figured out how to ‘learn’ for myself. This might sound confusing but what I mean is that when you’re practicing art you’re also practicing learning, because with art that’s what you’re doing constantly. Work you thought was your best a year ago might make you cringe when you look back at it – but that’s okay.” 

Side by ide Jester Lavorre sculpt by Emily Harrison
Jester Lavorre sculpt by Emily Harrison, Character belonging to Laura Bailey from Critical Role


“Always check back on your old work too, it’s a great way to see how much you’re improving even if you don’t always feel like it.” 

Never stop learning

“Something I don’t think is always taught to students is how to teach ourselves. A lot of us end up believing that learning is just a memory game and we end up not really knowing the fundamentals. We all learn in our own way and at a different pace and that’s okay, the most important thing is passion for your work and a drive to improve.” 


Solas sculpt by author, Character from Bioware’s Dragon Age
Solas sculpt by Emily Harrison, Character from Bioware’s Dragon Age

Another thing to remember is that art takes time, and no matter who you are there’s always room for improvement, so don’t beat yourself up or become too complacent in your natural talent. 

Something I have learnt over the years is that there is a danger in being someone with innate talent or general intuition as it means you feel as though you do not need to work as hard as those without it (and who can blame us when our early years are often spent praised and looked up to); but this simply means that those so passionate to improve their skill set will surpass you so much swifter and you will realise the time you’ve lost in bettering yourself all thanks to complacency. In the end passion and drive will always push you further than simply being good at something. 


You may also begin to develop mistrust when you receive positive feedback; make sure you seek it from the right people and the right places. Posting art to your friends and family, for example, will likely result in only kind words and not be helpful to your improvement. This idea is something Marco Bucci looks into in depth in one of their videos.” 

 Creativity and the Campfire Audiobook tile

“If you sometimes feel like you’re fighting a losing battle with inspiration, then I’d definitely recommend checking out both that video and the audiobook ‘Creativity and the Campfire as they were both great aids for me.” 

The power of luck

“Unfortunately, there is one factor you can’t control when it comes to landing your first job in the industry and that’s luck. I can’t lie that luck has a habit of being picky and even today privilege does play a part in landing your first job. Some people are lucky enough to be granted that all important time to learn – which is why it’s important that companies also take the time to nurture talent and take chances on fresher graduates.

Emily Harrison Closeshot of artwork
Grand Space Opera, Light Age by Emily Harrison


Speaking of chances, when it comes to applying for your first role in the industry it’s important to push yourself and take those chances, too. I landed my first job thanks to getting over my fears and taking chances. I attended networking events I was anxious to go to; meeting my first employer and making a good impression. And that first foot in the door can be a great boost; if you get people talking and talk to people you’ll learn about opportunities. I can’t stress the importance of networking; you never know when someone will put you forward for a recommendation. This is exactly what happened with me! Patience and persistence are always very important; you might hate doing it but keep asking! Stay on people’s minds! Even if it’s simply by being brave and putting your work out to receive critique; you might even win a competition…”

Rising Star Competition banner
 The Search For a Star/Rising Star competition organised by Grads in Games is a great example of opportunities available to us creatives; a chance to get your work in front of the right people, even if just to receive valuable feedback! They even run a Discord server with a great community of learning creatives; an awesome place to discuss work and trade techniques. 

You do you

People will always see your passion so never shelter your niche, never try to cater to a more popular trend of style simply in a reach to gain more eyes on your work. You’ll build a box for yourself and punish your unique creative flair. Not to mention you’ll struggle to be inspired to create unless you love it! Of course work is work and it can be hard to find joy in what you are doing from time to time. But that’s a whole other topic on finding your way in life. I could continue to ramble on for far too long, and honestly everyone needs to take that at their own pace and find their own way to pick it apart; I can’t do that for you. Heck, maybe even all of this rambling was more of a waste of my time! But if someone can relate and it helps even one person then I’m okay with that.” 

At SockMonkey Emily is currently kicking artistic ass to bring our new game Fish Tanks to Early Access, so head over to Steam to Wishlist the game now and follow SockMonkey on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more updates. Check out more of Emily’s awesome work on ArtStation and Twitter and check out the rest of the blog for some words from the other members of the SockMonkey team.

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