If you are an aspiring concept artist, illustrator, or anything else that involves creating artwork, One important aspect that should be considered is Design.
When I use the word design, it can mean a variety of different things. It can mean graphic design, utilizing typography and layout. It can mean image composition within a frame, it could also mean color, fashion and product trends too.
For example, if you are creating an illustration with a character in a setting, the story of that image sets the tone for the design of the image. The story and genre takes place in a certain era, so that era dictates the design within your image—color, architecture, fashion, etc. That design is what visually supports and develops that story
If you are working on creating Concept Art, the same theory applies. Characters, Props, Vehicles, and Environments that need to be designed have to be given a look that correspond to the story. Again, this is design that develops the story.
Just recently I wrapped up working on creating Concept Art for a 60’s espionage game and an NBA game. Obviously, these are two very different worlds. However, immediately your brain can envision those worlds. James Bond (not the game title;) brings visuals of sharp, bold and clean fashion styles. How about the NBA? Same thing. Players (Characters), Uniforms (Fashion), the Ball (Color, Shape, Product), Logos (Graphic Design.) All of these properties point to Design—not art.
Research is always a fun part of the job. Going down the rabbit hole through different genres and into the details really helps to discover the nuances that build the visual design.
So whether you are developing Visual Development for Animation, or Concept Art for Video Games, the story visualizes the designs, and the designs support the story.
No matter which genre, design is a universal and fundamental language for creating artwork for the entertainment industry. The more we understand and apply this practice to our process, the more we expand the lore and believability of our art and world we are creating.