The below is a conversation with Raw Fury's Rachel Runa, Mai Dinh, and members of the Work With Indies Discord community that took place in October 2022.
Happy Tuesday and welcome to today's AMA with Rachel Runa and Mai Dinh, who have generously agreed to spend the next hour with us answering questions about their career and open Graphic Designer position at Raw Fury!
Rachel, Mai, thank you so much for being here and sharing your insights with the Work With Indies community!
🤔 Let's get this rolling! Could you please tell us a little bit about who you are, your journey into games, and what you are up to now? - Katherine
🖐️ Rachel: Yay! My name is Rachel and I've been working as a Marketing Creative at the indie game publisher, Raw Fury for the last four years. I'm a self-taught Graphic Designer with experience creating a large variety of digital and print assets, establishing many of the creative processes used at Raw Fury.
I'm actually leaving Raw Fury to set out on a new adventure that starts Monday, haha. I'm looking forward to that but also looking forward to seeing who will get this open position at RF! I'm passionate about helping people break into the industry so I enjoy sharing advice.
🖐️ Mai: I'm Mai and I work alongside Rachel and am approaching 2-years as half of the Media Team. I love dabbling in all types of visual mediums, landing on graphic design and illustration as my specialty. I help design everything from the merch to the digital storefront thumbnails, to brochures, and everything in between. I'm a lifelong creative that enjoys seeing my work come to life Raw Fury is my first games industry job; I actually previously worked in sales at a healthware company!
🤔 While we wait for Mai's introduction, how would you describe your company culture, in your own words? - Katherine
⭐ Rachel: Raw Fury's tenants are stuck in my mind so writing about the company culture in my own words might be tough, haha. These tenants really shine through. Games are Art, Treat People like People, and For Happiness (Over Profit)!
There's a hidden Raw Fury tenant that is not online but we often refer to which is Get Sh*t Done. You can work how you want, where you want, but you just need to make sure your work is accounted for 🙂
🤔 When do we get to hear about the new gig? 😉 And, is this Senior Graphic Designer role essentially a backfill for your position? And, does that mean getting to work with Mai all the time?- Nate
⭐ Rachel: Hahaha, keeping my new job to myself has been SO HARD but I think the earliest I'd want to share is Sunday. This role has yes, essentially, become a backfill. Working with Mai is really great. She's been my work bestie. Mai is creative, responsible, and here for you. She's taught me a lot about what it's like to work with print designs!
🌙 Mai: Seconding Rachel on both describing the culture and what the new job entails. I'll be your partner-in-crime 😉
🤔 What kind of "style" would you be lookin' for? More so something cartoony, easier to render in-game? Or the meaty stuff like high detail? I would love to lend a hand as I'm currently a cartoon artist wanting to help design things (mostly characters!!) for other new projects, besides the fangames I already help with!! :]] - Bastian
⭐ Rachel: As graphic designers, we actually consider illustration to be a bonus skill!! It would be awesome to add more drawing skills to Raw Fury's arsenal. Our games all have varying styles - hand drawn, 3D, pixel, so versatility in your illustration is great.
🤔 What are some recent projects you've both worked on? Are these projects mostly done individually or as a team? - Katherine
⭐ Rachel: A project I'm actively working on right now is promotional assets for the release of Dome Keeper - on Sep 27. Something I guess I can't really share LOL. Mai and I split have been splitting the workload by games. We'll usually handle all the assets for that game that we're the lead for. Social, events, you name it! There are occasionally some projects we share such as Rawcember, our holiday campaign at Raw Fury.
🌙 Mai: As for me, and what I'm allowed to reveal, most of our recent projects were related to event assets and recent announcements. If you went to PAX West, Gamescom, etc., a lot of what you saw at the booth space was done by both Rachel and myself. My favorite project I've made recently has actually been all of the enamel pins we've sold and given away as swag at these events!
⭐ Rachel: This is an example of something Mai and I collaborated on -- MERCH! Mai has been amazing at working with our vendors to get print proofs, choose the best materials, and more. I designed the top row of Sable pins and that Dome Keeper pin (middle left). Mai handled the Atomicrops pin (middle right), and Cassette Beasts + Games are Art pin (bottom row).
🤔 That's quite an industry change. How were you able to successfully position yourself for your role given the non-game background, portfolio, etc? - Nate
🌙 Mai: Yes it was quite a change indeed! Even though I worked in sales and healthware, when you're an artist, that doesn't leave you. Before my sales job, I worked as a graphic designer for a non-profit and for my university, and I was doing a lot of personal art projects (including some small-time student dev projects). So I had a lot of material to work with prior to applying for Raw Fury, even if none of it was professional games experience. I first heard of the position through Rachel, actually, and just had to take a leap of faith!
🤔 The job description mentions "You can accept constructive criticism and can communicate politely and professionally." Rachel, can you tell us what accepting constructive criticism looks like at Raw Fury? Maybe tell us about a time that you received constructive criticism, what it was about, how it was communicated (performance review, email, 1:1), and how you responded/what you did about it? - Nate
⭐ Rachel: Ahh yes! We wrote this bullet point of the job description because this job will come with constructive criticism in the form of the feedback given toward what you've created. For example (and this is something I've received), you design an overlay for a stream on Twitch but a brand manager feels that the game's logo could be placed better. As a graphic designer, you need to accept that constructive feedback and make the appropriate edits. However, if you feel that what you've designed feels/looks right you should also give your reasoning. In this particular example, I agreed. However, if I didn't I'd explain/show why I feel like the decision I made is preferable.
🤔 How does working for Raw Fury remotely affect camaraderie in the virtual workplace? Are there events/async/meetups/etc done to ensure team cohesion? - Maggie
⭐ Rachel: This is a great question! Mai and I are both based in California, USA. Raw Fury is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. We have a development studio in Zagreb, Croatia. The #1 thing I love about working at Raw Fury (#2 being flexibility) is the people. Our coworkers and our developers. Our colleagues in a different timezone are SO NICE and reach out even with the ~8 hr time difference. I also have felt comfortable reaching out to them.
There are meetings just to chat over coffee, biannual meetups to meet in person, and various chats to ensure team cohesion!
🤔 Could you tell us a little more about how you organized your experience and projects to fit in the mold of video games? Do you have any tips for folks who have a similar background and want to break into games like you? - Katherine
🌙 Mai: Of course! What helped me was understanding who our stakeholders are and the types of projects I would potentially work on, and thinking about what parts of my current skillset/portfolio is transferable. For example, when you work with events, they often need someone who can organize a lot of information into a readable brochure or can blow up a key visual onto a giant wall. So, I show the projects that demonstrated that (for me that was a lot of the non-profit work I did, since the org I was a part of is actually a film organization!). Additionally, showing you are passionate about games is a plus.
🤔 What sort of marketing assets do you create the most? And do you have favorites you can show us - Katherine
⭐ Rachel: We create a lot of event signage, social media assets, and store/1st party platform assets (Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox, etc). I'll grab a few examples I feel we would want to see in people's portfolios. ONE SEC! Hahaha
Here's a staple of what we do - store assets. If you have anything like this in your portfolio, we will consider you golden. If you don't, my advice is to create some examples with any piece of game art just as practice.
One interesting thing about Steam capsules is that the base assets can no longer have text on them. For any accolades, ratings, or extra text "50% off" etc., they'll need to be art overrides. Just a little piece of info, haha.
⭐ Rachel: One piece I'd like to show that I'm super proud of is this artbook. An important part of graphic design is understanding the art that's given to you. I'm happy to have been able to organize everything in a way that really highlights all the concept art, renders, etc. In my interviews elsewhere, a lot of hiring managers/stakeholders loved this.
A good way to get experience on this outside of a "professional" workplace is through FAN ZINES!
✨ coool! I think I should start making such examples 👀😅 - adil
⭐ Rachel: YES!!! If anyone learns anything it's to look at other people's portfolios as examples and create similar things. I made this portfolio while working at RF so everything there is stuff we make all the time.
🤔 What is the coolest piece of flair that you would love to make to promote one of Raw Fury's games? - Jaime
🌙 Mai: Ooo this is a tough one. Honestly, I think it would be really cute to create either washi tape or book nooks (attached, for those unfamiliar).
🤔 I'd love to know if you guys have a favorite collaboration as well? Whether it's something like a hard task you were able to figure out together or that it was just the most fun! It's fun seeing someone's thought process - Faerieko
⭐ Rachel: This is my favorite collab for sure. Mai did the vectoring and I put together that typography. Our video/trailer maker friends animated this art for a short sizzle reel of what games would be on sale!
🤔 How closely do you work together with indie developers for asset creation? - Katherine
🌙 Mai: It depends! Many times we actually get requests filtered through our brand/marketing team. They generally work more closely with the devs than we do. Other times, we jump in and talk to the devs ourselves, especially for more involved projects or just to build that relationship. And then other times, some devs prefer to work on a lot of the basic stuff on their own and pull us in if they need to offload
🤔 I’ve noticed that the position is seeking a Senior level designer! Is that a must or are people with less experience still encouraged to apply? - Glo
⭐ Rachel: This is an excellent question. I think "senior" meaning different things in different places/cultures lead to the finalization of the title BUT I 100% encourage people with 3+ years of experience to apply. Your portfolio and what you've made matters the most in my opinion. And that's not really purely an opinion, if we're impressed by what you've made it doesn't matter how long you've worked.
🤔 Really cool assets that are being shown here Mai and Rachel! I’m really digging the work and what you both are doing. I’m curious about the average turnaround project timelines and how often would you both need to prepare something for production with short notice? - newmoniks
🌙 Mai: Good question! I generally like to think of our timelines in terms of weeks. For example, expect this asset by 1-week, 2-weeks, etc. and adjust it depending on how involved it is. However, short notice projects do happen, especially as we move closer and closer to major announcements, releases, or events.
🤔 As we reach the hour, any last words of encouragement for your open graphic designer role?? - Katherine
⭐ Rachel: My last words here are we appreciate people similarly passionate about Graphic Design. Do you like COLORS? Do you like space/negative space? Do you have favorite fonts like I do?? Then you'll find great company here.
For working at Raw Fury - I don't think we mentioned.. we have no middle-management!! We're a mostly flat structure. There's a lot of emphasis on autonomy. And that's really cool.
🌙 Mai: I've had so much fun today talking to all of you! Thank you all so much. As someone that was new to the industry 2-years ago, shoot your shot! We tend to be the hardest on ourselves when it comes to our work, so just have faith in your experience, skills, and passion for what you do. On the other side of the screen, we can sense sincerity Good luck!! 💕