I'm currently sat on the plane on the way home from an art and vfx conference absurdly named Trojan horse was a unicorn.... naturally.
The 4 day event was a mixture of technical talks and lectures as well as more informal workshop style presentations. All the big hitters were present and correct. ILM, check, pixar, check. You get the idea. There were also some well respected individuals the more famed of which were Raphael Lacoste, Loic Zimmermann, Aaron Mcbride and Scott Ross.
As well as sharing their techniques and approaches there was plenty of opportunity to take 5 or more minutes with them to chat or to get some feedback on your portfolio. This seemed like too good of an opportunity to turn down so after some hastily grabbed some work from my dropbox folder I went- a-hunting, ipad in hand.
I shared a beer with Kemp Remillard ( http://www.kempart.com/kawp) from Massive Black whilst he poured over my work offering me his thoughts. I got on good terms with the very awesome Justin Goby Fields (http://www.justinfields.com/), who again, was cool enough to review my stuff. So too did Loic Zimmerman (http://loiczimmermann.com/) and Dan Luvici (http://www.danluvisiart.com/). Thankfully the advice they gave were just tiny tweaks here and there so my ego came away pretty unscathed. It did give me some food for thought though on modern day approach to concept art. It's essentially summed as this:
Use every dirty trick in the book to make your design look as good as its can.
This isn't supposed to sound cynical. Its still takes an eye for design and a skill in application to make something look great otherwise everyone would be doing it. What i mean is that use 3D models, z brush models, photo bases, photo textures anything at your disposal, to give the best look in the shortest time frame.
If you want to be an art purist then production design in games and film is not the place for you. There are no prizes for artistic integrity and painting everything from scratch. No one cares how you got to the end result. The ends justify the means. Now if you'll excuse me i'm off to brush up on my 3d and z-brush