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The Initiative

Art Director - Concept

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The Initiative
🇺🇸 Santa Monica, CA

The Initiative, located in Santa Monica and part of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios, is the development team creating Perfect Dark. Our studio is about craft, creating story, innovating, and looking ahead to the next big thing. At The Initiative, we are looking for collaborative problem solvers who want to dive into something new and create groundbreaking experiences for our players. Join us for this once-in-a-career opportunity to help build the studio, define our culture, and create an environment that attracts world-class talent.  

We are looking for an Art Director-Concept to join our Perfect Dark development team. This role will focus on setting the visual bar for visual brand, 2D concept design, worldbuilding, key art, and other awe-inspiring artwork to set our artistic vision. Qualified applicants will have extensive Artistic expertise, creative problem-solving experience, strong attention to detail, and imagination to explore iterations and produce final creative designs.

In this role as Art Director-Concept, you will be a key stakeholder in project success and committed to the studio mission. You will work seamlessly with other Directors to set audacious goals and drive vision, develop project milestones, and work tirelessly to create a positive working environment for creatives to feel motivated to work for, feel inspired by, and are committed to the success of. Ideally, you are experienced across a range of styles with the ability to provide both 2D and 3D conceptual work across the team, and enjoy collaborating with others to create rich, immersive experiences.

As a Art Director-Concept, you will work directly with the Art and Design team, and other key stakeholders across disciplines, to deliver the following:


  • Work with Directors and Art leads to develop a cohesive, iconic Artistic vision and Perfect Dark brand.
  • Own and produce inspiring visuals and creative designs from inception through delivery of final illustrations, including applying traditional Art values, composition, and theory, to meet game vision goals.
  • Work with Art leads to define visual style guides and creative briefs to aid other Artists, ensuring visual quality, style, and attention to detail throughout the game.
  • Inform brand standards, Artistic guidelines, marketing material, key art, trailers and other Perfect Dark collateral.
  • Participate in Art reviews and provide critical and inclusive feedback to Artists and other creatives.
  • Provide coaching, mentorship, art feedback and training to Artists and other creatives.
  • Work closely with the Environment Art Director to help guide the team on tone.
  • Establish and maintain relationships with internal and external partners.
  • Define team processes and own concept production planning.
  • Share a proactive mindset, provide creative ideas and solutions that help improve quality of the project and the IP / brand expression.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to give and receive feedback, collaborate with others to share techniques, ideas, and contribute to a positive working environment that focuses on both implementation and experimentation.


  • Shipped AAA game title as am Art Lead or Director.
  • 8+ years of conceptual experience in designing, developing, and shipping major game systems in a published game or entertainment with market or critical acclaim.
  • Demonstrated and deep experience in Concept / 2D visual design for game development for on one or more shipped game titles.
  • Portfolio demonstrating artistic and technical abilities.
  • Experience in leading teams of Artists.
  • Knowledge of both industry relevant 2D and 3D art software, including knowledge/experience with Maya, Substance Designer, Photoshop.
  • Strong traditional artistic skills with a expertise in composition, rendering, anatomy, color theory, perspective, lighting, environment, architectural, character, and graphic design.
  • Experience partnering with internal and external partners that play various roles and functions, including marketing and co-development.
  • Exceptional portfolio that exhibits artistic style and design sensibility.


  • Start-up game development studio experience.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of Maya or other 3D software.
  • Passion for art, innovation, and technology as well as a positive, team-oriented mentality.
  • Passion for making visually groundbreaking games, with a desire to push boundaries and forge new industry standards.
  • Professional knowledge of AAA game engines & render pipelines.
  • Understanding of cutting-edge process, tools, and industry techniques.
  • Professional experience on current generation hardware.
  • Experience in developing key art, brand, and/or marketing material.
  • The ability to provide direct feedback to stakeholders when deadlines or expectations are not within reason or details are needed, helping create space for partners and teammates to do great work.
  • Excellent organization and problem-solving skills.
  • Demonstrable ability to work confidently across a multi-layered team.
  • Excellent communication, writing, presentation, and organizational skills.
  • Work diligently with the team to facilitate, collaborate, and contribute to a positive cultural environment.

Portfolio Submission:

  • Examples of personal and professional artwork .
  • Examples of understanding of the game development workflow of concept to creation.

Microsoft is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ancestry, color, family or medical care leave, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, national origin, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, protected veteran status, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by applicable laws, regulations and ordinances. We also consider qualified applicants regardless of criminal histories, consistent with legal requirements. If you need assistance and/or a reasonable accommodation due to a disability during the application or the recruiting process, please send a request via the Accommodation request form.

Benefits/perks listed below may vary depending on the nature of your employment with Microsoft and the country where you work.