I get emails from 3D modelers, animators and other artists now and then. Based on my very scientific research (that would be bunch of emails) I could estimate that 50% of the emails I get have no sample links. Some send me extremely long emails explaining their history since they were born. Some send me spam-like messages that are generated to some list (from where I’ve never signed, and cannot unsubscribe).
Don’t get me wrong – I like to get emails from artists. That’s not the problem. The problem is that some artists could improve the way they approach me. The minimum information that I want to hear is say in one sentence why you are contacting me and give link to your portfolio.
Here is an example of a great email (I have put numbers 1-8 and used bold font to highlight the important points. I will explain these below the email):
Subject:  a 3D artist available for building environment for your Edoiki game
Hi  Juuso,
I’m 3D artist and I can  building this world for  your Edoiki game.
My portfolio is available at  www.myportfolio.com.
I  have done art for games such as Great Game II, Big Game Expansion pack and The GameGame VII. My full resume/CV can be seen at  www.myportfolio.com/resume.
Mr. Joe Artist 
There are several great points in this email (please notice that this is my personal opinion – and perhaps some other producer would prefer different type of approach), and I’ll be going through all of them here.
#1 – Relevant email subject
It’s very good if you can specify what your email is about. Saying “3d modeler” is fine, but I personally like when it’s right to the point. I haven’t heard anybody losing a job because of a poor email subject, but it costs nothing to make a good title. It also shows (in my opinion) that you aren’t just throwing the email but are actually interested about the job.
#2 – Name (extra points when spelt correctly…)
Saying “Hi” is okay, but saying “Hi Juuso” shows that you actually have got enough time to check out who I am – and it has a personal tone. I haven’t skipped any 3D modeler position because somebody has said just “hi” or “hi Jusso” instead of “Hi Juuso”, but I’m sure you get the point: you can get small advantage compared to other applicants if you make your email personal.
#3 – Job position and what you can do in one sentence (very important)
You could say the job position in the email subject, but you can alternatively (or in addition) mention it in the email as well. This line tells me right away what you are applying for. If you say “I can do 3D stuff”, it leaves lots of questions open. Does this mean you can animate 3D guys as well? What about texturing? If you say “I can build the world/environment”, I get the picture that you can do static 3D models and texture them as well. If you say “I can create 3D characters, texture and animate them” – I can also get a clear picture about what you do.
Notice that there’s a grammar error (word “building” instead of “build”): to me that doesn’t matter. A guy who makes great art doesn’t need to use perfect English. Naturally it’s nice if you check the email grammar, but if there’s one or two spelling errors – to me that doesn’t matter. And if it matters in the place where you are applying (if the management pays more attention to artist’s grammar than his work), then perhaps the company isn’t a right place for you at all.
Mentioning the reason you are emailing is probably the second most important element in the email (in addition to point #5): tell how you can help me. That’s what I want to hear.
#4 – Project name
If you are applying for a position in a small studio this is most likely optional (for example: I don’t mind if you don’t mention this), but in bigger studios this might be mandatory. Basically if you say the name of the project, the email recipient can know what you are talking about – and this might make the email a bit more personalized (as it shows that you have had enough time to check out the project, and not just randomly throw emails everywhere).
#5 – Link to your portfolio (the most important element)
This is perhaps the most important element in your email. If you are an artist, then give me a link to a website where I can browse your work. If you give me an email where you say you are a 3D modeler (but don’t give a portfolio link), you can rest assured that my next email will be “could you please give me a link to your portfolio?”. To save everybody’s time and effort, make sure you attach a link to your portfolio in the email.
#6 – Give couple of highlights from your past experience (optional)
It’s okay (but not necessary, since your portfolio will show what you can do) to mention some projects where you’ve worked. Make sure you don’t write a long history, just name 2 or 3 game projects where you worked. I personally don’t mind if you don’t tell me this (the shother the email the better) since I can see pretty fast from your portfolio what kind of skills you have.
#7 – Link to CV (optional)
Again optional: include a link to your CV in the email. I probably don’t even check out those because (again) I can see your skills by checking out your portfolio. I think that if the portfolio is good, then CV is not needed. If the portfolio is bad, then CV won’t save you. Again, this is just my thinking, and some people want to see the CV. A pretty good thing could be to add a big CV link button in your portfolio. That way people who check out your portfolio site, can also check out your CV if needed.
#8 – Keep the email short (very important)
Make sure your email isn’t longer than couple of paragraphs or so. The most important thing is to say what you are good at (at the email title) and give link to your portfolio.
Here’s even better email that I would love to see:
Subject:  3D artist available for building environment for your Edoiki game
Hi  Juuso,
I’m an environmental artist and I can  create 3D objects and texture them for your  Edoiki game levels. My portfolio and CV are available at  www.myportfolio.com.
Mr. Joe Artist 
Very short and simple – and has 100% of the information I need.