Any Advice Hiring an Artist?

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NikMacPattyWak
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Any Advice Hiring an Artist?

#1 Post by NikMacPattyWak » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:52 pm

Hey, wanted some advice on hiring an artist.
My project is going to require a LOT of art (BGs, CGs, object art, maybe a bit of GUI), so I think I'd rather invest in getting someone to partner with me. Since this is my first VN, however, I'm not sure I have the credibility to get an artist to join the project. I do, however, have the pocket cash to fund the art for the demo. So I figured a good approach would be to pay commission for the demo and then, depending on the demo's success, allow them the option to either move forward on commission-based pay or offer them a partnership (and a cut of the royalties). Thoughts?
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Re: Any Advice Hiring an Artist?

#2 Post by trooper6 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:37 pm

If this is your first VN, my advice is to shelve this large ambitious project and make a 10-15 minute game first. Something set in only one or two locations with only 2-5 characters...something with minimal art. Something where you can pay for all of the art with the money you currently have. Then make that small game and release it to the world for free. You will learn a lot about the process which will make your next game better. You will put out work showing to others you can finish things you start and giving them a sense of the sort of things you are doing. You may even build up a bit of a fan base. Only the would I start thinking about a massive VN.

But let me tell you, most indie VNs don't make any money...so very few artists are going to do massive amounts of work for royalties that will never come. So I'd be thinking about hiring them for money rather than trying to dangle royalties.
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Re: Any Advice Hiring an Artist?

#3 Post by KrunchyFriedGames » Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:05 pm

I'm in pretty much the same boat as you and have given this a hell of a lot of thought- see this thread as proof(!)

What @trooper6 says makes a lot of sense. Giving your artist a short term project to prove themselves and find out how well you work together is a good idea before moving on to a big project. When you hire someone, you effectively become a manager as well as a dev- and have to take their personality, strengths, weaknesses and motivations into consideration. And, if the artist pulls out when your huge project is 80% done, then you've got to rethink things completely.

Anyway, I wish you luck and would love to know how you get on!
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Re: Any Advice Hiring an Artist?

#4 Post by Mammon » Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:43 am

What trooper6 said, start small and get the ropes down before tackling the big beast you want to make.

Make sure that the artist has done (and finished!) other projects before, or find some other reliable reason to believe that they won't drop out halfway the project without refunding what you've already paid them. Those stories pop up around here sometimes, and while it's not fair for the newcomers amongst the artists that would give good results, you should probably hire someone who has proven themselves to produce reliable consistent art and who have the discipline to see the project through.

Consistent art and sticking through is not as obvious and assured as you might think. If your artist only has one or two pieces of art to show for when applying, there's an all too realistic chance that they cannot properly make what you want with the same quality. A lot of artists may also be picky, whether they know this or not, and may end up dropping out of the project after the first few sprites because they find themselves unwilling to make anything that isn't cute girls. And I'm not joking there, a lot of these cheap online artists who're usually teens don't want to make sprites of older people, men etc. Then there's the finishing a sprite barrier, making a sprite is a lot easier mentality-wise than making multiple poses, outfits and expressions for this sprite. A lot of newcomers might lack the motivation to finish all these things with you ending up with incomplete sprites that are inevitably just useless junk to you.

And of course, make sure that your artist or artists can do everything that you need. Finding an artist who can do sprites, CGs and BGs will be hard or even impossible based upon budget, so find others that do cover these things. Count out what you need and how much, so that you don't find yourself short on budget by the time you want to commission your first BG. The BG artists are the rarest and good CG artists the hardest to find, so keep that in mind.

Once you've got yourself an artist, make sure to get good communication with them. Don't just give them a general description of the character and then radio-silence for a month, hoping that they then send what you were expecting finished and well. Make sure that you have good communication methods with them (f.e. discord), that the two of you can communicate with one another properly about what you want and what they can and cannot provide, have them send the outlines/sketches of their work to you too so you can ask for revisions and changes before they make the final product, etc.
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Re: Any Advice Hiring an Artist?

#5 Post by Geoff Moore » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:45 pm

A surprising amount of my music clients worry about not having the credibility to be worthy of my time, which always surprises me! If you're passionate about your game and willing to pay me for my services, that's all that matters to me and I'm sure most other freelancers. So by all means don't be worried about reaching out to people! The agreement you mentioned sounds fine, but there's also no reason you can't seek crowdfunding for the remaining art once you have a demo to show off.

One more thought: if an artist responds poorly to you because you're not 'established' (i.e. you're in the 99.99% of developers out there!) then they really shouldn't be freelancing to start out with.

Good luck and have fun!
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Re: Any Advice Hiring an Artist?

#6 Post by NikMacPattyWak » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:36 am

Thank you all so much for the advice! (I know this is really late reply. :P) Do you think a demo would count as a practice go? Because I've already completed that, in terms of scripting, coding, and art assets. It's about a 10-15 minute playthrough. What's holding me back from posting it is that all the backgrounds are place-holders I found on google.
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Re: Any Advice Hiring an Artist?

#7 Post by Mammon » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:55 pm

If it contains all the features and techniques that you plan to implement, then it could suffice in a pinch. But only if it is already at the finalised product's quality, if it's just rough art that you plan to polish f.e. then you haven't done the polishing yet and therefore not experienced doing that before doing a large project. A demo would mean that you have done the work to put it all in coding and make the coding work, and I think doing that with a project of any size (as long as it contains all the elements like choices, fadeouts etc.) is one of the most useful things to know when making a bigger project. You will see a lot of grey 'an error has occurred' screens, best to find out some of the easiest to avoid mistakes by making them in a small project rather than having to fix all of them in a big one.
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Re: Any Advice Hiring an Artist?

#8 Post by milksoda » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:31 pm

Hello! I am an artist, and I would definitely have to say that you should find someone who has experience in being hired first. I used to do commissions, and the only way I actually managed to get the fees and the workload right was by relying on my artist friends who already had years of experience working, for advice. The safest way to go is to go for someone who needs work, but also knows what they're doing.
An artist's resume is their portfolio, so I'd suggest taking a look at those when choosing which artist to hire. You definitely don't need to hire someone who's worked for game companies and whatnot (since that would be very expensive), but you should look for someone who might have dabbled in indie work and doing commissions. If you have any artist friends, maybe ask them if they know anyone.
Hope that helps!

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Re: Any Advice Hiring an Artist?

#9 Post by Fungii » Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:06 am

One small thing I find helps is to be specific with your budget; 'pocket change' is a good start but some call that $10 and some call that $200. What's better (imo) is "I have x amount that I am willing to/able to spend".
No one likes the money dance and you will save a lot of time by saying it up front; sure, those who know they're outside your budget won't bother to interact but by being vague with numbers you could be putting off someone who is, but doesn't want to do the budget shuffle.

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Re: Any Advice Hiring an Artist?

#10 Post by Mutive » Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:55 pm

A few other thoughts:

1. Depending on what you want to do with the project, you may find it best to start with CC art. If you're more trying to get a sense as to whether creating a VN is fun/not fun/for you/a terrible idea (and are doing a small project), you can do it freely with CC art. Even if you want a bigger game, using some CC art (e.g. Uncle Mugen's backgrounds) is a great way to save money.

2. For any art you do spend money on, I'd recommend a contract that clearly states expectations on both sides. (e.g. how much are you paying? When do you pay? (50% up front, within 24 hours of contract signature + 50% when completed, within 24 hours of delivery? Something else?) How many revisions do you get included? How long does the artist have to work? (PayPay gives a 180 day dispute window...) What happens if you fail to pay? What happens if the artist fails to complete the required work? What happens if the artist quits when half way done? How many characters are you requesting? How big are they? What level of detail is expected, etc?

I think a contract is really important as it helps set expectations up front. (And gives clear instructions as to what both parties will do if for some reason the process doesn't work out as smoothly as expected)
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