This is the log where I talk about art, artists, and all of that good stuff.
Here’s the first thing: if you are taking your game to market, you need art for it. And I’m not talking about placeholder art. Everyone has placeholder art. You need final art. You need professional, top-notch art.
Now that doesn’t mean you need all the final art. Far from it. Part of the reason we take games to Kickstarter is because we need to bridge the funding gap, so nobody really expects that 100% of the assets are going to be complete. So, you might ask, why bother to get art at all? Here are a couple reasons:
1. Kickstarter is as much a popularity contest as prom. When someone checks out your Kickstarter page, it is the visuals that are really going to hook them. Yes, you need to have your KS page well composed and free of spelling/grammar errors (you checked for that, right?). But if you lack images, or if your images don’t look very good, I can all but guarantee that you’re not going to get backers.
2. Quality art shows investment. Anyone can put something up on Kickstarter. Okay not anyone, but close to anyone. And what that means is that there is a lot of crap on Kickstarter. A lot. A ton. It’s not hard to spot, but it means that the waves of crap are so high and vigorous that mediocre, well-meaning projects can get lost. Don’t let that happen to you! Take your own time, take your own money, and make sure you have quality art for your project. If you can’t be bothered to spend money on your project, nobody else will either.
So what do you do? If you’re like me, and your artistic talent stops at stick figures, you’re going to need to hire an artist. Luckily, you’re reading this on the internet. And that means that you already have the ability to find an artist, and it’s just a click away.
Everyone you talk to is going to have a different opinion on where to go to find an artist. There’s no wrong answer, but I’ll tell you where I go. The website I go to is http://www.conceptart.org and it’s really fantastic. Artists of all styles and experience levels hang out there, and they’re always looking for jobs. Put up an ad there and you’re sure to get some quotes on your project.
–Be really clear about what you’re looking for. You want a spaceship? That’s great. What’s it doing? What’s in the background? Is it a big ship? Is it old or new? Do you want this in gritty colored pencils? Forlorn pastels?
–Have an awareness of your budget. Don’t be ashamed of what you can or can’t spend. If you’ve got a couple hundred bucks to kick around, that’s great. If you’ve got $35 bucks to spend, that’s fine. You’re going to get quotes that are way, way outside your price range. You’re going to get artists that are hungry for work and ready to deal. Don’t disrespect anyone, but don’t feel like you have to apologize for what you can spend.
–Be flexible. If you come into the project with one style in mind and someone blows you away with a different style, go for it! Trust your gut! When you hand this over to someone, they are your collaborator, not your slave. They are going to have their own take on the project, so if you get a good feeling about it, make the investment and see where it goes.
Okay, so you find a great artist and you’ve got a price point. Now what? Now, you get to put on your lawyer hat for a moment. You need a contract.
“But wait!” I hear you say. “I don’t need a contract. We’re just doing this real quick thing. It’s just a little project. It’s just 20 bucks. It’s just blah blah blah blah blah.” No, shut up. Shut it. You need a contract. If you are paying a person for a thing that has to do with this game you’ve put your soul into, you need protection. And that artist needs protection from you, too. Everyone needs protection. So consider this a condom: it’s necessary, it’s helpful, and it takes almost no effort to make it work. Why no effort? Because I’m going to put the contract I use right here:
Artwork shall be made on or uploaded to a digital medium and shall be transmitted to GAME COMPANY as files that are suitable for uploading to the website, preferably high-resolution JPEG. This is where you put a description of the artwork. Describe it precisely. Include links to reference photos if you have them available. If you are vague in your description here, you’re not allowed to be pissy about it later if it comes out differently. Make sure you’re on the same page.
The project price is based upon a negotiated package price for the entire project of $ dollars. This amount shall be paid before the work begins, and shall be transmitted via Paypal. If you don’t have Paypal, just do yourself a favor and get one. You don’t have to like it. I hate Paypal. Hate the company. But there’s currently widely-used alternative, so just do it.
It is understood that the project price quoted does not include an unlimited number of revisions. Satisfaction is, of course, the final goal. But it is my experience that good communication throughout the project can help limit the number of revisions that are needed. Minor changes and tweaks are part of the process. Do-overs are a symptom of poor communication. Having said that, we should agree that if there are any questions during the creation of the artwork, these questions should be raised and sent via email, along with the current state of the artwork, so that we limit the amount of work that is needed at the end. This contract stipulates that two minor-to-moderate revisions are included with the quoted price. Anything beyond that will require further negotiations. Yes, this section does not favor the game creator. You could, in theory, delete this. But I promise you, your relationship with your artist will be much more fruitful if they know you’re not a slave-driver.
Ownership of Artwork/Files
Upon full payment and completion of the project, GAME COMPANY shall obtain ownership of the final artwork/files to use and distribute as they see fit. ARTIST retains the right to use the completed project and any preliminary designs for the purpose of design competitions, future publications on design, educational purposes, marketing materials and portfolio. Where the artwork appears, ARTIST shall be given credit on the same page. Do not delete this section. This is the absolute most important section of the contract. This IS the contract. What this means is that you get to use the work for what you need, and the artist gets to use it for what they need. It’s a beneficial relationship.
Production Schedule/Delivery of Project
ARTIST agrees that this artwork shall be completed within _____ days of agreement to this contract. If deviation to the schedule is necessary, prior notification is required. If ARTIST misses the deadline without prior notification, penalties may be assessed. GAME COMPANY agrees that any disagreements, questions, or claims against the artwork must be established within ten (10) days of delivery. Failure to make such claim within the stated period shall constitute irrevocable acceptance and an admission that they fully comply with terms, conditions and specifications. This is the part your artist fills in, not you. They will know how long they need, and any artist worth their salt will put a reasonable time frame here and beat it.
In the event of cancellation of the project, ownership of all copyrights and the original artwork and disks shall be retained by ARTIST, and a fee for work completed, based on the contract price and expenses already incurred, shall be paid by GAME COMPANY.
Acceptance of Agreement
The above prices, specifications and conditions are hereby accepted. ARTIST is authorized to execute the project as outlined in this agreement. Payment will be made as proposed above. This agreement is not valid until signed by ARTIST and returned to GAME COMPANY.
GAME COMPANY (Your name here) Please print your name here:
ARTIST () Please print your name here:
So there you go! Now you have no excuse for not having a contract. Because if you read this, and you still choose not to have a contract when you are getting art for your project, you deserve every bit of misery that might come from it. Don’t be stupid!
All that being said, here’s some art for my own project! Working with my awesome artist, she painted this beautiful piece that will be on the cover of Bill Shakespeare is Dead. Check it!
Do you have great tips for finding artists? Are you an artist with some advice for designers? Do you have some horror stories? Share below!
In the next post: Prototypes