How to hire an artist

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Since this has gotten a ton of exposure I’m going to try an explain myself a little. I’m leaving the originally article 100% in-tact so people can continue to read it. Please stop flaming me, I don’t mind if you disagree with my viewpoint, but please give me constructive criticism rather than telling me to die in a fire. It makes you a hypocrite to make death threats at me for not treating artists how many of you want.

I would like to start off by showing you this great comment made by Kathryn:


It seems most of you have a problem with how I worded the article rather than I what I actually said in the article. When I originally wrote this it was intended for developers to learn how to get the best art for good prices so it sounds very condescending to artists. I realize that now and I apologize. I greatly appreciate the work and effort that goes into each graphic an artist makes.

We unfortunately live in a market that is determined by supply and demand. Most businesses with the intent to make money will not pay more than they have to for a certain product. I am not trying to “scam” or “rip-off” artists, I’m letting them quote their own prices for what they believe their work is worth. I am not forcing, or tricking anyone into working with me. All artists I work with seem to be very thankful.

Some of you complained about the way I deal with payments, which actually surprised me to a great extent. There have been several times I’ve been working on a game with an artist only to have him/her walk out on me halfway through. Paying after guarantees safety for both parties.

Alright, now about the part the majority of you are most upset about, my “Keep them in the dark” comment. My wording on this was poorly thought out. Many people claim about this being unethical, but in reality it’s how all businesses work. When a company makes a profit, does it take that profit and evenly split it up among all of it’s employee’s? No. The most it ever does is sometimes gives bonuses which I also do when a game performs very well. As I’ve said before, I pay artists based on what they believe their work is worth rather than the estimated value it increases a game by. I’m sorry for anyone that finds capitalism to be the devil.

Please continue making comments, I will try to explain myself more and continue updating this post. Sorry for any poor grammar, I typed this up fairly fast.


Original Article Starts Here

I’ve hired a bunch of people to do art for some of my largest games, I thought I would give a little insight on what do when hiring yourself.

How to find an artist:

I recommend looking through art sites such as Deviantart for an artist which suits your taste, or any other site that has a decent art community such as Newgrounds. There’s a few reasons you want to find an artist this way. First of all, they’re cheaper. These guys aren’t used to making a lot of money for their work so they will be more appreciative of the chance even if they are being payed slightly less than what professionals are payed. Second of all, they’re better. The quality of art you can find through this method is pretty amazing, and the vast amount of artists guarantee you will find something that suits your tastes and needs. Unless you have a specific price you want to pay in mind, ask THEM what they are willing to charge for the project. This usually causes people to give offers that are lower than what you normally pay, and will make them happy.

How NOT to find an artist:

Do not look for either professional artists, or an artist that has done a lot of game design work in the past. The problem with artists who do this as their full time job is that they’re usually expensive. Compared to what you can find through art sites, these guys tend to cost an arm and a leg. Artists who have done a lot of game design work are also bad for a similar reason, they know how much flash games can earn so they expect a decent percentage of the profit. It’s ridiculous to pay something 50% of a sponsorship when you can find someone else who would accept $500 for the same job. When your game sells for $10,000, the difference in cost is a multitude of 10.

Artist payment:

Make it clear to whomever you hire that they will not be payed until ALL the work is completed, unless it is completed by a predefined date, and unless it matches or exceeds expectations. Sometimes I have an issues getting all of these things, but if you give someone a job they’re expected to treat it as so even if they’re just a hobbyist. Paying prior to the completion of the project is a bad idea for several reasons. Only paying for the finished work encourages the artist to finish their job faster, if you pay up front the artist has no motivation to finish quickly. Similarly, if you pay up front the artist could disappear and you may never get what you payed for!

Keep them in the dark:

This relates back to what I talked about earlier. If an artist knows how much their artwork will increase the value of the game they will then feel they deserve that amount of money. This is not how a market economy works, you hire whoever is able to do the best job for the lowest amount of money, anything else is a loss of money on your end.


Give strict dates about when you need the art done (even if you don’t) and give consequences by deduction in pay if the art is not completed by the date. Unless the person you’ve hired happens to be very punctual, you will need strong motivation to make sure they finish the art in a timely manner. Try to only hire people ages 18+ (I may sound a little hypocritical here), kids are generally less reliable and have more IRL things come up that they can’t control. I’ve had several bad experiences with this.


Update: Look at this. All businesses function around it

I’m xdragonx10 on reddit by the way.

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