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Dear small indies with a low art budget,

When we approach you for an art job you've put up, we do not want the "opportunity to shape your free RPG game" or "design the characters however we want" or "have input into the workings of the game" in exchange for a small budget. Maybe that is a good opportunity for a hobby artist who you can't 100% count on to stick around, but for an artist used to doing work for money?

That is called work. Work that you are calling a "favor to us". Adding design work to a project is not a favor. It will in fact take us more time to think of what to put in your game and THEN draw it than to just get a list of art from you. Some people would like to draw what they want for other people, but most artists already draw what they want! Our ideas are for our own games and they took a long time to think of and design in a coherent way. We don't want to "just draw anything" when we are taking on paid work. We charge a design fee when people make us do the design work because designs take time. If you would like to pay the design fee, we will gladly design things for you, but for a lot of artists? The design takes more time than the execution. Our sketch artist can pump something out in 20 minutes with a good description. Any part that she has to think about takes longer than that.

A small budget? We can work with. But don't offer us a chance to design your game for you (read: more work) in exchange for less money.

Instead, if you know you have a small budget and want to entice your artist to continue working for you, have a clear cut design for your game already worked out and a list of assets you will need. Be willing to compromise on how some pieces will be done, and don't ask the artist for more than 2 miniscule edits without expecting to pay extra. Allow the artist to retain most of the ownership of all their work. Those are things that artists value; things that will lower the time they have to take on your project, so they can still make a decent hourly even on a small budget. Adding to the work they're doing and then also paying less? Not so much.

[Edited to make something clearer.]

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[quote name='freeworld' timestamp='1306687227' post='4817149']
I've offered just that, and still have had poor results. I've come to believe it's luck, money or nothing, until I'm proven wrong.
[/quote]

Well, if your money is still too low for what you want, then unfortunately, yeah. This is not for people who have no budget, more for people who have extremely low-but-still-potentially-feasible-with-corner-cutting budgets. For example, you can probably, if you do a bit of digging, complete a pixel art game on $1000 if you just need an artist and actually want it to look good. But, that price will never go for any 3-D game. I try to always make suggestions to people to lower their costs, but even with lowering your costs, there's a limit to how little someone will accept for their work.

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[quote name='ougaming' timestamp='1306704754' post='4817245']
[quote name='freeworld' timestamp='1306687227' post='4817149']
I've offered just that, and still have had poor results. I've come to believe it's luck, money or nothing, until I'm proven wrong.
[/quote]

Well, if your money is still too low for what you want, then unfortunately, yeah. This is not for people who have no budget, more for people who have extremely low-but-still-potentially-feasible-with-corner-cutting budgets. For example, you can probably, if you do a bit of digging, complete a pixel art game on $1000 if you just need an artist and actually want it to look good. But, that price will never go for any 3-D game. I try to always make suggestions to people to lower their costs, but even with lowering your costs, there's a limit to how little someone will accept for their work.
[/quote]

I must have misread this part then.

[quote name='ougaming' timestamp='1306683508' post='4817135']
Instead, if you want to offer your artist something they can use in exchange for a small budget
[/quote]

And yes I am talking about simple 2d art... I even want it to be messy, not professional, that is not the style I'm going for.

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Ah, I see. No, it's not "in exchange" as in "you don't pay and you get art free". It was "you have a small budget, therefore you should understand that you are paying a low cost and limit your demands as mentioned above." Sorry, but even "messy" art that looks good takes talent. No game maker should go into a game expecting to pay nothing for the art unless they are drawing it personally. =/ Heck, my group does art and we still have to hire artists to fill in the blanks.

Edit: In addition, I mentioned later that you want to lower the time the artist takes so they can still make a decent hourly wage even on a small budget.

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I'd pay anyone on here $56k yearly if they could model half way decent and devote atleast 20 hours or more a week to their models. This includes rugging, textures, high poly and low poly. The problem is, no one here has time for such a project. So no one on here gets paid.

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If you have 56K yearly, I'm not sure why you're on here and not on any of the hardcore professional freelance sites. :) Perhaps that's your problem!

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So what pointers would you give us indie developers with small budgets? From what I've been able to discern, a lot of freelance artists are either priced way out of an indie budget or way too restrictive. For example,

I have an art budget of about $1000. I need some decent art for a 2D browser based game. No sprites, no texures, no meshes. Just roughly 100 icons (32x32) and 35ish concept art for backgrounds (mostly OC, but a few landscapes). I've looked on DA for prices, and its looking like it will cost me a minimum of $3000 if I don't want it looking like a 12 year old drew it. Plus, most of the freelancers I have seen also say that 1. "I still hold legal rights to the art." and 2. "I reserve the rights to the artwork and you may not make money from it." (Copied from actual DA posts). From what it sounds like, in order to have quality work done AND retaining the full rights to that work would be considerably more expensive.
So what would you suggest?

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[quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307033917' post='4818734']
So what pointers would you give us indie developers with small budgets? From what I've been able to discern, a lot of freelance artists are either priced way out of an indie budget or way too restrictive. For example,

I have an art budget of about $1000. I need some decent art for a 2D browser based game. No sprites, no texures, no meshes. Just roughly 100 icons (32x32) and 35ish concept art for backgrounds (mostly OC, but a few landscapes). I've looked on DA for prices, and its looking like it will cost me a minimum of $3000 if I don't want it looking like a 12 year old drew it. Plus, most of the freelancers I have seen also say that 1. "I still hold legal rights to the art." and 2. "I reserve the rights to the artwork and you may not make money from it." (Copied from actual DA posts). From what it sounds like, in order to have quality work done AND retaining the full rights to that work would be considerably more expensive.
So what would you suggest?
[/quote]
That's actually them being smart. What you should do there is draft up an agreement that basically says "because I'm paying you for this work I'm going to use it in this one project but you retain all rights otherwise and I need to get your permission to use it elsewhere." It's actually pretty fair because great artwork can really set your game apart from others and if you make a million bucks from their work they should be paid as well. The same is true for code work. So, basically you want an agreement that says you get a limited use license to the work to be used as you will in your current project. It doesn't make sense for an artist to be hired only for you to not be able to actually put to use what you paid for.

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Of course its them being smart. The most financially profitable thing George Lucas did with the first Star Wars was retain full rights of the Star Wars franchise. So in the G.Lucas vs. Fox equation, I would rather be on the G. Lucas side of things. And while chances of an indie game exploding like Star Wars is pretty rare, I would rather be protected in the event it does so my IP doesn't get pasted on a million coffee mugs for someone else to profit from. Plus, this closes off a lot of potential for the developer as well. For example, if the game is doing moderately successful and some larger company offers to buy it, we legally cannot sell them the art resources since we do not own them.

Which kind of leads back to the OP's original statement. Since it sounds like the norm for freelance artists to retain the rights to exploit art bought and paid for by the developer, maybe developers are looking for a bit more vested effort into the project. From a business standpoint you have two main factors: The Worth of the Art and the Worth of the Code. Are they equal? Is one worth more than the other? How many successful games would still be successful if they had a different, but just as talented, artist/programmer? I feel that most games are played and purchased due to the game (code) and not the visuals. Dwarf Fortress is played by a surprising amount of people, despite having no graphics. And I think Angry Birds would be just as popular if they had a different artistic rendering of the birds.
Of course, we all want good art for our projects. We just don't want to be like Fox and kick ourselves later.

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[quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307039937' post='4818791']
Of course its them being smart. The most financially profitable thing George Lucas did with the first Star Wars was retain full rights of the Star Wars franchise. So in the G.Lucas vs. Fox equation, I would rather be on the G. Lucas side of things. And while chances of an indie game exploding like Star Wars is pretty rare, I would rather be protected in the event it does so my IP doesn't get pasted on a million coffee mugs for someone else to profit from. Plus, this closes off a lot of potential for the developer as well. For example, if the game is doing moderately successful and some larger company offers to buy it, we legally cannot sell them the art resources since we do not own them.
[/quote]
True, however, you can't always decide which side you're on. Lucas is on the side of the creator in that example and the creator should always get credit for their work regardless if it's the coder or the artist. I think you misunderstand copyright though. If an artist were to take a piece of art and market it as anything except an example of work they have done and try to use your game's success by selling merchandise, i.e. "Get your official WoW mugs here!",would be something you could sue them for. They don't work for the company and they don't have the rights to market the brand. Therefore, they would be in the wrong. You own the IP to the game, the concept of the game and all representations of the game. They own copyright to individual art assets and not even the models they're making look pretty. I don't know about you but raw art skins look pretty ugly when not applied to the model it's intended to go on and that's all they'd have to work with. Concept art is a different matter as it's often used as marketing material and such. However, the artist can still only pass that out as examples of what they've done. They don't own the IP rights to the game nor the game name or anything like that. Coming to an agreement that you can use the assets for the entire project ensure you have enough flexibility to use it how you need and provides enough assurance to the artist that you're not trying to use it for anything other than your stated goal. If you want a free reign license then it'll cost ya.

[quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307039937' post='4818791']
Which kind of leads back to the OP's original statement. Since it sounds like the norm for freelance artists to retain the rights to exploit art bought and paid for by the developer, maybe developers are looking for a bit more vested effort into the project. From a business standpoint you have two main factors: The Worth of the Art and the Worth of the Code. Are they equal? Is one worth more than the other? How many successful games would still be successful if they had a different, but just as talented, artist/programmer? I feel that most games are played and purchased due to the game (code) and not the visuals. Dwarf Fortress is played by a surprising amount of people, despite having no graphics. And I think Angry Birds would be just as popular if they had a different artistic rendering of the birds.
Of course, we all want good art for our projects. We just don't want to be like Fox and kick ourselves later.
[/quote]
Eh, I tried to play Goldeneye on my buddy's Nintendo 64 last year and it gave me migraines. That's an awesome game but I simply can't look at it anymore. In that respect I completely disagree that people play games for code and not graphics. Now, both are equally important to the success of the project. You can't have just pretty pictures and you can't have just a well-coded game. It's a black magic sort of mixture for people to play.

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[quote name='landlocked' timestamp='1307043060' post='4818808']
Eh, I tried to play Goldeneye on my buddy's Nintendo 64 last year and it gave me migraines. That's an awesome game but I simply can't look at it anymore. In that respect I completely disagree that people play games for code and not graphics. Now, both are equally important to the success of the project. You can't have just pretty pictures and you can't have just a well-coded game. It's a black magic sort of mixture for people to play.
[/quote]

Aww, I loved playing Goldeneye growing up... :(

But yeah, I admit understanding patent and IP law isn't my forte, so I appreciate the brief primer. There is a symbiotic relationship between art and gameplay, I just wish art assets weren't so expensive (from my perspective).

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[quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307044328' post='4818817']
Aww, I loved playing Goldeneye growing up... :(
[/quote]
I know! I'm so sad I can't play that game anymore.

[quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307044328' post='4818817']
But yeah, I admit understanding patent and IP law isn't my forte, so I appreciate the brief primer. There is a symbiotic relationship between art and gameplay, I just wish art assets weren't so expensive (from my perspective).
[/quote]
I'm right there with ya! One of my best friends is a graphic designer and I know I can't afford him and he doesn't even do anything particularly high traffic like big name games or movies.

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The first thing I would suggest is for small indies to make a better estimate of how much art costs prior to even thinking about games. A lot of people have the idea that any budget can do what they want for pro quality "if they look enough". A lot of non-artists also have no idea how long certain art works take. For you, you want 35 backgrounds. A well-done background with little to no details at all can take a superfast artist 5 hours. Even at US minimum wage, that's $35, and artists who are that good and that fast are undoubtedly going to charge you more than $7 an hour for their work. Even if you found someone for $35 a background, that's still 35 backgrounds they have to do. My suggestion would be to cut that number down drastically in your design AND compromise how much detail goes into each one, and you should be able to get maybe 10 backgrounds for $350-500 if you look really hard.

Again, my advice is for small budgets, not impossible ones. A small budget is say, $1000 for an RPG Maker game's sprite and tileset art, using supplemental pieces from existing and open source sets. An impossible budget is trying to do an MMO on $1000. The first is extremely possible with some searching, the second is pretty much impossible no matter what you do. Use a low per piece price for your budget estimates, and if there is just too much art, cut down the number of necessary pieces. Good games need good art to get that popularity, but they don't necessarily need a gazillion pieces of good art. Small budgets need to learn how to put that toward a few art pieces that will really make their work fabulous instead of trying to get a lot for a lower-per-piece price that will never fly.

It is 100% completely reasonable for an artist to say "I own all rights and you cannot make money from this", especially if you are paying very little. Oftentimes, the price for people on DA are just the cost of the labor to make the piece. If you want to sell it, you need to add something. Calling this "exploitation" is your first problem; just like you'll want access to work you did if it made money, so do they and they have a right. Respect your artists and stop thinking in terms of money you may or may not make later on.

However! Not all artists charge extra for commercial use of their work. My group is starting out but fairly talented, we charge a medium market rate for our work and only really account for our time. There are actually plenty of people like this on DA, you just have to search them out.

(Plus, for most art, if it gets published, you can buy the rights later from the same artist anyway, so don't think you're out of the running in case you get that luck.)

A developer who wants to make money is foolish to expect anyone else to "have more of a vested interest", but especially artists. Artists do their own projects all the time. The money has to be at least viable enough for them to want to ditch their own projects for yours; especially since with low budgets, you're likely looking at hobby artists who happen to be good, not full-time artists, and it's got to be worth their free time on top of their other job, or enough to pay their bills. It's tough, but there are definitely such things as too much for too little and a dev must learn to accommodate.

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[quote name='ougaming' timestamp='1307056058' post='4818894']
Calling this "exploitation" is your first problem;
[/quote]

Um, why is this a problem? Isn't that what it is?

def: to utilize, especially for profit; turn to practical account: [i]to exploit a business[/i][i] [/i][i]opportunity.[/i]
(dictionary.com)

Isn't that the point of this thread, that when it comes to art and games it all boils down to money?


Also, there was never a point of contention about
[quote name='ougaming' timestamp='1307056058' post='4818894']
It is 100% completely reasonable for an artist to say "I own all rights and you cannot make money from this", especially if you are paying very little.
[/quote]

We all agreed that its the artists right to dictate the terms of how their art is used. But if I'm trying to run a business, why am I going to sink $1000 into art that I can't use? How will I benefit from that?

[quote name='ougaming' timestamp='1307056058' post='4818894']
Respect your artists and stop thinking in terms of money you may or may not make later on.
[/quote]

Once again, I'm trying to run a business. Businesses run on money. I have to think about it. (and might I add respect is a two way street as well)

Although I do appreciate your perspective on some of the inner workings of creating art. You're right, as a non-artist I have no idea how long it takes to produce some concept background art. Knowing that will definitely help me budget accordingly. And like you said, its all a balancing act. You've got to get the right mix of detail, style, and quantity at something that makes the project feasible. And it is a relief to find out not all artists charge a premium for commercial work, plus I never considered the ability to buy the rights later. The devil really is in the details!

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[quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307062310' post='4818928']
And it is a relief to find out not all artists charge a premium for commercial work, plus I never considered the ability to buy the rights later.
[/quote]
Be sure to get the "buy it all" price in your initial agreement. Otherwise, if you come back and say that you want to buy the rights and they have even a hint that your game is mildly successful they could very well try to use that as leverage to gouge their price. Full rights to their work should cost the same regardless. Moving price points are a sign you're being scammed.

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The word exploit has a nasty connotation to it, and artists don't want to be told they're exploiting you by asking for a fair pay for their work, and they're not exploiting you anymore than you would be exploiting your own employer at wherever you may work.

Many artists, even if they don't hand over all rights to you, will let you use their work royalty free in a single commercial venture. But those artists are not the highest of the high end. Tbh, I don't know why you've had so much trouble with it; I've found a million artists who are pretty good, have a very open policy about it all and are willing to work with indies. It took several hours of digging through random artists on DA, but we found them, for sure.

Respect is not necessarily a two way street when you are essentially asking for a favor. Doing art for extremely cheap is practically a favor. Doing it on time is an even bigger favor. Would you not consider it a favor if your boss begged you to come do something for 1/3rd of your normal pay when you could be doing...anything else? What if another person offered you 2x your normal pay to use the same time slot? You'd be especially pissed about it if your boss suddenly started getting an attitude while you're working for shit pay and saying "WELL I AM RUNNING A BUSINESS". In the same way, treat the artist with the utmost kindness; they're that guy getting a small portion of their normal pay to work on your project. No, I'm not saying to let your artist walk all over you, but you need to give them a certain extra benefit of the doubt.

In addition, yes, you should consider the money, but if you cannot get the project off the ground, $0 is $0 anyway.

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The friend I mentioned keeps a detailed fee listing so potential clients can see exactly what he charges before they ever say the first word to each other. I highly advise all artists to do this regardless of their experience level.

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[quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307062310' post='4818928']
if I'm trying to run a business, why am I going to sink $1000 into art that I can't use? How will I benefit from that?
[/quote]
Wrong questions. You have to pay for art you have promised to pay for. If you ask someone to do some work for you, you have to agree upon proper compensation at the time of making the request, and you have to pay upon receipt of the agreed work. If your agreement says you have to accept, not only receive, the work, then your agreement should also say your acceptance will not be unreasonably withheld.
If your situation changes and you decide not to use the work for reasons of your own, you still owe the agreed/promised compensation.
If the artist agreed to be paid only if the work is published and makes a profit, then the artist doesn't have anything to complain about if the work doesn't get published and make a profit.

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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1307120136' post='4819137']
[quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307062310' post='4818928']
if I'm trying to run a business, why am I going to sink $1000 into art that I can't use? How will I benefit from that?
[/quote]
Wrong questions.
[/quote]

Technically it is a [url="http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rhetorical+question+"]rhetorical question[/url].

But all that aside, I would like to point out that paying $1000 is not the same as asking for it for free. Even if I can't get all the art I want for that price, I have to say I have learned a lot about the inner workings of the freelance art business. As for using the word 'exploit', I apologize for assuming that it would be taken in the context of the sentence and not automatically associated with the most negative connotation of the meaning (although I still feel it is the best word for the job, I'll have to pay better attention to that in the future). I guess that's why they say when I assume I make an ass out of 'u' and me. :P

When I get to the art part of my project I'll have to a little deeper digging on DA. Its possible I've passed over a few talented artists with an open policy, so its comforting to know they're out there.

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[quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307132918' post='4819207']
[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1307120136' post='4819137']
[quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307062310' post='4818928']
if I'm trying to run a business, why am I going to sink $1000 into art that I can't use? How will I benefit from that?
[/quote]
Wrong questions.
[/quote]Technically it is a [url="http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rhetorical+question+"]rhetorical question[/url]. [/quote]
So, rhetorically, then, I could posit any kind of bad question, couch it rhetorically, and have a full expectation of not being called out on account of its being a bad rhetorical question. Point is, rhetorical shmetorical, asking "Why should I have to pay a thousand bucks for something I can't use" is going to invite criticism. And yes, the word "criticism" can be used without necessarily invoking the negative connotation often associated with the word -- depending on context.

This whole conversation (this entire thread) has a basic flaw -- there is no universal rule of thumb that can be applied to the whole matter of how much a game artist should be paid for an indie game. The problem is that there are many different definitions of "indie game" (each with a different business purpose and development model) and what's fair to pay depends on which business purpose and development model is involved.

It's a clear case of "it depends."

Before I could answer the original question, I would need a fuller understanding of the business purpose and development model behind the question. The only best universal answer is "execute a collaboration agreement before commencing work." The expectations of both parties must be set forth in writing so as to minimize misunderstandings and missed expectations.

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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1307138376' post='4819237']

Before I could answer the original question, I would need a fuller understanding of the business purpose and development model behind the question. The only best universal answer is "execute a collaboration agreement before commencing work." The expectations of both parties must be set forth in writing so as to minimize misunderstandings and missed expectations.
[/quote]

Agreed. Although it does sound like the conversation has steered away from the original purpose of the thread. Which boils down to developers needing to realize artists may not share the same passion about your game as you do and therefore might not be interested in assisting in the continued development of the game and artists understanding that a simple 'no thanks' is all that's needed (in most cases. If I learned anything it's that there's always an exception and people love to point it out).

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[quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307166182' post='4819322']If I learned anything it's that there's always an exception and people love to point it out).[/quote]
No. Sometimes there is no exception.
^_~

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(Note: Looking through the thread again, I realized that I quoted two different people below. But the quotes reflect the same basic argument so I'm going to leave them as-is.)
My understanding of the original point of this thread was "don't use 'more work' as a bartering chip to attract artists": Saying "I'll let you do design work also" is a bit silly. I get this, I agree with this. Being asked to do more work is usually not a way to get somebody to accept less money.


I have a major problem with the [i]framing[/i] of that commentary though. When putting together a team, whether it be for a three-man skunkworks project or a full retail game, the one thing I'm looking for is[i] that every team member wants to make it a better game. [/i]I'm not saying I expect them to do my work for me, but I expect them to take an interest in the quality of the overall project, not just in churning out the easiest possible model or texture so they can go do their own thing quicker. I want them to offer ideas, to add their own creative flair, and to generally be a proactive member of a working creative team, not just a art-factory drone.
[i]
[/i]
[i]"[/i][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]Those are things that artists value; things that will lower the time they have to take on your project"[/size][/color]
[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]"Be willing to compromise on how some pieces will be done, and don't ask the artist for more than 2 miniscule edits without expecting to pay extra."[/size][/color]
[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]"[/size][/color][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]artists may not share the same passion about your game as you do and therefore might not be interested in assisting in the continued development of the game"[/size][/color]
[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]"[/size][/color][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]A developer who wants to make money is foolish to expect anyone else to "have more of a vested interest", but especially artists."[/size][/color]
[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]"...but you need to give them [artists] a certain extra benefit of the doubt." [/size][/color]

[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]All of these comments sound like some of the unengaged outsourcing groups I've had the displeasure of dealing with at work. But I've also worked with plenty of really good, really engaged contractors and outsourcers who honestly [i]care[/i] about the quality of the game and want to make it better. Those are the people I go back to. [/size][/color]

[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]The last two quotes both assume artists are in some way "extra special"... we all have other projects, there's nothing unique about artists in that regard. [/size][/color][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]If you're so busy on "your own projects" that you don't care about mine, then I don't care to hire you. It's that simple.[/size][/color]


[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]So anyway, I think you are right that dev teams need to realize that artists want to do art, not art + leftover design work. Engineers often want to code, not code + design. Etc. But I think you also need to realize that an unengaged team member (one that does not care about the whole project, just about his own piece of it) is of little use in game development.[/size][/color]

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The entire comment above is extremely idealistic, especially when I mentioned that this post is specifically for minute budgets. What you want from artists is what many professionals provide; a detailed, vested interest with their own small bits of input. I have one very wonderful, long-term client who I provide hours and hours of free consultation time to as far as story, design, and the like, because while he's a great coder, he's clueless about the art and story sides of video games and I constantly make suggestions on what could make his game better.

But he has a market rate budget for what he asks. I know I am working for a fair wage and it makes me interested to see a project that he loves so much he is willing to invest that kind of money into, and gets me more excited to work on something he's really putting everything into.

Otherwise?

It's pretty damn ballsy to expect an artist to do more than you paid him to do "to make a better game", especially when non-artist game devs rarely have a real clue how much work can go into one piece. I still have people looking at me doing one picture for 15 hours and asking why I'm stiiiiiiiiiill on that same old picture. Most devs looking for artists just see the quality they want and don't pay attention to how much time the artist needed to do it, only that they can do it.

If you want people to be very talented and also very invested in your game, you have two choices. Get REALLY lucky, or pay them for their interest. When you don't pay, you will not get as much interest. Call them "unengaged" if you want, but "engaged" costs money in most cases. Why would you expect an artist to do anything but a quick, low detail job if you can only afford to pay them minimum wage or less? Again, apply it to your own life. If you charge $1000 to do a certain project to the best of your ability, a number you selected to account for the average time you spend making it the best you can, and someone begs you to lower than price to $100, do you think you will spend the same amount of time getting it to the best you can? Getting realistic is one of the biggest things indie devs fail at, and expecting artists to immediately find themselves enraptured in your idea to the point where they will double and triple their hours on a piece they aren't getting paid extra for isn't realistic or smart.

The statements quoted above are all facts of the business:
When you are broke and paying an artist below a certain amount, you should essentially expect they will cut the time on your project for other, higher paying projects. That doesn't mean that they will, but you should plan ahead with that expectation clear in your mind.
Asking for many edits without paying extra will anger your artist. It would anger anyone.
If you are broke and actually want to keep a decent artist with your project, you need to give them the benefit of the doubt and more. If that's "special" to you, then pay more. If you can't, you'll likely need to just plain deal with it.

In the end, it all comes down to the simple adage: Beggars can't be choosers. All game devs want their artists to be excellent, fast and cheap, and the fact is that you just can't realistically expect to get that diamond in the rough that is all three.

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