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Compensating Artists?

LunaText

Now with 50% more crazy
I've had a few artists email me, saying they would like to do art for our games. However, that is always followed up with "How much can you pay?"

Now, assuming for the moment I would actually have money to pay someone for art, what is considered fair compensation for art?

We are looking at having a single quarter-page (half-page, one column out of a two-column layout) piece of art every few pages. We also want to have at least one image for each race in our fantasy game setting. And we'd like to include a single full-page image at the beginning of each chapter.

We've also decided that images will be black-and-white line art, except for the cover and the full-page chapter beginning image.

The last artist who emailed me, I told him that we used first publication rights. He'd be free to resell the image however he pleased (we might request that he not sell it to another game company, but how many others want to re-use something we've already used?) I never heard back from him.

How much should art go for? Because of some of the things we've done with our settings, we really can't use stock images. Even if we could, I'd hate to do it anyway.

We are trying desperately to keep the cost of the books down. Wankers of the Cash, we ain't.
 

Jeremy McHugh

Professional Ramen Eater
I can only offer a bit of advice on this front---

A fair price for illustration--
The price that you are willing to pay for good artwork and the price that the artist is willing to accept for their unique services.
There is no true " industry standard" though some might argue that statement.

My suggestion would be to work out a ballpark art budget for your product.
Place an open call for artists stating your available pay per assignment and the rights you wish to purchase for that price ( ie. first print rights) and see who comes a-calling.

You will most likely get responses from people willing to work for your proposed payment.
Naturally, you may not get the exact artists you would like, but you will find artists that are amenable to your terms.

Another path you can take ( and a more direct route) is to approach individual artists you would most like to work with and ask them for their rates. This would help to inform you of what your budget ought to be in order to get your ideal team of illustrators on board.

I hope that helps, Luna Text.


BTW, if you would like to learn more about what makes freelance illustrators tick, I can shamelessly plug Ninja Mountain's podcast , " The Ninja Mountain Scrolls". It is a weekly show with nine episodes currently available. Head to www.ninjamountain.blogspot.com or look it up on ITunes. We pride ourselves on being a valuable source of information on our unique profession and I hope you will find it useful as well.
In Episode 3 we discuss client relations and that may prove handy listening for you among other episodes.

Good luck!
---Jeremy McHugh
 

Destriarch

Sane Studios
Validated User
Jeremy's pretty much right on there being no standard any more, though a lot of people quote between $40 and $60 as being average for black and white interior. I generally figure at spending between $20 and $50 per picture myself. The trick is finding artists who are cheap, talented and deliver in a timely manner.

There's a lively freelancer's forum here you can advertise in, as Jeremy suggests it's a good place to start. There's also www.deviantart.com but I strongly suggest that you exercise caution there. You can get some real bargain artists there, but it also has its unfair share of scam merchants, rippers and lousy non-paying commissioners too. Sensible business practice (payment upon receipt of watermarked low-res proofs, use of contract etc) should protect you in most cases. Just research your artists before you make any binding agreements.

How much were you thinking of spending on interior art? Maybe I can recommend somebody?

-Ash
 

DeTzardis

New member
Banned
Jeremy's pretty much right on there being no standard any more, though a lot of people quote between $40 and $60 as being average for black and white interior. I generally figure at spending between $20 and $50 per picture myself. The trick is finding artists who are cheap, talented and deliver in a timely manner.
Hmmm... as a professional artist for over a decade now. I wouldn't get out of my bed for the price you've quoted personally.

Then again, you get what you pay for I suppose.
 

HinterWelt

Ich komme wieder
Validated User
Listen to Jeremy. He knows what he speaks of...and he does great and project saving work!!!

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<IMG src=http://shades.hinterwelt.com/images/Art/China-Dive.gif>

<IMG src=http://shades.hinterwelt.com/images/Art/VampResistance-McHugh.gif>
 
Last edited:

Kharum

Retired User
I've had a few artists email me, saying they would like to do art for our games. However, that is always followed up with "How much can you pay?"

Now, assuming for the moment I would actually have money to pay someone for art, what is considered fair compensation for art?

We are looking at having a single quarter-page (half-page, one column out of a two-column layout) piece of art every few pages. We also want to have at least one image for each race in our fantasy game setting. And we'd like to include a single full-page image at the beginning of each chapter.

We've also decided that images will be black-and-white line art, except for the cover and the full-page chapter beginning image.

The last artist who emailed me, I told him that we used first publication rights. He'd be free to resell the image however he pleased (we might request that he not sell it to another game company, but how many others want to re-use something we've already used?) I never heard back from him.

How much should art go for? Because of some of the things we've done with our settings, we really can't use stock images. Even if we could, I'd hate to do it anyway.

We are trying desperately to keep the cost of the books down. Wankers of the Cash, we ain't.
Are you still looking for an artist? Drop me a PM and I'll give you my price list. I just don't want to put it out here. Also, remember I am not greedy and I can work with you.
Kharum
K Studio
 

chris field

New member
Banned
Hmmm... as a professional artist for over a decade now. I wouldn't get out of my bed for the price you've quoted personally.

Then again, you get what you pay for I suppose.
You know, that's a very smug and unpleasant post. If you're making more as a successful artist, good for you, but you don't need to shit on a valid question just to prove your worth as an artist.

Look, RPG publishing, especially PDF publishing isn't a big money business. The art budgets, not to mention the sales are a FRACTION of the numbers a big name company like WOTC or Palladium gets. Put it this way- my biggest art expenditure to date was on Black Tokyo- and the budget for that product, not to mention my returns probably doesn't even equal the amount WOTC spent on the "Fighter" class write up and art in the 4th PHB.... if you added it together and multiplied by six.

DeTzardis, if you're really as good an artist as you claim, if you can look down at your nose at somebody offering 20-50 bucks per image, what are you doing hanging around the freelancer's forum HERE in low-budget land? How come your art isn't adorning some lovely $40 dollar cover price WOTC hardback at my local game store?

Could it be the arrogance is turning off potential clients? Or maybe, just maybe, youu're not quite as good as you think you are? And maybe 'it's not worth my time' is just a defense mechanism you've developed?

CHRIS
 

Cave Bear

New member
Banned
Could it be the arrogance is turning off potential clients? Or maybe, just maybe, youu're not quite as good as you think you are? And maybe 'it's not worth my time' is just a defense mechanism you've developed?

CHRIS

Time is money.

When pricing a work of art, you first have to take into account the amount of time that went into it.
Would you pay someone 20-50 bucks for something that took them a week to make?
Would you even pay someone 20-50 bucks for something that took them a day to make?
First of all, the artist has to make sketches and submit them for approval.
If the client rejects the sketches and asks for changes, then that is going to take more time to do.
Once that is done, the artist has to spend time actually making the work of art.
A neat pencil sketch might take a couple hours.
Inking might take a couple more hours.
Coloring might take a few hours on top of that.
After all is said and done, the work is submitted to the client. What if the client asks for changes though?
"I like this, but I was wondering if you could change the colors here, rotate that, add this in, and shift that over about an inch?"
Well, that is going to take even more time.

So... how much do you pay an artist for hir time?
Is it fair to expect an artist to work for a dollar an hour?
What about minimum wage per hour?
How much does the artist have to get paid to be able to put food on the table and pay the bills?
What is an artists time worth?


Personally, I charge about $10 an hour for a one-time printing in North America, as long as I have a manageable deadline and I don't have to work on the weekend.
If someone commissions a work on friday and wants it by monday, I charge them at least an extra $20.
If somebody commissions a work on friday and wants it by saturday morning, I charge them at least an extra $50.
If somebody wants additional printing rights beyond one-time printing in North America... the price is going to slide depending on what printing rights the client wants, but its going to be at least an extra $100. You don't give away copyright for less than a $1000 at minimum.
 

LunaText

Now with 50% more crazy
You know, that's a very smug and unpleasant post.

Could it be the arrogance is turning off potential clients?
CHRIS
I have to agree with Chris. So far the responses I've gotten on this thread, with one or two exceptions, have been of the vague or snotty inclination.

Perhaps that's my fault. Maybe I should have directed the question at other writers/publishers, and followed up with directing the question at artists.

But right now, I am doing 99.99% of the work on several projects at the same time. I just spent the entire weekend doing language construction for a single race, and I still have to go through and fine-tune it, as well as create an alphabet. And I have no assistance anywhere in that process.

However, I have to say that what I have seen so far is very indicative of one of the biggest rivalries in this business: the writers vs. the artists. And I am biased, as I am a writer.

What I mean by that is that I have been approached by several artists in the past month who tell me "I want to work on your project", and then proceed to tell me what I am doing wrong. An example in point is one artist who told me what the kobolds in our fantasy setting look like, implying I am "wrong" in the way I developed that race.

The same artists who are telling me they "wouldn't get out of bed for that price" are the ones who would never pay me better than that for my writing. Writers usually get paid by the word; if you think that "a picture is worth a thousand words", think again. I get paid a lot less than that for my work.​

Another artist got downright snotty with me when he read the spec sheet we have for interested artists: it specifically asks for no anime. While others may be big fans of anime, I am not one of them. I'm hoping for artists who can put some individuality into each creature or humanoid they draw or paint. Anime has, what, 6 stock faces for each gender?

I'm not even going to discuss the artists who have contacted me, and then don't respond to my replies.

I've lived through some of the most cut-throat times of this industry, and would prefer to put them behind me. But it seems that quite a few folks prefer the good old days when character assassination involved real knives.

Way to show your professionalism, folks.
 
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