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Subject: So many artists... rss

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Pierre Rebstock
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I see many artists posting "looking for work"-type messages here. And that's great, I've seen some real high caliber stuff that makes me consider self-publishing a lot more.
However I am befuddled by the fact that there are never any prices (or even ballpark figure) attached to the pictures being uploaded to show off one's skills. I don't know why that is but it seems that presenting art samples along with a price might save everybody a lot of time. Game designers wouldn't waste time typing up emails for quotes (and be sadly disappointed by the response) and similarly artists wouldn't have to waste their time answering emails from puny penniless designers when they are expecting $100s for each piece of digital awesomeness they produce.
I can see that it allow room to negociate, deals for bulk orders and the like, or start off negociations with a real high price and hope the other agrees. I respect all that but still, wouldn't it make things easier to an extent? I'm probably completely wrong and more than willing to hear what people think of this and why I shouldn't be allowed to post anymore

Also, I've posted about this before and don't really want to re-open this particular can of worms but it'd be great to see if people are opened to partnerships with game designers for a share (even the lion's) of the profits when looking at POD websites. I don't kid myself, se...i mean art sells and if your game looks nice right off the bat then people will at least look at it when browsing hundreds of games. In this attention-seeking world we live in, this might be enough to make them stop long enough to read the rules, realise it is a great game and click on the Buy button To say nothing of things like Kickstarter.

Anyway, back to my original topic:
tl;dr?
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Paul DeStefano
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How big do you want it? 8x10? 30x60? How detailed the background? Photo real or painterly? How much time do you plan to allow for the work? How many free edits and redesigns do you want at the sketch stage? How many edits later on?

If you ask for dinner, you can eat plain pasta for a week, or you can eat Lobster and Sirloin from the same chef. Asking price without asking details leaves you a range from less than a dollar to thirty dollars a night.

Y U NO GIVE PARAMETERS?
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Pierre Rebstock
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Geosphere wrote:
How big do you want it? 8x10? 30x60? How detailed the background? Photo real or painterly? How much time do you plan to allow for the work? How many free edits and redesigns do you want at the sketch stage? How many edits later on?

Yep all true, all depends on them parameters.
But i was talking about pieces that artists themselves upload when advertising their skills i.e. stuff they have already done (and maybe sold).
PicA.jpg was done for $50 (line drawing, card size)
PicB.jpg was done for $400 (full colour painting, poster size)

Yes, that wouldn't include time frame and many other parameters indeed but it'd be a start (IMHO)
Oh and this is totally not a rant, just simple curiosity as to why artists don't generally divulge what monetary value they place on the work they have done.
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Paul DeStefano
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Getting prices of online work would still not provide enough of a definition there.

Is the design by the artist or off of a sketch? Time frame is a tremendous consideration. Is the job for a single piece, or 55 cards for a deck? Number of edits is a huge line of contention. While a piece may be priced at $350, to come up with the identical piece overnight would be $4500. To do a series of conceptuals would be $200 more. But if you like the first draft, that doesn't come into play.

The reason artists don't generally price their works is that they await the offer. If a price tag reads $50, people may thing it must be poor work. If it reads $7000, it may be out of market.

There's also a 'usage' consideration. A price may vary based on if you're hanging it in your living room, printing 10,000 copies or using it at the entrance of Lincoln Center.

Prices for items done may not indicate that the person who hired them was a total jerk and did 14 edits and do-overs. Or that the piece was one of 17 in a series. Or that it took 7 years.

It is way too case AND artist specific to allow a price.

On the other hand, there are artists who set parameters - you give a sketch, they will create a comp, a rough and a final in four weeks for $500. Again, this varies by artist, but you can find commercial 'hired guns' who will reveal their price up front. It is for their ala carte offering. You just have to look and inquire.
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Ricardo van Duuren
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This may help too. They're my indicative rates and I got them from a very nice freelancer who shared them with me. I just adjusted them a bit. Some are near the market standard, others are lower. None of these are for big companies, publishers , nation (let alone world) wide marketing campaigns, movie posters and that kind of work, so tailored to independents and self starters.

There is no fixed rate and each artist decides for him / herself what their art is worth, market standard, deadline, how much other work they have, how enjoyable it is, or if it gets their name out there, etc. etc. The Artists' Guild Guidebook : Pricing and Ethical Guidelines is a very good read.

Standard rates (illustration and concepts)

page rates
$60 / € 42: quarter page, black and white
$90 / € 63: quarter page, black and white
$140 / € 98: half page, black and white
$200 / € 140: full page, black and white

$150 / € 105: quarter page, colour
$200 / € 140: half page, colour
$500 / € 350: full page / single page cover, colour
$750 / € 550: 2 sided cover + spine, full colour
$1000 / € 765: poster, colour

concepts
$ 150 - 240: creatures, vehicles
$ 175 - 500: characters, environments

card art:
$ 60 – 80 / € 42 - 56: simple, props etc.
$ 80 – 120 / € 56 - 84: single character, creature, simple environment (landscape)
$ 120 – 150 / € 84 - 105: small scene, complex environment (architecture, city)

I tend to work with these milestones for each piece:

1) preproduction: sketches, thumbnails
2) production: drawing / painting

License
The license is for a nationwide, exclusive, royalty free commercial usage in all print or digital media for a standard period of 5 years. I retain the right to use all created imagery for my portfolio, acquisition and non-commercial purposes like self-promotion on websites and such from the moment the project is released or 1 year after our agreement, whichever comes first.

Other license type affect the price, like Paul mentioned. Worldwide license will be more. Non-exclusive or limited exclusivity will make the price lower. Royalty-based makes the initial sum lower as well, but could potentially make the total way more. Then there's work-for-hire (which I almost never do). Or, all copyrights transferred. Those 'buyout' prices start at an additional 50% of the initial price but could go way higher.

Changes
Included in the price are a maximum of 3 requests for change per milestone. More requests for change are out of scope and will have to be handled separately, usually by the hour. My standard rate is $ 25 an hour for change work.

Some people want a fixed price for changes. I don't give unlimited changes unless you have an unlimited budget and pay me by the hour.

Time is also a big factor. There's are for stress free project time lines. If the deadline is tomorrow and I can't sleep tonight in order to get it done, the price jumps up. Could be 200 to 500%, depending on the initial amount.

As you can see, some items don't even have a standard rate, but more of a rate range. They are so different in nature that only by getting a description I can make out which end of the range we need to set in.

Then there's style choice. I don't have my own signature style for instance. Obviously, fully painted costs more than flat or cell shaded. And complexity of the image is a factor as well 50 or 1000 bushes / trees don't make much of a difference, but 1 person or 50 people does, especially if they all have to be highly defined and even more so if they have to look like specific people.

Hope this helped. But again, each artist has their own prices and these are just starting rates. There's so much to factor in. Like, if we started talking and I hear an 'extreme' scenario even a simple, quarter page black and white image might cost 7000. 7000 might sound very expensive, but 7000 for something in a worldwide coca cola commercial with an expected running time of a year is ridiculously low.
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Matt Riddle
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It's hard to put a price on art. It's not a manufactured good.
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Ivica Crljenica
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riddlen wrote:
It's hard to put a price on art. It's not a manufactured good.
A number of human activities aren't manufactured goods (medicine, science, governance,...) but we still put a price on them.

Also, always take in account that the price will be dependent on the desperation of the seller and buyer.
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Patrick Ward
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Altaira wrote:
riddlen wrote:
It's hard to put a price on art. It's not a manufactured good.
A number of human activities aren't manufactured goods (medicine, science, governance,...) but we still put a price on them.


Not really the best analogy.

Medicine .. we pay a fixed price for the final product in the shop. But whats the cost of all the research, development, trials etc. that go into developing that product. Thats rarely fixed or known up front.

Science .. same as Medicine.

Governance . . departments will generally be allocated a budget and have to work within its constraints. The general approach being . we have X ammount of money to achieve this goal .. lets find out the best way to do that. Not, we have to achieve this goal, lets just see who does it the cheapest. That's a recipe for disaster.
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Patrick Ward
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A lot of game designers do it as a hobby.

Most good artists are professionals and rely on payment for their artwork to pay for children, spouse, mortgage, bills etc.. They are 110% committed to art. They have to be to afford the software, callibrated hardware, training, insurance etc. etc.. If not a professional then your project will be at best secondary to other things in their life.

For a professional artist to compete on price is devaluing the investment in time and money let alone the skill it requires to produce high quality artwork. Its also a waste of time when we live in a global economy were one persons monthly needs are the same as anothers hourly. And don't forget that, with the exception of stock art, the project is a complete unknown until you both have sat down together and discussed exactly whats needed. A written brief is only enough to get things started and to attract interest. Have you, for example, factored in all the R+D time the artist may need?

So we instead say look at my work, read about my experience, see what I can bring to your project. If thats what you need then lets talk, lets communicate, lets develop a working relationship, lets see how we can work together to make this the best it can be.

And the best thing for a designer is to know how much they value the art side of their project. How important is it to gameplay and sales? Then work out a proportion of their budget they can set aside for that and ask the artist what they can achieve with it.

In simple terms the artist will say well .. X is enough for Y days work. They will then use their years of experience to work out as best as they can how the brief can be fullfilled within that time.
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fightcitymayor
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Altaira wrote:
Also, always take in account that the price will be dependent on the desperation of the seller and buyer.
I wouldn't call a free-market exchange of goods/services "desperation." It's just what a buyer needs/wants vs. what the seller can provide at what price. This exchange happens every day, and attempting to boil the whole process down to relative levels of "desperation" doesn't really portray the situation accurately.

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Richard Gagnon
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PierreNZ wrote:
it'd be great to see if people are opened to partnerships with game designers for a share (even the lion's) of the profits when looking at POD websites.

The fundamental problem with that approach is that the game designer and artist are working with two different perspectives. The game designer sees the game as a work of passion. The artist sees it as a job. The artist doesn't know how well the game will sell. The artist doesn't know how trustworthy the game designer is to pay profits over a long term. With those unknowns, most artists will prefer getting paid upfront.

The definition of "profit" can be very unclear. The Christopher Reeves Superman movies never turned a profit for actors that opted for a percentage of the profits. Most rock acts never see a penny of royalties.

Although this link doesn't apply in your case, it's interesting to see how recording artists are pushed to sign contracts that are very disadvantageous.
http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/recording-contract.ht...
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Yannus Tallin
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My skill set is more graphic art/design than art and illustration so take the following with that fact in mind.

One of the reason people in my skill set are so cagey about openly publicising their prices in a fixed “you get this for this” format is that by doing so you automatically craft a rod for your own back. This is because you often tailor your price to match your client. I would offer a far lower price to an indi developer than I would a multinational and I don’t believe I’m unusual in that respect in any way.

All parties know that this kind of thing occurs, however it’s not the kind of thing you want to openly flaunt. You can soon write yourself into a corner with regard to negotiations with a large publisher. After all if you are seen to be providing vastly undercut prices to an indi developers a larger publisher is entitled to query your quote.

Additionally if I was to quote the kind of charges I would ask from a larger developer here then few indi developers people would ever consider me.

Ultimately in this line of work you have to hold out for your big jobs, because those are your “pay days” and that is what keeps the roof over your families head. Sometimes people tend to think of artists as whimsical folk who will bend themselves over your desk for the honour of crafting your vision... and in some ways this is true. However, it’s important to respect that you get what you get not only because of the money that you’re paying but often because someone with far bigger pockets than you has already covered my real world costs.

The system works far better for indi developers than they often think it does because of this. Frankly if this fact means they have to send a few more e-mails than they would like then sadly my sympathy is limited. If you want great quality at a bargain price then you have to be willing to knock on my door and have a chat.

I’m sorry if this sounds like I’m saying “I’m doing you a favour so be grateful”, but it is in many respects true. Professional graphic artists are being hit hard by the credit crunch right now and if each job they are doing for major developers is paying less they have to work more, which in turns means they can take on fewer indi jobs.

This is the harsh reality of the industry. Sorry.
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Nicholas Vitek
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As a small indie publisher, I have to agree with Yannus. Based on my connections with artists and graphic designers, I understand what he is saying.

Friends of mine say something to the effect of, "For every Corporate job, I can afford to do one I enjoy." You also see this with art-house movies that feature a ton of big name actors. They do the major movies and can then pay to do little art house productions.

Artists provide us with a skillset that we don't have. I can't draw or paint. I can write, I can design and I can coordinate, but what I can't do is draw. So, I need to pay someone to do it for me. This I don't mind doing. But, to get the best price, I understand I need to talk with them, share my enthusiasm and make sure that the artist is the right fit for the game and that he or she will provide the best price for the best artwork.

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The neutral evil villain known as
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Yannus said it far more eloquently than I could.

All that, and someone would follow your post with: "Hey this website can give you a full color game board for half that" and "I know a guy in some country who does line art for 55 dollars per deck of cards!" You'd also get people private messaging to undercut you because someone is always out there looking to build a portfolio for next to nothing or always wanted to be involved in making a game. It's a losing proposition to put your price out front. It's like playing poker and announcing you have an ace or two. Suddenly no one wants to ante-up.

What really bugs me is when I am emailing someone concerning a job and they email to say, "sorry we have chosen someone" before I even finish a quote. That tells me someone got a ridiculous DEAL that I couldn't possibly provide. It happens a lot here.

BGG is not a good place to get rich, but it is an excellent place to make friends.
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Ricardo van Duuren
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I'm a strong believer of 'you get what you pay for'. There will always be someone out there who's willing to do the job for less. I'm not concerned with them or their clients. The contractors who want to undercut are not my competition because they aren't in the same business as me: providing quality art. They are in the business of delivering cheap products with little to no value for little money. The clients who are looking for cheap and fast aren't looking for quality work, they want art because they need it, but don't think it's all that important. I don't even want to work for them. When it comes to work I'd rather not do there's plenty to be had that pays a whole lot better too.

Personally, I'm not really looking to get rich with this work. If money was important to me I would have stayed in IT or would've gone to med school. But it's easier for me to speak since I don't have a family to support. In that case the family would come first for me too.

Also, I don't think many people get really rich from selling their services. Only a select few. The rest just scrapes by. The amount in which you can grow is also fairly limited I think, because you sell time bound services of which there's only a very limited supply.

Theoretically a partnership could lead to much bigger profits, but partnerships are so risky and uncomfortable. It really needs to be handled with care, with paperwork drafted by lawyers and accountants. Partnering with a friend is even worse, because the second money gets involved things can get nasty quickly. I've seen many friendships bust over it.
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The neutral evil villain known as
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Well said Ricardo.
You do get what you pay for, but most people are more than willing to try cheap once or twice. And if it works out... more.

I am a graphic artist who is being underbid and losing work to displaced art directors who work for half my rates. I still get the important retouching and illustration jobs because I am that good, but the bread and butter ad work that I have been doing for 12+ years is being sucked up by people who have been downsized due to the recession.

I am sure the agencies are just watching their bottom line, but the little jobs I used to do for them, paid my bills. When they need someone they can count on with quality, speed, and reliability, they still call. And of course it's ALWAYS in a panic.

Unfortunately, I may not be there if they keep this up.


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Nick Hayes
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So far there has been a ton of great and very important information put forth in this thread. There are many aspiring game designers on this site who could stand to read what you all have written.

I would suggest thumbing this thread to increase its visibility.
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Pierre Rebstock
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Black Canyon wrote:
So far there has been a ton of great and very important information put forth in this thread. There are many aspiring game designers on this site who could stand to read what you all have written.


Indeed. To be honest, I fully expected this thread to devolve into a mean flamewar but I'm really happy with the constructive responses all around. Taking my time to digest all this.

Maybe I'm naive but I can't help being saddened by how many people feel that they must pre-emptively protect themselves lest they get taken advantage of by others.
I get it.
Maybe it's living out here in laid-back NZ or that it's now summer holidays for us southerners, but I don't feel compelled to do so... at the moment. The game does change when money and real investment get involved. I'll probably get badly burned at some point for being too trusting or too hands-off, but hey, I guess it's all part of the experience. Whatever doesn't kill you and all that.

Thanks again for the reponses, definitely a thread i'll keep coming back to.
 
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Ricardo van Duuren
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Phil of Mars wrote:
Well said Ricardo.
You do get what you pay for, but most people are more than willing to try cheap once or twice. And if it works out... more.

I am a graphic artist who is being underbid and losing work to displaced art directors who work for half my rates. I still get the important retouching and illustration jobs because I am that good, but the bread and butter ad work that I have been doing for 12+ years is being sucked up by people who have been downsized due to the recession.

I am sure the agencies are just watching their bottom line, but the little jobs I used to do for them, paid my bills. When they need someone they can count on with quality, speed, and reliability, they still call. And of course it's ALWAYS in a panic.

Unfortunately, I may not be there if they keep this up.

Yeah, sad times. The big agencies even try it on the superstars. I saw a blogpost by James Gurney the other day. Apparently he was approached by some agency that did a campaign for a tv show that basically has a similar theme as his Dinotopia. With a very condescending message that read as 'I (not we) like your work and we might use it if you're willing to change things (also for free mind you) according to our directions'. It irks me on so many levels.

I heard this podcast from Bobby Chiu the other day in which he underlines the need to diversify in this day and age. I guess we can get angry about the whole situation or we can roll with punches and try to adapt. Survival of the fittest and all that. Now, to find that pot of gold so we can finally do the things we really want to (fantasy, scifi, steampunk!) ... anyone got the next Farmville / Angry Birds / Minecraft idea?
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The neutral evil villain known as
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PierreNZ wrote:


Maybe it's living out here in laid-back NZ or that it's now summer holidays for us southerners, but I don't feel compelled to do so... at the moment.



It may very well be. For over a dozen years I have made a good living at freelance, but the last 3 have been crazy with the recession over here. I have had more trouble collecting my money than ever! Companies are tight and hurting. I had one agency that I hounded until they paid me. They closed down a few weeks later. I have had the cops called on me because I showed up to collect MY FEES.

I will say however that illustration has recently taken a turn. People are sophisticated enough FINALLY to recognize clip art and are starting to view it as "cheap" and ask for something original. I have had a half dozen good jobs this year.
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Yannus Tallin
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I think we have to be a little bit careful when we state that "you get what you pay for" because there are a lot of equally talented people who may well work for less than you due to the simple fact that they don’t have to cover the same overheads as you do or have more beneficial circumstances in their favour than your do. Ultimately there can be a multitude of reasons why someone may be able to get the same quality of work from another individual with your skill set (and level) for a cheaper price (even if it’s down to naivety on their part).

Artists and graphic designers are in my experience a humble yet also deeply proud breed of people (I know I am!). We must however, be careful not to treat being "undercut" as instantly meaning that the client is also somehow receiving a product of lesser quality than we would supply. If you do exactly the same job as me to the same level of skill and for a lower price it would surely be disingenuous to declare that you to have "undercut" me with an inferior product when in reality you simply offered a service I was unwilling or able to match in an increasingly competitive market.

There comes a time in all markets, no matter what product you’re selling, when your marketable value is in a state of flux due to competition. If you operate on a global market this is an even more pressing issue.

More and more people are graduating from art schools across the globe and digital art programs are becoming more attainable for those outside the once exclusive doors of industry. Normal everyday people are also being encourage to increasingly explore their own creative skills and given new ways to explore them (deviant art, flicker, open source modding of computer game, etc..). With that in mind the flow of people into the skill set has inevitably increased, thereby decreasing the value of the once exclusive skills held by the professional.

Often (and I’m guilty of this in the past), professionals will be rather rude about the skills of the "everyman" who picks up photoshop and effectively takes work away from me. However, this is becoming an increasingly harder argument to support. There are of course many people, lacking in formal training, who produce rubbish but this brush cannot possibly tar everyone. That is a fact all professionals must respect.

As artist we have to understand that our market value is being explored more vigorously than ever in the modern market and to stand against the tide would only exercise futility.

Sorry for going a bit off topic but I hope that this post, in conjunction with my previous one, gives everyone a more rounded view of the problems facing those within the industry as a whole.

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Yella wrote:

We must however, be careful not to treat being "undercut" as instantly meaning that the client is also somehow receiving a product of lesser quality than we would supply.


Agreed, but "undercut" is "going below another's price to get the job", and it's by far the main reason I don't post a price. I'd rather feel out the client and tailor a price to their situation so that I can get the job, than pigeonhole myself out of a potential job. You can't haggle a price, if you never get to talk to the person.

Yella wrote:

Often (and I’m guilty of this in the past), professionals will be rather rude about the skills of the "everyman" who picks up photoshop and effectively takes work away from me. However, this is becoming an increasingly harder argument to support. There are of course many people, lacking in formal training, who produce rubbish but this brush cannot possibly tar everyone. That is a fact all professionals must respect.


Also agreed. I have, however, thought about instituting a "JOB RAPE" pricing point. In the last few years I have had an increase in people calling me to "fix" things others have screwed up. An amazing number of interns I have met in the last year believe they are designers and that an agency will have a production department to take care of their prepress. I've heard, "I'm a designer" not a production artist" more than once. These are the displaced ones, I am saving people from.

I have lately been running into kids who use ONLY ILLUSTRATOR for layout instead of indesign or quark! I knew that was going to happen when they introduced multiple pages. Oh.... the pain.



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Joe McDaid
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Phil of Mars wrote:
I have lately been running into kids who use ONLY ILLUSTRATOR for layout instead of indesign or quark!


I do that for my games only because Adobe Production premium didn't come with InDesign.. I do mostly do video work though so it's kind of a fair trade for Premier Pro and After Effects.
 
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Ricardo van Duuren
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Yella wrote:
I think we have to be a little bit careful when we state that "you get what you pay for" because there are a lot of equally talented people who may well work for less than you due to the simple fact that they don’t have to cover the same overheads as you do or have more beneficial circumstances in their favour than your do. Ultimately there can be a multitude of reasons why someone may be able to get the same quality of work from another individual with your skill set (and level) for a cheaper price (even if it’s down to naivety on their part).

True, not everybody has costs as high as some of us and they can usually go a bit lower. But as Phil mentioned, there are some rates that are ridiculously low. I've seen people quoting rates that translate to $ 2 an hour, unless (and I suspect they do) they just grab some stock image and slightly alter it to fit their need better. I wasn't really talking about someone who's rates are a couple of percentages lower, more about those extreme cases, who I don't consider 'my competition' because, as I mentioned, we're not in the same market. You make a good point though. And there are always exceptions to any 'rule', as we artists know.

Yella wrote:
Often (and I’m guilty of this in the past), professionals will be rather rude about the skills of the "everyman" who picks up photoshop and effectively takes work away from me. However, this is becoming an increasingly harder argument to support. There are of course many people, lacking in formal training, who produce rubbish but this brush cannot possibly tar everyone. That is a fact all professionals must respect.

I don't look at people's formal training. I didn't go to an art academy myself (well, 2 years, but I found the level of teaching of that particular program to be too low to be acceptable) and learned most from books, observation, workshops and many, many hours of training (I have a 60 - 80 hour work week if I include training). I look at the quality of work they produce. I see too many people call themselves artists who produce quality only marginally better than a toddlers crayon drawings (at least those are pure and imaginative most of the time). And then they go sell their better looking work at comicon or something like that, but the only reason why it's better is because they copied (or traced even) a page of (for example) Naruto ... I've seen artists represented by an agency who do that. The second they don't have an example to directly copy they crumble. If a protected, licensed professional (doctors, engineers etc) had that level of professionalism they would loose their license. Can you imagine a surgeon only able to perform surgery when he can find a youtube video which he can directly follow?

But then, art isn't surgery. And not everybody needs top quality (or want it even). Some people only want 'okay quality' work and I completely understand they want to pay a price that reflects that, and that's what I mean with 'you get what you pay for'. At least, I hope people do. And I'm not even talking about what people consider 'top quality' because that's a discussion that will result in multipage threads by itself.
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Chris Rallis
United Kingdom
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Well, I thought I should write here, instead of posting a new thread.
I'm a newbie to boardgames, but an experienced artist and freelance illustrator. The thing is I'm really confused about illustration rates for indie games. I was told not to ask less than US$ 200 for a playing card. However I noticed that some artists quote as low as US$ 50, or even US$ 30, for a card illo.

So, what would be a fair price for a playing card illo? Does it depend on the artist's skills and quality of work, or just on the developer's budget? Please help me short this out. I wouldn't want to price my artwork too low, messing other artists rates, neither too high and marked as too expensive to hire.

Thank you in advance,
Chris

www.rallisart.com
 
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