Why am I having so much trouble hiring a game artist?

A month or two ago I posted on here about this and got a couple leads… None of which panned out.

The “artists” on craigslist are basically your corporate website jockeys, and even the ones that live in Russia want $40 USD an hour, for what looks to me like subpar website work.

I tried to hire a kid from the local games program last year, but he got overwhelmed with his coursework and couldn’t keep up.

What’s an indie dev to do? I’m even offering to pay these damn people, unlike your average mod team or what have you.

Oh, and I hit some board that was recommended here, sent some emails, and never got any replies after I said what I wanted them to do (except for one, that told me he was $75 an hour. Ya, right.)

My suggestion?

Steal one from a mod team. Find a mod whose art you like - whether it’s the concept or the textures or the models - and find that specific artist on their site and approach him.

Try the IGDA forums.

  • Alan

What sort of artwork are you looking for?

Contact local colleges with art programs and offer a paid intern ship for a person who is qualifed.

Thanks for IGDA link Alan, that’ll help.

As for what type of art… GUI skin (probably minor for first game) and then a jack of all trades modeller/texture artist/etc for the game assets.

Depending on what your product is and company size is, a jack of all trades artist can be a bad pick unless you are a very small company and simply can not afford to hire many people.

Basically if I were a medium sized game company Id hire an exelent modeler, an exelent texure artist, and an execelent animator over one guy who was ‘decent’ at all 3.

I recently just had this same problem. It is indeed very difficult to find good game artists. The forums are just full of crap.

My best leads came from emailing other people I know in the industry and saying, “Hey, who do you know that’s actually good and is looking for some short-term work right now?” I emailed probably 30-40 people and got back about 10 contacts, at least 6 of which were solid and a couple were good-to-great.

Nearly all of the contacts I got from this were clearly a cut above what you see from people on the various forums (e.g. the IGDA forum mentioned above).

I would point out, though, that for short term work (i.e. a few days at a time) I am paying $60-$80 / hour for a good artist. But, for that I get the same quantity of stuff in a day that a middle-of-the-bell-curve artist would produce in 4 days, and it’s much better quality. Just make sure he is worth it, and don’t be paying $60 to some chump.

For longer term stuff (weeks / months), the prices can be brought down some.

What I recommend doing (it worked for me) is to draft out the entire game using programmer art. Then you can take your time looking for an artist because you’re not waiting on one to proceed. When you find one that’s reasonably priced and good, then you go with him. And then, since you have most of the game drafted out anyway, communication with the artist is much easier since he can just see what you mean.

An even more important element to this is that if there are specific workflow issues (cooking, etc.), you’ll get them sorted out on your time, not the artist’s. It’s too easy to dump stuff off on an artist and expect them to tell you how to structure the art to make it work. Things like defining transparent colors, file formats, model/triangle tags, material definitions, etc.

You could also try deviantart.com and gamedev.net - I’ve used a few artists from both of these sites with no problems.

I was playing a game mod and noticed the texture artist lived in my area, so I sent him an email and told him what I was looking for and my budget. It worked out pretty well (it helped that he was still in school and was hungry for experience/money). Since he was local we got to do a few face-to-face meetings, a lot better than trying to describe what you want through email.

Aren’t there headhunters or agents for this sort of thing? Makes me think I should start a consultancy that brokers contract creative types.

If, you know, I had money or gumption.

I know I’d sure as hell pay a finder’s fee for an agent who found me the sort of artist I’m looking for. Surfing through forums looking for art is a tedious, depressing, and so far fruitless affair.

At first I thought it would be easy. Afterall, I just want some good sprites along the lines of what’s in Civ 3; it’s proved way more of a pain than I’d thought, as the only samples of anything similar all come from commercial games rather than portfolios with an email contact attached. :-(

I’ve been doing what J. Blow suggested, and just working through with programmer art (and straight ripping Civ3’s sprites for placeholders), which is great from a development standpoint, but only goes so far.

Former roommate from college. Might be tricky to get him to work for you since he’s already working for a game company.


Online porfolio of another friend of mine from college. He’s really chompin at the bit for any kind of experience with a gaming company.