Guest post by Beth Sobel.

From Christina: I have had the immense pleasure of working a bit with Beth’s illustration on Lanterns: The Harvest Festival. Below, she discusses making that first step toward contacting an illustrator for your own game project.

So you’ve gotten your game to the point where you’re looking for art for it? Congratulations, that’s fantastic!

Here are four tips to get you on your way.

1. Finding illustrators can seem daunting, but it’s not so difficult once you know where to look.

As board game designers, one of your best resources is boardgamegeek.com. Have a look at the illustrators listed for games whose art you’ve particularly enjoyed, and contact them. It’s fine to contact as many illustrators as you like; if an illustrator isn’t taking new clients or is out of your budget, they will tell you that, and you’ll be able to move on to other options, or file their information away for later. See below for a sample query to an illustrator.

Hello, name,

I’ve seen your work on game name or other location and what you thought about it. I’m currently designing project description and am looking for an illustrator to work on it.

The art assets I’d need for the project include list of art assets, including file size and resolution if known, and our timeline is timeline. Optional: state your art budget if you have one. If you think this is a project you’d like to be a part of, I’d appreciate a quote from you for the work listed above.

Thank you,
Name

2. Approach illustrators as professionals… because they are!

Illustration isn’t a hobby. It’s not something we do for for free. Be respectful of our time and the investment we’ve put into learning our craft, and you’ll have a much better interaction. Fortunately, almost everyone is, but the occasional bad experience makes this worth saying.

Because we’re professionals, be ready to pay. That doesn’t have to mean that you have to be ready to pay a lot, or ready to pay right away, but it does mean you need to have a good plan in place about how you’ll pay your illustrator, and know how much you can afford. Often, an illustrator will work with you on this point. Paying your illustrator offers both the illustrator and the client security. You know your illustrator won’t drop the job, and the illustrator knows you’re serious.

Be prepared to have a contract. This can be either from your illustrator, or from you, but you should have something in place that outlines your interaction with each other, for the safety of both parties. You can find sample contracts online.

3. Approach illustrators with as much information already gathered about your specific needs as you can.

An illustrator will be able to give you a better idea of their ability to meet your budget and timeline if you already know what you’ll need, and how quickly you’ll need it. Things that you should know before you are ready to request quotes include the art resolution, size, and file format needed, all of the art assets you’d like to commission, and the timeline of your project. It’s fine to add work as you go along, if something comes up and your illustrator agrees, but having a comprehensive list beforehand will both help you with project budgeting and help your illustrator with time budgeting.

A list of possible art assets you may need for your game:

  • Board art
  • Box top art
  • Box sides art
  • Box back art
  • Game Logo
  • Card art
  • Card frames
  • Token art
  • Coin art
  • Player mat art
  • Custom dice designs

4. Pay attention to the communication style of the illustrators you’d like to hire, and be clear about your communication needs.

Are you going to worry if you don’t hear from them every two weeks with a project update? Does it bother you if an email doesn’t get a reply for a week? Make sure they know that, and can accommodate you.

Congratulations again on getting your game to the art stage!

I look forward to hopefully playing some of them in the near future.

Follow Beth on Facebook or Twitter (@beth_sobel) to see more of her amazing art!

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  1. dan smith on February 17, 2016

    Well stated. Another thing to consider is to let your artist(s) have some say in the art. You need specific art but if you allow them to do it “their way”, they will invest themselves in the work and give you their best… and not just a job to get done. After all, you hired them because you like what THEY do.

    • Christina Major on February 17, 2016

      Oh man, I used to have a client that literally thought of me as their personal graphic design pixel pusher. Don’t be that client!

  2. Michael Orion on February 17, 2016

    Great article! I’d also emphasise the need for a good art director to be involved in guiding the artist and graphic designers. I see so many great games with awful art direction that makes no sense. Seek a professional art director out and get their opinions before signing off on the art !!

    • Christina Major on February 17, 2016

      Yes! I know a lot of game designers don’t really understand everything that goes into “art”, but art direction is an important skill, and you can absolutely spin your wheels if you have rockstar art that doesn’t suit the job it’s intended to do.

      • Beth Sobel on February 17, 2016

        I so agree! I see a lot of folks try to crowdsource their art direction, and sometimes that works, but you will definitely have a better, easier, potentially cheaper (a lot of the crowd sourcers request multiple illustrations and ask people to choose) time of it if you hire someone. Art directors are fantastic! 🙂

  3. Tim on February 17, 2016

    Hello

    I am an artist, and game designer – As an illustrator I’ve worked on a few games including my own, one small thing for choosing artists, would be to choose an artist based on a style match for your game. There isn’t much point in choosing someone because of their current work you like, then trying to wrangle them into a different style – it would be frustrating for both parties 🙂

    I generally work in a painterly naturalistic style, so would turn down jobs if the desired result was anime line art for example. It works both ways – I SHOULD turn it down if I know I can’t produce the result, but perhaps they should search for someone who fits their spec.

    great website folks!
    T

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