Does anyone have experience with contract artists?

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  • I plan on hiring an artist to create all the sprites for my game once it's complete, and I'm looking for feedback from anyone who has had experience working with contracted artists.

    Did you pay for all the sprites in bulk? Or per hour? How much did you pay?

    Listing pros and cons would be great, thanks!

  • You can approach this a number of ways, here are a few different methods:

    1. Contract for a specific length of time for a fixed amount, like "we're hiring you for 20 hours a week for 6 weeks." and they get paid on a timeline kind of like a salaried paycheck.

    2. Instead of paying for a fixed time frame, Contract based on the artist's hourly fee for a specific number of hours, but have the actual weekly hours potentially vary. So this would be, like "we're hiring you for 20 hours between now and x date" but the number of hours per week could vary. Maybe you do 5 hours this week and 10 hours next week. In this case, the artist would be sending invoices at an agreed schedule for how much you pay them, like a time sheet. Doing a method like this would work well for an artist who needs flexibility, but who you really, REALLY trust to get their stuff done in the allotted time.

    3. Instead of doing it based on time, define segments of work based on their worth, and then the artist gets paid when the work is complete. So, like, you would agree on something like "doing this sprite sheet and all the animations is worth x dollars." and when they complete the task they get the x dollars, regardless of if it took them an hour or a week. This can be useful if your project is at a stage where you have very defined segments of work to be contracted out, but it can be more complicated to figure out up front than something like an hourly fee.

    Those are just a couple of ways I know about, there are probably other methods that other people can suggest.

  • Thanks for the insight, Wertle.

    I think I'm most comfortable with option 3. I feel I can easily be scammed using the other options because if I pay the artist hourly, they could intentionally work slower to extend their employment. Also, I don't think I could really trust a contract artist I have never worked with before. I have been looking into the methods of buying assets in "bulk", as that sounds the safest route. Finish the assets, get paid. Simple and easy.

    If I were to pay in bulk, how would I build trust with the artist? Pay half then and pay the rest when the assets are complete? Or do artists usually start work on a project without much insurance?

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  • I guess that depends a little on your own credibility as well. If you are a credible contractor then the artist could invoice you upon completion of the task and you'd pay the agreed upon amount, and they would trust you to do so.

    I'm guessing arranging payment at a halfway point could also work, but then you get into the nebulous realm of defining what "halfway" means. Whatever you decide to do, it will probably involve a lot of back and forth with your artist to set up the contract to define what exactly each thing is worth and what the pay schedule is.

    I've been lucky in that the contractor artist I worked with I knew really well as a reliable person, so we did option 2 and he would invoice every 2 weeks for the hours he worked. It worked out well, but like you said, you have to be assured that the artist is trustworthy and competent.

  • Fixed price is the most common option. But make sure that the number of included revisions is agreed upon before you start. That way you avoid potential conflict.

  • A professionnal artist who charges per hour will give you a cost estimate/invoice before starting on the job anyway and pretty much stick to it. However as dhondon stated, signing a small agreement/contract with the artist is very important, and every detail of the way the contract should unfold have to be precisely exposed.

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