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My tips from 9 years experience of working with artists in game development...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Meltdown, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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  2. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Great read.

    I'd add, for artist, don't work with anyone who isn't this professional ^^^
     
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  3. BrandyStarbrite

    BrandyStarbrite

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    If you hire and work with an artist, who can do his/her work really, really well:
    My suggestion is, don't overwork him/her too much, otherwise he/she, will suffer a meltdown.:p
     
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  4. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    Good read!

    One thing I would say, having worked as a freelance artist for a while, is that you as the buyer can never provide too much information. I have dealt with some people who seem to think that an artist can read minds, and things didn't work out well. I ended up making a habit of asking loads of questions of new clients, and if they didn't provide good answers or were flippant about things, I said "sorry I'm not the best person for the job" because I knew things wouldn't work out.

    If you're hiring an artist, grab tons of reference pictures and mark/annotate them, provide bullet point lists of every detail that's important to you, and above all know what you want and how to describe it.
     
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  5. Ony

    Ony

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    Great post. Can vouch for every single point in it, based on hiring artists (and coders) for various things over the past ~20 years.
     
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  6. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Good stuff that plenty of people need to hear.

    The only thing I'd nitpick in there is the bit about having contractors give you source after payment. If providing source is an expected part of the work then I wouldn't make final payment until I had those files as well.
     
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  7. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    Good point, but I've met a lot of resistance in the past with asking for source before final payment. Most artists want final payment, then will send the source, in my experience. As a programmer I would never release the source until I had received final payment either. So yeah, I'm guessing that's just something that needs to be discussed/agreed to up front.
     
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  8. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Yeah, that's fair. In my case it's usually been dealing with local people face to face, so as long as it's in the contract both sides have a reasonable level of confidence either way because our reputations would be trashed if we didn't keep up our end. Online transactions tend not to have that consideration so much.
     
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  9. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    If you have well defined milestones and payments at each there shouldnt be a problem for either one party to either pay up front or deliver before payment on that last milestone. I always let my artist use a git I own, not always the real git since its a hustle to make NDA agreements fro every little job, but the git is always in my control. That way I always have the source.
     
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  10. SparrowsNest

    SparrowsNest

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    "Now trust me, if you are not ecstatic about something in your game and its your passion project, you’re going to want to fix it and its going to nag the F*** out of you until you do…"

    Most def.

    thanks for the share, was just about to get started with contracting an artist next week ;)
     
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  11. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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    All great stuff, thanks for sharing.
     
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  12. McDev02

    McDev02

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    I second these Tips! In fact most of these tips can be used for any kind of contracted partner like programmers, writers or musicians.

    In addition to Tip 4, you may ask them to store the files on a shared server, I use Dropbox and artists put their work and soruce files into that. If its too big I archive them from time to time on my local storage.

    "If an artist has poor comms or has one line replies to your lengthy emails,"
    Oh yea. I had someone who had a nice introduction forum post but once I talked to him I had the feeling he was using a translator and didn't really understand what I wanted. Communication is king!
     
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  13. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    The advice is applicable to working with anyone from a vet for your cat to a baker for your cake. Communication is not the words you use or the language you speak, but understanding and that's a lot harder.

    Good tips!
     
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  14. Voronoi

    Voronoi

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    I think this is a great, general read and fair to both the artist and client, with one exception. As a work for hire, you (the client) now own the copyright to the work, which is fine for a typical game project. However, the artist should have some sort of an indemnification clause. Right now, you ask that the artist guarantee all the work is original and does not infringe on anyone's copyright. But, if you have given the artist references and/or directed the artist to make it look like "so and so", that may be a request that infringes on copyright.

    A simple indemnification clause that states that the artist is not responsible for copyright issues when given art direction or references by the client would make this more fair. Right now, if anything good happens with the project (the next minecraft), you are the copyright holder and creator of the work. If anything bad happens (that photo, game, or style you asked the artist to reference), they are the one that is liable.
     
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  15. wccrawford

    wccrawford

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    "A simple indemnification clause that states that the artist is not responsible for copyright issues when given art direction or references by the client would make this more fair."

    I disagree. The way the OP did it, the artist is being told "I like this, but don't violate copyright." Your way, the artist gets to think, "I can copy these slavishly because it's not my problem."

    And it absolutely is the artist's job to not violate the law.
     
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  16. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    It is every persons job not to violate the law. Why should artist have to go out of their way to ensure client isn't breaking law? Unless it is super obvious violation, it simply isn't feasible. The person giving the orders has the onus to not give bad orders.

    Different story if you are hiring an art director. But if you are hiring somebody with intent to tell them specifically what to create, I, personally as an artist, would prefer @Voronoi's contract.
     
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  17. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    If the artist is too stupid to avoid violating copyright on reference images then you shouldn't hire them.
     
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  18. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    If the developer is too stupid to ask the artist to copy copyrighted work, you shouldn't work for them.

    I am probably understanding this differently, but what I am imagining is developer gives artist a handful of images and says, "make stuff that looks about like this."

    If it's batman and artist just makes it, yeah they are an idiot. If its just random images they haven't seen before, are they expected to spend half a day googling all of it to make sure it doesn't belong to some protected IP?

    Personally, if someone else is giving orders and my job is to follow them, I am not gonna work for that person if they are not willing to accept responsibility. If the job entails a higher degree of decision making autonomy on my behalf, then I am willing to accept greater responsibility.
     
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  19. Voronoi

    Voronoi

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    I would agree if the contract was 'all rights'. In that case, the artist is the author, transferring all rights to the client, but they retain authorship, can show it in their portfolio and say that they did it. In that case, yes, the artist should not be making work that infringes and should guarantee it is original.

    In a work made for hire contract, the client is the author. The artist has no inherent right to show the work. Therefore, if the client keeps sending it back saying "No, make it look more like this" and gives the artist a reference, it should not be up to the artist to figure out where that reference came from. The client could literally be instructing the artist to infringe. Work for hire means the artist is simply the hands doing the work, and not the 'author'.

    I would argue that that contract as written says, 'anything good that happens, I am the author' and 'anything bad that happens, it's not my work, blame the artist'.
     
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  20. denisehilton

    denisehilton

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    Thanks for sharing these tips. As a beginner, I am desperate to make a career in 3D game development. I am trying to master Unity as best as I can. Hopefully I will get somewhere.
     
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  21. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    I have brought some trademark stuff from artststion, always asks the artist to change the trademarkted stuff. It can be done in very subtile ways so it's almost not noticble. Like here were the artist misspelled the name and rotated the triangle.

     
  22. GameDevCouple_I

    GameDevCouple_I

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    I must say I am not sure I agree with a lot of that. In our studio, artists are responsible for art including research into it, developers responsible for tech and research into it.

    If by developer you mean owner, producer, director etc then sure its a bit more understandible, but at the end of the day you should be in control of your field.

    If my director comes and asks me to make something like this demo + code the found on the web, Its up to me to research into the copyright as I am the programmer; the director wont have the technical knowledge to do that well.

    The same should go for artists, and it does in our studio and as a result we dont have issues surrounding copyright.

    That said, if I am asked by said director to do X, and I say to them "there may be a copyright issue" and they tell me to do it anyway or that they dont care, then sure it is their responsibility. But if not, then it is up to us, the ones with the technical understanding, to research and advise.
     
  23. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    Maybe the real issue is how much creative freedom you get. I would much prefer someone give me a few quite different reference points, or some general guidelines, and leave it to me to create something different that's artistically functional and expressive.

    I can understand there being very specific and stringent technical guidelines (dimensions, poly count etc) and a cohesive style to fit into, but I would expect someone hiring an artist to offload the decisions about artistic details to them. After all that's what you'd expect an artist to be good at.

    All the best times I've had with clients have been like this, and it made me also invest more into the job because I get to make creative decisions.
     
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  24. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    @GameDevCouple_I , yes I agree with everything you said. But you are talking about an employee workign in your studio. Different from a freelance artist you hire for commission work, in which oyu spell out a task, and they deliver to your specifications. Voronoi said what I wanted to say above, although much better.

    The main thing is, responsibility needs to be clearly stated in the contract.
     
  25. GameDevCouple_I

    GameDevCouple_I

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    Thats true it is very different with a freelancer! Everything I wrote above only applies to a full time employee, sorry should have clarified!