Why can't I get the pros' attention?
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    Question Why can't I get the pros' attention?

    Hey everybody. Non artist here... I have been looking for concept artists for a project of mine, which at this point is still being written. Although I'm indie & have no resume in this business, I have money & would be willing to pay high prices to work with top level concept artists... I've reached out to about a dozen so far. Guys who have worked on movies, video games, etc. I can't seem to get a response from them.

    Just wondering what you all think the reasons could be?

    Do artists just get inundated with so much BS that I am just seen as a probable waste of time? Do they just not want to work on indie stuff? Do they think I just wont have the money to afford them? Should I list my budget up front? Is it just an ego thing? Am I underestimating how much these guys really make?

    I'm sure some of them are really busy and/or never check their contact email. But it's a bit frustrating getting complete silence when I have REAL money to compensate.

    Any insight you guys could give me, from an artists perspective, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Jim

    PS For the record, of all the top level concept artists who I reached out to, the only one who gave me any sort of response was Wayne Barlowe (RESPECT).

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    It is almost impossible knowing what certain people are thinking, and or why they do what they do. However, perhaps it has got something to do with your presentation. Did you really sell the idea to the artist? Did you make them read your email and make them stop to think, wow? This is important, especially seeing you are "indie & and have no resume in this business". How can these artists know you are serious or up for the task? etc. A lot comes in play, and it is really hard to answer such a question. But perhaps instead of jumping straight to the big guys, you should browse the forums and try and find "smaller" players?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbond27 View Post
    Hey everybody. Non artist here... I have been looking for concept artists for a project of mine, which at this point is still being written. Although I'm indie & have no resume in this business, I have money & would be willing to pay high prices to work with top level concept artists... I've reached out to about a dozen so far. Guys who have worked on movies, video games, etc. I can't seem to get a response from them.

    Just wondering what you all think the reasons could be?

    Do artists just get inundated with so much BS that I am just seen as a probable waste of time? Do they just not want to work on indie stuff? Do they think I just wont have the money to afford them? Should I list my budget up front? Is it just an ego thing? Am I underestimating how much these guys really make?

    I'm sure some of them are really busy and/or never check their contact email. But it's a bit frustrating getting complete silence when I have REAL money to compensate.

    Any insight you guys could give me, from an artists perspective, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Jim

    PS For the record, of all the top level concept artists who I reached out to, the only one who gave me any sort of response was Wayne Barlowe (RESPECT).

    What Hive Mind essentially said. You may perhaps have the funds, but you're still essentially unproven. And with the pros, they have better offers, in terms of monetary compensation, AND better time to devote to a project that would give them more notoriety, and hence more work in the long run.

    If you were Daniel Dociu, Ryan Church, et al - would you rather work on, say, Guild Wars 2's expansion, or indie project that no one's ever heard of?

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    Do artists just get inundated with so much BS that I am just seen as a probable waste of time?
    Yes.
    Do they just not want to work on indie stuff?
    Yes.
    Do they think I just wont have the money to afford them?
    Yes.
    Should I list my budget up front?
    Yes.
    Is it just an ego thing?
    No.
    Am I underestimating how much these guys really make?
    Probably. Or how busy/in demand they are.


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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbond27 View Post
    I have money & would be willing to pay high prices to work with top level concept artists...
    And you're SURE you have ENOUGH money to pay the top dozen top-level concept artists?

    The best concept artists are almost certain to be fully booked already, so an offer from Joe Nobody with an unknown project and unknown budget is likely to be ignored... Especially if the project is so vague that it's "still being written." It sounds like you're approaching extremely busy people with an extremely nebulous offer, it's not surprising you get no response.

    Have you tried looking for lesser-known artists? There's plenty of perfectly good concept artists who are still starting out in the business and might be glad to accept your offer. You'd probably have better luck with that approach.

    Also, I have to wonder how compelling your project pitch is... From what you've described so far, it sounds pretty vague. Possibly you need to define it more clearly and develop a better pitch. If it's too vague, it will come across as one of the many thousands of flaky projects that go nowhere...

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    Have you tried looking for lesser-known artists? There's plenty of perfectly good concept artists who are still starting out in the business and might be glad to accept your offer. You'd probably have better luck with that approach.
    Also consider that you could be some lesser-known artist's big break, after which you'll have a big name artist who owes you a favour or two... :-)

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    The top named guys are like rock stars they rake it in big time. It's like an "A list"movie star being approched for an inde film. In fact, I think a lot of relative nobodies might be afraid to take you on, for fear that you''ll end up being all talk no pay... but they'd at least give you a chance. You need to show them something that inspires trust. Like a summery of your story, something that at least lets them know that they won't end up agreeing to produce art for something that doesn't line up with their values. I'm not saying you're asking for furry porn, but those people are out there... and they're scary.
    Good luck.

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    "I think a lot of relative nobodies"

    you called!
    ill have a go!

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    If you were a big name concept artist, and had the choice to work for a reputable studio with people you know that they know their stuff, or a startup, unknown indie developer you've never heard of before who claims he has the money to pay you, which one would you pick?

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    It's probably the same reason why I will work with a major client in a heartbeat, but when someone says "Duuuuuuuuude. Your art is awesome! Will you design my tattoo!? I'll pay!"

    Great..."you'll pay". Of course "you'll pay", if I accepted your offer. But do I have time to spend 2 weeks designing your tattoo that will ONLY be seen by you and people admiring it at the grocery store? I feel a lot of making it as an artist is to work on projects that have legs. Things that will (obviously) pay but will also get me out there in the presses so more people contact me for work.

    It's funny....
    You often hear people say "This will be great exposure"
    You often hear people say "I'll pay!"

    But both of them suck on their own. The real key is to say "This will be great exposure AND I'll pay".
    They say "money talks, bullshit walks", but I think I still need to know that I'm working on something that has a purpose and isn't just for a personal experiment. I am sure this is frustrating from a person's point of view who is in need of art. But many artists just don't want to deal with the stresses that come with inexperience.

    And it's worth noting that I am nowhere near "top tier" of any kind of art, much less concept art. If I have those kinds of feelings, I can only imagine what an "art rock star" is like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    So work with Wayne.
    Brady?

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    Oh yeah, if Wayne Barlowe is writing you back...I definitely agree you should just stick with him.
    He's a class act all the way and one of the best.

    Why do you really need tons of different artists?

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    Thanks for the responses everyone. This is exactly what I wanted. I should also mention, I am viewing this as someone who has worked in the music industry (creative side) & done similar freelance hires/been hired there.

    you should browse the forums and try and find "smaller" players?
    I have been, have posted some jobs too and will continue to do this till my project is done (I wish it were easier to browse on here).

    And you're SURE you have ENOUGH money to pay the top dozen top-level concept artists?
    I have enough money to work with one. There are a few really important designs, which I'd take a chance with a big dog one time, just to see if it's worth the $. I've paid a few thousand bucks, up front, for music work before. That doesn't scare me if the artist is a real pro.

    It sounds like you're approaching extremely busy people with an extremely nebulous offer, it's not surprising you get no response.
    It's much less nebulous when I'm sending an official email to someone.

    And you're SURE you have ENOUGH money to pay the top dozen top-level concept artists?
    Lol don't let my mention of Wayne Barlowe skew the caliber of the guys I was reaching out to. I actually did not expect a response from him at all, but I love his work so much & came across his email. So I figured I'd give him a shot. Everyone else I contacted isn't on that level, but they all have generally worked with some big companies. And for the record, he got back to me saying he was too busy, which still made my day.

    It's funny....
    You often hear people say "This will be great exposure"
    You often hear people say "I'll pay!"
    Man.... I got a lot of that "exposure" BS when I was breaking into the music biz. I would never say that to anyone, even if I believed in all of my heart that it were true.

    I will pay, up front for a bigger name who's stuff I love.

    Like a summery of your story, something that at least lets them know that they won't end up agreeing to produce art for something that doesn't line up with their values. I'm not saying you're asking for furry porn, but those people are out there... and they're scary.
    Haha all I need are pretty straightforward fantasy designs, which anyone I contact would definitely be able to knock out. If I contact someone directly, I do give them a better idea of where I'm going than I did on this post.

    I've worked/am working with 7 different artists on various sorts of designs so far. But none of this stuff may ever be published. They can all vouch for me and my prompt payments.

    But both of them suck on their own. The real key is to say "This will be great exposure AND I'll pay".
    They say "money talks, bullshit walks", but I think I still need to know that I'm working on something that has a purpose and isn't just for a personal experiment. I am sure this is frustrating from a person's point of view who is in need of art. But many artists just don't want to deal with the stresses that come with inexperience.

    And it's worth noting that I am nowhere near "top tier" of any kind of art, much less concept art. If I have those kinds of feelings, I can only imagine what an "art rock star" is like.
    Thanks for that perspective. This is the kind of stuff I need to hear. I definitely understand where are you are coming from.

    I think I am going to change the approach and start putting the money up front, maybe snag one of them.

    Why do you really need tons of different artists?
    I don't necessarily need tons of artists (although with my creature/non human designs, I really like working with different artists). I have just reached out to a dozen of the big guys so far.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbond27 View Post
    I have enough money to work with one. There are a few really important designs, which I'd take a chance with a big dog one time, just to see if it's worth the $. I've paid a few thousand bucks, up front, for music work before. That doesn't scare me if the artist is a real pro.
    Depending on what exactly you're asking for and who you're asking, a "few thousand bucks" might actually be a tad low... Depending on what you mean by "a few"...

    I mean, if it's Wayne Barlowe or somebody, we might be talking a few more thousand bucks. But you've probably figured that out.

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    Hmmm maybe it would make more sense for me to get an idea of what it would take to get a rough B&W character sheet like this from a big name designer...



    Image courtesy of... http://kasai.deviantart.com/


    I mean, if it's Wayne Barlowe or somebody, we might be talking a few more thousand bucks. But you've probably figured that out.
    lol I really only mentioned it, cus the fact that he took the time to respond at all, seemed extremely professional to me.

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    I worked with a company in the 90's who hired Syd Mead and he got 10k a day for sketches.

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    "Great..."you'll pay". Of course "you'll pay", if I accepted your offer. But do I have time to spend 2 weeks designing your tattoo that will ONLY be seen by you and people admiring it at the grocery store? I feel a lot of making it as an artist is to work on projects that have legs. Things that will (obviously) pay but will also get me out there in the presses so more people contact me for work.
    But both of them suck on their own. The real key is to say "This will be great exposure AND I'll pay"."


    I dont think thats really as much of an issue when art pays the rent (or doesnt, if you dont get paid work in). i think people who work office jobs have an idealised view of business as a freelancer.
    every day someone pays you to do art is another day you dont have to go and get a proper job, one more afternoon to sit in the park smoking and get paid for it.

    "I worked with a company in the 90's who hired Syd Mead and he got 10k a day for sketches."

    thatd be sweet. can you imagine the stupid shit youd buy people for their birthdays or weddings?

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    I worked with a company in the 90's who hired Syd Mead and he got 10k a day for sketches.
    Do you think that's indicative of the prices for artists today? There are music producers who were getting 250k up front for songs in the late 90's, who can barely get a 10th of that now.

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    Well I can't speak for Syd, but I know prices have come down some. But big guys aren't affected as much as us mortals. Even if it is as you say you are still talking a thousand a day which is getting close to my rate and I'm nobody fancy so I can see someone like Iain McCaig getting 2 to 3k a day

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    I'd also think time would be a factor why such high pay. They're getting paid to get steps of a project done in a certain amount of time. The project has deadlines. They're not doing a 40/7 day a week thing for years in a lot of circumstances. They may work on a project for a small amount of time, and then have to go find work again.

    If they're not contractually employed like say a place that gives benefits and other items, it wouldn't be surprising to already see about half of that go pay into health care, taxes and other deductions that would come out of an "average Joe's" check.

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    I'd also think time would be a factor why such high pay.
    Good point. No deadlines on my end!

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    I dont think thats really as much of an issue when art pays the rent (or doesnt, if you dont get paid work in). i think people who work office jobs have an idealised view of business as a freelancer.
    every day someone pays you to do art is another day you dont have to go and get a proper job, one more afternoon to sit in the park smoking and get paid for it.
    Yeah, I think it doesn't take much time to realize that creating art for pay has it's own sets of challenges and therefore pickiness (if you have the luxury) is still going to happen. I *HAVE* to be inspired by the subject matter. Obviously there are plenty of people out there that are just trying to get to the next meal with their art. I do freelance art, but I don't LIVE off my freelance art. I feel I have the luxury to be picky with my time because my day job is also fullfilling (and I have to do "stuff I wouldn't do unless paid for it" there. So my evenings are for my own choosing, including paid projects).

    For example, these days I get a lot of bands that want "Ruined, post apocalyptic city" as the setting for their cover. I will refuse that immediately. It's not challenging to me and everyone does it (in fact, people that do photo collages can do it in a much faster time frame than my digital painting and they'll love to do the work, I'm sure). For me? It's boring, uninspired, and I roll my eyes as soon as I read the line. I'll never say never, but in the context of heavy metal album covers? Frankly, you literally could not pay me to do a ruined, apocalyptic city.

    So I only speak from my own experience, of course, but just trying to give that perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbond27 View Post
    Good point. No deadlines on my end!
    That may not be encouraging to a pro btw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    I worked with a company in the 90's who hired Syd Mead and he got 10k a day for sketches.
    What? Wow. I am very inspired now. That is absolutely boss. In the 90's 10k was worth probably 15-18 k today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Well I can't speak for Syd, but I know prices have come down some. But big guys aren't affected as much as us mortals. Even if it is as you say you are still talking a thousand a day which is getting close to my rate and I'm nobody fancy so I can see someone like Iain McCaig getting 2 to 3k a day
    Almost a thousand a day? Very impressive! Does that happen regularly like a full time job, or just for an odd month as part of a project?

    Jimbond, are you at all interested in amateurs for part time stuff?

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    I get at least half a dozen emails a month that claim a lot of hogwash. I used to answer them, now I skim through them and answer those whose info I can find in the first 2 pages of a Google's search. Now I may not be a big name but I'm a professional and if I get that much shoddy smoke being blown up my arsehole you could imagine what these other chaps are reeling in.

    Good luck with your project

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pavel Sokov View Post
    Almost a thousand a day? Very impressive! Does that happen regularly like a full time job, or just for an odd month as part of a project?
    I said almost.
    I am a contract artist, have been for most of my career. I pay all my own taxes, all my equipment, and all my insurance. It is all project work, projects can last up to 6 months or a year but lately (last 3 or 4 years)I usually do two or three small projects a year lasting two or three months plus my gallery work.I only get paid, when I work so its not like I get hired and bill them an hourly rate. I don't bill for research or set up. Most of the time its piece work, so I get anywhere from 25 to 2000 for a piece of art for a game; that is set by the client. Sometimes if it is a small project they bid the whole project to me; like all the interface art for a social network game for 10k. I look at the offer and decide if I can do it within my rate. If I can, I take the job, if not I pass it up.

    If its something I find interesting or want to add to my portfolio I will take less than my rate, but only if I'm sure of the parameters of the work. New clients are tricky because a lot of them are amateurs who are making their first game and think everything should be open ended and free. They will want X amount of pieces for a flat fee but then change the amount of pieces in the middle without changing the rate that's why I work with people who are honest and have a proven track record of sticking to a schedule and an asset list that they make. They also have to pay on time and pay something up front or no go, especially if I've never worked with them.

    Last edited by dpaint; September 28th, 2012 at 05:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    New clients are tricky because a lot of them are amateurs who are making their first game and think everything should be open ended and free. They will want X amount of pieces for a flat fee but then change the amount of pieces in the middle without changing the rate that's why I work with people who are honest and have a proven track record of sticking to a schedule and an asset list that they make. They also have to pay on time and pay something up front or no go especially if I've never worked with them.
    THIS. This is why I tend to prefer known regular clients over unknown new clients, unless someone has something that really appeals to me and is willing to accept my terms, or else has a good reputation/is recommended by someone I know. I suspect most well-known established pros have plenty of reliable regular clients to keep them busy, so they'd be inclined to ignore almost all new out-of-the-blue contacts (I know I would.)

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