Thoughts on - sample required before we can proceed - proposals
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  1. #1
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    Thoughts on - sample required before we can proceed - proposals

    I've seen a few of these. Just got a proposal today and here's an extract from the email:

    "We like to see a test sample of work on one of our stages before we officially commit to bringing anyone on.
    If your test piece is accepted, we can add the hours already worked into your first payment.
    If we don't think that you would be a good fit then there is no compensation."

    I never know what to do with these. I hate the idea of doing work that could just be someone fishing for free designs. Does anyone else encounter this?

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    If you want to try it out but don't want to give away free art why not just use a watermark? I've done that a couple time on pieces that I hadn't received payment for yet.

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    Why don't they just look at your portfolio?

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    If your portfolio is geared towards the genre/subject you are applying for then, it should be enough.
    I used to get requests like this as well, I turned to here for advice. I know how tricky it can be
    when you are wanting to land a gig. I don't give squat. If they don't think I'm capable of the
    job, they can move on. I get enough work without doing it for free.

    Last edited by Star Eater; October 17th, 2012 at 08:17 PM.
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    You can always ask them to pay for the test no matter what the decision. Tests are BS, if the people are too stupid to tell if you have ability or too lazy to check your references to make sure your portfolio is actually yours then you probably don't want to work with them in the first place.

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    http://www.no-spec.com/ is a great resource on this issue.

    Read it, and send a link to them.

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    Never, ever, ever do unpaid samples. It never turns out well. I got one of these in my inbox today too.

    a) Designing anything isn't about just guessing what the client wants and taking a punt. Without taking a full brief your chances of hitting exactly the look they want are miniscule.
    b) They have no skin in the game so they won't bother to comment or go through any sort of process with you to get the end result they want. (that's how it's done. That's why pro work looks good) You just guess and they'll dump you after you've spent time on the project without any sort of feedback process.
    c) Design is the lion's share of the work. I spend maybe 70% of the projects time budget on design iteration and 30% on execution. They are asking you to do 70% of the work before they even decide if they are going to use you. It's like hiring a builder to renovate your kitchen and asking him to draw up plans, schedule work, buy and deliver materials, prep the site and after he's done all that they'll let him know if he's got the job.

    Take my advice. You're already going to spend multiple work hours courting them and prepping documents, schedules etc. Don't put pen to paper, don't even think about the project until you have a deposit.

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    Thanks for this thread, this is something I had wondered about as well, and come across a few times, always to my frustration.

    I completely get what Atreides says about the design aspect, but what about if the "sample" isn't really something which is design-based? For example, I once considered applying for work to a particular games company, but was put off by the fact that they insisted you carry out a small brief before they would accept an application. In this case the brief was a 3D model and there was no way they could have had any practical use for so many different submissions of the same specific item. However, I didn't have the time to waste creating work on spec for someone who may or may not even look at it. I wondered if it was their way of culling the number of applicants, but it seemed a ridiculous way of doing it since you would cull just as many talented as untalented applicants that way (the smart and talented ones would be just as, if not more likely to move on to other companies who didn't have such a request). It makes no sense to me - surely the applicant's portfolio is enough of an indication about whether they are a match or not.

    If it is a design-based brief I agree that's a huge red flag that the company either has no idea about, or no respect for the time and effort an artist puts into their work and either way you don't want to work with such a difficult client.

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    Thanks for the advice guys, it did seem suspicious. Also, I did some research on the company and they don't seem to have released any games and infact they only have still mock-ups of their current game. So they're amatures as far as I can tell. I'll just ignore the email. They emailed their interest at first, I said I was up for it, then they emailed their list of 'how they operate'. So ignoring that will convey that their 'we pay you if we like it' approach isn't even worth a response.

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    This sort of stuff happens a lot in architecture. And more than just samples etc. Big parts of the project are done not even knowing if you can get the job. We all hate these things but it seems more and more jobs are through these sort of competitions. There is a lot of favoritism and unethical backscratching. Often the cheapest better wins (and some make unreasonably cheap offers that they cannot actually meet but win because of that as well as cheapening the labor). But sad is that only the ones that have really made it, made a name for themselves over years and years can afford to pass these things, others just don't have enough work coming their way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    You can always ask them to pay for the test no matter what the decision. Tests are BS, if the people are too stupid to tell if you have ability or too lazy to check your references to make sure your portfolio is actually yours then you probably don't want to work with them in the first place.

    I don't completely agree with this. It really depends on the situation, I don't think you should discard every proposal you get, just because they ask for a test. You just need to think whether it is worth or not the "trouble". Wasn't it marko djurdjevic that had to do some cover tests for marvel, to see if he could really fit the job?

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    A recent thread on similar topics:http://conceptart.org/forums/showthr...m-my-portfolio


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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    I don't completely agree with this. It really depends on the situation, I don't think you should discard every proposal you get, just because they ask for a test. You just need to think whether it is worth or not the "trouble". Wasn't it marko djurdjevic that had to do some cover tests for marvel, to see if he could really fit the job?
    No one should ever do a test for free. I have no problem with getting paid for my time. Spec work is just whoring yourself, it just means the artist is too crappy to get a real job as an artist. People who work on spec just produce crap, so you can't put it in your portfolio and you won't learn anything from it except how not to be professional.

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    I have to agree with pegasi here, mainly because I've had two legit jobs that both required a small standardized art test, because both were my first times of doing either, as I know that either places don't put said tests for those who have lots of actual experience, in the same way as some game companies in here search for summer job artists by having them do a small art test (like, "resize this image" and it's amazing how many fail at that and in what ways).

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    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    ... it's amazing how many fail at that and in what ways).
    Haha! Any examples come to mind?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Star Eater View Post
    Haha! Any examples come to mind?
    Well, the basic test gives you an old, small cartoon game graphic that has jpg artifacts and all, that you had to vectorize and make larger and you had to put in the time it took etc. Well, one guy had just put the pixelated image through Illustrator Live Trace or something, put in the time taken as "two minutes" and submitted his test.
    And from what I heard, that was quite usual, as people thought it was more important to get out a shitty graphic faster, than a good graphic slower.

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    As has been previously stated, it is acceptable to do an unpaid test for a full time inhouse job. Even that has to be in proportion though. I once got a test demanding these assets in four days: in game HUD for a racing game, full GUI workup including splash image and logo for a Wii game, 1 xcal arts style char design, a print ready pencil illo of an amazon warrior, a pixel logo, a pixel character and a running animation. I swear to god, that's what they asked for, I've still got the test doc. HR people can be real wankers sometimes.

    That's just crazy, more usual is a couple of assets in the house style. For a full time job. Reputable companies who will respect you pay for samples if you're a freelancer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atreides View Post
    As has been previously stated, it is acceptable to do an unpaid test for a full time inhouse job. Even that has to be in proportion though. I once got a test demanding these assets in four days: in game HUD for a racing game, full GUI workup including splash image and logo for a Wii game, 1 xcal arts style char design, a print ready pencil illo of an amazon warrior, a pixel logo, a pixel character and a running animation. I swear to god, that's what they asked for, I've still got the test doc. HR people can be real wankers sometimes.
    Chancer assholes. Thats really a sad joke.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atreides View Post
    As has been previously stated, it is acceptable to do an unpaid test for a full time inhouse job..
    Says who? If I have to put out, I expect people to buy me a fancy dinner and a nice expensive bottle of wine.

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    I'm happy with a cheese burger and box wine myself. I'm a cheap date...(not speaking metaphorically though.)

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