Kickstarter Lesson #3: Art and Design

13 January 2013

Regardless of the type of project, art and design can make or break a campaign. The vast majority of projects on Kickstarter aren’t made by professionals, so backers understand that your project isn’t going to look professional grade (especially if you’re raising money to make it look professional grade). But the art and design of your project page make a huge impression on potential backers, so you want the project and the project page to look as polished as possible.

As I just mentioned, there’s a good chance that part of the reason that you’re raising funds on Kickstarter is to afford great art and design. Thus what you’re looking for while creating your Kickstarter campaign isn’t an artist to do all of the art for the game–just some of it. Enough to give your backers a taste of what will come.

Art vs. Design

Before I continue, I need to distinguish between art and design. The art is comprised of raw pictures and illustrations. If you’re creating a board game, the art should be created digitally, most likely by someone painting in Photoshop. The design (graphic design) is everything that happens after the raw art is made–creating frames for the art, incorporating icons and symbols, fonts, sizing everything, creating the printer-ready files, etc.

For example, you look at the Mars Needs Mechanics Kickstarter campaign. Scroll down to the Backer Levels section (also see partial screenshot at the bottom of this post). The image on the game board mockup was created by an artist. That art was then incorporated into a 3D frame to create the “box” you see here. The designer also created or selected the various fonts you see here.

The Mars Needs Mechanics project page gives you a good idea of the type of art and design you’ll need before a project. If you’re making a board game, you’ll want the art for the box, the board, and a few cards. The designer can mock up some 3D components for you as well. Those will give people an idea of what the final product will look like.

Other well-designed project pages for board game Kickstarters are Tomorrow and Heartland Hauling.

Finding an Artist and Designer

So how do you find an artist and a designer? For both, I would first look to friends, with two caveats: One, look for friends who really know what they’re doing–you should be 100% confident in their work. Your project is worth a great artist/designer, so don’t go with someone simply because they won’t charge as much as a stranger. Two, pay them. Don’t try to get anyone to work for free. No matter how good of friends you are, you’re not going to get the quality or the priority if you’re asking them to work for free. Also, if they’re offering you their expertise, they deserve to get paid. That’s how artists and designers make a living. One middle ground strategy you could go with is to offer them a base rate and 1% of your total Kickstarter earnings. That way they’re getting paid even if the project isn’t successful, and they have a vested interest in the project.

I found my non-friend artists for Viticulture through two different sources: This extremely informative blog post and ConceptArt (also see DeviantArt and DrawCrowd). The blog post mentions the use of Twitter to find artists. ConceptArt is more focused–you post what you’re looking for and how much you’re looking to pay, and artists respond with examples from their portfolio. Also, if you’re a game designer, reach out to artists of other games (see BoardGameGeek) to see if they have an opening in their schedule. This is my favorite way to find and connect with artists.

There are plenty of websites out there to help you find graphic designers. But in all likelihood you know a friend who does graphic design. Just like with the artists, don’t go for the cheapest possible option. Go for the person with whom you have the utmost confidence. An amazing graphic designer can end up saving you a ton of time and money on the back end, especially if they’re preparing printer files for you.

Communication

One other factor to consider when you’re choosing between artists and designers is communication. Do you want the artist who takes 5 days to respond to your e-mails, or the one who always gets back to you right away? That time adds up when you’re working with someone for months at a time. I’d rather pay more for the responsive artist or designer than the one you hardly ever hear from.

Payment

How much can you expect to pay for art? It really varies quite a bit. Two key factors are size and color. You can probably get small black and white concept sketches for about $10, but bigger color images for things like the box or the board will cost several hundred dollars at minimum. The investment is absolutely worth it. You’ll need a PayPal account set up to pay your artist (I’d recommend opening an account just for Kickstarter, not your personal account).

Project Page

Last, when you get to the point that you’re designing the look and feel of your project page, I would recommend that you have your designer send you the files in a format that you have the ability to edit. That way if you want to tweak the wording of something, you don’t have to go back and forth with the designer for a tiny change. I tinkered with my stretch goals a lot during the campaign, and there were times that I felt that I didn’t have a second to spare. Most likely the file format will be InDesign, which is expensive, but if you happen to have it or can get a student discount, it’s very helpful.

I’m curious to hear what artists and designers have to say about this post, as well as other project creators who have worked with artists and designers. Do you have anything to add that will help other project creators?

Mars_Needs_Mechanics_backer_levels

Up Next: Kickstarter Lesson #4: Accounting and Finances

69 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #3: Art and Design

  1. Hi,

    Being an artist and also launching our Kickstarter campaign, I can tell you for certain that you can never have too much art. Any project that is visual, obviously excluding music, needs to bring the visual. We have a good amount of art up on your project, but we are now looking to throw far more up before we launch.

    Great post btw! :)

  2. I am in the beginning stages of creating a kickstarter and I was looking for an illustrator. I created a craigslist ad in the community section and got a surprising amount of quality submissions. I don’t suggest it being the only source but it was a pretty good one.

  3. Jamey, I wanted to elaborate a bit on the cost for Artwork from some personal experience as well. You’re absolutely right that it varies from artist to artist, color vs black and white, size of the artwork, and resolution.

    The other thing to keep in mind is the type of artwork as well. Different game genre’s are going to have different costs associated with them as well because of the complexity..

    Personally, I went out trying to get 50.00 per piece of artwork only to realize for high quality fantasy themed artwork a lot of artists were asking up to 800.00 per piece, with a solid average rate at 250-300 per piece.

    Each artist is different, and sometimes prices can be negotiated, and sometimes they cannot.

    Great article!

    1. Jared: Thanks for sharing your personal experience here. Something you’ll run into when talking to some artists is that they create huge pieces of art for a tiny card. Sometimes that’s nice, but most of the time that’s not needed. So it’s important to clarify size when you’re getting a quote.

      1. I posted below about this, but most of the time, as a digital artist, I work at higher resolutions than the finished piece. The quote should be the same regardless of the working resolution.

  4. Question: You mention ” If you’re creating a board game, the art should be created digitally, most likely by someone painting in Photoshop.”

    But I’m working with an artist who doesn’t do digital art. All of the art for our game is going to be hand-drawn and hand-painted with Gouache. Did you specifically mean create digital artwork for the Kickstarter page? Because that makes more sense. But even then, can’t you just scan your hand-drawn artwork at hi-res and get the same result? Our hand-drawn artwork, we feel, is a nice touch to our game. Would you mind clarifying a bit?

    Thanks, and great post!

  5. Chris: Thanks for your question. It sounds like you might get some really cool art as a result of that practice–I just hope it works! Digital art is a lot more flexible if you have changes to make later in the process, but you can probably still make those changes in Photoshop if needed.

  6. I don’t know how many other designers have this question but what if your game has next to no artwork? My design is a dexterity type game which currently is abstract with no theme. I’m even thinking of using a bag instead of a box to save my backers money. The rules will be a small fold which will obviously have a little bit of art, the name of the game and such. I’m just trying to figure out how to flesh out my page when there will be so little art to begin with.

    1. Ryan: That’s a good question. I kind of have two answers. If you decide to use a bag, you’ll still need a little bit of art (more graphic design) in the rules. So I would suggest having a graphic designer do a really great job creating and formatting the rules before the campaign since it’s basically the only art (other than the components) you can show off. You could also have one or two pieces of concept art conveying how the game is played, both for the rules and the project page.

      My other response is I can think of very few games where a bag is better than a box, especially given retail shelf presence. If you have a box, the front of the box can feature a really nice piece of art that you can also use on the project page.

  7. Hi Jared,

    I’m curious to know [as Jamey alluded to] just what part of the artwork you were being quoted $800 for. Box, box cover, board…? Plus, I’d like to know how everything turned out for your project in the end. Link us to some of your eye candy ;p

  8. Jared,

    A couple of things:
    1. A nice, roundabout way of not answering the question.
    B. “the artwork is spectacular” is no lie! Simply beautiful. Nice job Jonathan. I hit the remind me button. When do you hope to kick it?
    III. Super cool job on the video. Perfect IMHO for your target.
    Fore! Still wouldn’t mind an answer to my original Q. Even with such highly detailed, wonderful art, it seems anything besides the box itself would be overpriced at $800.

    I’d give your preview page high marks. And thanks for the link!

  9. Mark, sorry for not being more specific. Jonathan is actually our graphic designer only, and his charges are separate of the artwork you see on the preview page. (1000.00 total)

    Our (anonymous by request) artist, only does the actual artwork and none of the design. He basically charges 300.00 for a single piece of artwork that is approximately 2400 pixels at 120 pixels per inch. We have learned to incorporate multiple pieces of card art that is cropped from his large artwork to make multiple cards, because he has a set price for artwork at 300.00 per piece. I originally asked if we could reduce the size of the artwork or number of pixels to reduce the price, and he was unwilling to budge. Because of my desire for his artwork specifically, we had to be creative on how to get artwork for a cheaper price from him.

    I did find other artists willing to do each piece like what you see on my preview page for around 150.00, but the quality and by my personal taste I did not enjoy it as much as what we chose to go with. On the high end, I found a more name worthy artist (who does art for wizards of the coast) and his price was 800.00 for a single piece of artwork like you see.

    For all of the artwork you see on the Kickstarter page, we have spent around 2400.00 total. This is also because we paid the original 300.00 per piece five times before we figured out how we could crop parts of the completed artwork instead of doing a single card at a time. Learning as we go per say.

    Glad to hear of your interest in DOM, we are hopeful to launch at the end of February or beginning of March this coming calendar year. On a side note, we are actually doing a different Kickstarter video, as feedback received people have asked for more specifics on what the game is and how it is different than similar games rather than a “pitchy” video like we have currently. It is great to hear you enjoy our video though, we plan to keep it in the body of our Kickstarter because we had a very fun time making the video.

    Let me know if you have any additional questions.

  10. Hey Raymond, great to hear your interest in DOM as well. We may end up offering shipping to other parts of the country/globe but as an initial funding goal in order to keep our costs low we opted to go with US only shipping. We may decide to open it to more than the US and Canada will be first on our list of that is he case.

    A lot of the page design came because of Jameys Kickstarter lessons. And his article on art and design helped tremendously in regards to the look of DOM.

  11. […] Get some art: If you already have a few illustrations, that’s great. If not, you could commission a few from your artist of choice. Or, even easier, you could select a few pieces of existing art from the artist’s portfolio to sample–just make sure to credit them properly and that you’ve contacted the artist to see if they’re available to work on your project. You could also compare two or three artists’ work side-by-side. Here are some ways to find artists. […]

  12. Is there a post about the artwork book that was put together for Scythe? If there is I can’t seem to find it.

    1. I don’t have a post about something so specific as the Scythe art book, but I talk about it in Scythe project updates. It’s basically just a compilation of all the art in the game, but bigger.

      1. I guess I am just wondering the manufacturing/printing process for it. Did it ship with the game? Did the same company produce everything for the campaign (game, and art book) as one complete package?

        1. Yes, Panda printed the game and the book. It’s mostly packed externally to the game, but there’s one version of the game that includes the book in the box. When we make a game, we just work with Panda, but they outsource a lot of specific components to other companies that specialize in, say, custom wooden components. Panda mostly just prints stuff and assembles it.

          1. That is what I was looking for!!! Perfect Thank you so much. I read your blog more than the Bible…lol

  13. Hello, I’m new to this forum, but really enjoying these blogs, and just finished reading your book “A Crowdfunder’s Strategy”. Twas excellent! I had a few questions for the community here:

    1. When interviewing and looking for artists, do you typically pay them for making examples for your game, before you’re even sure you want hire them for the project?
    2. Should I ask her to submit some examples specific to my game, before paying her? Or is this typical of artists?
    3. Anybody have good a contract/non-compete agreements that they recommend using for artists?

    I interviewed an artist today, and she wants $30/hour for her time. I was thinking of paying $100 initially, and seeing if she produced good art for my game (I like some of what I saw on her portfolio). However, after reading this, I’m not so sure. And because I don’t know her, and she seemed very intent on making money, I don’t want to get swindled. Thoughts/suggestions? Maybe I should look around more?

    1. Corey: Thanks for your questions (and for checking out my book!)

      1. I do pay artists for their samples. Usually I know what an artist’s work looks like, but I request a sample to see how they communicate and respond to feedback.

      2. For the above reasons and just to make sure he/she is a good fit, I’d recommend getting one sample illustration.

      3. I don’t have one offhand, but I recommend the lawyer we use for contracts: http://www.strebecklaw.com/

      I think it’s reasonable for artists to be intent on making money–for many people, this is their livelihood. Paying based on amounts of time can be fine, though I prefer to pay by the piece. Like, you might tell the artist that you need 10 illustrations of people in full color with undetailed backgrounds, each measuring to fit a 57x87mm card. The artist will give you an estimate of how long each illustration will take. So, say she says each card will take 3 hours. Based on that time estimate, you could offer her $100 per card (3 hours plus a little extra time for revisions). If you don’t want to pay that much per card, you could offer less or find an artist who will accept the lower amount. Keep in mind that those art completely hypothetical numbers for the sake of explaining how to get prices.

      I’m sure other publishers work differently, as do different artists.

      1. Jamie- thanks for the response! I definitely am all for paying people for their work, although it will be coming out of my personal finances right now. :) The typical creators paradox!

        Its definitely shocking though, to find out that artists are charging more per hour then I was making as a chemist implementing high-tech pharmaceutical processes! Oh well, time to swallow my pride, and get some good art!

      2. I’d like to chime in here, as a fine and digital artist. First, the one place you don’t skimp on your game is on the artwork. Artwork makes or breaks a game, almost as much as the rules themselves. The first game I bought through Kickstarter, “Steampunk Rally”, I bought in large part to the quality of the illustrations and game art. Similarly, I can remember several games I passed on because the quality of the board artwork was poor. I’m sure I’m not alone. I’ve even bought games that have mediocre reviews because the artwork was worth having. Artwork can’t fix a bad game, but it certainly can attract a lot more attention for a good one.

        Second, as my wife once remarked, ‘Art takes time’! Good quality illustrations and artwork require hours of work. To think an artist has time to make one for free as a sample isn’t realistic, especially if you’ve already been drawn to the artist’s style from other examples. Pay for one if you feel the need. It’s the professional thing to do, and asking for anything for free is a red flag to the artist that they don’t want to do business with you.

        Third, artists – and especially freelance artists, the ones you’re most likely going to use, need to pay their bills. 40-60 dollars an hour is entirely reasonable, especially if you are buying all the rights to the artwork. Or offer a set amount per piece, if that’s better for you, but don’t try to get an unreasonable price by forgetting how much work goes into the art – depending on the piece and style, it could take a few days, not a few hours, to create. My experience with non-artists is they assume it’s really easy and fast, like clicking a button. It isn’t.

        Fourth, I’d stay away from Elance and other ridiculously low-ball sites that contain a lot of ‘artists’ from around the globe offering to create your artwork for 5 dollars. You get what you pay for. Also, I’d recommend hiring an artist local to your country, for a variety of reasons, from cultural references to communication. Also, a good artist can help guide you and offer creative suggestions to make your game the best product you can achieve. You won’t get that from someone working half a world away for slave wages.

        Fifth, yes, digital art had the power to be manipulated in ways that would require a complete re-do for a traditional piece of art. That having been said, have your vision clearly defined before approaching an artist – reference styles, particular fonts you like, everything you can use to communicate, so the artist can deliver what you want on the first pass – the more changes you request, the less profitable it is for the artist. Like any other vendor, countless requests for changes are going to yield diminishing returns.

        Finally, most artists will work with sizes that are larger than what you need for your finished piece, just because the detail level and quality are easier to achieve before reduction to your final size. What matters in determining cost is the size of the final image, not the working resolution.

          1. And thank you for sharing what you’ve learned! It’s much appreciated. I wonder if one person can create a Kickstarter game and manage everything, if you go in with the art and the rules already completed. Seems like a lot to handle the production and distribution side of things.

  14. Hi, I’m a first time board game designer and I’m at the stage where I’m looking for artist and a manufacturer. I’m currently talking to Panda Games after finding them through your blogs (which were all very helpful by the way). They said that the art should be in Illustrator or InDesign, but not Photoshop. After asking around on the board game industry sub reddit, it seems the way around this restriction is to get an artist to provide a vector file in CMYK then have a graphics designer put it all together in Illustrator. Has that been your experience as well? Thanks!

    1. rhoumer: That’s a great question, though I’m hoping a real graphic design chimes in to answer it. I’m pretty sure the way we’ve done it is that the artist works in Photoshop, saves the files in a specific format (I’m not sure what that format is), and then my graphic designer incorporates that art into InDesign while creating the final files.

    2. Hi Rhoumer: Although I have yet to publish my first game, I do know a fair amount about Adobe CC. The way InDesign works, you can “place” files from Illustrator or Photoshop into your InDesign Document. If your artist wants to create in Photoshop and save it as a .PSD file (basic photoshop file), that should be fine. I’d say the more important thing is to make sure that they use CYMK and high resolution 300 PPI or more. And test how the colors actually print out.

      The reason the printer probably wants InDesign or Illustrator files is because you can set the bleed and slug borders really easily, which is important for commercial printing.

      For my game that I’m working on, I currently use Illustrator and then place the various files into an InDesign document that I set up according to how I want to print. I then export from InDesign to a PDF. However, when my artists come on board, they will probably use Photoshop. Still, it’s no problem, I just “place” their files into InDesign and I’m good to go.

      The other nice thing about using InDesign is that you can directly edit the files you place in InDesign through Photoshop or Illustrator. Everything syncs! Adobe CC is AWESOME!

  15. Hi Jamie! Thank yo for this post. The info is just what we were looking for. We are in a bit of a conundrum here at StoryClub Games. We have learned the hard way that there can be a big difference between an artist and a graphic designer! If you want original artwork, created by hand, working with an artist is great. However, not all artists are commercially savvy. And you must have that when designing packaging for a commercial project! Here’s what happened to us.

    Alongside a bunch of kids, we have developed a really hilarious game for them. It sparks their wacky imaginations to create really funny short stories. It’s a pretty simple concept that gets kids connecting and creating with tons of laughter and fun. We hired an ‘artist’ to create a bunch of images that came directly from our development and play-testing. Our artist, is wonderful, but he has very little commercial experience under his belt. So, putting together the box design was challenging.

    Here’s the conundrum….nearly every kid we have shown the box to loves it. But…some of the adults don’t. We know you can’t please everyone, but it has been suggested to us (by adults) that the box just doesn’t look ‘professional’ and that the colors are ‘off’. So, knowing that Kickstarter backers skew male, and are obviously, adults, do we go back to the drawing board? One idea is that we utilize our graphics to reflect an actual ‘story scene’, i.e., Historia.

    Any feedback you (or your followers) can offer is very much appreciated. You WILL NOT hurt our feelings! :) Thank you!

  16. MJ: Thanks for your comment! I think you’ve touched upon something important here: Kids might like the box, but it’s their parents who will choose to pay for it. So the box needs to appeal to them.

    I think it’s great that you have this feedback before you launch, as it gives you the opportunity to act on it. I’d recommend looking at game boxes by a company called iello (they make King of Tokyo) and perhaps reaching out to one of the artists of those boxes.

    1. Thank you for the response Jamey. AND I sincerely apologize for not getting your name spelled correctly. We will check out iello for sure!

  17. Jamey, thank you for another great post and links. A couple questions for anyone out there with experience publishing games:

    -Would you typically hire and artist first and then a graphic designer once you have the art?

    -We are able to do some basic work in Illustrator (example of our first game which we don’t intend to publish is here: http://www.hiddencreekgames.com/countervirus.html). In terms of lowering the cost, does it make sense to do as much of the design ourselves as we can and then hire a graphic designer to finalize it? Or would the designer have to start from scratch anyway?

    Thanks again!

    1. I would definitely get the graphic designer first, as you might have to redo a lot of art if it isn’t within the specs. For your second question, same answer–even just for foundational purposes, working with a graphic designer from the beginning can save you s lot of time, trouble, and money later.

  18. Jamey,
    Just got Scythe in the mail today: fantastic job on such a polished game, kickstarter campaign, and fulfillment process.

    I have a couple quick questions about the World of Scythe Art Book that I added to my pledge and this was probably the most relevant post to address them: Where did you get printed? What was your experience working with Jakub (or an artist in general) to have an art book of your own board game commissioned? The quality is above and beyond my expectations, and such a wonderful addition to the world you have created. I daresay this should be a much more common item; especially when there is this much focus on the power of art in a game. Well done, sirs!

    1. Justin: I’m glad you like the art book! In this case, I wouldn’t really say we commissioned Jakub for the book–we were partners for the entire Scythe package, which we thought would be enhanced by the art book. We were fortunate that the same company printing the game, Panda, also has a book binding printing press, so they printed it right there in house. :)

  19. You mention that a good middle ground strategy for hiring artists is to offer them a base rate + 1% of your kickstarter earnings. Can you offer any insights into whether companies ever provide a % of ongoing profit for the game, rather than just kickstarter earnings? If so, can you provide any insight into the numbers involved—how it impacts negotiation of a base rate and what variation in %’s would be reasonable (e.g. .75% or 1.5%, etc)?

  20. Brent: Thanks for your question. I should clarify that offering artists a percentage is simply an option, and I always believe in paying artists for their work regardless of how the Kickstarter does. Sometimes I’ve given artists a bonus based on KS %, and other times a significant portion of an artist’s compensation is based on both KS and future profits. I can’t give specific numbers for what I’ve done, but I’d recommend taking a close look at the amount of work the artist does and the impact their art has on the project. I’d say that can often be worth much more than 0.75%.

    1. Jamey, I’m definitely one to agree that illustrators and graphic designers make a huge contribution to our hobby. Thank you for your thoughts! :)

  21. Good post. I’m a graphic designer. I’m glad you directed people towards friends and local designers, and steered them away from cheap online crowd-sourcing. The bifurcation of art and design that you mentioned is huge. Art is definitely the “make it pretty” part of the job. While graphic design has that, one has to realize how much they’re getting from hiring an experienced graphic designer. And inexperienced graphic designer can break everything, from the visuals to the base communication between the game and the players. Good design helps a rulebook to be understood, connects all the elements together, makes the game visually comfortable, and much more.

    Thanks for acknowledging all of this.

    I’d like to add that offering to pay if the KS funds is not a good way to go about it. I think you kind of touched on that, but I wanted to reiterate it.

  22. Hi Jamey, first off thank you for providing phenomenal resources for everyone involved in the industry.

    I’ve got a couple quick questions I’d love to pick your brain about.

    Recently I was approached to help co-develop a world and artwork for a board game. I’m looking for advice regarding what compensation for that might look like. Here’s what comes to mind:

    Royalties. How much should the artist be asking for in royalties on top of up front compensation? What’s a fair number for helping develop a world/style?

    Licensing. Would a better route be to just ask for a larger compensation in exchange for handing over licenses and or complete rights of the world to the publisher? If that’s a viable route how do you determine that amount?

    Overall seems to me this route is slower, harder but more rewarding as the artist and publisher have something very original in the end. After Scythe would you recommend or prefer this style of partnership over traditional contracted work?

    I’d love to hear any other thoughts you might have on it as well! Thanks so much!

    1. Nolan: Thanks! These are great questions, and I appreciate you sharing them here.

      “How much should the artist be asking for in royalties on top of up front compensation? What’s a fair number for helping develop a world/style?”

      –I think it’s fairly rare for an artist to ask for royalties. Mainly this is because art is contract work–an artist works X number of hours, and they want to get paid for X hours. Also, artists don’t want to risk a product not selling and resulting in not getting fairly compensated for the work they did.

      So I think it’s much more prevalent for you to discuss an hourly rate with the artist and translate that into the components of the game. Like, if you have 100 cards in the game and the artist can create 1 card every 2 hours and their hourly rate is $40, then each card would cost $80.

      I think the royalty may become a question if the artist is more than a contractor. Like, Jakub is my partner for Scythe. We have different roles, but we partnered to create this game, the world, and the art. Also, Scythe was an IP that we signed the rights for, so we wanted to reflect that in our agreement as well. In cases like that, a royalty based on revenue may be appropriate.

      For the right people (like Jakub), I think a partnership is great. It felt like the right thing to do, and it really did feel like a partnership throughout the entire process (and beyond). But it is kind of a gamble, as I think it’s pretty rare that an artist would be as invested in a specific project as Jakub was with Scythe.

      So if you see yourself as the type of artist that’s going to be fully invested in the project from now until–well, maybe forever–then a royalty deal may be more appropriate for your level of commitment. But you might want to have some sort of advance or contingency just in case it flops and those royalties amount to next to nothing.

      “Would a better route be to just ask for a larger compensation in exchange for handing over licenses and or complete rights of the world to the publisher? If that’s a viable route how do you determine that amount?”

      –That’s hard to say. I mean, on one hand, the world you’ve created is your baby, and it’s hard to give that away to someone else all in one fell swoop. But maybe you’re ready for that–maybe you’re ready to focus on other worlds, and you just want the designer/publisher to do what they do best with it. If so, you could probably negotiate a set amount that is fair to you and them.

      ***

      I think what it comes down to is this: If you’re fully invested in the world you’re created and want to continue to be involved with it in various forms of media, I would recommend selling only the rights for the board game to the designer/publisher in return for an advance and an ongoing royalty.

      If, however, you foresee a time in the near future when you’ll be ready to move on from the world you’ve created and just want to hand it off to the publisher, I’d recommend asking for a flat fee based on your standard hourly rate (unless you have intangible assets like a big following of people who are specifically following you or the world you’ve created).

  23. I’m in the middle stages of getting art for my very first game and this article helped alot. While the artist I’m working with is a friend, thinking about all the things mentioned here helped me setup a professional relatioship with them and get a good set of expectations up front and in writing that has made the whole process go much smoother. Buying the art outright rather then doing some kind of profit sharing of royalties format for instance was something I hadn’t really thought about because of cost. But life is a lot easier knowing that at the end I’ll own all the art outright. Which is great since reading some of the comments has also given me some creative ideas on how I can get the most bang for my buck out of the art I’m paying for.

  24. I was wondering if there is any historical information available, or an ongoing post somewhere regarding the average cost of Box Cover and Map Design as they seem to be the largest components in terms of creating a game in terms of art work (In our case, experience has shown ranges from several hundred, through several thousand dollars for each). Even card design seems to very a great deal in terms of cost (again, within our experience, ranges from the twenty dollar range per card to hundreds of dollars per card). I understand popularity / experience are a factor, but the ranges seem extremely large, is there any reference information available anywhere?

    In your post on 12/14 you discussed rights, is it common for the publishing company to outright ‘own’ the rights to the art they pay for? Or is it common for the artist to retain rights to sell prints of the art or publish them in a book while licensing them to game company who could use them in the game and for marketing purposes? (We have experienced the later).

    1. Sean: I’m not aware of such data. Artists of different quality, experience, speed, and renown charge different amounts, as they probably should. Usually you get what you pay for.

      I don’t know about what’s common, but if I pay for someone to make something for me, I prefer to have the rights to use it as I wish. However, I’m always happy for an artist to share that work as part of their portfolio.

  25. Hey Jamey, just browsing through your older posts in preparation and noticed that you mention that InDesign is expensive.

    A tip that I got from a video editor friend of mine is that, because Adobe products are on a monthly subscription now, you can often subscribe to the ones you need for the month before, during, and after your Kickstarter so that you can personally make tweaks to respond to backer feedback during the campaign. And it’ll probably cost less than $100 to do so. :)

    The most useful are InDesign and Photoshop for graphics, and After Effects for the project video.

    1. Scribus is a free alternative to InDesign for those who can’t even do the short monthly subscription. I’m just getting my feet wet with it, but it seems to work well.

  26. Hi Jamey, I recently listened to you on the BoardGameDesignLab podcast. You spoke about what you did before finding an artist for Scythe. I found it fascinating and was hoping you or Gabe would go more in-depth with it.

    I think it was a genius idea of yours. Find an amazing artist with a world, fans, and willing to partner up. I was hoping to hear more about this and some struggles you had finding an artist to partner with. Do you have an article on this or have you gone more in-depth in another podast?

    When listening I was wondering was you criteria that the artist must have great art and lots of fans or just great art? Were some artists interested but unrealistic, wanting 50% of MSRP or something? Did most of them not understand the entrepreneurial mindset? Were most artists shocked by a percentage that a game designer/creator would get from a publisher, 5-15% of revenue? It must have be very difficult to find an artist that would work/sacrifice like an entrepreneur, like a game designer/creator.

    1. Anthony: Thanks for checking out the podcast! I talk more about the process of working with Jakub to create and illustrate a world in other Scythe-related podcasts, though offhand I don’t know which ones: https://stonemaiergames.com/games/scythe/media/

      For Scythe, I wouldn’t say that I went into it with any set of criteria. In fact, the idea of building a game based on art wasn’t something that had occurred to me before Scythe. I simply saw Jakub’s art and instantly knew I wanted to design a game in that world. I knew nothing about his fanbase at the time (I think he had around 10k Facebook followers at the time).

      My only experience doing something like this is with Jakub. He does receive a royalty, but it’s very reasonable. He understands the entrepreneurial mindset really well, but some people may not–I think you’re wise to ask that and keep an eye on it.

  27. An idea of unintentional genius as it turns out. Thanks for a bit of the inside story, and the link. I will be listening to some of those podcasts right away.

Leave a Comment

© 2017 Stonemaier Games