Welcome back to Working with Artists, where we go over the fundamentals on how to collaborate with visual artists on your original world. Last time we talked about how to visualize your world even without an artistic background using words, mood boards, and story bibles as a guide.
This week the topic on hand is where to find artists. Over the years Vince and I have gone through almost every avenue of artist search you can imagine, and as you can imagine, the artist landscape has changed drastically over the years! Nonetheless, these are our go-to spots when it comes to scouting for new talent.
THE TRIANGLE: CHEAP, FAST, AND GOOD
Before we get into where to find artists, I want to take a moment to review the age old adage of Cheap, Fast, and Good. If you haven’t heard of it, the Cheap, Fast, and Good paradigm basically states that for any given project, you can have it done two out of three: Cheap, Fast, or Good.
Now while I’m sure there are exceptions to this, in our experience when it comes to art this adage very much is true. When looking for artists, keep the triangle in mind and correlate it with both the artist’s experience and social media following. An experienced artist will indicate strong ethic working under deadline, while a high social media following will indicate a higher commission rate. Good - that’s really up to you decide, and something we’ll be going over next time when we talk about how to evaluate an artist’s portfolio.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get into where to actually find artists…
Artstation is the self proclaimed “leading showcase platform for art and design.” The community on Artstation is huge, and you’ll find an abundance of professional visual artists who work in commercial industries like animation and games. Artstation also has a large community of aspiring or hobbyist artists, giving the platform a wide range of users.
That, coupled with a clean user interface, has made it easy for Artstation to supplant old vanguards like DeviantArt as the social gathering place for artists online in recent years. On ArtStation you’ll find many polished portfolios, and its discoverability features make it easy to latch onto a specific style you find attractive to find other artists working in a similar fashion.
Behance is a platform put out by Adobe, and like Artstation features the portfolios of many professional artists. The interfact can be a little jenky as Adobe is constantly updating the site to add new features including most recently streaming and short form content (why…? I have no idea).
From the mid 2000’s to around 2014, DeviantArt was THE place for artists online. Unfortunately, a lack of updates to its UX led to competitors like ArtStation and Behance to fracture its once unified community. The website has seen a major overhaul in recent years to bring it in line with its competitors, but many of the professional talents that once showcased their portfolios on the platform have since moved on.
Instagram is a popular showcase platform for artists with strong algorithmic discoverability. As a platform, its best days are probably behind it (word on the street is that Gen Z is treating Instagram now how we millennials treat Facebook - for family only), but its foundation as an image based social media platform means that artists will always have a home on the platform.
When browsing Instagram, keep in mind the note above about followers and how that may correspond to the commission rate of artists and their availability. The algorithm will naturally push artists with many followers, but those with several tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands probably are using Instagram as one of their primary sources of income, meaning their desire or need for freelance work will be greatly mitigated.
Finding artists on Reddit will often require a little bit of hunting for the contact information of any particular artist, which will naturally lead you to one of the other sites listed above. Again, same principles as the advice above: large followers will oftentimes translate into limited availability or high commission rates. However, unlike the portfolio based sites, Reddit curates on an image by image basis, meaning that just because a particular illustration is highly upvoted doesn’t necessarily mean that artist has a huge following.
In our experience, contacting artists found on reddit for whatever reason takes longer than on the other platforms. Still, it’s one of our go-to’s when we’re searching for new talent.
If you have a local art school nearby, it’s not a bad idea to head over and scout for some talent! We found our first artist for Glow, Dia Jamandron, this way at Art Center Pasadena.
Doing so will take a little bit of work. First, you’ll need to print out physical ads with your proposed commission rate followed by cutouts of your contact information. Ask for their portfolios and a cover letter. From there, you’ll get a trickle of artists that will self select to be highly interested in the proposal.
The advantages of hiring out of art school is that students are a lot cheaper than professional artists, and can oftentimes be just as talented, if not a little unpolished! The disadvantage is that they are not yet professionals, and so many need extra development time and hand holding when it comes to deadlines.
Do you have any other places to find artists? Let us know in the comments below!
And now that you know where to find artists, how do you evaluate them? Stay tuned next week as we delve deep into portfolio reviews - what to look for!