Hiring/paying artists


Hey Deanne!

I know this post is a bit old, but if you're still looking for input, maybe I can be of service! I'm a fulltime product designer, but do some illustration on the side, and I've completed a couple dozen or so book, album, and magazine covers back in my day.

Following a standard flat payrate makes the most sense, but whether that's per-hour, per-project, or per-card is up to you and the artist to agree upon. A % of the final never really makes sense, unless the publisher is a huge name and the artist is already fairly certain they'll be raking in a good amount of money.

As the artist, I've always taken payment in "milestones". For a standard piece of cover art , I'll take half upfront and half upon completion. This way I know the buyer is vested, and they know I don't get the whole cake until they get the goods. For a huge project like a tarot card deck, I might ask for payment after every card.

Artistic freedom! I'm in the fortunate position of having a stable dayjob, so I don't need to paint to feed myself. This allows me to take just the projects I feel I'll enjoy, and I really enjoy artistic freedom. It's also likely that the more skilled your artist is, the more picky they'll be about the projects they choose, since they'll have more offers on their table. Artistic freedom also allows an artist to put him or herself into the work. The more vested they are, the better their end result will look.

And contracts:
They're useless. You can have one just to be safe, but it's very unlikely that either party will have the funds to hire a lawyer and enforce the contract, which is precisely why I ask for payment by milestone. On the artist's side, if things go belly-up, the only work lost has been since that milestone. On the buyer's side, you haven't paid for work they haven't completed, and even if you were to force them to legally complete all the work, you can bet your artist will do a half-assed job of it.

I should add that I'm very happy that you're so considerate of your artists! I've met a few buyers who only cared how much work they can squeeze out of someone through paying the minimum amount. Lucky artist you're working with! And best of luck! I can't wait to see what you guys have.

For credibility: this is a deck I'm currently painting http://imgur.com/a/2RiZX


I love to make art and any chance I get I take. I will take on most projects and I am always willing to work with a customer/client within their budget, lots of times I do work for free if I feel the project is enjoyable enough and I get credit for the artwork.