reSOURCeS FOR CLIENTS
If you're working with an artist or are thinking of working with an artist, this page will help you understand how the process works and how to make it run smoothly.... even if that artist isn't me!
5 TIPS FOR HIRING AN ARTIST
Have a clear description of what you want before you talk to the artist. Guidelines provide a framework for what you are looking for, and the artist can create off of that framework knowing its shape is sound. Creating a written brief is helpful.
EXAMPLE OF A GOOD BRIEF (coming soon)
Look for someone who's style fits your vision rather than asking an artist to copy another person's style. You should want the artist for what they do. They'll have the most skill in something they love.
This is an unpopular opinion amongst artists and designers but... hiring someone on Fiverr is fine. Just remember that price can often reflect quality, and be careful of scammers who steal other people's work.
Prepare a budget ahead of time, even if you have no idea how much a project will cost. It's ok to ask if you really aren't sure, but if you can only afford a $50 painting and you're talking to an artist who sells $500 paintings, you probably won't be a good match.
RANGES FOR ART PRICING (coming soon)
Know your due date and make sure you have time to spare. Telling an artist you'll accept your art "whenever" will mean you aren't prioritizing the project... so neither will the artist! Giving yourself extra time after the artist is done also ensures you have time for delivery of digital files, printing and processing, and/or mailing physical artwork.
3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN AN ARTIST
A strong portfolio - Does their portfolio show a mastery of their medium? Is the work consistent and cohesive? A good portfolio will give you a great idea of how they'll fit into your project.
A contract or written agreement - This is the sign of a professional. An artist who provides clarity to the process is going to be committed to that process. Written agreements show what both you and the artist are going to get out of the deal, and how it's going to happen. They protect the artist from terrible clients and you from terrible artists!
Bonus Tip: Unless you are a studio hiring an employee, do not use "work for hire" contracts. These limit the artist's rights and make the deal unequal. Fair agreements make everyone happy, and that's the best way to do any project.
EXAMPLE WRITTEN AGREEMENT (coming soon)
Personality! - Does the artist jive with the project? Some artists will be excellent at some projects and bad at others, not for lack of skill, but because every human being is different. Don't give a pointy black project to a bubbly pink artist, and vice-versa. This is why the portfolio is so important; it shows a lot of personality!
Also, importantly, does the artist jive with you? Someone's work might be awesome, but if they're a pain to work with, looking at the awesome work will always come with a twinge of negativity. If your gut senses a red flag, trust it.
How do I know all of this? Well, I feel bashful to say it, but I've been the opposite of all of these things in the past. I've had weak portfolios, wiggly agreements, and took projects that I knew weren't right for me. Every time, the project ended up messy. Some of them still turned out great and the clients were happy with the final results, but there was a lot of stress and confusion during the process for both the client and for me.
And remember that the artist is looking for the same things from you. Do you show that you've done your end of the work? Are you taking the project seriously by providing the relevant information and agreeing to a fair deal? Do you seem like someone who will be fun to work with? If so, you'll be someone the artist wants to do business with, too. Good artists love working with good clients!
ART LINGO FOR NON-ARTISTS
Artists use a lot of words that make sense to us creative types, but can be odd or confusing to non-artists. That's ok! Nobody can know everything! But if you find yourself wondering why your artist is insisting you send them a vector instead of a JPG, or why a file needs to be in CMYK, you'll find answers here*. I want to eventually convert these answers into videos that will feature informational visuals to help explain the concepts. When I get a good question from someone, I'll try to answer it here.
*I wish I could provide all the answers, but that would require writing a book, and I want to keep it simple here. But I can get you started!
DIGITAL ART BASICS
RGB vs. CMYK.
RGB stands for Red/Green/Blue, or the primary colors of light. With pure RGB, you can create pretty much any color the human eye can see! Things like TV and phone screens use RGB. CMYK, on the other hand, stands for Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/blacK, or the primary colors of pigments.
With CMYK, you can produce most colors, though not super duper bright ones like neons. This is why an image that looks vibrant on a screen might seem dull when you print it out. You can produce certain brighter colors using specially mixed inks, often Pantone colors.
Why can't I send an image in a text document?
Digital files, like digital images, have data attached to them. When a file is compressed for any reason, some of that data is lost. Putting an image file into a Word Doc loses some of that data, so a previously high-quality image sent through Word will not end up high-quality when your designer gets it. Always send files in their original form.
What is DPI?
DPI stands for Dots Per Inch, sometimes called PPI, or Pixels Per Inch. These are pretty much the same thing, though DPI is more often used for things being printed out (physically, how many "dots" of ink you fit along the side of a square inch), and PPI is used more often for how many "pixels" fit along the side of a square inch on a screen.
DPI = print resolution. PPI = screen resolution.
The standard printing DPI is 300, meaning 300x300 dots will be a square inch when printed out. The standard screen resolution, or PPI, is 72, meaning 72x72 pixels will be a square inch on most screens. Some phones have screen resolutions that are much higher, which means the image will look shrunken down, but will still have quality.
If something appears to be, say, one inch on your 72 DPI/PPI computer screen, and you print it at 300 DPI, the image will print out at, uh... let's do some math.
300 / 72 = 4.17
72 goes into 300 about 4 times. That means your image will actually print to about a quarter of an inch square!
An image that is 600x900 on your computer screen might look plenty large, but divide those numbers by the standard print resolution - 300 - and you'll seen it will print out at only 2x3 inches.
So be wary of your image resolutions, and if your designer asks for a high resolution image, make sure it will still be 300 DPI when printed at the size that you want.
Why does my designer need a vector file? I only have a JPG/GIF.
Vector files contain data based on mathematical curves, which means if you want to print the image our very small, or very large, it is going to be crisp. The file just makes the curves larger or smaller as needed. Files like JPGs and GIFs store data in a very different way, called raster, which is based on pixels, the little squares that make up the image. When you make a raster image larger, the squares don't size up and look crisp, but instead they start looking choppy, blocky, mushy in a really ragged way. This looks terrible, and if you're trying to show off an image or logo, you don't want it looking terrible!
So if an artist or screenprinter or embroiderer is asking you for a vector file, it's because they need the kind of data it provides in order to make your work the best it can be.
Bonus Tip: When an artist sends you a vector file (usually an Adobe Illustrator (.ai) file or an Encapsulated Post Script (.eps) file, KEEP IT! Just because you don't have a program that can read or see it doesn't mean it's not important! That file contains the best quality version of any vector image you get.
TRADITIONAL ART BASICS
Why does "medium" matter?
The "medium" is just a fancy term for the material your artist is working in. Paint, clay, fabric, metal... all of these are mediums. Each artist normally has one or a few mediums that they are comfortable and experienced working with, and they all have very different properties. If you want a watercolor painting, don't ask a charcoal artist. I personally am experienced in inks, acrylic pens, and pencils, but I have only ever done a single oil painting in my life, so I'm certainly not an oil painter!
Why does traditional art cost so much?
Artists spend many years learning their craft, just like anyone else who is excellent at their job. Artists don't create commodities, but luxuries, so their work should be valued as such. Art is a luxury, after all. Nobody buys art when they have to use their money on more important things, and that's okay. Buying original, traditional art is pretty bougie.
Beyond that, art supplies are pretty dang expensive. You can buy a factory-made shawl at Target for $20 because it's mass-made and machine-produced, allowing the producers to chuck it out at a fast speed and at small cost to themselves. A handmade artist could make a similar shawl, but to buy the yarn could cost $20 all by itself. Then there are hours and hours of work to put in before it's finished, and if the creator values their time, they won't take their time for granted. If this is their job, they'll have self-employment and possibly sales taxes to pay, so they can't charge a low hourly rate. They might end up selling that shawl for $200, and even that is probably only making them a paltry wage.
There is no shame in buying the $20 Target shawl instead. And if you have the means to afford a luxury like a lovingly hand-made item that had hours of human work put into it instead of minutes of metal machine work, it's going to cost more. Either is good, it just depends on what you value at the moment.
That's why things like prints are so nice! They allow small artists like me to make original art and then reproduce them on a small scale that saves me time/money, which also saves you money. It might not be the original artwork hanging on your wall, but prints still make your space look amazing.
I could make that myself, why should I buy it from you?
Do you ever eat out at restaurants?