Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Freelancing, The Art of Finding Work

Finding work as an artist can be a frustrating mystery, I know it was for me as I starting climbing the ranks of the industry. I wanted help others with what I have learned along the way. Some ideas here are more tested theory and some are just good business. This guide is geared towards people who want to make freelance art their career, but the tips can still apply to anyone who wants to find work to do what they love. The arts industries are competitive, but technology, small business, and crowdsource funding have brought a ton of work to our fingertips. You just have to keep searching and honing your craft. You don't have to be the best artist to start freelancing consistently, you just have to be better then some.
 

A. Internet Presence
Portfolio of your best work 8 - 10 pieces.

Having a consistent and classy internet presence can start to bring in work. Post on social medias and keep up a blog. You have to search people out, don't put up a portfolio and just expect people to find you. Try to figure out where you are getting most of the audience traffic from and stay organized. Keep your web pages clean and easy to navigate. Any potential client when looking for an artist is more likely drawn to someone who seems more organized. Keep this in mind as you compete for work.
Follow social media of other industry artists to see who they are working for. Annual art books are great for this as well. Here are some sites to get you started.
DA
Facebook
Tumblr
Pinterest
Coroflot
Behance
Reddit
Twitter



B. Mindset
    Working full time as a freelance artist is much different then a full time studio gig.The biggest difference is that you are running a business. You have to do all the branding, promotion, accounting, sales, as well as your actual job, the artwork.
Don't be afraid to walk away from a deal. Unless you are broke, avoiding a bad deal, cheap labor, or a shady client may be well worth it soon after. Trust your instincts because you are working with many new people and you depend on their money to pay your living costs. Getting cheated on a deal is the worst, so having a contract and asking for a deposit is a nice way to weed out who is serious about working with you.
Start yourself out at a sustainable living wage. Have a sense of how long it takes you to complete different types / stages of work so your bid is correct. Raise your prices as your portfolio grows stronger and you gain more experience.
The first year will be the hardest, but if you keep at it your business will grow.

Start a business bank account and put away 10% for savings and 10% - 15% for taxes. It seems like a lot but you are building a financial foundation, which is one of the real perks of owning your own business. This will allow greater flexibility and freedom with your scheduling as you grow.
General rule of thumb, be aware of opportunities in your daily life. EX: You are in a cafe and overhear someone talking about hiring an artist. Approach them with business card. Once you start thinking creatively about how to find work you will start to land interesting opportunities.

You have to think like a shark in a big sea of work. All the little fishies are jobs, so you need to keep eating (think about turn around time to complete each job). As you build your client base you will start to get bigger fish and sometimes a large whale to feed on for months.
C. Work Search
Deviant Art

Freelancer.com
Kickstarter (Search companies / projects to contact, you never know who is in need of additional artists)

Gamasutra

Boardgamegeek

NewGrounds

The Game Crafter

Wikipedia (Search engine listings for different industries. Contact developers directly to submit a portfolio)


These are a few sites to get started. There are many out there so keep searching.

Basically start applying to as many jobs as possible and research the people offering the work. If you have no work then your job is to put in as much time as you can to find work. You will message and email a ton. If you can't find a new listing for work any given day then make it a point to research and find 1 new job stream site or source that day.
It is important to read each posting well. Don't get yourself eliminated from the listing just because you missed instructions. Don't spam. Stay short with your reply and include a portfolio / relevant pieces, contact info.  
Look at school programs in your area to see if they have a game/film/arts program. Sometimes the teachers at that school are working on projects that have funding or at least industry relevant experience. A good opportunity to get your foot in the door and get paid sometimes. This experience goes along way when trying to land bigger clients.

Conventions are also another great resource to get portfolio reviews, network, and potentially land work.
Generally if you do good, consistent work and are a nice person to work with you will start to get repeating clients. Treat them like gold! This is when full time work really kicks in as your schedule will fill up over time. Be careful about overlapping jobs and time frames when taking on new work. Having too much work in que spreads you thin and may cause you to miss deadlines. This is why steady turn around is so vital.
Spend time researching for the industry you want to work in.  There are many sites that accept artist submissions so reaching out is never bad. Don't limit yourself to only internet searches though. 
     

D. How Much Do I Charge?
This is a combination of many things revolving your skill sets, perceived worth and actual worth in the market. What part of the world you live in affects your costs as well so adjust accordingly.
First you must calculate your monthly living costs and break down a 40 hour week. How much do you need to get by? This will help with the taxes you have to take out if you start making enough money.
Based on my experience $10 - $25 / an hour USD are mainly indie rates. $30 - $50 with some experience and $60 + for pros.
Once you know your base hourly rate you can then adjust that to how long it can take you to complete any given image (this becomes easier with experience).


Artist Bio: I am a illustrator and production concept artist , working in film, games, and publishing. Feel free to to check out any of my links. Clients include Fantasy Flight Games, Social Construct Films, Pelgrane Press, and many more.


www.facebook.com/joshua.callow…
ninjacart.darkfolio.com/

Feel free to ask any relevant questions below. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Card Art

Some new Chromancer Card art. Copyright The Started Hare LLC

Castle, Graveyard, Treasury





Monday, September 23, 2013

Space

Here are some new space backdrops for a mobile game in development. It's always fun to imagine spacescapes since there is so much room for interpretation. Copyright The Long Road Home.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Creepy

Trying out some sketching with horror elements. Mood and feeling are one of the hardest things to convey in visual design.



Monday, August 12, 2013

Busy busy! Part 1

Here is part 1 of a massive update of the work I've been doing the past two months. I've been working for Artistic Justice games on their hugely successful Kickstarter campaign for the table top trading card game 'Fairy Tale Games - Battle Royal' It consists of fairy tale characters and locations from world history in a all out bloody brawl to the death. They ending up needing over 1800 card illustrations total, so 160 cards from each artist over 8 months. Fun fun!! I've also been working on another TCG in the works titled 'Chromancer'. They pay more per card, allowing me to put the time in needed to knock out some solid portfolio pieces. Those are the last 3 illustrations. More to come!