How to Find Artist For Your Game Project

Many teams struggle on finding artists for their game project. I think indie producers should go through 4 major steps that will help you find artist for your game.

[1] Do you really need an artist, yet?
Ask yourself: do you really need an artist for your project right now? Or could you use placeholders? Usually you don’t need game art in the beginning of the project. Try survive without real art before you really need it – because if you start getting art in the beginning there’s always the chance that you change plans, artist leaves or something else happens. If you have just started out the project, I really recommend to do a some sort of prototype before even thinking about getting artist into your team.

Get artist when you really need one.

[2] Don’t get as many people as possible in the team
Some teams start gathering “anybody that’s willing to contribute to the project”. While that might sound like a good idea, there’s two major problems with bigger teams:

  • Bigger teams means more management. More management means less time for actual development. That’s a big disadvantage.
  • Bigger teams means lesser royalties. The more people there are to share the cake, the smaller pieces is left for individuals. When doing serious projects that need to generate income, this can be a serious problem.

Be sure to find artist for a specific need, not “because it’s cool to have 20 people in the team”.

[3] Don’t try to find artists from a pool of programmers
If you’ve gone through steps 1 and 2 and decided to get an artist to the team, then be sure to know what places to check out. Some people post on programming forums and wonder why no artists respond. Consider this example: would you go to a bank to get a haircut?

Probably not. If you want to get a haircut you go to a barber. If you want to get programmers to your team, you go to programmer forums. If you want to get artists for your team you…

… naturally go to a place where artists are: artist forums rather than programming forums.

Probably some of the best places to go are CGTalk.com and ConceptArt.org. CGtalk is a website where all types of artist meet: 2D, 3D, concepts, etc. and with great variety of styles. There’s even a sub-forum for WIP/Critique: Game Art Design. ConceptArt.org is a great place filled with beautiful art and skilled artists. You can post your job postings to other forums as well, but be sure to mention about your project in art forums – since these are the best places to find artist in your team.

[4] Be open and give as much details about the project as possible
It’s very important to give lots of details and information about your project and your company or team. Tell people what kind of person you are after and what needs to be done. Tell about compensation. Tell if you want a project specific artist, or somebody to work also in the future. Put links to your game website. Show images or gameplay movies. If your post starts to get really big, then cut some parts and add links to external documents (such as a design document or project road map).

Here’s a checklist of items you could put in your post.

  • A headline, title or sentence where you describe what you are looking for (for example: “Wanted: 2D pixel artist to do 6 characters, paid position”)
  • Company or team name with a website URL
  • Game project name with a website URL
  • Brief 2-3 description about the game project – what’s the game project in a nutshell
  • More details about the game (genre, theme, main idea, snippets story, design, screenshots, gameplay movies)
  • Possibly link to game design document
  • Current team structure
  • Compensation (paid position? royalties?)
  • Description about the work that needs to be done
  • Qualities and skills that applicants should have
  • Mention that you want work examples (either links or attachments)
  • Mention if you need CV/Resume from applicants
  • Proof or past work (mention if you have finished projects earlier)
  • Technology
  • Target platforms
  • Contact info

In a nutshell: think about if you really need an artist yet, pick the artist for a specific need, go to a place where artists are and finally – make a proper announcement about what you are looking for.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. @Charles: Yeh, there’s plenty of skilled people in modding – and it’s good to remember that many modder (artists) also visit these art forums…

    @Dan: thanks for the link.

    @Patrick: I was actually thinking whether to put conceptart.org or not, and since you mentioned it I decided to stick it in the entry.

    @Stephan: I could write another topic on how we did. In indie teams it seems to be more of an art rather than science… Here’s 2 posts that you might find interesting:
    team member profit sharing
    legal issues

  2. Nice post again ! =)

    This is my first comment on your blog, but i can tell you that i’ve read and found a lot of interesting information on your blog! Thanks you for sharing!

    As you’re talking about royalties, i would find interesting to have a post about that particular topic. How we can manage the cake ? How about the “legal” thing ? is thers contracts ? etc…


  3. Nice post. I have gone through this numerous times myself. It’s a serious pain to find people sometimes. Other times, well, when it rains it pours.

    Often times you gotta take what you can get. Free help is, well, free. I’ve never paid for help before. Always been able to find guys who a) thought the project was fantastic and wanted to contribute and b) wanted experience modeling, programming, etc.

    The problem with that is quality of work which is either a) low b) incredibly low and c) super uber unbelievably low


    The quality of work is very good if not great but they a) stick around for a week and then you never see them again b) stick around the whole time and never do anything.

    Thank god we’ve avoided these in our latest game

    As for having large teams…Christ let me tell you. My very first project, I think I was 17 years old, we had at one time 39 people working remotely. I didn’t know what to do. Trying to manage that was a fracking nightmare and I have to admit that I didn’t do that great of a job of it. 100% of my time was spent emailing, posting on our forum, looking for people in IRC etc just to find out if they did what was promised or assigned. Almost 100% of the time the answer was “not yet.”

    That was almost ten years ago and I hope I learned something ;)

    If I may, I’d like to add something about finding artistic talent if you don’t have a lot, or any, of cash on hand for hiring contract artists.

    If your game belongs in a specific genre, try looking for 3d modeling communities that cater to that kind of art. For example if you need military meshes (soldiers, vehicles, weapons etc) look for special communities based around that. http://www.military-meshes.com works. As for sci-fi, try a scifi art community like http://www.scifi-meshes.com if you need anything futuristic. Both of their forums have an artist request section and don’t demand payment for work if you post for help unlike some forums.

    And don’t count out mod makers. Some of the most talented men I’ve worked with came from mods. These guys are generally younger (which means less time available) but desperately want to get into the industry. Offering these guys a little bit of money will buy you a lot of motivation on their part because otherwise they are working for free.

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