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When an artist goes off-spec

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adversitygames
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How should I handle it if an artist goes badly off-specification with a piece of artwork?

Even if they are given corrections, and manage to go completely off-spec on those too?

This seems like it's time to reject it outright. Seems like if an artist submits art that doesn't meet the specifications, then you shouldn't pay for it because they haven't given you what you asked for.

(I'm aware that there can be communication problems that cause this and that should be investigated too, specifications might potentially be unclear or misleading, but I'm specifically talking about when specs were clear)

radioactivemouse
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Drop them

iamseph wrote:
How should I handle it if an artist goes badly off-specification with a piece of artwork?

Even if they are given corrections, and manage to go completely off-spec on those too?

This seems like it's time to reject it outright. Seems like if an artist submits art that doesn't meet the specifications, then you shouldn't pay for it because they haven't given you what you asked for.

(I'm aware that there can be communication problems that cause this and that should be investigated too, specifications might potentially be unclear or misleading, but I'm specifically talking about when specs were clear)

If there are communication problems at that level, you'll be in for some really difficult times if you stay with him.

The choice, at least to me, seems very clear.

Soulfinger
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I wish I still had the link

I wish I still had the link for this. The designer wanted something like 'a female druid sending briars snaking after his foe and slithering across the ground.' He was thinking in terms of thorny bushes and vines. The overseas artist read it as blackberries, which are synonymous with briar in parts of Britain. The end product is a druid in the middle of a forest with a bunch of gigantic blackberries whipping through the air.

I know you hit on this, but the first thing that I'd do is have someone review the language that you are using when submitting your specs. If you are dealing with people overseas, keep in mind that there are language barriers even among English speakers. Can you improve this when dealing with future vendors?

Second off, review your contract. Is it airtight? Does it protect you from artists who fail to deliver on time, who provide sub-par work, or who -- as in this instance -- just can't follow direction. If you are good there, just declare a breach of contract and follow the clause outlined there.

If you have an informal agreement, still want to work with the artist, and the end product is affordable and not too bad, even if it's not what you wanted, then I would consider asking to buy it at a discount and maybe use it for something else. The fine details depend a lot on your working relationship with the artist and how professional they are. If this is your first time working with the guy, and he did crap work, then there's no reason to preserve the relationship. If he has done a couple other great pieces at an affordable rate, and this is more of a hiccup, then it might be worth compromising to retain his goodwill.

adversitygames
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radioactivemouse

radioactivemouse wrote:
iamseph wrote:
How should I handle it if an artist goes badly off-specification with a piece of artwork?

Even if they are given corrections, and manage to go completely off-spec on those too?

This seems like it's time to reject it outright. Seems like if an artist submits art that doesn't meet the specifications, then you shouldn't pay for it because they haven't given you what you asked for.

(I'm aware that there can be communication problems that cause this and that should be investigated too, specifications might potentially be unclear or misleading, but I'm specifically talking about when specs were clear)

If there are communication problems at that level, you'll be in for some really difficult times if you stay with him.

The choice, at least to me, seems very clear.

If it's a new artist and everything has this problem, then it seems like yes they're not a good choice to work with.

But if it's someone you've worked with for a while, for example, and normally there aren't any problems then the situation is different. It's more of an anomaly than an artist that is plain bad at communication. I don't think it's reasonable to cut an artist loose for one bad instance like I described.

On the other hand, they might not want to keep working for you if you refuse payment for something like this, so it might be time for the working relationship to end anyway.

adversitygames
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Soulfinger wrote:I wish I

Soulfinger wrote:
I wish I still had the link for this. The designer wanted something like 'a female druid sending briars snaking after his foe and slithering across the ground.' He was thinking in terms of thorny bushes and vines. The overseas artist read it as blackberries, which are synonymous with briar in parts of Britain. The end product is a druid in the middle of a forest with a bunch of gigantic blackberries whipping through the air.

I know you hit on this, but the first thing that I'd do is have someone review the language that you are using when submitting your specs. If you are dealing with people overseas, keep in mind that there are language barriers even among English speakers. Can you improve this when dealing with future vendors?

Yes agreed that getting a third party to review the discussion helps better identify whether it was badly-written specs or the artist failing to meet them.

Soulfinger wrote:
Second off, review your contract. Is it airtight? Does it protect you from artists who fail to deliver on time, who provide sub-par work, or who -- as in this instance -- just can't follow direction. If you are good there, just declare a breach of contract and follow the clause outlined there.

When I've worked with artists I've kept it pretty simple, provide the work by the specs provided and get the payment.

I hadn't really considered penalty clauses before. It would be useful to have something like a clause if the art takes too long or is off-spec, just to really spell out what happens on those occasions.

What sort of penalty clause is appropriate though? Like say an artist takes a month doing something they agreed to do in a week, what can you really do about that?

I guess you could do something like reduced payment if it takes too long eg $100 if to do it in a week, but only $80 if it takes longer (since if you do non-payment, then they just wont finish it anyway).

Soulfinger wrote:
If you have an informal agreement, still want to work with the artist, and the end product is affordable and not too bad, even if it's not what you wanted, then I would consider asking to buy it at a discount and maybe use it for something else. The fine details depend a lot on your working relationship with the artist and how professional they are. If this is your first time working with the guy, and he did crap work, then there's no reason to preserve the relationship. If he has done a couple other great pieces at an affordable rate, and this is more of a hiccup, then it might be worth compromising to retain his goodwill.

Hmm, I guess if the artwork (or at least part of it, perhaps) can be retasked to something else then yeah it might be worth paying something for it. It leaves the artist in a better position too, since otherwise they've put their time in for nothing.

Evil ColSanders
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My artist lives in Brazil so

My artist lives in Brazil so communication is REALLY strained. I provide visuals of EVERY detail, spending 2+ hours making a concept art spread of the image I want. Though he does good work, he is lazy in that he nearly copies poses direct from what I give to him, rather than using it as a guide tool.

(I kind of understand why he does it. He normally draws pseudo-anime style caricatures of real people.) His free-form is kinda bleh, and he takes forever to draw... but he works cheap, works with me with adjustments to the art, and his art style is amazing. If not for these things, and that my game doesn't have a scheduled release, I would have kicked him to the curb after the first drawing he did for me.

I Will Never Gr...
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If your agreement with the

If your agreement with the artist is very informal (ie: "Hey, can you do this for me? How much?") there's little you can do about it.

If you have a formal contract, which generally you should, and the artist did not meet the contract then there would (or should) be clauses in there on how to deal with it.

Like said, it really depends on the above + how willing or likely you are to want to work with that artist in the future. Sometimes it's best to just burn that bridge and move on.

Going forward, always have a formal agreement, especially when working with a new artist.

Include things such as;
Payment (how you will pay, when you will pay, how much you will pay)
Licencing/Ownership/Rights (who owns what rights to the image)
Timelines (time from commissioning the piece to completion of the piece +/-)
Non Completion Clauses
What to do if either party is unhappy with the current piece
What specs you are required to provide and how to deal with a piece that does not meet those specs (or a % of those specs)

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