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Hiring an Illustrator and Graphic Artist

My game has moved from play-testing to pre-production. I’m getting quotes from manufacturers and artists. The world of art was far removed from my experience. Drawing, painting had never been in my repertoire.

Using an artistic design program was limited to prep work for a 3D printer or measuring dimensions in architectural designs. I was about to discover a lot more in the graphic design and illustrator areas.

My Game Needed Real Art

I had three areas where art was sorely needed: game tiles, box cover and the rule book. I had proxies for the tiles and content for a rule book. The box cover was a blank slate. I had two other areas that needed art, but somehow I thought of the artist need in those areas as secondary: the game board, the game cards.

When choosing designs my the tiles I used free images from pixabay. I picked images that I thought represented to ideas I wanted to get across. I was working with these ideas:

  • Education
  • Housing
  • Food & Water
  • GHG & CO2
  • Pollution
  • Biodiversity Loss

Now I needed a coherent set of images to represent these themes, rather than the odd-mix, hodge-podge that I had. Those six needed to look like they were meant to be together. Those six images needed to be in six different colours. There were a total of 36 game tiles in Habitable Earth.

I had a rule book; two rule books actually. One was four pages with screen shots of Habitable Earth. The other was 16 pages for Climate Change 2030: Running out of Time. I’m focusing on Habitable Earth since it has far fewer pieces and will be less expansive to produce. I used screenshots from Tabletop Simulator for the images in both of my rule books.

A Request for Quotes

I wrote out many details of what I needed done and included some examples of the kind of style I was looking for.

I listed the sizes of the tiles and cards I was using, the size of the box and of the game board, too. I would only need two cards designs as templates.

One template for content related to the tile designs, and another template related to the colours of the designs.

I went through Interactivity’s alphabetical list of board games they sell and commented on what I liked or didn’t like about. That felt like a struggle, and not something I would normally choose to do. I can see and appreciate designs I like, but actually putting that appreciation to words was a challenge.

The box cover was pretty open ended. I just wanted to have the typical marking: age ranges, number of players, and time required to play. I also needed to include the European testing symbol.

I ended up with a three page description of what I wanted and four other documents:

  • a collection of game box covers and my opinions of them,
  • the rule book
  • samples of cards I was working with, and
  • the inspiration for the Doughnut shaped game board

I hadn’t anticipated such a large volume of materials.

I post a request in the FB group: Art and Graphic Design for Tabletop Games. I said that I’d send the full packet to anyone who’s interested. I decided to distribute my requirements that way so I could follow up on anyone who was checking out my materials.

Graphic Artist vs Illustrator

I received a several responses from people who asked for the whole RFQ packet. I sent all of those out with the acknowledgement that these five pdfs were a lot to digest and said to feel free to take a week to respond.

After sending all of those out, I got one very detailed response right away.

This was from person who self-identified as both a graphic designer and a fine artist. He said that his style of fine art was not what I was looking for, but he’d like to do the graphic design. He then went on to say that I was actually looking for both a fine artist to create the illustrations and a graphic designer to put the images seamlessly together.

The box cover and the rules book each require someone to assemble a big picture that contains lots of littler pictures. As other responses trickled in, I started to hear similar ideas, but often not as clear and bold (which I very much appreciated) as the first.

I heard from several artists who said they could do illustrations, but could not do the rule book. Some just said they didn’t do graphic design. So, I learned there’s a difference between an illustrator and a graphic designer.

I saw some people use the term ‘fine artist’. Others used the term ‘ illustrator.’ I’m still not sure the difference between those two terms, or maybe they’re two words for the same role. But now I have much better understanding of the difference between a graphic designer and an illustrator

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