If you've been reading my blog over the last few months you'll be keenly aware that the one thing Codename: Vacuum is missing is art. The cards have some rudimentary graphic design done, but no illustrations whatsoever.
Needs some artistic love, methinks.
The main reason behind this is that while I have limited graphic design skills, I have no art skills and at the moment my money is going on tiny clothes and nappies rather than hiring artists. Having said that, it would be great to have some art on the game before I send it out for playtesting. How do I reconcile these two positions?
I've been considering that question for a while now. I mentioned it to my Dad when he was up a few weeks ago (he's a retired art teacher and artist, though in a completely different style) and he started sketching out a few things. In addition, an old friend from junior school offered to help, but he's a professional animator and has a young family and needs to focus on earning a living not helping out a mate he's not seen in 25 years for free. So what to do?
I've had a slightly bizarre idea over the last couple of days, and I've no idea how it sounds so I'm going to run it past you guys to get some feedback before I actually try to implement it. So what's the idea I hear you ask?
I get aspiring board game artists to do it for me for free!
And there's my problem. How much of an exploitative arse do I sound about now? I'm thinking an unacceptable amount. But maybe not. I'll flesh out my idea, and then you can let me know in the comments whether I sound like an arse or not.
The problem of no art is compounded by the fact that I need a lot of it. I need:
- A card back design
- 50 location designs
- 7 location back designs
- 65 card front designs
That's an enormous job for one person, especially when I can't afford to pay them, so finding people to share out the work between would be a more realistic way to go. But I don't know many arty types, and certainly not enough to get that amount of art done for free out of personal goodwill.
Clearly, I would need to offer these generous hypothetical artists something in return for their hard work, even if it can't be real folding money. Otherwise I'd appear like an arse and I'd end up with an unenviable reputation and still no art.
So the idea I've been tossing around in my head is this:
I post on BGG a list of all the art I'm looking for and ask for aspiring board game artists to knock something up for some of those briefs for free. In return, they would get: an artist credit on the card(s) they've illustrated and a link to their portfolio in the rulebook. I'd also do artist profiles here on Creation and Play of the artists whose submitted work I most admire.
I'm hoping at some point to get Codename: Vacuum into print. If that never happens (a reasonable risk), then that would be the end of it. But if I decided to hawk it to other publishers then the artist's work and their portfolio link would go to those publishers in the setting of a real game. Alternatively, I might decide to try to KickStart it myself, in which case the artists whose work I like the best would stand a reasonable chance of getting their art into the finished game, and more importantly, I'd be paying them for it at that point (the KickStarter budget would include paying for art). If I end up publishing the game myself, I would only use art submitted for the prototype with the artist's permission if we could agree a price that I would pay them for it.
What do you think? Does that sound like a promising idea? An exploitative idea? An idea which is extremely unlikely to work?