Character Commissions -Support Your Budding Artist
We all have characters that we play in our weekly games, from D & D to Vampire. We also have active imaginations, or rather a mental picture of what our characters look like. But how many times have you found the right picture to encompass your character? Sure you have found a few pictures on the web that look "kewl" and are even close to representing your character, but are you willing to STEAL other peoples' artwork?
There is a growing trend on the web for people to search and steal. It may seem harmless, but it's not. There is no problem collecting someone else's work, but it is a problem to republish it under a different name, or claim that it is yours, or even (the worst thing) to profit off of it. And besides that, you don't know how many times I have seen someone's character picture that turned out to be "Cry For Dawn", or Angel, from the WB. Its funny -- you'd think it was the Clone Wars all over again.
Now, there are web artists out there, some damn good ones in fact. And guess what? Some of them do commissions! I have done the research, and I am now placing this knowledge into your hands - a listing of websites that are both personal art sites and gallery sites. Some of the gallery sites have such a mass of artwork that you will have to gather your own opinion of whose art that you like.
The character commission prices range from $20 to $75, a wide range for a wide variety of art quality. The lead times for such pieces can be anywhere between 3 weeks to 6 weeks depending on how booked the artist is, or how quick of a turn around they have. In most cases the commission process works in 3 steps.
The first step is what I like to call the commission phase. In this step the customer (you) commissions the artist to produce a work to your specifications. Now mind you, don't go asking an artist to make your picture look like another artist's style; after all, you chose your artist because of his or her style. If the artist agrees, then it is time to talk money, and requirements. At this time the artist will take notes, and go over the overall description with you. In some cases, the artist will request that the customer pay the first half of the commission price, to prove your intent on a purchase.
Then we move on to the second phase. With the completion of the first step, the artist produces a sketched piece with a large watermark over the top of it. At this time the Customer and the Artist discuss changes in the design, or other such items.
With the completion of this step, the Artist moves on to the final phase. The artist completes the piece to the standards agreed upon by the two parties, and then e-mails the completed piece with a large watermark on it. At this time the customer needs to issue the final payment, in order to receive the final piece without the watermark.
I know there are ways to scam around this, but do you really want the artist to not do commissions at all, or to not draw at all? Artists want to make a living off of creating art, but if all we do is steal or scam them off the web then they will all be forced to go back underground, and take the art off the web. Which to those of you who don't know is happening a lot in Japan. With the influx of the popularity of Jap-anime, and the ease with which Americans connect to the Internet, mass theft of Anime-style artwork, and a disregard for the rights of the Artist, has caused many Anime artists to take their work off the web.
That being said, here is a list of some relevant sites, featuring a link and a short description on the said artist's talent. The list consists of artists that returned my e-mail about getting permission to list them in this article.
Joanna is a talented artist that lives in Brazil. This works against her for this article, due to the fact that commerce with her will be very difficult. She is an animator, and has a style that is true to animation which much expression on her character's faces.
Elf (Site / Alternate Site)
Elf is another artist that I believe lives abroad. Nonetheless, Elf's art is simply fantastic. Elf's work looks water colored, and it very well may be. There is a classic 1800's style to this person's anime style art. Check it out...see for yourself.
Michael John Katsillis (MiDNiGHT, Site)
MiDNiGHT is a very unique artist, whose art lies in a group all its own. His art is a strong angular style that lends to a very dynamic statement. MiDNiGHT has both a command of gesture and a flare for detail. And might I add, he once colored a picture of mine. Well worth any money he charges.
Ren is a young artist that lives in Australia. Her influences come from the Disney greats, and I would guess a healthy dose of comics. A skilled artist, Ren is an example of the future of the art field.
Juu is a passionate Northerner (from Canada) with a flare for powerful Black and White oekaki. Juu's art is filled with a dedication that shows her respect for the Japanese style of art. Very good work, and she even has a commission page worked up just for you all.
Tung Lei (Site / Alternate Site)
This guy is really kewl... a very good artist in my own opinion. Hee hee, this is me. I would like to say that my style is a mixture of American comic books, and Japanese anime. I have had both classical education, and informal pop-culture training. Check me out.... you will not be sorry.
Of course there are many other artists out there, some even better then the ones I listed. Just look around: one good site to check out is Elfwood, a very kewl collection of odd artists (mainly amateurs) grouped into Fantasy, and Sci-fi. Then there is Epilogue.net, a site geared more towards the professionals; however, it has a problem with popup windows.
Feel free to list any other websites that you know of, and remember to support your RPG Art community. Thank you.