Well, that was … whelming. Not overwhelming, just… odd. The ad I place on Craig’s List got a lot more responses than I expected. No, that’s not right. I’m not quite sure what exactly I expected. I had hoped that I would get a few inquires from people with sufficient skill and interest in a price range I could afford. Having trolled through the ads from many artists advertising their services and finding a lot of nothing topical, I thought maybe by telling folks exactly what I DID want would narrow the chase a bit.
I got dozens of replies, mostly form emails. Almost all were from people with obvious artistic talent, but in totally different genres or styles, the same type of thing I was trying to avoid. My ad was pretty clear – no people in the image, just space and spaceships. Really, that’s all. How difficult is that to understand?
A good 80% of the inquiries were from people that had nothing but examples of people and living things. There were Crumb-like caricatures and monsters, manga-style girls, children’s books illustrators, nature-scenes with trees and butterflies, etc. Only four of them, after all was said and done (at least, so far), had any sort of spaceship, mechanica, robots, or serious space-stuff. Three looked like they could do it, but hadn’t done this exact thing. One very obviously could, but because he replied after I had already started working with one of the other three, he’s the “backup.”
Lessons learned (so far): Lead time – use it. Craig’s List can work, you just have to find the right place to post. You can never have enough lead time, especially if you are on a budget and have to work with someone who is free-lancing on the side, because that always takes longer, a lot longer. Be really clear in your ad, but even then expect a pretty bad signal:noise ratio as some folks are just looking for their three job apps a week for unemployment, some won’t read past “illustrator” before they reply, some haven’t may be desperate looking for ANY kind of work, and some are taking that medical marijuana law just a little too seriously. Always be polite when turning someone down, and you don’t have to reply to ANYONE that inquires. You don’t have to accept anyone (lead time, again). If no one who responds in the first day or two can do the job, don’t fret, keep looking; responses are still rolling in more than a week later. The first dozen quick replies might be exciting, then depressing; don’t sweat it, go work on something useful for a few days, because lead-time.