Art TESTS please Stop!!!

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by easydoesit, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. easydoesit

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    Normally I like to avoid voicing my opinions of public forums but this is very important to me.

    I will not be doing the art test I just recently received as it was handed out to I don't know how many people that applied to work freelance for a particular company.

    Reasons are as follows:

    1) There is no payment for the test yet they want the artist to be under NDA for any ideas submitted. So essentially free work that I have no rights to.
    2) It’s no longer an interview it’s a contest. There are a lot better contests for the aspiring artist out there.
    3) The winner gets work… In the future? After the ideas are used here? “the ones I have no right or claim too.â€
    4) It’s like hiring asking 5 plumbers to fit a pipe and choosing the fitting I like best. All 5 would charge you just to hear about the problem in the first place.
    5) I already took the time to give them estimates.

    If you really want to take the risk to make the games then take the risk on your favourite artist and pay him/her to do the test art. This is an iterative process and no one should expect to get final awesome work on the first pass. Test the artist with pay to see if you are compatible. If not hire a new one.

    I am sure that some of the newer artists will do the test but remember this post when you don’t get the work. You will have done a weeks worth of work –for free that you no longer own. Work on your own project and get the real rewards for your time spent.
     
  2. papillon

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    Um... who are you talking to, exactly?
     
  3. DangerCode

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    You lost me.
     
  4. oNyx

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    Why that... test? Isnt that what portfolios are good for?

    edit: Your's is awesome btw :O
     
  5. papillon

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    There *are* a lot of people who offer such 'contests' to artists on amateur sites to try and find someone to work with for a project, usually because they are targetting amateurs who do not have much of a portfolio or insist that they have skills not yet included in the portfolio. And such 'contests' are often ripoffs, run by people who are just as inexperienced as the artists they target, and unable to complete and pay for their projects. But as this forum is neither a source of huge numbers of amateur artists nor people running such 'contests', as far as I know, it seems a bit spammy. :)
     
  6. easydoesit

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    As a rule this board has the best people to work for but the art test was offered by a company that posts here.

    I get people asking more often then you would realise. Even though I have testimonials and a portfolio to show they still ask.

    I was just posting today because lately its been worse than usual and this board is attracting more and more people. Some of the newer ones are the ones asking for tests.
     
  7. Frozen In Ice

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    Just my opinion, the artists portfolio should be enough for me to make a decision on who to use for artwork. Once I've selected one, I would contact the artist and discuss my needs. If they feel they can handle the job, then we would proceed from there.
     
  8. Davaris

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    I would never do something like that. It sounds scammy. If I see an artist's work I like, I find out who has used him/her before and ask them if they were reliable and easy to work with. If I like what I hear, I hire them. Simple.

    P.S.
    If I were you I'd put links to games you have worked on on your site. Preferably high quality games that sold well. Oh yeah and I'd tell those "competition" people to %$&* off! :)
     
  9. Sysiphus

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    Depending on the country but...There are offten like asociations, syndicates, whatever...of illustrators or designers. They tend to make some sort of law-based book or document...I allways read in those that art tests are to be charged. As a minimum, as a big % of the quote of a final work. I never do art tests, it rarely can worth, and yep, even with no NDA, you rarely will be able to use that. Anyway, here I think people just grab an artist for what seems capable of. It should be enough. And anyway, a pro artist (seems is curiously what tends to be around, which have not seen in other similar forums) with x years of experience, specially if made the stuff of released comercial titles,rarely will have some technical or whatever the problem..
     
  10. stiill

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    Definitely. The "tests" are awful, especially if you already have a portfolio. If someone insists on some overly intricate "test" with NDAs and all rights to the work submitted, it's often a scam. And it's almost always a sign that you shouldn't work with that individual or company.
     
  11. alikus

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    Hey, just don't work for people who ask you who's having not a 1-piece portfolio;) to do a test work...Here in my company we only give test if the "artist" or Artist comes in and says "Guys, I'm great, so hire me." - "Hey, do you have something to show what you did before?" - "Well I never did anything, here is my diploma, so hire me."

    If established artists like you stop following such bad practicies (doing free test work), you'll vanish the problem at all.
     
  12. sillytuna

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    Ok I'll let everyone know it was us that asked for an art test and I'll absolutely justify it. If you don't think they are needed, read on.

    I'm also a little annoyed because I made very clear in the initial email that certain aspects were as important as the art, and in a follow-up to the member above I assured him the artwork would not be used.

    "1) There is no payment for the test yet they want the artist to be under NDA for any ideas submitted. So essentially free work that I have no rights to."

    Wrong. The NDA is MUTUAL (MNDA) and the reason for an NDA is that you are being asked to show how you would start on some work that is of our design. An NDA doesn't dictate a change of ownership or a contract of work. You are showing us YOUR artwork and ideas, we are showing you OURS, that is how MNDAs function. The NDA is there to prevent public discussion of our projects, or, for that matter, any of your projects you wish to disclose to us.

    If you weren't sure, you only had to ask.

    We would not be owning the artwork and we would not use it in any way. We're not paying for it so that wouldn't be right. The artwork would remain yours to display and use however you like, although we would politely request that you don't add it to an online portfolio for a little while - assuming you had polished it up - additionally it would have been based around *our* artwork/concept sketches provided in the art test.

    The art test itself was set up so that it could amount to as little as a couple of hours work for someone experienced. It was deliberately worded so that you could do as much or as little as you wanted. As made clear in the mail out, this was as much about being able to follow submission guidelines and showing creativity as anything else.

    We did not hide the requirement for "creativity" and "pro-activeness" in the job specification, freelance or not.

    Note that the artist in question would not have decrypted the art test without being NDA so may not have seen the test.

    "2) It’s no longer an interview it’s a contest. There are a lot better contests for the aspiring artist out there."

    It's called pitching for work.

    If you find you don't have to, good for you. Even we do, almost any programmers we work with do, and so on. Just about every contract game developer out there has to pitch for work one way or another, and that often includes freelancers and would-be staff.

    We started out as freelancers, we still do a lot of contract work, and we also use freelancers ourselves.

    Without exception, we don't just "get" work from new clients because of our portfolio, which consists of 70+ titles. Even with existing clients there is often some amount of unpaid initial work involved, but in those cases we decide how much/little to do depending on the project itself. Sometimes we decline, usually we don't.

    "3) The winner gets work… In the future? After the ideas are used here? “the ones I have no right or claim too.”"

    At no point did we state we would own the artwork, the NDA was mutual. I accept that I could have added that line explicitly in the mailshot but we did make clear than you should contact us with all queries and that we wanted questions about any aspects of the requests.

    Also, what ideas are you talking about? Again you may not have seen the art test so you may not know: the only "ideas" we're looking for is the style you would use. I think that's a fair request. Art-wise: The art test doesn't require finished or polished artwork, only an indicator of style and one small sprite walk animation from a sprite provided. Compared to what we ask programmers to do, and what we get asked to do, that's nothing.

    "4) It’s like hiring asking 5 plumbers to fit a pipe and choosing the fitting I like best. All 5 would charge you just to hear about the problem in the first place."

    No it isn't, and this is why.

    Bare in mind that many (most) applicants were ruled out of this particular work for one reason or other. So we knew most of those given the art test could "draw", and in most cases did so professionally.

    The reasons for the art test are not "stealing work" or "make them act like a beginner", they are:

    1) Can produce a style we think works on titles relevant to us. Artists have styles, and they aren't always clear from portfolios or portfolios may not show a style appropriate for the specific work. Portfolios can also lie, and they don't tell you about project smoothness, communication, speed, and so on.

    2) Can follow rules - you cannot get this from portfolios.

    3) Can follow strict submission guidelines <- this is HUGELY important and you cannot get this from portfolios, and neither does experience mean anything in this respect (sad but true).

    4) Can be communicate, pro-active and creative <- i.e. they'd be good to work with / we can get on with each other. We potentially have a lot of work and are looking for another 1-2 artists to be involved.

    "5) I already took the time to give them estimates. "

    Seriously, how long does it take to say "a generic background will take this long and cost this much" etc?

    Without an art-test, we'd only considering hiring someone who had references from people I know well personally. A positive post in a forum, even from a company, isn't enough. I've been around long enough to know better than that.

    There are a couple of comments you may find interesting in the Stubbs post-mortem:

    http://gamasutra.com/features/20060811/seropian_01.shtml

    Whilst I understand some people don't feel the need to "prove" themselves, this is the view from the other side. Remember, it isn't dissing your artwork or stealing ideas, or making someone do freebies for days or weeks, it's about "can we work with each other", and asking for 2+ hours of your time (as much as you feel it's worth putting in).

    That isn't so bad, right?
     
    #12 sillytuna, Aug 18, 2006
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2006
  13. sillytuna

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    Just to add to the plumbing analogy:

    The plumbers all do fundamentally the same job. Some may take longer than others, some may make more mess, some may drink more cups of tea, and some will charge more. However, it's still the same job.

    Most artwork is simply not like that. Hell, game development is simply not like that, except for certain programming aspects, or very specific and technical art requests.

    Any commercial game company out there should be asking for art tests unless someone is referred directly to them. Many of us often don't follow this rule but we should do, and in this case we're insisting on it. I think I've made the reasons clear, but I'm happy to field questions!

    In the end, it's the artist's choice of course. If you want to pitch purely on the strength of your portfolio, then you'll miss out on a certain amount of work.

    How do you think art and design agencies get their work? They don't just waive a magic portfolio about and ta-da, the work rolls in. That gets them in the door though.

    As individuals some people can just keep getting work in and that's great for them, but to get work from new clients either you should be personally recommended or be doing an art test.

    I replied here because I think there's a fundamental misunderstanding over what art tests are about. If more people are asking for them, perhaps it isn't just because they are trying to rip artists off. Some may be of course, some may be inexperienced, and some are doing the right thing. Judge for yourself.

    EDIT:

    Finally, say you as an artist needed to hire a programmer to write your game. If you think a portfolio and quote is good enough, you are so very wrong. It really isn't. I've seen atrocious programmers with great resumes, and paid the price as a result of thinking that was enough. Same goes for artists.
     
    #13 sillytuna, Aug 18, 2006
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2006
  14. Sparks

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    Hi,

    just to add my 2 cents worth: Alex, all You say is true if You are hiring a bunch of not-yet-proved artists who don't have any production experience worth mentioning.
    But easydoesit's portfolio should be MORE than enough reference for anybody who is experienced working with experienced artists.
    I can understand very well that someone who was good enough to work for Bioware wouldn't go through such an unpaid contest.
    So far, in the past, when I was asked to do specific example work, it was always paid otherweise I wouldn't do it, except ,maybe if iD software would call.
     
  15. Davaris

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    Amen brother.
     
  16. Tertsi

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    Just because some artist is experienced and has an awesome portfolio doesn't necessarely mean that he can work in a specified art style which matches your project. (It often does however.)

    I would hire someone like easydoesit without any tests if I saw something similar to what is needed for the project in their portfolio. If not, I might want to ask them to do a small trial test which they are paid for if accepted, without any paper work before the artist gets the job.

    It is greatly beneficial to be sure that the artist is the right one for your project.
     
  17. papillon

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    A test is somewhat reasonable if you can't tell from their portfolio that they can probably do what you want - either because the portfolio is too small or because it doesn't cover the specific style you're after. In general, though, I don't see the point in hassling people who have portfolios full of things that *aren't* what I'm looking for, just to see if they can draw something else as well. This should really only occur when the *artist* is approaching *you* and asking for a chance. I have done this - and most of these 'artists' emailing me immediately realise that drawing something specifically requested is not as easy as they thought, and they go away. :)

    No, you can't tell from a portfolio how easy someone is to work with. But that's true in any hiring situation, isn't it? You can look at someone's resume and talk to them in an interview and still not know until you've got them in the office with you eight hours a day that they're really an Obnoxious Bastard you can't stand to deal with. That's why there are trial periods for new hires, and they may get dismissed in that time if they don't measure up. And that's why you set a smaller target art piece to be completed and paid for with the new artist before giving them the job of doing the whole game at once...
     
  18. Sparks

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    Exactly, papillon.
     
  19. Frozen In Ice

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    I'll keep that in mind :)
     
  20. sillytuna

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    Papillon/Sparks - I hear what you're saying but I have to disagree. Just because an artist has worked for X or produced casual games Y, unless the art is spot on for what you want perhaps, does not mean they should not have an art test.

    If you're blinded by the fact that they've worked for company X or Y, so they must be good, you're dead wrong. Just as with programmers with good resumes, portfolios can be very misleading, as can previous jobs. I get a lot of CVs that don't stand up after due diligence, and I know of plenty of artists who have faked portfolios.

    I'm not saying that's true in this case - so don't be offended easydoesit!

    Portfolios are just that; they are past work and they get you in the door, sometimes a long way in. However, if I have X amount of artists who all look capable, which do I hire? The difference in ability may be small, but an art test will sure show the ones I'd like to work with.

    Refusing an art test is everyone's perogative and we expected a few refusals. I don't necessarily think worse of people who do so as I do understand their reasons.

    However, it isn't something that I felt should have been bitched about on these forums since we blatently aren't out to rip people off and I'm about as approachable as you get.

    Also, some of the facts posted were wrong, and although we weren't named (thank you for that) I objected enough to correct them personally.

    Finally, as specifically stated in the advert, we are not just after a "run of the mill artist" - we're looking for someone more creative and pro-active than "just does exactly what it says on the tin".
     

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