Finding Illustrators

#21 – Finding an Illustrator

Hello everyone! This is a special bonus episode about finding an artist because I just spent the last 2 months trying to find an artist for my game Fry Thief.

Now I already had a logo, and some package designs, and placeholder art on the cards. So I’m not going to talk about coming up with an initial direction for your project. I knew how I wanted my game to look and feel and I just needed someone to take my art direction and turn it into a beautiful illustration.

I should say I’ve been working on Fry Thief since November of last year and I’ve gone through dozens of play tests.

At this point I’m 99% certain each card in the game will stay in the game. I might change how the card works but the cards in the game right now should stay there. You don’t want to create art for a card you don’t end up using.

I’ve spent the past ~2 months looking for artists. I heard from some people in person and some people on this podcast to use ArtStation and I did. It is a really cool platform to look for art.

And if you have a typical theme for a game it should work. And by a typical theme I mean zombies, dragons, monsters, etc. There are going to be tons of people who already have those types of drawings up there and you can select one you like the style of and then move forward.

I had a problem with that because not many people have pictures of food on ArtStation. So I didn’t know if people could draw food and in my case people stealing food from each other and then eating it. That’s a lot harder to draw.

I decided I wanted to find a couple people and hire them to illustrate one card each. And then I’d pick the best one. It’s going to cost more but it’ll make sure I find the right artist for my project.

I’m going to talk about the specific art for my project. I’m including all of the images in the post on the website. And for those of your listening on your phone I’m going to try to change the thumbnail of the episode. Apparently that’s a thing you can do and I’ll try to figure it out for you.

Fry Thief Test Illustration 1
An illustrator I found through a friend of a friend on Facebook

I found one person through a friend on Facebook – they produced the worst results. Their portfolio wasn’t amazing but I was honestly disappointed by the work they did

Fry Thief Test Illustration 2
An illustrator who draws excellent dwarves

One person I found through the designer of a game I like. I asked for a recommendation and they recommended their illustrator. This person can draw awesome dwarves, gnomes, pixies, axes, and all of that stuff. But they could not draw someone stealing fries.


The next two people I met at Gen Con completely by accident.

Fry Thief Test Illustration 3
A well known illustrator in the board game world.

One person I met at a publisher speed dating event. They were a designer and illustrator and they’re an illustrator for a game that is known for it’s illustrations. I know this game because of how cute the art is. And they did really good work but again it wasn’t what I wanted.

Fry Thief Test Illustration 4
Matthew Franklin who did the artwork for Eric & Cecilia Hyland's Fleecing Olympus game.

And the last person was basically standing next to two of the people on this show that I said I’d meet in person. I introduced myself and their illustrator reached out. I took his card reluctantly and almost didn’t email him. But I’m glad I did. He drew exactly what I had in my head. His name is Matthew Franklin and he did the artwork for Cecilia & Eric Hyland who I talk to in episode 23 which has yet to come out.

So the first thing that I take away is you really have no idea who will be right for your project. I am so happy I spent a little money on each illustrator because I don’t think I would have found the right illustrator if I just went with the first person who did okay work.


Something else I want to talk about is communication. When you give people a single card job it’s also a test of their communication. If they can’t get back to you in a reasonable time they might have the skills but lack the business know-how or the time to do the job.

The first person I mentioned, who I found through Facebook, also had the worst communication of the bunch. So even if their artwork was good I probably wouldn’t have hired them.

Paying for Art

In terms of money. Fry Thief is a pretty small game. It’s 16 cards and I’ll probably make 1 promo card for the Kickstarter so that’s 17 cards but they’re double sided so it’s approximately 26 illustrators.

I talked with Matthew about doing the first half of the illustrations before the Kickstarter and paying for those separately. And then continuing the job after the Kickstarter assuming it funds.

So that’s where I’m at regarding illustrators. This is something that I feel really passionate about because I could have easily made a mistake and I think I made it through safely and want to help anyone else who is thinking about getting art for their game.

If you have any questions please send them in – you can tweet me. I’m @BFTrick on Twitter. Or maybe even better is to leave a comment on this post on the site.

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