Thursday, January 07, 2021

Streaming Update - The Emote Challenge

Yesterday morning I got my Twitch Affiliate invite after my morning stream, and immediately started to fill out the paperwork. It'll be a few days while tax information is checked, but I anticipate it going forward nicely.

I made the mistake of mentioning on Twitter that I was going to need an artist for my emotes. I should have realized that digital artists have searches set up for just that sort of comment in the hopes of landing a gig. After getting 24 artists in a matter of a couple of hours contacting me, I decided I needed to get very serious about it and decide on my standards. The worst thing (or the best) is that every single artist who contacted me was GOOD. I mean, really good. Some of them stood out as excellent, but all of them were absolutely worth paying for work. But I can only afford to hire one. ACK. Torture.

Anyway, I expect three things from a potential artist. Since most of these folks are young and just starting out, some of them had none of the things. Part of me wants to help them by explaining exactly what a potential client wants, but I'm a creative type myself and I know such advice can be hard to take. Still, I figure if I post it here, and maybe drop them the link, there's a tiny chance they will follow and get my perspective. And maybe it will help them in the future?

So. Three things important for an artist trying to sell their work:

  • One: A portfolio. This is just a set of sample images of your previous work, preferably showing the range of what you can do. Best practices is to have a website for the work with watermarked images (light watermark, but enough to prevent theft). Acceptable is to have files to send to potential clients. Most of the artists who contacted me had something, although I was a bit taken aback at the slapdash nature of some of them. It is worth investing a little time in making sure your portfolio is complete, accessible and accurately reflects your work.
  • Two: References. I want to know you can deliver the goods, and the best way to prove it is to have someone you've already done business with tell me that you can. Not one of the people I contacted to ask for references knew what I was talking about, which just tells me I'm old. But once I explained it, people quickly got back to me. In the case of Twitch emotes, a shout-out on Twitter from a streamer is just about the most perfect reference ever. Links to the streams of Twitch users of artwork are good, as well, but a direct mention is best. Unlike many business dealings, I don't need a letter with a glowing recommendation - just some proof that your work is out there.
    • A caveat: new artists are going to have a little problem with this, and the best way for them to get around it is to simply be honest. Admit to the client you haven't made your first sale. Surprisingly awesome things can happen when you are honest.
  • Three: A price chart. Yeah, I want to know what you charge for your work. And this is hard for both the artist and the client. But clients are going to want to know what they need to budget for your work, and that requires at the very least a range or a base price. So an artist who says they charge X dollars for a simple design with the price going up depending on complexity is far more likely to get my business than an artist who says they will "work with me." I honestly don't know what "work with me" means, and it doesn't inspire confidence. Give me a base price and THEN say you will work with me, and I will be more likely to move forward.

All of this doesn't help me with my present conundrum. I've got multiple excellent artists that I'm chatting with, and I can't make up my mind which one I want to go with. And I'm terrified that, once I've chosen one, the work won't be what I want and I'll feel some horrid regret. Worse, I've had to turn down several excellent artists that had work I loved, but didn't fit what I want. I tell myself that they contacted me, unsolicited, so I can't allow myself to feel too strongly for their feelings. This is the business, they know what they are in for. But they are all so GOOD. Like I said, torture.

Maybe Twitch will reject my application and spare me this decision?

Anyway, I don't want to waste any artist's time, so I'm going to try to put together very nice rejection letters to some of the artists, while keeping their information just in case. At this point, I don't know if I'll turn up an Ace on the first try, or end up giving several artists a shot before finding the perfect one. All I know is I want to be fair and I want to be kind and I want a kick-butt set of emotes that make me happy every time I see them on my stream.

Wish me luck and wisdom, for I will need both.

Update: Wow. I put together as nice a rejection letter as I could manage and sent it to some of the unlucky folks - all of whom I might consider going to in the future if the current options don't work out. Well, all of them except one now. One of them responded with accusations of wasting her time and leading her on. Because I asked for a portfolio and then - because I liked the work in that portfolio - asked for a little more information. In short, the artist made it past my first filter, and would have been high on my list of people to try if the current front-runners don't work out. But now she's off my list entirely because of her incredibly unprofessional and rude response.

In the same time period, two of the others I decided against got back to me with "no problem!" responses. Both of them are now on my list for potential artists in the future, and I'll be taking a second look at their portfolios, as well.