Ket and I just kind of sat there after our first meeting with Artist #1. We were so disappointed that it hadn’t worked out because we both really liked the sketches that he had done. It felt like having to start over and go back to square one, and this feeling will never go away when you run into problems in the future of a project. Some things will set you back and you’ll feel like all the work you’ve done has been for nothing. My advice is just accept setbacks but don’t accept defeat. Every mistake you make along the way is something that will help you avoid that mistake in the future, moving you one step closer to your goal.
Ket and I called his brother-in-law Josh right after this meeting. He gave us some reassurances saying he would help us to find an artist, one that could work within our budget. A few days later Ket called me to say he had spoken with someone that Josh had put him in contact with and wanted to know if I could go and meet her. I called up Artist #2 and we met at a local coffee shop where we discussed terms and looked over her portfolio. Some of her artwork was very good and some of it wasn’t. This wasn’t a knock against her, the range of drawings and sketches were all over the place and I felt confident that if we could express the images that I did like as to be examples for our cards that she wouldn’t have any problems in making what we wanted. Our terms at the time were good, really good. We agreed to pay $200 up front and then $20 per finished image, as well as $50 per logo that she was going to design for the game and for the company. We were looking at about 40 images, plus logos. The total we were looking at then was going to be $1,100. This seemed like a great deal and one that Josh was right on, that we could find an artist willing to do our project for a lot less than the first guy who demanded $6,000.
So instead of giving her $200 up front I wrote her a check for $400. Here’s what I thought, if I show her I’m willing to give her more than she’s asking for she’ll really get behind the project and do some great work very quickly. I overpaid thinking this was a good way to build rapport with her but it turned out all I did was throw money away because the work wasn’t completed. More on that later.
The agreement was that she was going to have 3 completed images each week. We would give her a buffer to work on sketches to get approval but once approved she would give us finished artwork each week, barring a few times where she had some conventions to go to, and some other personal things that required some of her time. This was acceptable because this still meant that the majority of the images would be completed in a timely manner. What was the problem? Very simple, she wasn’t a professional artist. This was going to be a side project for her, something to do to help her art career that she wanted to get started but she was still working other jobs that weren’t in the art world. We were going to be her only client, but that was to be a back seat to everything else going on in her life. We weren’t priority number one, or two, or even three, and honestly I don’t know where we ranked in the order of things. This is the risk you run when someone takes on your project who isn’t a professional. You don’t truly know where you stand in their mind as being important.
Here’s a lesson I learned from the business I owned at the time. When you rely on friends or even people who you pay to do some work for you, if they perceive the work as a form of ‘help’ then you are on their schedule rather than them being on yours. Maybe all you can afford is to have friends and family ‘help’ you, but you have to be willing to accept the results as they are and the results whenever they get done. Hiring a professional avoids this. This doesn’t mean a professional can’t do crappy work, or miss deadlines, but there is a much greater chance the work gets done on time and the right way, plus if things go south then you have more flexibility to take whatever actions are needed to stop payments or recoup money spent. When it’s your friends and family then you run the risk of hurting your relationships. Even to this day I still ask for occasional help in some areas from friends and family and the whole time I’m left on their schedule, not my own.
Things seemed to be working out well for Ket and I. We were getting further into our project, the foundation was being laid, and some of the minor business aspects that went into a new company were coming together. The new artist had even sent in some first images and as I began to drive to Chicago to visit with Ketner, being only the second vacation I had taken in 4 years, I never once thought the coming weeks would be the last happiest moments I would have for a long time.