Previously, I wrote about how best to manage the expectations through employing a Commissioned Artist. I thought given I have at least eight artists currently working on the Warhost that now would be a good time (a year on from when all this started) to provide some insights into utilising the industry.
If you're considering this route, much like myself, you're time poor, unskilled creatively (stick men defeat me) or a combination of both. I'm going to break this down into aspects; Types of artists, scale of business, time economy, skill sets, price/performance, quality and communications.
These are all factors that should be considered when doing business, especially if you have set expectations and wish to manage them appropriately. So let's start off with the premise;
1. Getting your house in order - Decide on what you want as the paint theme, what your budget is, how flexible you can be with it and a rough time frame. Ask on forums as to what has been experienced previously by others, that way you will validate whether your expectations are reasonable or not.
2. Creating a list, checking it twice - So you know what you want, now to find someone that can deliver. The list of potentials will require some match making. Decide on the type of skills required to carry out the look you're after. This could be purely brushwork, airbrushing or a combination of the two.
Other factors include what medium the artist is familiar working with. Metal, plastic and resin are the main ones, and each can pose their own unique hurdles if the artist is building them. Metal will require pinning, plastic can carry mold lines and resin can require heavy scrubbing/sanding/reshaping (often these are expensive luxury kits).
3. Down to business - So you know what you want, identified the skills required and have a list of potential candidates. Now it is time to unleash your inner "Spanish Inquisition". In your opening email/message/conversation, make certain the following questions are asked;
A) Do you have a price list or an hourly rate?
B) How large is your operation? How long have you been operational?
C) Please provide an example army/model that you/your studio have completed
D) What was the turn around time involved for the project?
E) What was the cost of the project?
F) How does the business work schedule look presently and for the next 6 months?
G) Where is the company based? (do not be afraid to seek artists abroad)
Asking these questions will give you a fair idea of the time it will take and quality produced. Further to this, you can then get an idea of whether the studio is snowed under (delaying things, including communications), out of budget or under staffed. The response can be broken down further from these details - for example; A studio charging $20/hr that takes twice as long to do a miniature will end up costing $40, compared to another studio which may charge $30/hr that can do the same quality in half the time.
4. Assessing the field of play - You now have a list of artists, have ranked them in order of preference (skill/cost/performance/turnaround). Find out where they advertise, and query those who have had work done. This will be a good indicator as to whether the answers you have marry up with reality. If nothing suits, keep shopping around.
As an example, I spent a month looking for someone capable of doing high end work on my War Machines. I will use Steve in this instance; His communications were quick (and still are), quality of work displayed in a portfolio (CMON, Blogger, Website), good references, very affordable (compared to other quotes - one extreme was $4500 for a Revenant!?) and manages his workload extremely well. So the talent is out there folks, it is just up to you to do a bit of research :)