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Thread: Is there a way to make money making "artistic" maps?

  1. #11
      mearrin69 is offline
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    Self-promotion is important, agreed. I've only recently begun to "lightly" promote myself as a freelance cartographer. I know I'm not as good or as fast as many of the folks out there doing it but that's okay for now. I doubt it'll ever be my "day job" because, although I love it, I won't ever be able to make as much doing it as I do in my real career. I, like Tilt, would certainly consider making a little less to do something I love...but maybe not that much less.

    I don't know about cartography but, after self-promotion, I'll wager that being successful in art is largely linked to being reliable. I think it was Woody Allen (whom I dislike greatly) that said something like eighty percent of success is just showing up. If my recent experience with trying to get art completed for my product is any gauge then I believe he was absolutely correct. I'vestarted working with a couple of folks and had money in hand to give them when they finished their bit...but they just evaporated on me. So, yeah, just friggin show up, finish, and get paid.

    M

  2. #12
      Jaxilon is online now
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    mearrin makes a good point. I think it's typical for artistic types to be temperamental and a bit flaky (none of the folks who read this obviously ). Having a good work ethic and following through is going to go a long way in helping your career. That's even come up here before in some of the threads on how to get published and so on.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

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  3. #13
      RjBeals is offline
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    i hear ya guys. I was talking to a new friend lat night who is a professorial free lance artist. He's damn good - but he makes several hundred US Dollars for a single magazine illustration, that he says he can produce in like an hour. That's awesome, but the difference is he just sits down and draws this thing out - without really having to spend time researching, or focusing on the fine details that come with maps. Maps are pretty technical. I just can't see ever making fair compensation for the amount of time and quality spent put into making a map. Not trying to complain though - you guys know the feeling. I'm just getting to the age now, where I want to make money for my talents

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      tilt is offline
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    you're absolutely right, a lot of maps takes a level of details that a customer probably wont pay for. But if you want to make money making maps, perhaps you should think the other way around. The customer will pay x dollar - what can I make with that, how many hours can I use for that money - and then put out some reference maps to show to the client the kind of detail he'll get for that price. THEN you show him a nicer map and tell him what that would cost
    I tend to nit-pick and change minute details that no-one will notice when mapping and that takes a lot of time - also I like to draw my maps from scratch (or use own previous art/textures) which also makes it hard to churn out something fast. On the other hand I'm slowly building a portfolio of elements for my battlemaps
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    Works under CC licence unless mentioned otherwise

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      tilt is offline
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    you're absolutely right, a lot of maps takes a level of details that a customer probably wont pay for. But if you want to make money making maps, perhaps you should think the other way around. The customer will pay x dollar - what can I make with that, how many hours can I use for that money - and then put out some reference maps to show to the client the kind of detail he'll get for that price. THEN you show him a nicer map and tell him what that would cost
    I tend to nit-pick and change minute details that no-one will notice when mapping and that takes a lot of time - also I like to draw my maps from scratch (or use own previous art/textures) which also makes it hard to churn out something fast. On the other hand I'm slowly building a portfolio of elements for my battlemaps
    regs tilt
    :: My art on Deviant Art :: My mapping blog tilts fantasy maps :: My work Catapult - Perry & Gehrke - EasyTruckIT ::
    :: Finished Maps :: WIP Cartographia - Breakwater -Market -Lands of Twilight -Battle City :: Competion maps Iron Giant ::
    :: FREE Tiles - Compasses :: Other Taking a commision - Copyright & Creative Commons ::
    Works under CC licence unless mentioned otherwise

  6. #16
    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    Well I measure everything that I map in an hourly rate, though I may vary what that hourly rate is, though its definitely no less than $20 / hour (which I still feel is very poor for what my talent is worth.) So generally I don't create maps that are less than $30, sometimes going as high as $150 - still I should be earning $500 a map, but nobody is going to pay me that.

    Which is a great part of the reason I am going forward as a publisher rather than a cartographer. Doing that isn't obvious track even for a cartographer. I also happen to have skills in writing, editing, page layout, graphic design, and to a much lesser degree: game development, in addition to the skills to be a commercial cartographer. Only because of these additional talents do I even feel qualified to try to be a publisher.

    Finally because I am digital printer is why I became Gamer Printshop in the first place. I have the equipment, supplies and training to create large format map graphics. Combining this idea with knowledge gained in working the industry, I am soon to be operating as Free RPG Maps.com dedicated to producing monthly Map Tile sets.

    Believe me, while I love creating maps, I need substantially more money to continue in this career choice, so I expand my horizons by being a publisher and digital printer, in addition to being a cartographer. Its the niche that will pay best, while primarily working as a fantasy cartographer.

    GP
    Gamer Printshop - We print RPG Maps for Game Masters!
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  7. #17
    Guild Apprentice FrancoisGoulet's Avatar
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    Charging by the hour can be tricky. As you gain experience, you draw faster so does it means that you would charge less? Personally, it always ends somewhat charging by the hour, but I estimate the time it's gonna take me, then multiply by the hourly rate I'd like and then give that number to the client as a "package" price for the project. I always change it a bit according that I find it too low or even too high for what I'd estimate the market price for what I'm doing. Charging to low and your client could think it's gonna be cheap, ugly work. Charging too high and he could run away. It's difficult.

    I've read an article recently written by a web designer, but the principles could easily be applied to fantasy mapping.
    Charging Per Hour vs. Per Project

  8. #18
    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    True, but when I started, that's exactly how I quoted it - if I was better at this, it should take me X hours to create, so I bid this job based on X hours, not actual hours. But I am rather fast at this cartography stuff...

    I have actually bid on jobs, was told by the publisher I was the highest bid, but I still got the job - it was based on quality and meeting a deadline.

    Of course you can ask anyone on this site, who is the fastest mapper of all. The answer is "me." So my bids for hourly rate is actually fairly accurate.

    GP
    Gamer Printshop - We print RPG Maps for Game Masters!
    http://www.gamer-printshop.com

    Kaidan setting of Japanese Horror (PFRPG) Google+ community

  9. #19
      jbgibson is offline
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    My daughter the Awesome Artist is meticulous, and those details cost a lot of time. She wants to do art for a living. I've noticed lately she's been doing some "time trial" drawings. Like Tilt noted, the question might be whether you can do a "good enough" map in a short time. With of course a couple of the $500 - $5000 maps in view :-). ... Her <20 minute sketches are so far beyond me that I'm impressed and pleased nonetheless.

    In my (non-map) work, I find we're often forced to do about a "grade-C" job... I hate that, but it's what the customer wants, and will pay for <shrug>.

  10. #20
      Jaxilon is online now
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    Seems to come down to, do you want to do what you love or make money? You might make money doing what you love but there are no guarantees.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

    * Rivengard * My Finished Maps * My Challenge Maps * My deviantArt

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