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Thread: [Award Winner] How to get commissions and get paid to map.

  1. #1
      torstan is offline
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    Default [Award Winner] How to get commissions and get paid to map.

    This is not a standard tutorial. Instead, this will cover ways that I have found to be useful in getting my first map commissions. This is certainly not unique, and I know others have found separate routes to this. I wholeheartedly encourage them to chip in with their tips too.

    1. Create a portfolio

    To get work you need to be able to show that you can do the work required. In fantasy cartography there are 5 types of map: indoor encounter maps (dungeons), outdoor encounter maps, town/city maps, regional maps and world maps. Ideally make sure that you have an example of each that you feel is the best that you can do. On the other hand, you can always pitch for just encounter maps, or just regional maps. It narrows your market, but it reduces the number of pieces you have to prepare.

    Put the portfolio up somewhere. You can create your own website for this - or an easier solution is to use a site like DeviantArt or CGHub. I prefer CGHub becuase I find it more directly geared towards fantasy art and has a nice portfolio interface.

    2. Get your work out there

    This is one site for discussing maps - but most people here like making maps and aren't going to commission you. You can and should keep an eye on the mapmaking requests forum here, but also post your work elsewhere. Here are a few places that I've found it useful to create a post with my work. I update the post whenever I have something new to show. Don't post rubbish, and don't bump your thread without good reason. If you only post your best stuff then people browsing will get a steady trickle of your good work and will be constantly reminded of your name. When they need a map they'll think - ah, that guy ont he forum had some good stuff. I wonder if he's free?

    Here's my list of useful forums:
    http://www.enworld.org/forum/art-gal...ures-painting/
    http://forum.rpg.net/forumdisplay.php?f=12
    http://www.deviantart.com
    http://www.indie-rpgs.com/
    http://www.elfwood.com/
    http://community.wizards.com/

    You'll see some familiar faces on those forums

    3. Do everything that you can get your hands on

    Initially, take up everything that you can manage (and be realistic about what you can manage). Indie publishing is small and friendly word and people know each other. Make sure that you do a good job on each project, are courteous and get the work done on time. If you do this people will enjoy working with you and your name will get spread around. You'll find people start contacting you because of what someone they knew said and you'll start having to pick and choose commissions. Don't worry about the pay to start with. Your initial commissions are likely to be low paying jobs or free work. They are still worth it as they'll give you practice working to a brief. You can make mistakes and not feel too terrible about it and find your feet. As more people start asking you to do work, then you can put your rates up until you find the point where you have just enough work to keep you busy.

    There will be people who want something for nothing. It's your choice whether to work for them or not. If they are private individuals then the benefits are slim. However if it will result in your work being more widely seen then it might be worth it. I was approached to do a core art pack of tiles for maptool for free. Now I've got a lot of (free) value out of the program and wanted to give something back. It also means that my art is seen by all the users of maptool - which is an audience of people who need a lot of maps. That was an easy one - I did it.

    You can also send your portfolio to people. It's worth looking for small to medium indie publishers and sending an email with a link to your portfolio, or five (downsized) portfolio pieces in the email itself. For advice on this I'd recommend reading the blog of the AD for D&D:
    http://artorder.blogspot.com/

    That's how I started picking up commissions and if it works once it should work again. I'll let others chip in with their thoughts now.
    Cryllia likes this.
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      tilt is offline
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    Thanks Torstan, that's a good "tutorial" if I ever seen one. Especially since you're "educating" competitors - duly repped and rated and all that stuff
    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

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      Gidde is offline
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    That's a great post, Torstan, thanks a ton! (And as someone just learning to use MapTool so that we can play on it this weekend, thanks for those tiles as well!)

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      ravells is offline
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    Fantastic and very selfless post! 5 star / compass rating from me....this deserves to be an award tutorial!

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      Redrobes is offline
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    Getting people to part with money is one of the hardest things to achieve and that goes double for the RPG industry. I found most of what your saying just generally applicable too. If your having a hard time getting a job of any description then just skim and checklist the tut. I will rep and rate as well.

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    I've got a website with my maps and services (gamer-printshop.com), an online private portfolio, and several Map threads on EnWorld, Iron Crown Enterprises, ConceptArt, Talkgraphics (Xara website), RPGNet, DnDAdventure and a couple others. I actually think participating in Monthly Challenges here, whether I won them or not has gotten me work. I have gained three clients through the Map Request forum here at the Guild. I've gotten three clients through Iron Crown Enterprises forum, including Iron Crown Enterprises. In some cases I have no idea how many of my new clients are finding me - probably one the above, but clients are now contacting me directly through Email, these days.

    But lately, I've been looking at becoming the publisher to create my own work and "commission myself". Consider this, most publishers can't afford many maps, though I have had commissions up to seven maps for a product, in most cases its one to three maps. For my first adventure, I have 12 maps in it - a number most publishers can't afford, so my products will stand out over the competition and look really professional - part of my goal.

    Also I've been coordinating with various publisher connections I have and forming publication partnerships, where I am nolonger the commissioned illustrator, but a publishing partner. While the pay is not as immediate as in commissioned work, the amount of return is infinitely higher getting an even three way, or two way split on profits. My first publication has earned me $500 so far, and I have an $800 investment, but that's for 4 different products, and the $500 profit is just the first adventure (my investment has been in commissioning artists for cover and interior illustrations.)

    Another thing to consider, as a proto-publisher, in some cases, I have exchanged services for work I need done - maps for trade. I have about three clients that I owe maps for their upcoming projects. Rather than pay for writers or MapTool programmers (for example) I just traded in maps down the road. So in some cases, maps have become a currency to pay for other work I need.

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

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      tilt is offline
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    Yes, never under estimate the value of a good barter - you can often get at much better "price" when no money is exchanged. And that goes for everything, for instance: in my garden I have had 6 inches of soil taken away and 6 inches of prima soil putten back on, and had a truck deliver 12 ton of gravel for some areas ... lot of money it would have cost me, but I've made a logo for the local farmer/truckdriver who helped me and he'll probably need some businesscards and stationary too (I hope) ... so I'm bringing my bill down Also getting ligthing in the garden done by an electrician who needs logo, business cards and a brochure.
    And in addtion to that - don't under estimate the power of a good gesture either, in the profesional printing business it is amazing what you can get done with a six-pack or a nice bottle of wine when you go to the back door
    I've published some cool magazines these last years and I hope to start as rpg-publisher next year (have to save some money first - yep the real stuff), and I do hope to be able to reward the (hopefully) contributing writers and illustrators with more than maps, if not from the start, then later on
    SJS likes this.
    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

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      waldronate is offline
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    I would add the following:

    Step 0. Have at least a little talent and realize that you have to back it up with hours and days and weeks of practice.

    Step 4. Never give up.

    Other practical advice: Don't expect to turn a profit for a long time (if ever). Don't do it unless you love it.

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      Jaxilon is offline
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    I just read this thread. Thank you Torstan and all who have added on to it.

    I am in the first baby steps of this whole digital art world and may or may not continue along the path, however, it is nice to have a little guidance. I want to express my appreciation for the help because I appreciate that in same cases it has taken a long time to get all this together. You have certainly given a step up to those who wish to go there and I for one just have to say, "THANK you, very much!". Shows real class on your part.

    So now it's back to squeezing out the time to build up my portfolio since I can't yet afford to do this full time.
    “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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