AuthorTopic: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts  (Read 10175 times)

Offline Ryumaru

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Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

on: January 19, 2015, 03:00:51 am
Hey all, I was just recently in a situation where I was asked to do an art test ( after showing my portfolio of course)

I'm not particularly fond of the idea; after all, time is money; but what do you guys think?

For those working in the industry as freelancers, do you often get asked to do art tests? How long do you spend on them if you do? Do you get compensated after the fact if you happen to get the job?

Offline yaomon17

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #1 on: January 19, 2015, 04:06:47 am
I've been asked to do tests only twice and I was lucky that the client was reasonable to give compensation both times. I do spend a good amount of time on the pieces partly because I have difficulty sending out something that I feel like I didn't put my full effort into and partly because I do want the job so I figure the better the test, the better the chances of me getting the job.

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #2 on: January 19, 2015, 04:19:06 am
depends.

Bigger commpanies might want to see how good you can do a certain task.
Some indies trying to gather art by "testrounds"
it's a decision you have to decide on a case-by-case basis. It strongly depends on the job and the people involved.

Usually you get compensated for an arttest if you get hired, if you don't get hired you don't get anything because you failed "test".
But you can always ask the guy asking for the test if there will be compensation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
For a high-class job it might be worth to put some hours into it.

However, if a company came to you and would ask you to do an arttest, I'd wonder why, after all they are in need an artist. If you apply for a job there is a valid chance to get asked, because they want to see if you are competent.

If the gig isn't that great and you could make better time by just working the time for someone else, it might be indeed better to work for someone else, because the risk might be to high.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2015, 04:20:41 am by Cyangmou »
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Offline Gil

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #3 on: January 20, 2015, 02:00:24 am
I will do any and all art tests for free and have in the past even made art prior to a job interview to prove I'm invested in the company, GIVEN that it's a steady contract that will provide me with a lasting contract.

I will never do an art test for a freelance job unless I'm desperate. My portfolio should speak for itself and if they want another artist, they're free to. That being said, as a freelancer, especially pixel art these days, you're mostly desperate ;)

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #4 on: January 20, 2015, 03:17:38 am
Thanks for sharing guys; basically all the angles I had thought about it.I got burned for 3 hours of work- but it was a nice learning experience. We'll just say it built character and wisdom ;D

Offline huZba

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #5 on: January 20, 2015, 11:44:21 am
Naturally if you get hired for what you have in your portfolio, you'll get to draw what you're comfortable with.

Someone offered to do an art test once. I gave a pretty broad assignment to draw something in theme, but pick whatever they think is best for a showcase. I felt it wasn't close enough in style, but offered to pay for spent time on some specific items so I could use those as a base or reference if I decided to put them in a game. Thing is they never replied to my offer and now I feel I can't use those items in a game even if I did them myself from scratch... go figure  :P

But yeah, one can never waste time on art I feel. It always gives something back regardless.

Offline rikfuzz

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #6 on: January 20, 2015, 05:10:12 pm
I'm not really against them, as long as they're respectful of your time.  Ie. They're already fairly sure they want to hire you, not tasking something that will take many hours and get back to you promptly. 

I've been given an art test once that was fairly excessive, and when completed they asked for revisions(!).  Then when I did them, scored an interview, interviewed (went v. well I thought)... They never got back to me for a year.  When they eventually got back to me got me to do a new art test, which I regrettably did, then they didn't reply to me a further 6 months till finally offering me the job.  After this process I declined their offer.  It was a pay rise, too, but everything pointed to working with them being a nightmare.  (I'm angry again after recanting that haha). 

Wouldn't bother with them for freelance work, unless it's a particularly big project and/or paid. 

Offline Gil

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #7 on: January 20, 2015, 05:46:33 pm
Just a note, but some employers will allow you to use these art tests for portfolio use, in which case it can be useful to do them as the time isn't wasted if you don't get the job.

Offline Indigo

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #8 on: January 20, 2015, 06:31:34 pm
I see many artists get really upset over the idea of art tests, and to be honest I've always been annoyed by that reaction.  If it's a job you want, you want to show to them you can accomplish what they need.  A lot of times it's not even a test of your abilities so much as a test of your work dynamics/ethics.

I've been on both sides of this coin.  I've completed art tests and I've given them.  I personally try to compensate for the ones I give.  But every job I've had so far has required an art test and I've always treated them as a challenge to not only complete the test, but to "one-up" them.  It's an excellent tool to help you stand out above any other candidates they're considering.

One example: at A Bit Lucky they gave me an art test for making 8 directional isometric trains.  What I turned in was an entire 3D-to-Pixelart pipeline that accomplished 16 directional trains in half the time.  I was immediately hired.

Offline Helm

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #9 on: January 20, 2015, 08:47:23 pm
I've done art tests, I see nothing wrong with them as long as they're not asking for extensive work, just to see if you can pull off a certain thing a little ouside your portfolio or something, sure. I've never been ripped off via art test.

Offline hapiel

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #10 on: January 21, 2015, 06:49:43 pm
One example: at A Bit Lucky they gave me an art test for making 8 directional isometric trains.  What I turned in was an entire 3D-to-Pixelart pipeline that accomplished 16 directional trains in half the time.  I was immediately hired.

Offtopic: Indigo, you should do another blogpost on how professional game artists should save time and energy!!!!

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #11 on: January 23, 2015, 12:48:57 am
As a programmer there's always a test. --> Unless you have a very solid connection on the inside of the team.
They can be pretty open ended and last a few hours.
Even if you get a handful of questions wrong there's still a good chance to get hired.
The test is more about you and less about answers.

And being current is really important.
If you made something 10 years ago that was great, but can't make anything now, it's not of much use.

But I have to say I prefer trial periods rather than tests.
Just because it can take some time to ramp up potential.

Still, I think tests are good.
It forces you to prove who you are.
To yourself and others.
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #12 on: January 23, 2015, 02:07:28 am
Thanks for all the insight guys; most of you had the much more optimistic mindset about it ( maybe im just pessimistic lately :P).

I definitely see the merit in proving oneself, and if anything, every time you open up a program and work it's an opportunity to better yourself.

However, on the practical side, if your portfolio is solid enough, and the employer can't see you being a fit for the project, I wonder about their ability to assess art in general ( it only takes one horror story of a ridiculous amount of revisions to make one sour).

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #13 on: January 23, 2015, 02:25:07 am
Quote
maybe im just pessimistic lately :P
No worries.
It's natural to not want to waste time.
But try to see past that a bit or lots of things will appear to be a waste of time.

Quote
and the employer can't see you being a fit for the project, I wonder about their ability to assess art in general
Depending on the team your personality means more than your art.
I'd add a mediocre artist with a great sense of team and open mindedness over an amazing artist that doesn't give a fuck and starts ridiculous fights any day.
There's no way to get a sense of that by looking at your portfolio.
Some tests are great for finding that sort of stuff out.
Others are not so great.

The opposite is true as well.
You can test them as much as they test you.
One thing I like to do before working with or for anyone is to do a few game jams on a whiteboard.
The team dynamic is revealed pretty quickly.
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #14 on: January 25, 2015, 05:39:11 pm
you might have a nice portfolio but the employer doesnt really know how long it takes you to make a piece. For all they know you might take a week to do the simplest piece you've shown and the best one took you years. You might also estimate really badly and say you'll complete something in a day but then it takes you a month, they dont know.
That is on top of the teamwork aspect that everyone mentioned, which is of course really key. But you're nice as can be, I wouldnt worry.

PS: why is THIS http://s251.photobucket.com/user/Chriskhaos/media/ChrisKhaos%20pixel%20folio/sal7d.gif.html?sort=3&o=49 in your portfolio? it's not easy to know it's an edit O_o did you just forget it was in the album?

EDIT: I got thinking about your whole "can he asses art?" attitude. in general you dont want to expect too much out of a client that way, if he could do it as well as you do maybe he could just do the art and not hire you. There are advantages and disadvantages to having a not very artistic client, but if you dont resent their lack of knowledge it might mean you can advice them in what direction to take the art.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 05:28:06 am by Conceit »

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #15 on: January 27, 2015, 03:33:27 am
Everybody bugs me about that a lot, how much trouble do you guys go to get to my old photobucket anyway? :blind: I never show it to clients. I always used to put pixel edits in there because it was close enough, in the sense that it was all pixel art. I guess I shall have to dig into that ancient account and fix it >.>

I see both of you talking about teamwork/ the artist's temperament, which of course is very important; but is it ok to rob the artist of their time for reasons such as that when a couple emails/ interview can decide most of that just as well? ( as much as can be known, of course. Often people show true colors much later than this)

And for time, this is mostly only an issue with paid by hour stuff ( which is common enough) as opposed to asset based payment. Months and years I know is an exaggeration, but I would not think it's common in the industry that someone would be producing quality work, but at such slow a pace that it impedes development greatly. Unless they keep redoing assets of their own accord, in which the client boss should just tell them to stop :p

A lot of the points you are making seem to be for art tests in general. Are any of these points enough to warrant not paying an artist for their time if they've gotten this far in the selection process?

Offline Helm

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #16 on: January 27, 2015, 07:43:57 am
Quote
I always used to put pixel edits in there because it was close enough, in the sense that it was all pixel art.

No no.

Offline yaomon17

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #17 on: January 27, 2015, 08:02:52 am
Quote
I always used to put pixel edits in there because it was close enough, in the sense that it was all pixel art.

No no.
I kindly and respectfully ask for further explanation.  :)

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #18 on: January 27, 2015, 12:22:54 pm
What I mean is that it was simply a better place to upload, not a place to show off. Like I've said, not only is that account and it's contents ancient, but I never showed the folder to any clients after I started dumping edits in there. Either way, I cleaned it up just for you guys so can we please not make this thread about my photobucket account?

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #19 on: January 27, 2015, 02:52:57 pm
OH, I mentioned your photobucket because you mention your portfolio here and you dont link it, and TBH I was just really curious about it so I googled ya and that yielded a pixelation portfolio topic which linked to that account as part of your portfolio. Sorry man didnt mean to derail.

You are right I did kind of read the responses gearing more towards defending the value of art tests and continue on that path, when what you really asked about was UNPAID art tests.

I think it's definitively safer and more confidence building for the artist if the test is paid, I'm always thankful for that. That is ideal but I dont think a test that takes a few hours (hopefully not more than a day? I think every artist has an inmaginary line drawn in their head) is bad enough that it gives me a bad feeling about the whole thing. Now, if the client just happens to be awful in the test then THAT is bad, but assuming all other things seem right it's short enough to be negotiable IMO

Offline Helm

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #20 on: January 27, 2015, 07:49:40 pm
I don't think putting other people's artwork that you've edited, even if the edit is super-extensive is professional or even a good idea in a sneaky sense since you wouldn't be able to reproduce that style readily if that's what you're hired for. I hope I haven't misunderstood and that's what Ryu is talking about.

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #21 on: January 28, 2015, 12:56:06 am
What I got from his reply is that he hasnt used that photobucket as portfolio since he added those edits. I was the one to bring it into the topic here thinking that was still his current portfolio

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #22 on: January 29, 2015, 01:28:47 am
Quote
A lot of the points you are making seem to be for art tests in general. Are any of these points enough to warrant not paying an artist for their time if they've gotten this far in the selection process?
From my personal perspective:
I don't expect to be paid for everything I do, especially not a test.
When I give people tests I don't pay them.

In general:
Tests can be poorly designed.
Or intentionally designed to rip people off.
Random rumor:
I've heard some stories about 5th Cell, local studio in my area, flying in "unpaid intern artists" with a "chance of employment" after evaluation from other states.
The evaluation period lasted a month or so, during which they were put to work on a current project.
Then when it was over they were not given an offer for further employment, in which case most flew home.
The programmers on the team watched this happen over and over, while the CEO would chuckle and brag about how much money they were saving.
Is that true?
I dunno maybe.
Point being, that's a really terrible test.

I think unless a test is intentionally approaching that type of crazy, even if poorly designed, is totally valid to be given and taken without compensation.
A few hours of time is definitely valuable, and I can understand the feeling of it being wasted.
But I don't think that always equates to money.

I'm not trying to be right here, there isn't much to prove.
I could just be rationalizing how I feel about money so that I am not dissapointed.
Oh you'll pay me for this test? --> excellent
Oh you won't pay me for this test? --> excellent

It's really up to you to decide how you want to feel about it.
If you find it necessary to negotiate payment for a test, go for it.
It could potentially be a mistake to accept an offer without having a say in it.

Also I think hourly and per asset payment are very counter productive to creative process and tend to make everyone involved unhappy.
And with that sort of view, I think tests fall outside of work.

Quote
I don't think putting other people's artwork that you've edited, even if the edit is super-extensive is professional or even a good idea in a sneaky sense since you wouldn't be able to reproduce that style readily if that's what you're hired for. I hope I haven't misunderstood and that's what Ryu is talking about.
Disagree, depending on context.
I put edits on my blog in a separate tab, but present them as what they are.
http://kirkbarnett.blogspot.com/p/edits.html
There's actually a few in other tabs I need to move there.  :blind:
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline Helm

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #23 on: January 29, 2015, 11:18:26 am
You disagree but why? There is merit in showing that you can critique the work of co-workers if needed or even do second passes on stuff, but that's more an art director skill imo - in any case, seeing how you've clearly mentioned they're edits and you can see the original as well, the only thing I would add in your place is the name of the original artist and a link to their stuff if possible under their art.

Offline ptoing

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #24 on: January 29, 2015, 08:50:59 pm
Strongly agree here. Always state the context. If it is an edit from a game, state the name of the game. If it is by some other artist, state their name/handle and link to any site they might have or something like a PJ/DA profile, or whatever, anything.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #25 on: January 29, 2015, 10:57:36 pm
Agrred, citations are definitely needed.
I think about that sometimes, but then end up doing other things.
Thanks for the reminder.
My blog is a slow work in progress.
There was a time when the original art wasn't even shown to the left of my edit.  :blind:

Quote
You disagree but why?
Well, easy.
To open the conversation.
We've gone from, no, to sneaky and bad idea, to I do it, to that has merit but perhaps as an art director.
That's productive.

Which is a little funny to me because in the film animation world, the lead guy pumps out lots and lots of rough drawings, while the clean up artists do the 2nd pass and make sure everything is on model with the character and style.
Altho I can see it the other way as well.
Both orders seem valid depending on the team.

And that seems like a skill that is valuable to pretty much anyone.
A second pass can mean a lot of different things.
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline Helm

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Re: Unpaid art tests: Your thoughts

Reply #26 on: February 01, 2015, 07:08:36 pm
Honestly it's not opinion drift, it's different circumstances, just sticking an edit amongst other owned pieces is as I said, sneaky and a bad idea.