If you’re looking to personalize or brand your channel with unique artwork, you can either create it yourself or commission a professional. If you’ve never commissioned an artist before, it can be an intimidating process. We’ll walk you through the steps, teach you the etiquette, and show you what to do should any problems arise. If you’re curious about where to find artists, as well as resources to utilize if you want to create your own digital assets, we’ve got you covered for that too!
Where to Find Artists to Commission
There are loads of different websites you can commission artists from. Certain sites like Fiverr and Etsy have buyer protection and can issue you a refund if anything goes wrong. If you commission an artist directly from their website (or Twitter, Instagram, etc.) this is more beneficial to the artist but doesn’t always protect the buyer. There are many great, trustworthy artists on Twitter but there are many scammers too. If you do sufficient research beforehand, you can protect yourself from untrustworthy or fraudulent “artists.”
Social Media Sites
Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Twitch, Facebook, etc.
Fiverr, Upwork, etc.
Etsy, Booth, Creative Market, etc.
DeviantArt, Pixiv and Skeb (both of these sites are Japanese but offer some English support), etc.
How to Spot Scammers
As the need for digital assets increases, scammers and “GFX bots” have been popping up all over the internet. Fortunately, they are fairly easy to spot.
- Little to no samples of their artwork
- Artwork samples lack a consistent style
- Artwork samples may contain other artists’ watermarks (seriously!)
- Little to no links to other social media accounts
- New user or profile (less than one year old)
- Follower count is low compared to amount of people they’re following
- Generic name with “GFX” used (for example, “GFXforU” or “GFXPro1989”)
- Very eager to work with you (may slide into your DMs)
An artist who is very new to the game may resemble a GFX bot (i.e. low follower count, few samples of their work, may pop in your DMs) but with a few key differences. Actual artists usually have a style, medium, and type of content they specialize in. A GFX bot will take any job, no matter what it is. Emotes? Sure. Animated loading screen? Of course. Live 2D VTuber model? No problem! If something feels “off” or “too good to be true,” trust your instincts.
Steps Involved in the Commissioning Process
Once you’ve found an artist you like, read their TOS (terms of service) thoroughly and check if their commissions are open. If you agree to their terms and are satisfied with their prices, turnaround time, etc. you can proceed to start the commissioning process.
Artists will usually have their preferred method of contact (DM, form, email, etc.) listed. Be specific about what you want and when you need it. Provide reference images if you can. Be clear about what you want to use the work for (personal, business, merch, etc.).
If the artist agrees to take on the commission, they’ll let you know. Most artists will not start any work until they have received your payment.
Payment (Either half or in full)
Occasionally, you can request to pay half of your commission upfront and the other half once you receive proofs of the final work. Not every artist will agree to this, however.
Some artists will send sketches for your approval before moving on to linework, rendering, etc. If you’re unclear whether your artist will send sketches or not, be sure to ask in advance.
Final Payment (n/a if already paid in full)
The artist will send you a photo of the work for your approval and final payment. Once you have paid, they will usually email you the files or provide you with a dropbox link.
You can now download your artwork and use it according to the guidelines the artist has listed in their TOS. For example, if you want to use the artist’s design for merch, you’ll most likely have to pay extra for licensing fees.
There is a lot of unspoken etiquette among artists and creatives in general. Let’s talk about the “Do’s and Don'ts” of properly commissioning an artist and using your commission appropriately.
- Do read the artist’s TOS thoroughly before commissioning.
- Do tip if the option is given and is customary for the country (Japan, for example, does not have tipping culture).
- Do ask the artist questions if you’re unsure of anything.
- Do tag the artist and give them credit wherever you use your commission.
- Don’t use your commission for business or monetary gain (merch, for example) unless you’ve received explicit permission from the artist.
- Don’t haggle with artists over their prices.
- Don’t sell your commission or share the files with anyone.
When Problems Arise
If you’ve thoroughly researched your artist, there’s a good chance you won’t experience too many issues. However, if you run into problems along the way, there are a few steps you can take to smooth things over.
Determine Who Is at Fault
Firstly, if you find that you aren’t happy with your commission, you need to determine who is “to blame,” so to speak. For example, if you and your artist agreed on 6 weeks for the commission and it’s been 8 weeks, the artist is at fault. If the artist illustrated everything to the specifications you outlined but you still aren’t happy with the result, you might be at fault for choosing an artist who doesn’t specialize in the style you want. Try to look at the situation objectively.
Define Exactly What Is Wrong
Before you approach the artist, make sure you can define the problem in simple terms. Furthermore, have an ideal solution in mind that you can propose. If your commission is past due, note how long it is overdue and when you need it by. If you’re not happy with the artwork, state exactly what you dislike about it and ask if the artist can re-do specific parts. Remember that artists have their own TOS and they may charge you for (or refuse) revisions.
Talk to the Artist
Always talk to the artist directly before making a complaint or leaving a bad review. Remember that artists sometimes work full time jobs on top of commissions to support themselves, so allow them a few days to get back to you. Most artists genuinely care whether their clients are satisfied and are willing to work with you (within reason) to make things right. Approach them with politeness and understanding even if you’re irritated or upset.
Come to a New Agreement
Once you’ve outlined the problem, see if you can come to a new understanding. If the artwork is late, propose a 1 week extension with penalties if the artist is late again (a percentage of your commission refunded, for example).
Contact a Higher Authority
If the artist fails to meet the terms of the second agreement, only then is it considered appropriate (and justified) to contact customer support of the website you used (Fiverr or Etsy, for example) to issue a complaint. Most sites will side with the buyer, especially if you present a strong case. If you don’t have a site that can act as a third party intermediary, you can issue a chargeback if you paid through PayPal. It is strongly recommended to only do this as a last resort, as this can put artists in very difficult situations financially.
When in Doubt, DIY
Not every streamer has funds available for commissioned artwork. If you’d like to try making some digital assets yourself, there are a lot of resources available. Remember that while some people are naturally talented artists, anyone can learn to make art with practice and persistence. Instead of telling yourself, “I can’t draw,” let your new motto be, “I can’t draw, yet.”
Streamlabs has two easy-to-use tools available to help you create unique, custom emotes for your channel. The newest tool, Emote Maker, works similarly to digital drawing apps which use layers to recolor, resize, and move different aspects of the artwork. There are lots of emote templates to choose from which you can customize to your liking. The second, Logo Maker, also offers templates and lets you add text, shapes, and more. Both of these tools should be able to cover all of your emote-related needs!
Overlays and Loading Screens
Streamlabs has tons (seriously!) of overlays available for creators. There are premium overlays available with a Ultra membership, many of which include animated transitions as well as complementary loading screens. Some even have matching themes for your custom tip page to make sure your channel is as polished as can be. We also have a lot of free overlays available with matching alerts—you can set up as many scenes as you want in Streamlabs Desktop and change the entire look of your stream at the click of your mouse.
Check out our guide for creating your own 3D VTuber avatar with VRoid Studio. Our post on free VTuber software talks about the different options available for VTuber model creation and also mentions a few sites where you can purchase premade avatars.
Though commissioning an artist for digital assets isn’t as straightforward as clicking “add to cart” and entering your credit card information, don’t let that deter you. There are many talented artists out there who would love to work with you in providing unique, quality art for your channel. You can also try your hand at making assets yourself with the resources we listed above. Either way, we recommend personalizing your channel with cohesive branding to really stand out among the crowd.