If you are looking for someone to create a book cover, draw a comic page, make a logo, or make some sort of graphic art for your Science Fiction project, without spending your allowance or budget for the entire year, here are five resources for graphic art that keep the quality without sacrificing the affordability.

The most difficult part of getting graphic art done is finding someone to do it.  These five resources will give you a place to get started, finding people to work on your project, but what are most people looking for? Most independent Science Fiction producers I have talked with in our Save Sci-Fi community have simple needs. Here are some of the possible reasons they have expressed the need for a graphic artist to me.

 Most common reasons people need free or cheap graphic art or artists for their independent project.

 1. Authors that need a book cover.

One of the most common needs for graphic art and graphic artists I have seen working with Save Sci-Fi is book covers and book graphic art.  Many authors, publish independently and many times that leads to more productive publishing deals with further books. As an independent author, publishing your own book, finding an artist that won’t charge you a months pay for their work and can get it done the way you want, can be hard to find.  Most authors and independents tend to contract their work in their own circles of influence.  The thought being, if I am going to pay someone to do something, I might as well pay a friend or colleague.  While this is noble and sounds good, often times you are paying far more than contracting outside of your circles.  After all, you want to be fair to the people in your groups.
Don’t take it the wrong way, but this is costing you money that you shouldn’t have to pay.  And while friends and family that provide a service mean well, they are often not as qualified and charge more, because they often charge on a basis of “what is the average cost of someone doing the work I am going to do for you.”  I understand your uncle could use that extra $100.00 for the book cover he is making for you to pay his child support, but you need to get your project out there, and you are going to have a hard time doing it all if you are paying too much.

2. Website logos and graphics.

At Save Sci-Fi, I talk with a lot of webmasters for various Sci-Fi projects, and the majority tells me that graphic art, and logos for their websites are some of the most time consuming part of website building.  How easy would it be to have someone else create the graphic art that is needed and just work on filling the pages with content? Images don’t bring new customers or fans to your project as much as words indexed in Google do.  Writing quality articles will provide you more quality searches than an image will. Before you argue this point, consider this – Most people that visit your website because they saw or searched for your image, just want the image.  They copy it then leave your website without ever reading anything.  They aren’t customers or fans, they are leeches. But people that search for keywords that pertain to what your website contains, are far more likely to become customers, or fans and come back or join your community.

The problem comes back to cost.  Where can you get images or where can you find someone to make the graphics you want without paying or without paying too much?  You need images for free, or you need inexpensive or cheap custom art or logos.  Skip to the resources below to find out how. I also suggest reading the other reasons why you might need free or cheap graphic art resources for your project.

3. CD or DVD art.

So you have made a Sci-Fi music CD, or an independent movie DVD. You are going to need some interesting art to capture the attention of potential fans or buyers.  This, like the book cover, will require specific direction by you and artist expertise by the graphic artist. That combination can cost a lot of money, but doesn’t have to.  Most people think that this kind of art is expensive because they hear or read about this producer or that distributor paying large amounts of money to an artist for their design.  Our natural instinct is to find an average cost of all of these reports.  But that is not the true cost value of this kind of art, it is the high end cost.  Telling someone how you only spent ten dollars for your DVD cover doesn’t make a good story or get people interested as well as saying you spent a thousand dollars.  Being thrifty doesn’t mean you are cheap, it means you are smart.  Get your art done for less, and spend that money you saved on marketing and advertising.  That’s far more productive. Let me stress this point again. Don’t pay too much for project art! That is like the government spending a thousand dollars each for toilet seats in the whitehouse bathrooms.  While your visitors, important people I am sure, will appreciate it, the people that support you or even provide donations won’t.

There are many reasons you might need free, cheap or inexpensive graphic art for your project, and the above are just three that I have found most common.  Whatever your reason, these resources should help you find what you are looking for or save you some money.

5 Resources for graphic art that are often over looked.

 

1. Fiverr: How daft do you have to be to think that you can get high quality graphic art for only five dollars?  Not daft at all actually.  I would call it smart, or downright brilliant! There are some amazing artists hawking their skills and art on fiverr for a mere five bucks. To ask why, you have only to look at the skilled labor in economically poor countries like India, or the Philippines.  There is a high percentage of college and university graduates, in these countries, that finish their degrees and are thrown into an economy that doesn’t have the need or pay to employ them. To people in these countries, a website like fiverr provides them with some sort of income while they are looking for their long term employment.  Though, many of the artists I have met that use fiverr to find gigs, and sell their works for five dollars tell me that they make very good money doing it. Consider this avenue and browse their sections, it might be one of the most thrifty investments of five bucks you can make. If you don’t get exactly what you want, are you going to be very upset about a five dollar loss? You can try 20 different artists for the cost of one.  With that many options, you are bound to get something you want or can use.

2. Odesk, Elance: Why accept the price of someones work when you can set the price and let people explain why they are the best for your job?  On Odesk and Elance, you explain what you want and how much you want to pay, and artists bid on your project.  Let them find you instead of working so hard to find them.  This can save you both time and money. You don’t have to search as much and highly skilled artists will bid on your project, obviously higher quality and lower price will be a deciding factor.  There are some things you should be careful about on these sites.  Unlike fiverr, if you don’t get what you want you could spend a lot of money for something that shouldn’t cost as much.  Though, you can get extremely high quality graphic art for a reasonable or cheap price. I suggest also reading this article to learn how to do it right. 5 Worst mistakes when hiring workers on odesk or elance.

3. Free stock image sites: Be careful! Many image stock websites list their services as free but aren’t actually free.  How they can get away with this is beyond me. But there are a few stock image websites that do provide actual free images for your website or project, no strings attached.

Morguefile:  This one is completely free, no strings attached and has a pretty large selection.  The search is intuitive and easy to use and there is nothing you need to sign up for or register.  You can register if you want, but it isn’t necessary.

Dreamstime:  This site has many free stock images to choose from, though you must be a registered user to download them. Use an email address you don’t care about, download what you want and get out.  Not too much hassle for another few tens of thousands of images to look through.

MS Clipart: This is an oldie but goodie.  Don’t pass it up just because, well, whatever your reason.  It is easy to search, easy to download, and completely free.  What more can you ask for?

RGBstock: Here’s another image site like dreamstime.  They offer free stock images, but require registration to download them.

ImageBase: Another great completely free resource for stock images.  No strings attached! Download, and use them as you like so long as you are not reselling them as is.

FreeImagesUK: This site offers free stock images, but is a little less searchable.  You can search inside of categories, but the categories are not always intuitive.  All they ask is that you attribute them for the images you use in your works.

If you know of another completely free, stock photo website, let me know in the comments.

4. Craig’s List: From personal experience, I can say this is a great place to find skilled artists for a good price.  If you stick to the right areas.  One of the best places is Manilla, Philippines.  Many artists out of college, or looking for supplemental income browse the job adds on the Manilla Craig’s List for work.  Though this method can reward you with great art for a very reasonable price, you really have to shop the applicants that respond to your job post.  Make sure they can deliver.  Most payments work through PayPal, and if you are looking for a Virtual Assistant Graphic Designer, someone that can just keep pumping out graphic art for you, this is a great place to look.

Personally, I hired a Virtual Assistant from the Philippines who helps me with my internet workload for about $300 hundred per month. The difficulty is creating an application and finding the right person for the job.  That took a lot of work on my part.  If you want an easier way to find a graphic arts virtual assistant, there are many companies that will do the heavy lifting, searching and screening for you for a reasonable price.

5. Virtual Staff Finder: If you are looking for a skilled person for long term projects, as I explained above about Craig’s list, a Philippine Virtual Assistant is a great idea.  But using Craig’s list limits you to people that are looking only on Craig’s list.  That worked for me, but I was looking for a web designer, not a graphic artist.  For example, let’s say you have a Sci-Fi story that you want to turn into a comic, but you need an artist and have a strict independent budget.  You could get lucky and find an artist on Craig’s list, but there is no substitute for being in Manilla when searching for people.  Virtual Staff Finder will do the footwork for you.  You tell them what kind of skilled person you are looking for, and they promise to find three people that can fill the position. If the first round doesn’t work, they offer to try again for you and find three more people.  It’s reasonable if you need specific quality for a reasonable price.

Why hire a Virtual Assistant from the Philippines?

Besides the obvious benefit of skilled freelance work for very low prices, it is also a boon to the person you hire.  The average monthly pay for a Philippine worker is only a few hundred dollars a month. Click the proceeding link for a good resource for seeing the pay scales of different workers from non-skilled to skilled labor in the Philippines. Philippine Average Monthly Salaries. If you hire a Freelance Filipino worker for a few hundred dollars per month, you are paying them more than they would probably get in the local work force, if they could even find work to begin with.  The numbers in the link doesn’t include the high number of unemployed or under-employed.

Virtual Staff Finder also provides your freelance worker with a place to work, with reliable internet and other necessary tools.  For people who need more than just a single freelance job done, this is an affordable option you shouldn’t over-look.

More resources?

This is a small list of items that I have found most useful to my projects or to my network partner’s projects.  If you know or use a resource that is not mentioned here, please share it with us. Tell us in the comments section your own recommendations.  If I add your resource to this list, I will add a link to your project or website as the contributor.

Good luck and Stay Creative, It’s Good For You.
– Grin

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