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Hired freelance artist doesn't understand or perhaps can't do what I (the client) need

631ea219
Active Member
Stuart R Member Since: May 9, 2021
1 of 9

I hired a computer artist for a project featuring illustrations set in a certain country and period, along the lines of "I need you to illustrate this story set in the 1920s in Paris."  I described what I needed in writing, but the first drafts of the drawings that came back were not close.

 

It's not that they were 90% correct and I'm just being super picky: the illustrations are in a cartoon style, and virtually everything can be rendered simply -- but I simply can't have my 1920s hero appear in the middle of a set for a story set in another decade on another continent.

 

I relayed my concerns polightly, and the artist then suggested I send concrete examples (photos/illustrations) showing exactly what I need. I spent a number of hours gathering images and sent dozens of them showing very close approximations of what I'd like in our project. Examples: "Here is a photo of the outside of a 1920s bistro - let's use that same facade for our restaurant, but change the name" or "Can the girl wear a beret like that, but in red?" and "Here is what the dog should look like - a white poodle with ribbons." 

 

From this, I get an illustration of a restaurant - in Paris, yes - but from the 1960s if not later; a hat perches on the head like a beret but is absolutely not a beret; and a brown terrier who looks very smart in his ribbons but is still a brown terrier. 

 

The artist is from another part of the world and their English language skills are not (as far as I can see) very sophisticated. I don't know if what we have is a language barrier, or if what I am asking is beyong the artist's skill set, or perhaps beyond the time they feel they can devote to the project. The illustrations I've gotten are actually very finished and have a lot of detail -- they're just not the right ones. Either I'm not communicating well, the artist can't understand what is being said, or they don't have the skill set or perhaps the time to give me what I want, so they are finding illustrations from  other sources and sending those that are at least *a little bit* like what I have requested and hoping for the best.

 

I can't take any more time to explain and correct.

 

Successful or not, the artist has put in several hours of work at least, and I am okay with paying a percentage of the fixed fee that is in escrow. However, I feel I need to find another solution, and need to reclaim the majority of the money so I can hire someone else.  I'll also say that I feel no need to leave a terrible review for this person - it's more like a relationship that didn't work out. 

 

What can and should I do?

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 9

re: "Hired freelance artist doesn't understand or perhaps can't do what I (the client) need... What can and should I do?"

 

Hire somebody else.

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
3 of 9

I have commissioned a lot of artwork on Upwork.

 

Typically I write a complete "brief", which describes what should be in the illustration and any technical details such as dimensions, resolution, etc.

I post the brief as the job posting, or the job posting links to a text file.

 

Then I hire artists and I DON'T TALK TO THEM at all.

 

I don't go back and forth with artists. I certainly don't mentor them. I usually don't answer questions if they send me any. I just tell them that all the details are in the brief.

 

I believe that many of the artists I have hired - in fact, some of the ones who have done some of the best work for me - don't speak English. But I don't really know for sure because I never tried to talk to them. I believe that some of them have used Google Translate to understand the briefs, or have asked friends to translate the briefs for them.

 

I have been immensely pleased with the results I have obtained from hiring artists on Upwork.

 

If I get results that I don't like, I'm not required to use them. When I hire multiple artists to work on a concept, I'll typically have a few favorites, a few in the middle of the pack, and sometimes (NOT always!) pieces that I don't like.

 

I have found commissioning artwork to be fun, easy and inexpensive.

 

I hire based on what I see in artists' portfolios. Here are just a few examples of artwork I obtained from Upwork artists who I did NOT interview and DID NOT TALK to...

 

Potluck_Raheela_Saleem.png

potluck_dinner_James_Morr.png

Potluck_Dinner_Daria_Ermolina.png

pradeephele
Moderator
Pradeep H Moderator Member Since: Jan 11, 2021
4 of 9

Hello Stuart,

 

You can cancel the contract anytime and request an escrow refund if your Freelancer is unable to submit expected deliverable after multiple revision requests. You can either release partial milestone payment or request full refund of escrow amount. Your Freelancer will have seven days to respond to the request. If they approve the refund or fail to respond within the seven days, the money in escrow will be returned to you. Your Freelancer may decline the request as well and file an escrow dispute. If you do not respond to the dispute in seven days, funds will be released to the freelancer or agency. Feel freel to message if you need further assistance.

 

Thank you

Pradeep H.

Untitled
feed_my_eyes
Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
5 of 9

Are you sure that the freelancer is actually creating these illustrations? Because it sounds to me like they might be searching stock websites and sending you existing illustrations or compilations. Try doing a reverse image search on Google and see what happens. 

 

It shouldn't matter if there's a language barrier or not; if you sent them a sample of a poodle with ribbons and they sent you back a terrier, the simple explanation might be that they couldn't find a free stock illustration of a poodle wearing ribbons. If an illustrator is capable of drawing a terrier, then they should be capable of drawing a poodle.

 

If you want to hire a different freelancer, I suggest using an hourly contract and disabling manual time. Limit the contract to 2-3 hours initially, then check the screen captures to see if they're actually drawing something, using professional software. (And even then, you can't be 100% sure that they aren't copying an illustration that they have up on a different monitor, but at least you can see whether they actually have any drawing skills or not.)

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
6 of 9

Continuing to work with this freelancer is a waste of my time.

 

I am simply releasing the escrow payment and closing the contract.

 

I am hiring four other artists whose portfolios demonstrate artwork that I like, and which fit the style I need for the project. I am hiring them using hourly contracts, paying their posted rates. I am asking them to work on the project for an hour. They have all received the same assignment.

 

After I see what they submit, I will choose one of them to complete the project.

calvo_juan
Community Leader
Juan C Member Since: Nov 21, 2013
7 of 9

Despite the experience you have with this freelancer, the idea of sending a brief to get work for cheap without establishing further communication with an artist will only serve you to obtain work that looks generic at best, as demonstrated on this thread. To promote this idea only helps solidifying Upwork's reputation as being not the best place to build a relevant art or design career. I understand this is not a problem for Upwork because they make money from every little tiny transaction, but if there is any intention to improve the site it would be best not to spread bad ideas all over the forum, every day, all day, almost with professional dedication.

feed_my_eyes
Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
8 of 9

Juan C wrote:

Despite the experience you have with this freelancer, the idea of sending a brief to get work for cheap without establishing further communication with an artist will only serve you to obtain work that looks generic at best, as demonstrated on this thread. To promote this idea only helps solidifying Upwork's reputation as being not the best place to build a relevant art or design career. I understand this is not a problem for Upwork because they make money from every little tiny transaction, but if there is any intention to improve the site it would be best not to spread bad ideas all over the forum, every day, all day, almost with professional dedication.


I completely agree, but thankfully I've never had a client who refused to speak to me or answer any questions; I believe that Preston is unique in this approach.

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 9

re: "thankfully I've never had a client who refused to speak to me or answer any questions"

 

I agree.

That would be bad.

 

"Refuse to speak?" No. Those are your words, not mine.

 

Obviously I wouldn't have a 4.99 rating as a client after hiring over 100 freelancers (mostly artists) if I refused to speak to artists or answer their questions.

 

The freelancers I have hired have appreciated having clear instructions and artist freedom to interpret the briefs as they see fit.

 

I'm not here to tell any client how they should hire artists. These are ideas that have worked well for me:

Communicate effectively and professionally with artists.

If the artist has a question, answer the question.

But don't over-communicate.

 

I have found that some artists understand right off the bat that they already have all of the information necessary in the brief. But other artists ask some questions and those questions are typically already answered in the brief. So when I point that out to them, they quickly realize that this isn't a micro-managed project, but one that lets them interpret the brief as they choose.