Outsourcing is the practice of sending work or a job function outside of a company to be produced by an individual or firm. Most companies turn to outsourcing to decrease operational costs, improve employee productivity, and or meet business objectives. Outsourcing occurs in almost every industry and is quickly becoming the norm for print and digital art e.g. 2D and 3D illustration, animation, photography, etc.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with day-to-day operations and keeping up with the growing demand of art assets or you had a bad experience with outsourcing in the past, you’ve come to the right place. This blog provides tips on how to choose a design agency that can produce quality art, on time and within your budget.
Step 1: Planning
Before searching for a design agency, it is IMPORTANT that you have a clear vision of what you want. Art studios rely on details to create art that not only fulfills the goal of a project but meets your expectations. Thus, it is unrealistic to expect stellar work if you fail to accurately describe the scope of your project. After nailing down the project details it is now time to determine a budget.
Budgets are one of the most, if not the most, important aspect of working with an art studio. It is imperative that you quantify everything, even the minor details and leave nothing unaccounted for. Keep in mind changing a budget mid-project can have devastating effects on your bottom line and puts you at risk of missing project deadlines.
After you check, double check, and triple check that your ideas are well thought out and the budget is in place, you now have the materials you need to look for a design studio.
Step 2: Researching Design Studios
If you haven’t already guessed, the best place to find a design studio is via search engines. They provide thousands of options for you to choose from with a simple click of your mouse. To narrow down your options, start with the first page of the search engine results page (SERP). Visit each website and glance at their portfolio. This will help you determine if the agency produces quality work, the work appeals to you, and the agency has experience with similar projects or genres. If none of the agencies on the first page of the SERP strikes your fancy, continue your search on the second page.
There is an abundance of reputable design studios out there and it is important that you realize their services tend to be pricier. This is because they offer quality work, are reliable, and great at bringing your ideas to life. With that being said, different strokes for different folks and you have to decide what works best for your budget, firm, and project.
Step 3: Design Studio Selection
After selecting your top design studios, give them a call to learn more about them. Probe them with tons of questions and don’t hold back! Their responses should give you an idea of what kind of company they are e.g. professional, experienced, capable of delivering what you need, etc. At the end of the phone call don’t forget to ask for samples. Samples are a great way to determine a studio’s design style and capabilities.
After reviewing the samples in great detail you should narrow down your candidates and request a test asset with a non-disclosure agreement. This is important for two reasons. One, it will help you determine if the studio can design what you need and want. Two, you can inspect their quality of work, development, and delivery processes. Test assets are the last task before selecting the design studio. Under no circumstances should you select a design studio without a thorough review of test assets.
Step 4: Provide the Design Studio with Materials
After selecting the design studio it is important to give them everything they need to get your project started e.g. scope, specs, deadlines, materials, etc. As previously stated, design studios are not miracle workers and it is important for you to give them the tools they need to do their job.
Step 5: Negotiate, negotiate and negotiate some more
By now the design studio should have a clear vision of your project, gathered all of the necessary materials, and understand what is expected of them. It is now time for contract negotiations. Regardless of how the design studio delivers the art (e.g. project basis or asset basis) you should negotiate that your art is delivered in phases. This will help you in the following ways:
- Motivate the studio to stay on track;
- Allow your company meet deadlines;
- Allow you to create a time cushion in the event there are unforeseen circumstances; and
- Give you access to the assets in a timely manner in case there are discrepancies.
Another thing to consider is the frequency of payment. Avoid paying on an hourly basis to save both time and money. If you negotiate the phases for the delivery of your art you should consider paying them at that time. Last but not least, you should determine the rates before contract negotiation. A little work goes a long way and ensures you will not be overcharged for art.
Step 6: Skip Steps 1-5 and Give Us a Call
So there you have it. Outsourcing can be a terrific resource if you plan ahead, select a good studio, provide ample specifications and maintain a high level of communication and management throughout the project.
Still hesitant about finding a quality design studio? Check out our portfolio and give us a call. We have over 27 years of experience creating quality art for companies in higher education, trade associations, small companies, and individuals with singular projects.