Disclaimer: James reached out to me directly in advance of his project going live and asked if I would be willing to share my thoughts about it when it went live. He provided the sample artwork used in this piece and a pre-launch preview of the campaign.
If you’re operating on the smaller end of the publishing scale like I am then one of the things you quickly learn is that artwork is expensive (and rightly so given the work that is involved). It’s why I use stock and royalty free artwork as much as possible. Amongst the artists producing stock art specifically for RPGs the one that I have turned to repeatedly is J. E. Shields, thanks to his consistent style and extensive catalogue across a range of genres.
His latest Kickstarter has just launched and is focused on 3 genres where stock art is often limited to come by – modern, the Cthulhu mythos and science fiction. Each genre will receive a mix of art covering full page/cover art, vehicles, half-page scenes, effects, characters and items. While the artwork will initially be black and white line art the stretch goals will cover upgrading the artwork to full colour.
This is very much a project to fill the gaps in the market, driven by discussion with small publishers and one that is definitely needed as just like gaming itself the majority of stock art out there covers D&D flavoured fantasy. The pledge levels start at $30, for which you’ll get access to a selection of the material while higher levels will net you all of the material produced for an individual genre or even all of the art that comes out of the project.
At $30 entry it represents tremendous value as this is typically the minimum you should expect to pay for a single piece of custom art. Backers will be able to submit illustration ideas to the project, while this won’t provide the control that an independent commission would include it does mean that you’ll get at least a couple of pieces that are influenced by your individual needs.
The Kickstarter has a goal of $4,900 and runs until the 23rd June. At the time of writing (on the day of launch) it was already 27% funded. You can also find James’ existing stock art catalogue on drivethruRPG (link includes the LunarShadow affiliate ID). Also, if you’re wondering about the value of the colour stretch goals I think this preview (left) speaks for itself.