When a friend and I first self-published a role-playing game, one of the initial reviewers was effusive in praise, until he came to the art. Being self-published and on a shoestring budget, we had done the art ourselves. His advice was to hire an artist and we did… thank goodness for POD and the ability to make changes on the fly. So I learned that art is important, and having a professional do it is important.
That said, I’m having a challenge with commissioning art for Cannibal Coup. The game is supposed to be fun, and funny and not offensive. The island tribespeople are generic island tribespeople, not a mockery of any particular place or culture. Therefore choosing artwork or depicting people is extremely challenging… the opportunity for stereotyping and bad decisions is immense even with the best intentioned artwork and the most dedicated effort to avoid offense. So I’m very torn about the artwork… I may just illustrate items in a very abstract style and leave any other art aside. Thoughts?