Danc over at Lost Garden is nothing if not helpful to all those little guys out there - and he's apparently inundated with requests for graphics for someone's really rockin' indie release. He's got a lengthy set of recommendations on how to get around the "graphics bottleneck" if you're on of those people lacking skills in the art department, and trying to bribe starving artists isn't cutting it for you. He spends the most time discussing what you can do with free graphics, which naturally have their problems:
There are thousands of game graphics out there on the web. Admittedly, they have problems:
They may not be the most attractive. "Dude, these free graphics are totally sucky compared to StarCraft." They may not fit your exact mental vision. "No, the Xenli Sorcesses has four silver spikes on her bosom armor, not two. It is completely wrong!" They may not be complete: "I really need a female knight and and they only supplied a male knight! The end is nigh!" Other people might be using them in their games. "Argh, now my RPG looks just like the one done by that guy in Australia. *sigh* Now I will never be l33t."
My heartfelt recommendation is that you get over it.
Of course, not being a jerk, he goes on to offer suggestions on how to make free graphics work for you, not against you. I thought it was an interesting little piece, and that's as someone who will never, ever design a game or wind up scratching my head over how to make my game look good. Danc himself offers a set of prototyping tiles, among other things.
How to bootstrap your indie art needs [Lost Garden]