I never told the chinese artists that I wouldn’t use them, maintaining hope that I could at least use some of their art in the game. It looks like the problem resolved itself. I haven’t gotten a daily report in 4 days and the last one was short and had an impatient if not hostile tone. I assume this is discouragement over consistently having their submissions rejected.
Legally, if such a thing applies here, all their work was for-hire and I didn’t accept any work so I’m not obligated to pay. Professionally, I was going to give them a pay-off anyway since they did put genuine effort into things. If they are just going to disappear though I won’t.
I’ll see over the coming days if I ever hear anything from them again.