So if the challenge is understanding artists - then go post a survey on DevArt or some other artist oriented site and see what they need...

Or talk to artists/designers already working on other open source projects. Perhaps it is that open source is well setup for programmer and not artists (tools, environment, workflow, community... what changes do they need to feel more at home, work more effectively, or what is needed to attract new users)

(Really - it's questions like these that I would hope open source blogs would dig into more)