Hey, buddy, I’m in a similar boat as you, with the same debt of gratitude (and public plugging) to good-ol’ Jeff as I attempt to put together my own card game. As such, I’m quite eager to see how other folks fare in this endeavour, coz I sure know it ain’t easy, especially when one does it all by himself (+a few friends for artistic guidance and moral support ), and on a very limited budget. But we’ll see, good luck to us both, eh?
Meanwhile, I’d just like to introduce you to a good friend of mine who is, I believe, a great emerging artist – you can find her stuff here: http://smoludozerka.deviantart.com/ (take a look, who knows, maybe she can help you with the illustrations, she’s usually great with humanoid portraits).
Hope that helps. Either way, keep me posted, the game sounds intriguing and I’d like to see how it progresses, if you feel like sharing with a fellow card enthusiast Go get’em!