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I have been really excited about building cosplays, but I can't afford multiple costumes for myself and I don't want to fiddle with commissions right now. My way around this has been to build projects very cheaply for friends. I usually charge for materials and not much else, and this has worked out great. I get to practice patterns and have fun making stuff, and they get a nice costume peice for a good price. The largest project I did was a Pokemon mascot/fursuit type head with some feet for my best friend. It took me a long time, but we had great communication and the completed head was a huge hit. Now her little brother wants me to make him a similar costume, but I have a few reservations.

His request is a full body Lucario costume. I'm not worried about the complexity or scope of the project, but I admit it's fairly ambitious for my experience level. It's also a ton of work to do for free. Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to do such a project, but it's probably going to take at least two months. I initially agreed to this project last summer with the understanding that it woudln't be "due" until 2017, and that work was going to happen in bursts during breaks from school. The plan was to start with a head, then do arm sleeves and feet, and finish with the tail and body. This way he could have useable costume parts before the whole thing was complete. Unfortuantely my living situation didn't allow for work to begin that summer, and then college started in the fall. I made it clear that I could not work on Lucario during school, so I planned to get a ton of work done over Christmas break (and I started telling him this in September, so it wasn't a surprise). I spent a lot of time researching techniches and prepping digital files; my plan was to take advantage of the school's laser cutter and 3D printer to save some major time. Everything was ready to go, but I needed some critical information from my friend (measurements and etc) before the shop closed for break. I gave him two weeks to get me the stuff I needed... and he never did. I missed my window of opportunity with the shop. Of course I've had access to the shop since then, but for some reason this kind of killed my desire. I was about to devote my entire break to his project, and he couldn't even be bothered to give me some basic info. It makes me question how badly he actually wants this costume, and more importantly if I can depend on him for other important things like the DTD, fittings, additional materials, etc.

There are a lot of advantages to this costume: the build will be a ton of fun, the "commissioner" is willing to try on prototypes (which I imagine is considered unprofessional in fursuit/cosplay communities), and it will be great advertisement for my work since he attends multiple cons. I really, really want to build it. The downsides are that I don't feel like he understands or values how much work I'm about to do, and I don't know how reliable he is. If I hadn't already committed to this project (and they hadn't already purchased some of the materials) I'm not sure I would still say yes. I really want to move forward with this, but if I'm dropping out now is the time to do it. Any suggestions on what I shoud do? If I don't build Lucario, how should I break it to my friend? I'm afraid he'll take it as a personal slight :/

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
leahtaur
Mar. 25th, 2016 06:41 pm (UTC)
I have found that charging higher prices over time seems to make most customers value the product more. And some of my least grateful clients have been the one who I was doing rare freebies for, because they weren't clients at all - they were getting something for free. This may be what is happening here.

You could:

a) ask for a bit of money, maybe $150-$200 on top of whatever materials cost. Say to him that you've gained experience and because he couldn't be bothered to do his part in a timely fashion, your availability has changed and because you can't work on the project all in one go like you wanted to, you're going to have to work on it between school and other stuff. He's inconvenienced you and like I said above, the fee may make him take the project seriously and like it more in the end.

b) drop the project entirely and trade his materials for a refund of what he paid for them. You could then choose to make the project in your own time, or something else the same colour. It's possible that you won't feel excited to make such a huge project for no gain by the time he decides he's ready to participate.

c) continue to be patient with him and wait on him indefinitely. If you choose this find something else to become excited about and experiment with making - it's all too easy to let someone stomp on your creative drive so divert it instead. :)
rebeccaannoying
Mar. 26th, 2016 04:23 am (UTC)
Yeah, you make a good point. Part of the issue may be that he has a ton of free time (has never worked full time in his life), so he has waaaaaaaaaaaaay more spare time than I do... I work a job on top of full time college and do some extracurricular activities too. I don't think he understands how valuable leisure time is, lol.

We had actually agreed that part of the payment would be him contributing $200 towards a sewing machine since I didn't have one at the time. I may ask for that on top of a "materials deposit" so I'm not dependent on him to order things. I was also thinking of making an extremely detailed breakdown of materials and a time guesstimate, and billing him at a super discount rate. I normally do art commissions for $10 an hour, so I'd offer him a rate of $5 per hour or something. Do you think that would be fair even though I initially agreed to work for free?
leahtaur
Mar. 26th, 2016 05:20 am (UTC)
Ball is in your court. You are absolutely free to drop this at any time as long as you refund any costs owed, and if you choose to continue but with a change in terms, he can choose to take you up on those terms or decline. Giving him such a steep discount is still better than the zero profit you were looking at before and will help you with your fursuit portfolio - if you think he's likely to stall longer you can give him a deadline to have the measurements in your hand and call the whole thing off if he can't comply.

If he has that much free time I do wonder why he can't just get those measurements to you already. :P Don't let him frustrate you, many other people would jump at the chance of such a discounted fursuit.
spookyspooks
Mar. 28th, 2016 06:15 am (UTC)
Honestly? I would make a clean break while everything is relatively civil and drop the 'commission'. The longer this drags on, the higher the chances that you might become resentful of his lack of commitment (and gratitude) and it's just gonna spiral down from there. You're building this guy a FREE FULLSUIT, if he can't follow up on a simple measurement request, he obviously does not value your work. The hassle is not worth it.

I would just say, "Sorry, between work and school I don't really have any more time to devote to this project so I'm going to have to drop it" and offer him a refund or whatever, maybe even refer him to some people who take commissions so that he has some leads (and maybe even realizes how much a costume is actually worth). Chances are, if he takes two weeks to give you measurements, good luck getting a DTD let alone a fitting.

If you're still super pumped about making the costume, you can always finish it on your own time and sell it as a pre-made or something?
rebeccaannoying
Apr. 1st, 2016 08:01 pm (UTC)
*late reply is late |D*

We had a long talk the other day, and he'll be paying me $10/hr for all work I do plus materials. I quoted him optimistic hours so I'll probably still be underpaid, but I feel way better about everything now. No work will happen until he's paid everything off, and if he backs out half way through he doesn't get a refund until the costume is sold (not my normal policy, but I think it's fair in this case). I'm also considering making some of the money non-refundable because I've had to store all the materials in my teeny apartment for weeks.

My only concern at this point are his expectations of quality. We were looking at other Lucario cosplays and I showed him this Lucario as an example of the look he can expect from our materials. His comment was that he expected something much nicer than that for $500 ; ; I'm not 100% sure what he's expecting, but I thought that cosplay was pretty great. I need to have one more serious sit-down talk to make sure he understands that $500 is actually really cheap for this type of project... I would probably start at $800 to $1000 for anyone else. I think he also needs to accept that costumes of this nature are going to be somewhat uncomfortable because of heat, and they will have limited hearing and vision. If he acknowledges and accepts those things, I'll move forward. If not, I'll find another project to work on.
laughsatthunder
Mar. 28th, 2016 11:48 am (UTC)
I fell for this a few times years ago. Don't do it, even if it was for your best friend. The person ends up selling the suit for a higher cost or knows you might do it again for them so they try to bribe you into it with threats.

Quickly lost 3 friends this way. It's disgusting when someone threatens to talk bad about you and your work for a free product.
rebeccaannoying
Apr. 1st, 2016 08:04 pm (UTC)
Wow, I'm really sorry that happened to you :( I'll be sure to tell him he CAN NOT re-sell the suit without talking to me first. Thankfully, I don't think he could do too much damage even if he started bad-mouthing me... although I wouldn't expect him to. We've also agreed that he will be paying me, so I feel much better about everything now.
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