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This may or may not be news

I've been encouraged, after posting this information in my own LJ, to repeat it here. And given the artist's reputation, it may not be a surprise to many.

Four years ago I commissioned Brian "Jace/Sharky" Harp for two pictures. One was for two characters, full color and ink, at $100, the other for one character, full color and ink, for $70. I sent him the money soon after he agreed to do the pictures, the full $170, in June 2003. I can produce a copy of the letter I sent and my bank records for the check, which was cashed soon after it arrived.

For four years, I did not receive any progress reports, I have not received any preliminary sketches, I have gotten nothing. I have been told that work had been done, but I haven't seen it. I had never met Mr. Harp until this past FC2007. Leading into it, I asked again since I would be out there on the West Coast, and he assured me a month or more in advance that he would have something to show me. There was nothing to show me at the con, and nothing was produced for me during the con.

Afterwards, he made it clear to me that he felt unable to produce the character(s) that I had initially asked for. I then asked him to switch the problematic character to another, and the second one in the other picture to a very good friend of mine. He said he'd have to ask the other friend, and I've heard since from the other friend that Mr. Harp was not very enthusiastic about it, the phrase went, "he doesn't feel good about it [the commissions]."

This past Friday, given the sum total of the above, I contacted Mr. Harp to release him from the obligation to do anything, since it has been pretty clear that I will not see my commissions. In the intervening four years, he has done several dozen pictures of similar effort and complexity, just not mine. I also know Mr. Harp is pretty much habitually broke or close to it, so I have released him from the obligation of paying me back. It is stress and tension neither of us need that will only produce bitter feelings.

It has been an expensive and frustrating lesson, one that I am passing on to this community, again, after several people encouraged me to do so. So here I am, sharing my experience with Mr. Harp with this wider audience. Mr. Harp is a very nice guy, I do consider him a friend, a talented artist, but it would appear that professionalism and business acumen are not his strong points. I know better now, and I hope this helps someone else from making the same expensive mistake I did.

Thanks for listening.

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( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 30th, 2007 02:52 am (UTC)
That was very generous and kind of you to release him from the obligation of paying you back. And it is good that despite this commision issue you two remain friends. I'm sorry that things turned out the way they did. I will know now not to commision him. Thank you for sharing
May. 30th, 2007 03:04 am (UTC)
My current roommate has also commissioned him and has had no luck in getting said commission done. From what I understand, this is a common problem with Jace.
May. 30th, 2007 03:09 am (UTC)
I do wish you could be somehow convinced to ask for a refund. You sound like a very nice person and a great friend, but not pushing the matter to get your money back just sends the message that he can keep doing this to others, even other friends. As Ksharra says above me, he's still obviously doing it. Why should he be allowed to keep your hard-earned money?
May. 30th, 2007 03:50 am (UTC)
I have to agree.

Maybe if you two were really close friends then I could see you giving him some slack. Obviously you feel at peace about the situation, and I don't want to take that from you. But if this is a habit of his (I've never heard of him until today), then he could try to weasel his way out of other situations with commissioners by claiming he's "broke" or just hoping they will forgive and forget.

You did quite an honorable thing, I suppose the best that can be done now is to warn others about what they can expect if they commission him.
(no subject) - iridium_wolf - May. 30th, 2007 11:01 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 30th, 2007 03:48 am (UTC)
Thank you for the informative post; I will be certain to avoid hiring this gentlemen in the future.

May. 30th, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)
Good luck, I've noted a few people mention Jace as being unreliable like that... =/
May. 30th, 2007 04:51 am (UTC)
I'm hoping that he'll feel guilty and give you something for your honorable efforts. :/ That's really quite a shame.
May. 30th, 2007 11:02 am (UTC)
I've received word that he is feeling guilty. I stand by my release of the commission and payment, though. I think that he should direct his efforts on completing the rest of his outstanding commissions.
May. 30th, 2007 06:09 am (UTC)
You're being way too nice about this, I think. It's really generous of you to let him run off with your money, but it's not right at all. This guy owes you fucking $170.

What an asshole.

If I were you, I would've beat the living snot out of him via waves of emails and flooded the internets lots of negative rep (which he seems to have plenty of anyway). He CANNOT get away with this kind of stuff, otherwise he'll just keep doing it over and over again. He can't be doing this with other people's hard earned money. Being "broke" doesn't make it "okay" for him to take your money. He owes you BIG TIME.

Man, I'm angry and it's not even my money! D:

Although honestly, it's kind of your fault for sending him the full amount right away. That's just badbadbad business practice right there, but you've certainly learned a hard lesson and I sympathize. :(
May. 30th, 2007 11:08 am (UTC)
Yes, it was my mistake on sending him all the money first, before seeing any work. It's not one I've since repeated with any one I've commissioned.

And yes, $170 is not a small amount of money. But any financial hardship it caused me is now four years past. I have a good job and I earn good money, I haven't missed it really. I'm upset that he did not follow through on the commission, but I'm not hurt by the loss of the money. Had he needed the money, I probably would have just given it to him, I can afford to be generous like that and I try to be, I've done it with other friends in the past.

You are right that he owes me, and perhaps I shouldn't release him from his obligation. But I have, I do not see any point in trying to pressure him. As I said above, he has seen this post and he has expressed remorse to me privately over it. Perhaps that will help him change his ways. If this helps the apparently legion of other people who have commissioned him get their bought and paid for art from him, then I am content.

Maybe that makes me a pushover, but then again, I didn't have to post this in the first place either.
May. 30th, 2007 06:34 am (UTC)
This is the reason that I have a 50/50 payment plan, I won't get the second half of the payment until I have completed the piece.
May. 30th, 2007 07:29 am (UTC)
Not news, a friend of mine got jilted too.
The fact that he'll do this sort of thing to his friends kinda suggests to me he's not that nice of a guy O_o

And releasing someone from their obligations only encourages them I'm afraid, though I admit I did the same with Stickdevil because I was so fucking frustrated.
May. 30th, 2007 11:14 am (UTC)
This may encourage him only to continue, but from what I've heard from him privately since I've posted this, I don't think so. In person and online, Jace is a nice guy, rather sweet, excitable, and friendly. I can separate that part of him from this incident and apparent long history of such behavior.

As I've said above, I am not aware of any other public discussion of this sort of thing in regards to Jace's commissions and business practices. If this is the first, then it's good I posted this to let people know. And to let Jace know that he should knuckle down and get the stack of work he has before him done. If I've helped other people get what they've paid for already out of him in a timely fashion, then I'll be happy.

And because I know he's reading this: good luck, Jace, I sincerely wish you the best in getting your commissions finished.
(no subject) - thaily - May. 30th, 2007 11:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - iridium_wolf - May. 30th, 2007 12:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - May. 30th, 2007 01:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - iridium_wolf - May. 30th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - May. 30th, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - iridium_wolf - May. 30th, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - May. 31st, 2007 06:20 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 30th, 2007 01:30 pm (UTC)

$170? That's just ouch, I'm sorry to hear you got burned for that much.

You seem like a nice guy as well. Would you like to go on my listing? I am a bit slow but I do think I do nice work. I've got three people currently who are waiting to get a piece from me after getting ripped off by other artists, I'd be happy to make it four, though it's only fair to warn you, I take my time.
May. 30th, 2007 01:34 pm (UTC)

PS: forgot to mention, I'm not offering a commission. I'm offering to do you a free piece. I badly worded my comment and I don't want to look crass.
(no subject) - iridium_wolf - May. 30th, 2007 09:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilenth - May. 31st, 2007 01:04 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 30th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
That sucks giant monkey balls.
I agree with lilenth, as compensation I'd be happy to do a free sketch for you at Anthrocon, nothing crazy fancy, but at least it'd be something for your hard lost money :)

May. 30th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC)
That's very kind of you. You don't have to do that. If you're at AC and doing sketches, I'd be happy to pay for anything I get from you.
May. 30th, 2007 05:58 pm (UTC)
I've never known for Jace to even complete a single commission, that's how bad it is. And his prices? Holy shit!

One of my friends lost $300 to him. It seems like he'll just take the money and spend it before he even starts the pictures, then will just draw more stuff of his own. I think it's horrifying that he even still takes commissions when he owes people literally thousands of dollars of work, and it's even more horrifying that people continue to pay him huge amounts for nothing!
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 23rd, 2007 10:34 am (UTC)
Had a very similar experience. $100. Three years, I believe.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 09:50 pm (UTC)
It makes me wonder just how I got my art out of him at all after a year.
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )


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