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New to this Community - In need of Advice

As many in this community, I'm an Artist, and I also do some fursuiting (Not full body fursuits, more just Ears, Tails, Hand and Feet-Paws, and eventually I do hope to experiment with Digitigrade legs).

My website is: http://www.solfire.com/~silverwing/Silverwing/silverwing.html

While it's not finished, I do have a Commissions page, which, while I plan on modifying a bit, lists everything as I feel it should be. Fair prices, the fact that I will not do art or fursuits without payment up front, things like that.

But my issue is this. I've had quite a few people commission me for either of my talents, and while most have paid, there's been a massive problem with 2-3 people who keep trying to commission me, but, every time it's brought up, no payment is sent, not even a half payment (With art, sometimes I'll do half up front, half when finished). One person in particular, who I won't name at this point, has tried getting me to draw for them three separate times, and each time, the money part of it is completely avoided. I'm not sure if I should blacklist them, or what. I'm hesitant only for one reason.. I'm in a very poor financial situation, and I need to bring in at least a little bit of money, otherwise, chances are I won't have a place to live for much longer. I keep hoping, praying, that they'll actually come through and send the payment for what they want, rather than giving me excuse after excuse after excuse.

What I'm really looking for here is an opinion on several things: How would any of you suggest I get more commissions to keep myself afloat, should I blacklist those who have thus far refused to pay, or should I not, and just keep hoping that eventually the money will show up.

If anyone can help me, even in the slightest, with this issue, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm with a Temp agency, but thus far, they haven't found me a job either, so things are strained.

Thanks to anyone who can offer their help, suggestions, or anything, really.
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Comments

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
theblackdragon
Aug. 3rd, 2007 02:38 am (UTC)
i dunno about outright blacklisting those 2-3 people who bring up commissions but never want to talk money, but perhaps you could tell them the next time they try to bring up the subject something along the lines of 'I require payment for my work, half up front and the rest when it's finished (or whatever it is you're actually trying to work out with these people). Either send me a deposit and i will start work on your commission, or stop bringing the topic up altogether, because you're wasting my time.' that kind of ultimatum should get them to either pay you or leave you alone so that you're free to concentrate on pulling in actual business, and it'll also tell them that you don't terribly appreciate being led on like that. it's not fair to you at all.

whatever happens, good luck to you.
bladespark
Aug. 3rd, 2007 02:38 am (UTC)
Here's my $0.02:

On blacklisting - I don't see any reason to. I mean... if they have a habit of not paying, then you should have a matching habit of not doing any work for them, not even sketches. Just let 'em know clearly that you're a business, not a charity, and will be happy to do things as soon as they send the money. Lines like "That's a great idea, it'll be $XX.xx. How would you like to pay?" and "Sure, I can do that for you. I'll get started as soon as you send me $XX.xx as a downpayment." are useful. I've had people who dithered around for ages, but did eventually come through and pay me, so there's no reason to stop talking to them. Just don't let them talk you into giving them charity.

On getting more work - advertise, advertise, advertise, and work, work, work. Find forums, chat rooms, and online communities. Join Fur Affinity and Deviant art and maybe even Elfwood. Tell everybody you know about your art. I don't favor a hard sell, that is trying to actually sell something specific to everybody you meet, that'll just annoy people, but make sure that everyone knows you take commissions, so that you don't lose any opportunities. And also make sure that everybody gets a chance to see what you do. Post to your lj, join some lj communities, upload to Deviant Art regularly, etc.

And you need to be constantly producing new work too, so you turn up on the front page, at the top of people's friends lists, etc. a lot. Constantly posting the same old work makes it feel like an advertisement to people, but constantly posting new things makes it feel like entertainment, so they'll want to friend you, favorite you, watch you, and the more people watching your stuff, the more commission opportunities you get. It takes a while to pay off, but if you're willing to put in the work to put up new stuff all over kingdom come on a regular basis, and always mention when you post new stuff that you take commissions for this if anybody likes it, then eventually you're going to start getting business.
bladespark
Aug. 3rd, 2007 02:59 am (UTC)
*blink*

I just went and looked at your page. It looks awfully familiar.

Hi! Remember me?
doctorjackal
Aug. 3rd, 2007 03:30 am (UTC)
Of -course- I remember you, Spark :) How the hell could I forget? We sat in my room and made fursuit parts together! And hung out quite a bit too. You should click on my LJ, and, well.. Email or IM me :D!!!
bladespark
Aug. 3rd, 2007 03:32 am (UTC)
Which one, there seem to be two here.
vorephile
Aug. 3rd, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)
My two LJ's are "Vorephile and "DoctorJackal" Both have the exact same contact info, so it doesn't matter which one you pick :) The reason for two is.. One is my personal LJ, the other is the article section of my site.
arikla
Aug. 3rd, 2007 02:41 am (UTC)
First thing I would say is blacklist those who are not paying. Keep pestering then to pay what you are owed, but do not do any more art for them. You may be in a poor financial position, but they aren't paying you anyway! Then, you have time to do art for people who will actually pay you.

As to getting your name out there for more commissions, advertise, let yourself and your art be seen. Others may have better suggestions on that venue, as I do not get many commissions myself :P
doctorjackal
Aug. 3rd, 2007 02:49 am (UTC)
I'm very, very honestly with these people, to the point of brutal honesty (I don't start with that, but, after the 5th time? Yeah, I get a bit aggressive), My commission page states clearly that I do nothing without payment, though on art, I will sometimes take half up front, half when it's finished. Not only is it there, but I've explained it to them on far too many occassions.

The art itself.. Thankfully I've only done a partial sketch, so they've gotten no charity, and since they haven't paid, I've made no move to continue the work they want, because, like many, I am definately not a charity. Sometimes I'll do a free pic for someone who's having a rough time lately, but, that's not a frequent thing, as I'm an overt perfectionist, and so, pictures take awhile to produce.

The main person in this issue has tried to get me to draw.. 5-6 times, perhaps more, always something different, always some excuse as to why they can't pay (Even though one was a drawing of a weapon, for a whopping 10$) I've explained and explained.. I can only take so much of that, y'know?

As for posting on forums, announcing in chats, etc. I'm only doing art and a tiny bit of fursuiting as a side thing, since I'm with a temp agency, as well as trying to get a job at a computer place, whos owner I'm friends with. It's just for a bit of extra cash, so, I don't really need to advertise too much, otherwise I may find myself in the position of being massively overwhelmed.

So, with the new knowledge, would Blacklisting be a good idea? Not necessarily publicly, but, making note on my computer that they most certainly should not be delt with anymore.

Also, I appreciate everyones suggestions on this :)
theblackdragon
Aug. 3rd, 2007 03:09 am (UTC)
wow. first-off, it is awesome that you've stuck to your guns the entire time with these people and have managed to keep a level head about it all! congrats to you on that.

it definitely sounds like it's time for a 'if you are going to just bring up the commission again and continue to refuse to pay me for it, i am going to block you' chat. that is, if they're friends of yours and you want to retain their 'friendship' (i dunno, real friends wouldn't try to jerk you around like that IMO). if you have no other emotional attachment to these people, i would say to block them and be done with it immediately the next time they ignore you when you ask them for payment first. they're not worth your time and are refusing to pay now, so there's nothing that says they'll ever pony up the money later. not worth the time to court them.

i would definitely also suggest for you not to ever cave in and do a free pic for any of these people if they mention they're having a hard time or something -- they're not going to see it as something nice you've done for them, they're going to see it as if they bug you enough, you'll end up doing something for them, and so they'll start bugging you again next time they want something illustrated or whatev'. :(
starcharmer
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:25 am (UTC)
Sorry, can't help you, I was too busy looking at your icon...looks like a recolour of another icon and you didn't give credit to the original on your icon page. Maybe you should do that.
vorephile
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:29 am (UTC)
That's a weird thing to bring up in a thread where someone's asking for help. I found that icon on a "LJ Icons" site, it didn't have an artist listed, so I know nothing about who made it. Accusing me of being the one to do it is just flat out rude.
vorephile
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:32 am (UTC)
Another note, if you put "LJ Icons" into google.. .. You will find hundreds, if not thousands, of versions of that icons. How is anyone going to tell who made it? I'm curious about what you'd suggest for that.
starcharmer
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:32 am (UTC)
I'm not accusing you. People usually just find it somewhere and figure it's okay to use it. Most of the people who use it didn't take it from the original artist and don't know who did.

I should have linked to Glasswind's page in the comment, but I didn't cause I forgot cause I'm tired. x_x Sorry for my harsh-seeming tone as well, it didn't sound that way in my head. At any rate, she's given up asking people not to use it and all she wants is credit, but I don't know if she'd approve of a total recolour. P:
doctorjackal
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:40 am (UTC)
Credit's been given where it's due, as is the right thing to do. I've had my shit stolen before, so I understand how it feels. However, I have no idea in the universe who keeps recoloring it. I chose to use it because it contains my Fiances favorite colors.
starcharmer
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:41 am (UTC)
Yah, I don't know, either. A lot of people recolour it to look like their characters. I wonder how many of those people would be offended if someone started using the one they recoloured. ;D
doctorjackal
Aug. 3rd, 2007 05:15 am (UTC)
My guess would be.. A lot. But at least now the original artist has been given credit. As for everyone out there doing whatever with it.. Well, I can't say much for them. Despite the recolored version I ended up with, I'm sure every bit of acknowledgment towards the original creator would be appreciated.
starcharmer
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
Definately. If you see it anywhere out there, pass on the artist's name. :3
shadsdf
Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:51 am (UTC)
I love how despite her wanting people to stop stealing her icon and using it, her webcam is a stolen and uncredited image cropped to remove the photographer's name/watermark.
fasdpideu
Aug. 7th, 2007 04:46 pm (UTC)
Sadly, its most likely because the icon has spread so far past dA that even someone who doesn't even know about dA has come across it.

Cases like these, its usually best to politely point out that the creator would like credit. Most people will do so without any bawwwing.
bladespark
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:32 am (UTC)
Uhm... I've seen that icon in about three hundred different places, and I'm not even exaggerating. It is ALL over the net. Do you actually know who first made it? If so, then you might want to say so. Otherwise, how is taking a "take this free" icon art theft?
starcharmer
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
Yah, I linked in another comment.

And it's not a "take this free" icon, I know that it's all over. The artist knows that it's all over. She's even given up asking people not to use her personal icon because so many people have just started using it without asking her.
bladespark
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:34 am (UTC)
Ah. That is different. You might want to SAY that though.
vorephile
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
I didn't do the recolor, either. But now that I know the artist, they'll get the credit they rightly deserve, but.. I'm not kidding either, look up LJ Icons, you'll see at LEAST 20 different color schemes for that icon o.O
thaily
Aug. 3rd, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
Advertise, advertise, advertise.

Join every single art community that will allow you to upload photos of your fursuiting work and do so, mention that you're available for commissions all over the uploads, post your price lists.
Post commissions to Furbid, Furbuy, FurEauction, Ebay etc.

Exposure is the key to selling your work.
solid_squid
Aug. 3rd, 2007 08:15 am (UTC)
On the advertising front, if you're worried about becoming swamped there is always the option of posting an advertisement for, say, 5 commission slots, which once they are filled you don't take any more commissions. Lots of artists do this as a way to keep things from getting out of hand. Also, if too many people contact you you can always tell them that your commission slots are full, but that you'll contact them if a space opens up.
lilenth
Aug. 3rd, 2007 11:36 am (UTC)

Blacklist 'em.

If they're wasting your time then they're not worth it.

Don't rely on your artwork to bring in money, the art market in the US is fairly uncertain right now, if the situation's -that- bad for you, get out there and pound pavement, print off copies of your resume and ask everyone about jobs, even places that aren't overtly hiring might have a job opening coming up and will usually be happy to at least give you an application form to complete. It does no harm to ask, you can probably land a job quicker through knocking on doors than through any agency and your time will be better spent looking for work rather than hoping your artwork will make enough. Especially given that your artwork quality is fairly poor.
leahtaur
Aug. 4th, 2007 03:16 am (UTC)
Lilenth: I was about to, on principle, try to find something possible to counter your last sentence (whether because I like to be contrary or because I'm overly encouraging, I'm not sure...) but then took a closer look at Vorephile's website.

Vorephile, I hope some general advice on your art will not be turned down?

Your website is not professional. Not only is the black rose dripping blood on a black (satin?) background cliche, but it just does not look good. No offense meant, but for a 27 year old, your website is very 13-year-old-gothling. An artist's website, especially an artist who is trying to sell their work, must be aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but your pictures have no organization, yes? Aside from commissions and non? People like to either see only your best work, or if there's many examples, organized by something like subject, media, date or character. When going through the pages of your work, I noticed that you'd put a scratchily-coloured headshot on white void at the top of the pile, and a moody, fully coloured, atmospheric piece with background at the bottom. People want to see what you can really do!

Also, people will probably disagree with me here, but your site's very personal. It's definitely possible to have something both personal and professional, but in my experiece it's best to choose one or the other.

Layout of links on the side is nice and easy to use, although as a whole it loaded pretty slowly on my otherwise fast connection. I'll have to leave it to someone else to explain how you would optimize your site's speed, as I have no idea. :P

I don't mean to sound overly negative though. Your art really holds promise. Diversification on subject matter (something non-goth/emo for variety) and some anatomy practice could take you miles further. As Lilenth advised, it'd really be best to take what you can get now, jobwise, by spamming resumes everywhere and trying everywhere. Once your temp agency lines you up with something better, you can drop your McJob. And in the meantime, while jobhunting, you can improve your art by working for yourself, on things you like (but challenge yourself too!)

I've tried to make a living on commissions alone. Even temporarily, it's frustrating, and it makes you dislike the drawing process, unless you can pull in enough income to live comfortably and not have to work at it 12+ hours a day. I'm not at that level yet, and, well, I don't think you are either.

Long post is long! (Sorry Lilenth...) Continue to be firm on your payment policy, and keep at it. Good luck wih the jobhunting too. :)
dhstein
Aug. 3rd, 2007 01:18 pm (UTC)
huh. I never 'blacklist' anyone. If they avoid the topic of payment, I merely say that I am a professional, and they need to pay me before any work is done. If they keep on asking, I ignore them or re-state my rate of commission. I always figure 'be nice, someday, they'll have money'.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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