Back in December of 2006, I was contacted by dakinkypimpwolfie on DA. She was interested in commissioning me for a couple of pieces, but I was closed at the time. I was a senior in college, working on my senior project, but I was also strapped for cash since I couldn't work as many hours at my job. Thinking that I could take on her commissions and make a little extra money, I changed my mind and decided to work with her. She asked that I provide her with sketches before she sent payment, and I agreed, knowing that a lot of commissioners are often weary of artists being paid and then never providing artwork. No problem. She wanted two commissions, two characters each. I charged her $30 for each one, totaling $60. I made one thing very, VERY clear. I would have these commissions done quickly. Why? Because I had school work piling up and I needed to get commissions off my plate. I didn't want to have any artwork aside from school work hanging over me, since I don't like to make people wait, but I needed the money. I'm not someone who normally warns people about "possibly taking too long," since I have an issue with making people wait longer than what I deem appropriate (typically a month or two). I KNEW I was going to be bogged down by schoolwork, so for me to accept commissions when I consciously knew I wouldn't have the time to work on them seemed pretty shitty and irresponsible in my mind (and it still is to this day). So that seems like a pretty good deal though, right? A guarantee that the work will be done ASAP? You'd think.
After getting her commission details on December 28th, 2006, I immediately began working on sketches. By January 2nd, 2007, I had something to show her. For one commission, I sketched it out and she approved of it right away. For the second, I had some trouble getting the poses right. So I redrew it based on another idea she had. By January 24th, I had redrawn the commission a second time and sent it to her. Our note exchanges and the rest of the story are under the cut. None of my notes have been edited in any way, shape, or form. Re-reading them now makes me sick because I was so naive, so friendly, and so understanding. I was totally walked upon.
"Hope you didn't think I'd forgotten about you! http://quaylak.deviantart.com/art/WIP-Commish-v-2-for-Dakink-47271994 This one was still a
challenge and drove me nuts, but I think I got what's going on across to the viewers. More successfully than the other one, that is. XD Let me know if
you like this better. And I noticed I don't think I slimmed the characters down enough...if that's a problem, let me know. :3 "
"Throw some shades on her and slim Crimson up just a bit and have her blushin."
"Okay. Did you like that version or should I try it again? o.o"
"I'd hate to make you try again..but maybe? If you're up to it that's fine..I'm sick right now so money's kinda tight..I've got the flu and walking
pnemonia (sp?) so I'm kinda useless.. "
"Oh yuck. Sorry to hear you're so sick. =\! Feel better! My problem right now is, I'm trying to get a lot of artwork done for a lot of different things. A lot of the artwork I've uploaded recently has been for school. I had planned on completely finishing your commissions this past weekend (paid for or not), then things started piling up, so I had to put them aside again. My goal is to finish the first commission this weekend, but as for the one that's giving me trouble...I'll see what I can do. Worse comes to worse, I may need to not let you commission me for it and just do the other one for you (which may be better if you're having financial woes). I need to clear up all the artwork that needs to be done for other folks (you and one other person), aside from school. So...hmmm. I can try and give it another go, I reckon. I sketched that other one during my ARTH class, which I'll do again tonight. And like I said, if I get one sketched that you like, I may completely finish it after it's approved, then keep it until you're feeling better and finances are stabilizing. If that's cool with you, of course."
"Then throw out the 2nd one all together because it seems to be giving you a lot of problems..Finish the first commission by at least V-Day if you have to put it off..Now how much do I owe you since we're knocking off the second?"
My response (omfg was I friendly back in the day...):
"Oh goodness, you're not upset are you? ._.; I was just scribbling an idea I had during my break here in class, so I wouldn't mind making it a full sketch (what I have now is just a thumbnail). It is giving me problems, but it's something I just have to deal with. I'm so used to doing stationary poses, that's why my work looks so bland. It's good for me to experiment, it just reveals my weaknesses, which can be frustrating. It just sounds like you're having a hard time over there, so I didn't want to put any unnecessary pressure on you (because I planned on having them both done very soon). But yeah, I'll get the other one done this weekend...sorry for any troubles."
My response: (before she has a chance to even respond to the other one, I have yet another sketch ready. This is the third.):
"Alrighty, here's the other sketch. http://quaylak.deviantart.com/art/WIP-Commish-for-Dakink-V-3-47333918 Let me know what you think. :3"
"Ok sorry, the misses asks kindly to make her heels higher if it's ok.. "
"Okay. So you still want me to go ahead and do both commissions?"
"Yea go ahead..I'll try to manage."
Is it me, or does it sound like I'm somehow inconveniencing her? I had these sketches out pretty fast, and given the fact that I seemed dedicated to getting that second commission right, it was obvious I was going to follow through (so sending payment would have been safe, in my opinion). She offered no feedback aside from making the heels higher, so I started inking and coloring both of her commissions. Like I said, I wanted these completed quickly so I could focus on my school work and she would be happy. I was angry and feeling guilty that I couldn't get her original idea drawn correctly, but I worked with her as best I could to get her something she would like. Meanwhile, I still hadn't been paid. So now, it's February 8th. I'm nearly done with her commissions, so I sent her a note to ask her to send payment and let her know my status.
"Hey there! Okay, well, I'm ALMOST done with the second commission, the one with Cowboy (I had midterms this week, so some of my artwork was put aside). So, how did you want to send yer monies? I don't think we even talked about that yet. And from what I remember, it was going to be $60. I hope things are going better for you over there, let me know when you get the chance! :D"
"I can probably send the cash at the end of the month, that's when I get payed again so if you don't mind waiting untill then or cutthe price down? "
"I don't mind waiting at all (I know how the "end of the month" situation goes, I had to deal with that for a while). I'm going to go ahead and get them both finished, just know I won't send them off yet and all that obvious stuff 'til I get your monies. Blah blah blah, the usual. :3 Here's my address: [cut for you stalker types] I'll hold on to the pics until then, keep them safe and ready for mailing. I probably won't post them up 'til I send them off either, but they should be finished early so I can focus on my school work. Take care!"
"Could I maybe see the finished product? I'd love to see how gorgeous it is..I wanted to suprise my gf on V-Day with it..If it's just inked that's fine too.."
"Uhhh...hmmm. I've always thought it was fair to show a commissioner sketches and things before being paid, then receive payment and continue working until the piece is finished. The only reason I'm working hard to finish it prior to being paid is because I want to have creative energy to finish my senior project and not have to worry about the commissions (which is a plus for my commissioners, too). So really, I shouldn't be working on the commissions at all until I received payment. o.-; Which commission did you want to see? I scanned the inked versions (in case something awful happened to the originals, I could reprint them). I'm not entirely comfortable with it (no offense to you of course), but I trust you enough to show you the inks and stuff. Which picture was meant for your GF? Let me know and I'll dig up the inks. Happy Valentine's Day! "
So, being an IDIOT, I uploaded and linked her to the inked drawings. I don't seem to have any notes from her in response to what she thought of them, but she did leave positive comments on the deviations themselves, so I assumed she was happy with them. I went ahead and finished them, as I told her, meanwhile waiting for her payment to arrive. It never does. Come April 5th, I decided to get in touch with her and see what was up.
"Heeeeeey! I just wanted to check in on you and see how you've been doing! I know the last time I talked to you, you were real sick.Your commissions have been done for a while, so whenever things start clearing up for you, just give me a holla' and we can figure out how to get me my funds and you your pictures! I didn't want to bug you at all about it, since I know things were rough, but I just wanted to make sure you knew that everything is finished (in case you don't check my art status in my journal). So whenever you're ready, we can finish things up! Take care!"
Her response? Nothing. So now I'm bogged down with my senior film and don't have time to continue pestering her for an update on when she plans to pay me. Her commissions were finished and sitting in a mailing envelope, ready to go out. A month later, on May 7th, I note her again.
"Yo. Just checking to see if you're okay and all since you didn't respond to my other note. Ummm...yeah, just let me know what's up when you get the chance."
Her response? Again, nothing. I'm in my last month of school, so I push the entire ordeal aside and focus on my film. I graduated college on
June 3rd and took a bit of a break for a couple weeks to recoup. Once things were back on track and I had a job, I decided to note her yet again on June 25th.
"Hey. I think this is the third or so note I've sent you in the past few months and I've yet to get any kind of a response. I'm going to AC next week and will be taking all of my work with me. If you don't send me something, ANY kind of response by then, I'm probably going to try and sell the commissions I made for you. That way I can get some sort of compensation for the work I did. =\ I don't care if you just tell me, "hey, I'm alive, but I'm poor!" ANYTHING is better than not getting a response at all. That kind of tells me you don't care whether or not you own these, so it's safe to give them to someone else. So please, send me something and let me know what's up. It's been a while now. u_u;"
Her response (finally):
"My ex gf passed in NC, I've been down here since tuesday...im sorry.."
"Thank you for replying and I'm so sorry to hear that. I'll hold on to them for you until you get home and get settled. Please get ahold of me when you get the chance, I'd really appreciate it. Take care."
Months go by and she never sends me a note. Once again, I contact her. By this time, I've hardened up and lost that friendly, accommodating personality I had in the beginning of the year. I was angry that I trusted her and busted my ass to get her commissions done quickly so she would be happy and I could make some extra money. But I busted my butt for her, trying to make her happy during my last few months of college, all for nothing. And not only that, but I showed her the inked drawings out of the goodness of my heart, even though we did NOT agree to that in the beginning. I showed her because V-day was coming up and she said the drawings were a surprise for her girlfriend. It was then that I realized...her girlfriend was the one critiquing BOTH drawings the entire time, or so she said in her notes. "Oh and my gf wants a cig hangin outta Cowboy's mouth and where are his overalls? Oh my gf said to make Crimson a bit slimmer.." That was in response to my first sketch I sent to her. She later mentions the "misses" wanting an additional change. Man, was a blind. On October 22nd, I sent her another note.
"Hey, I still have those two completed commissions from back in February and wanted to know if I should be expecting some kind of payment soon. They've been sitting in an envelope ready to be mailed off for months now, so...I'd like to end this transaction soon and move on. If you need my payment details again, let me know. Hope all is well."
Her response the next day:
"How much again? All of my notes were deleted in the move, my mate has been online periodically to check my messages in dealing with things in NC."
"I believe we agreed on $60; it was $30 a picture. If you want to send payment via Paypal, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need my home address, just let me know. I'll also need your address so I can ship them to you. Thanks."
Her response three weeks later, on November 10th:
"Can I get your mailing address? I hope you got my last 3 notes I sent you about it. >< "
"The only notes I've been getting lately are from DA spammers (haven't seen your notes at all). My mailing address is: [cut again] As soon as payment is received, I'll post up your finished pictures and mail them off to you (you can give me your mailing address now if you want so I can get them out ASAP). Thanks."
Her response a day later:
"I'm sorry, so very sorry about all this. I bet you think I'm the worst commissioner on the planet. I'll ask my dad on Monday if he can send it through paypal if not the following week I'll pay you through snail me. I just didn't expect to be power of attorney still in my ex's passing. I apolgize for everything. "
"I don't think you're the worst commissioner in the world. I'm just disappointed and learned a lesson I already knew, but never experienced; ALWAYS collect payment before starting work on any commission. I'm angry because I did $30 worth of sketches (one of which was my fault because I couldn't get the poses right), then showed you the inks when I really, REALLY didn't want to. But I did anyway because it was supposed to be a surprise for your GF (which, I didn't think about this until later, was the one who was critiquing the sketches...so...it wasn't much of a surprise, was it?). The pictures have been done since what...March? April? Something like that. All I want to do at this point is collect the money that's owed to me, mail off your artwork, and be done with the whole situation. Like I said, I am sure now to never work on a commission until I'm paid in full. To do sketches is one thing, I'm okay with that. But finishing the work prior to being paid will never happen again. Anyway, I hope things are better for you now. I'll keep an eye out for your payment in the mail and let you know when it arrives."
Her response? Nothing. I never received payment, either. Surprise surprise, right? She's made plenty of journal entries over on DA, as well as submitted deviations and such, so she hasn't disappeared. All I can say is, I wouldn't accept a commission from her ever again. It's been over six months since I had any form of contact from her, so I'll just assume she no longer wants her commissions. I'm not going to keep trying to contact her over this, since I'm the only one who's ever tried to keep in touch. Instead, like I wanted to do last year, I'm just going to take her commissions with me to AC'08 this year and see if I can't sell them. Perhaps put them in the artshow, even though they're so old (and my style/skills have improved greatly within a year). I still have them in their plastic sleeves, complete, but they'll never see their owner.
I realize she had some RL issues, as we all do. I understood when her ex-girlfriend passed away. But I couldn't help but think that that had nothing to do with the fact that she owed me money for work that was completed three or four months ago. Her having the power of attorney (anyone else think this is strange?) over her ex's stuff had nothing to do with our transaction. I'd like to think I'm a pretty reliable artist when it comes to completing art in a reasonable time frame. And if I don't, the commissioner will know why. I'm never out of touch, I don't disappear, so it sucked that she took advantage of the fact that I was determined to get her art done quickly in the beginning in order to make us both happy. A lot of this post is me venting my frustrations and encouraging all artists to never, EVER go beyond a sketch for a commissioner prior to being paid. I was overly trusting, overly friendly, and I feel I wasted time on something that should have never been completed. A shame, really, but I've learned my lesson. From that day forward, I've never taken a commission I was not first paid for in advance, and I never will again. I will still do a prelim sketch before payment to reassure my commissioner that I've worked on their art, but not a second more will be spent until money arrives in my Paypal or mailbox.
To end, here are links to all of the sketches and finished ink drawings. I have the finished images saved on my computer, but they'll never be posted anywhere on the internet. Like I said, there's a chance they'll be up for sale at AC this year, though.
-1st sketch: http://quaylak.deviantart.com/art/WIP-Commish-for-Dakink-2-45751794
-2nd sketch: http://quaylak.deviantart.com/art/WIP-Commish-v-2-for-Dakink-47271994
-3rd sketch: http://quaylak.deviantart.com/art/WIP-Commish-for-Dakink-V-3-47333918