HollyAnn (hollyannvix) wrote in artists_beware,

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I Was Just Too Stupid to Say "No"

Before I go into my story, I'd like pass out some inflatable mallets, as well as pillows, so that the readers here can thwap me and pelt me for being so dumb to not say No to this commission I've been working on.

I have been working on a commission for someone named Neagle. He says we met at the Unicorn & Gryphon/Furrs Fur Christ party at Anthrocon...and quite possibly, we may have..I'm horrible at remembering names and faces, and I see so many at furry cons, they're all just a blur after a while.

Anyways, he Emailed me on June 30th, regarding wanting a commission he wanted me to do. I hadn't even gotten home yet from AC (we left Pittsburgh on the 30th) and it was late when we got home, so I didn't even see his message till July 1st. I thought "Ok, I'll get to his Email after I get caught up in my other Emails" and I put it aside. When he didn't hear back from me, he sent me another Email, the same message. Um...Ok. I finally got around to Emailing him on July 3rd (again, it's been a little hectic around the house, trying to get groceries after our trip, picking up our dog at the kennel, etc.) so I got back to him and asked him what kind of commission he was interested in. He told me he wanted a reference sheet made of his eagle/human hybrid.

Ok, I seemed excited about doing this. I've never done a reference sheet for someone before, and I've seen them around on FA and stuff, and his character sounded interesting, so...I said Sure! I'll do it. Since I've never done reference sheets before, I honestly didn't know how much to charge for them. What I *should* have done, was asked other artists how much they charge for theirs. Instead, what I *actually* did, was base my price off of my Anthrocon prices: $25 for a colour ink drawing, plus $10 per extra pose. So the reference sheet would be a total of $45. This sounded good to him, and he also said he wanted a conbadge, as well as an icon that he can use for web forums. So I told him "OK, it'll be $25 for the conbadge, and $5 for 3x3" icon (I've never done an icon before either, so that's why I charged $5).

So he sends me an Email, telling me what his character looked like, and how he wanted it to have a more-human-like face rather than a total avian head. He made it specifically clear he didn't want to look like a gryphon. Ok, I handle that. He sent me photos of the kind of eagle he was, so that I could use for reference for both drawing and colouring. Awesome!

But the wings that he described for me kinda threw me off a little. So I drew a rough sketch and showed him what he thought. He sent me his feedback, telling me what to fix and what not. So I drew another rough pencil sketch and showed him, and he told me a few more things that needed to be changed, but other than those little things, to go ahead with it.

Mind you, every so often, I kept telling him and reminding him about payment. In pretty much every case I brought it up in the Emails, he didn't really respond about it. That really should've been my first clue-by-four. Why didn't I ask for payment before I started all this?? Oh..yeah, that's right, I thought it would cool to draw an eagle/human hybrid and I was all excited about it, I forgot >.<


Since the conbadge and the icon were smaller, I did those first and I scanned them in and sent him the files to see what he thought. He didn't really comment on them, so...I dunno =P *shrugs* My original idea for the reference sheet was this: draw his character, one pose per cardstock, scan them into the computer, colour each pose in Photoshop, then assemble it all together into one file, making it the reference sheet. It seemed easy enough, right? *shifty eyes* Right?

So I got the inked poses done (front, side, back), and I scanned them in and I worked on one of the poses in Photoshop. I'm not used to colouring in Photoshop, so it does take me longer to colour things in there. However, it literally took me an entire day to just finish the one pose O.o My back was aching, my shoulders were killing me...So I decided to Email the guy and tell him that it's taking longer to finish it because it takes a while to colour in Photoshop for me. He responds with "Oh...you started colouring it already? I didn't see the Inked versions of them yet."

That was my fault for not showing him the inked versions before I started colouring them...but at the sametime, I thought to myself "Oh crap...what if he sees the inked versions and he wants me to do serious changes?" Well, I tried being optimistic about it, so I took a screenshot of what I had in Photoshop (the near-finished colouring of the front pose, and I had the side and back poses also on my Photoshop so he could see them). And then I held my breath, hoping for the best.

He Emailed me back, saying "you're on the right track, but there's still some things that need changing..." Oh boy. He also gave me his phone number, in hopes that I would give him a call and we can discuss the changes over the phone. THAT made me nervous O.o Yeah...Like I'm going to give someone a call I might have met briefly at a convention in order to talk about these things? Uh...no. I sent him an Email, saying that I'd rather just keep these things to Emails if that's Ok, and asked him what things needed changing.

Again, I held my breath, hoping for the best. At this point, I was seriously starting to think that maybe I really under-charged myself. Or might have gotten in over my head.

And he Emailed me back. Saying that the wings are still wrong - they're supposed to be muscular, as well as giving me an explaination of how he wanted the wings differently (this could also be my fault for just not understanding what he meant about the wings in the beginning, but still, I showed him the pencil sketches before and back then, he said they were Ok...), he wanted the tail changed so it was more curved, the groin feathers to be longer, the head looked too small, and wanted the claws on the hands to be more visable. He also pointed out the good things too, which was Ok...but after reading everything that he wanted changed, I could literally feel a panic attack coming on. This has *never* happened to me before - getting a panic attack, or even feeling the urge to want to curl up into a little corner and cry like a girl, over a commission.

I would have to completely re-draw all three poses, because the changes he wanted were just too much to "touch up" on the drawings.

I talked to my husband about it and he believes I should just drop this guy like a hot potato. Forget about doing the reference sheet altogether. I also asked a few of my friends, venting to them about how this whole thing is seriously stressing me out, and they either said the samething, or, charge more for the re-draws. If he doesn't like the charging of the re-draws, then don't do it, it's not worth it.

So after I thought about it for a while, I decided to give him a choice: I'll do the re-draws with the necessary changes (and this time, I will show him the pencil sketches and keep doing the necessary changes until the drawing is *perfect* and then I will ink them. And when they are inked, that's IT. No more do-overs, nothing. What you see in the inked version is DONE. AND I would have to charge him for the do-overs. Otherwise, I told him, I'm going to have to NOT do this commission. It's a lot of work, and it takes time and stuff.

And besides, at this point, it's then around July 31st. So it's been taking me nearly a month to get this commission done and having him approve/disapprove of things. I thought this whole thing would be done in a week - two weeks tops.

He Emailed me back, telling me "no no! please don't give up! Don't worry about the colouring, if you get line-art done, you can send me that then". Well, not doing colouring in Photoshop was a big lift off my shoulders, so I agreed to do the re-drawings with the alterations, as long as he pays me for the re-drawings as well. Here's what his response was to that:

I am ok with the extra charge, I like your style, and would rather pay
more for it done right, than having it done cheaply and low-quality.
Yeah, i agree it =is= a hard commision, but I totally believe you have the
talent to get it to the finish line. I am already telling people about
you, and when it is done(correctly) it will be a boon(good) for your fan
(There arnt alot of avians, and if you become an expert at drawing them,
you would be the goto person for the quality images, which would be good
for your business).

I don't know about anyone else, but when I read this Email, it made me think he was doing me a favour: "if you draw my avian character correctly, all of my avian friends will want a commssion from you!" Maybe it's me? I dunno. But it actually felt like I was being rubbed the wrong way. As well as feeling like he wanted it to be absolutely PERFECT, with no flaws or anything. Which, yeah, I can understand. But at the sametime, I almost feel like I was at my wits end. The Email made me think he was doing me a favour by getting more business to me by telling his other friends about me...but I thought to myself "If your friends (avian friends?) are just as nit-picky as you are, I DON'T WANT THEIR BUSINESS!"

Still no sign of getting paid yet either.

So I went ahead and did a pencil sketch, with whatever changes he wanted. Muscular feathered wings...they just kinda threw me off, it's not how I draw feathered wings. He actually sent me a reference drawing by Ulario of how he wanted the wings to be muscular. Ok, I'll use that as a reference then. He tried to explain to me how he wanted to actual anatomy of the wing to be like:

*"Imagine you out-stretch your arm, take note of where your shoulder/elbow/wrist/fingers are,
Proportion the wing the same, out the shoulder, down to the elbow, up to the wrist, then out further to the end of the wing tip,
Important: The distance from wrist(wing) out to the end should be equal to the distance from the shoulder to the wrist.
if one would imagine having the arm in the same pose as the wing the bends should be the same proportion.
Also as in the above referenced image the wing(muscle) should have some meat on it, like an arm."
This is relevant for all perspectives(front/side/back +folded/unfolded)

As well as:

Remember to size the various sections of the wing to the same length as the arm
Wrist to wing tip (same distance)= Shoulder to wrist

So I did the sketch, with the muscular wing (which still makes me feel weird, doing a feathered wing muscular), and showed him the sketch. The wing still isn't right. He also emphasised that he'd been studying bird anatomy for a long long time, and he just reaaaaaally would like this to be done *PERFECT*.

So by now, we're up to the present, and this took place last night: I thought about for a little while, and the little wheels in my head finally cranked and turned...And I thought "...Does he mean for the wrist to come all the way down? That...just sounds to be more like a feathered dragon's wing or something (minus the digits)."

So I drew a very rough sketch of what finally I think he meant. I basically drew a gargoyle/dragon-like wing, but instead of drawing the membranes and digits in it, I drew in feathers. To me, it still doesn't look right. It reminded me of how I used to draw feathered wings when I was a kid. But I shrug, scanned it in, and Emailed it to him, saying "is it something like this?"

He Emails me back...it's PERFECT!

M'okay...it still doesn't look right to *me*, but if this is what he wants...

So I told him "Ok, I'll fix the sketch and show that to you (this new sketch - the re-draw - has all the right changes now, and he approved of everything except for the wings, but now that that's been clearned, I can fix it). Once I would finish the sketch with the changes, I'll re-scan it and show to you. I'll also show you the pencil sketches of the other two poses too, in case there's something that needs changing. Again, once you approve of it, I'm inking it. Once it's been inked, then it's DONE."

I also sent him the price list of what he owes me (cuz I still haven't been paid yet). He also thought the conbadge AND icon came out to $15 altogether O.o; I had to correct him on that, that the conbadge was $25, and the icon was $5. So anyways, the grand total is $110. And, because he mentioned I didn't have to worry about colouring it, I took $5 off the original reference sheet price, as my prices were $20 for an ink drawing (rather than $25 for an inked AND coloured drawing). Maybe I shouldn't have taken the $5 off? I dunno. Half of me didn't want to, cuz I've already done a lot of work on this already, but the other half of me was saying "Well no, I want to be honest, I don't want to charge him for colour if he's not getting colour." So yeah, the total's $110, rather than $115. And I tell him my payment options, blah blah blah.

So now, he Emails me back with this:

Ok, quick question. Is it easy to color-with-noncomputer?
Would that be an option? ($110 is a lot of money to then have to go get it colored)
Will be Pay-Pal.

Wait...he wants me to colour it after all?? O.o; I Emailed him back that yes, marker colouring is MUCH easier for me to do, HOWEVER! The shades of browns that would be used for colouring his character aren't the greatest, and are in fact, dying. At best, they'll turn out in streaks, or even be hard to colour because they'll appear as a dying marker. I wasn't saying it to him so I can get out of colouring it in marker - I was saying it cuz those shades of my markers are dying, and with gas prices the way they are now, I don't feel like driving an hour and 10 minutes to the nearest art store just to buy two markers and come right back (I live out in the country-the middle of nowhere, so I don't like going to town unless I have a *lot* of things I need to do there, to help save on gas).

So that was my recent EMail to him. About the colouring with markers and stuff. I also told him I wasn't going to ink them until I get paid.

And I've spent a good part of my afternoon typing this up because, quite honestly, I had been thinking about posting this guy sooner, but I kept putting it off because of the "Well, what if he or one of his friends sees this, and all kinds of drama starts?" but at this point, I just don't care anymore. From the time he originally Emailed me for the first time, to now, has been a month and a half. Still no payment for something I was hoping would be done in a week or so. I have *never* had anyone this picky about their character before, and I can honestly say that after this commission is done, I will *never* offer reference sheet commissions. Ever. Too much of a hassle. My husband thinks I'm crazy that I haven't gotten rid of this guy yet and that I'm still drawing his character, hoping to get paid soon.

I seriously believe I have a bad case of the "I'm just too damn nice" syndrome. Maybe I should've just said "no thanks" to him at the beginning. Sure, we need the money and all, but is it really worth the stress, panic attacks, sobbing-break down, and the extra new 20 or so silver hairs on my head? No, I don't think it was.

So, now you can go ahead and thwap me with those mallets and pillows XD
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