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So whats reasonable?

I'm new to this commissioning thing having just started getting my first few commission recently. After reading a few of these horror stories from all of you and as a concerned artist who wants to do more commissions in the future, I ask you all.

What do you consider a reasonable amount of time for an artist to finish and complete a commission?

We all know that artists have lives, jobs, and interests outside our art that art important and some commissions/artists take longer than others (such as an icon verses a 2 character full color image) But generally give me a fiar time frame by you, as a commissioner's, stand point.
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( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 8th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
Whatever you and the commissioner agree on. I think that's the biggest issue usually, both parties having different ideas of what's fair, and not talking about it BEFORE work is started.

Jan. 8th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)

I have a disclaimer up on my website that if anyone commissions me, they understand that my job takes priority. However, if there is money exchanged, there is a guarantee that they will get their artwork, though it may take me a bit longer to get it to them. I also try to keep the lines of communication open.
Jan. 8th, 2009 08:45 pm (UTC)
it should be done when you said it would be done, and agreed with the costumer it would be done.

Missing deadlines is extremely unprofessional. Sometimes unavoidable due to external circumstances, but should be avoided by any means possible. If you do end up missing a deadline, the work should be completed as quickly as possible before any other personal or paid work is done, other than other pro work with missed deadlines that's higher in the queue. Yes we all have personal lives, but once money has changed hands, you've entered into ana greement to do something. If that means you can't go to the cinema with your friends because you have to meet a deadline, then don't go to the cinema. If it means working in the evenings when you're with your family at thanksgiving, then it means working in the evenings. YOU made the promise to meet that deadline, YOU need to meet it, just like with schoolwork, or professional salaried work.
Jan. 8th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)

The exact time frame isn't anywhere near as important as meeting one's commitment. I have quite happily paid for a commission that I knew I wouldn't be seeing for months. But I also knew that the artist in question respects deadlines, and would get it done when she had promised to.

On the other hand, I've been really annoyed to not have art a week after I paid for it, because I was promised it the very next day. (Just a sketch, but still...)

Some people won't want to wait, so if you quote deadlines that are months away, you'll get less business, but if you quote a deadline next week, and then take two months to finish something, you're going to have unhappy customers. Of course sometimes life happens, I'm running a little behind myself, but I'm doing the best I can to get caught up, and I've tried to keep my customers updated, so that they know what's going on.
Jan. 8th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
I've noticed it's a highly individual thing.
Some artists can crank out work like whoa and a reasonable time for them is 2 weeks, other people take months if not longer because they only have little spare time to work in or sparse bouts of inspiration that they can't work without.
Basically, any amount of time is reasonable/acceptable if the customer is aware of the duration ahead of time and agrees to it. And you should always stay in contact.

If you're not sure what time frame to quote, think back about requests/trades and how long they took you to finish them. Is your school/work situation different now, if so, will it make it take more or less time?

Allocate time for the commission every day, or every weekend, to work on the commission depending on when you have time to sit down comfortably for it. Try to be disciplined enough to keep to your schedule. Also, give yourself a safety margin, little things can pop up and throw your schedule off and even if a customer doesn't mind if the work is a little late, if you finish a little early you'll make a good impression.
Avoid negative impressions if you do end up running late by maintaining clear and reliable contact with the customer.

Good luck.
Jan. 8th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
I agree with what everyone above has said, that the time-frame should be something discussed from the beginning with the commissioner and agreed on mutually.

Though from my personal experiences (I do commissions as my main income), I have implemented a system where I will only ever accept as many works into my queue as I can comfortably complete within a month's time. By doing this, none of my commissioners are ever forced to wait long periods of time for their work and I have yet to get a single complaint about taking too long. It just works out for everyone. This is just my personal method though, there are lots of ways to work these things out.

Jan. 8th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
I am personally of the mind that anything past a few months is extremely unprofessional. However, I've learned that it's actually the norm within a lot of communities to take SEVERAL months to complete an image, possibly even more than a year, and while some people are content with that timeframe, I know I'm not. It's really up to the commissioner, in the end. Lately I've been working with professional illustrators who do freelance as a source of income, and while they are much more expensive than your traditional "furry" artist, the turnaround time never exceeds two weeks.

It all boils down to preference and what you're willing to pay for.
Jan. 8th, 2009 09:28 pm (UTC)
a lot of people doing more involved work like costumes or paintings will fill up queues several months to a year or so in advance. There's no problem with this, as long as the customer is well informed and those distant deadlines ARE met. I doubt you could get a decent fursuit from a good maker in less than 6-9 months from the day you submit your concept art, and most of the big makers longer than that.
Jan. 8th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
What you as the commisioner is willing to accept is completely valid. If you don't like the time frame then you should move on. However it is not unproffesional to have a long wait time. My commissions for full size acrylic paintings are about a year's wait and folks on my list know this. No money changes hands till I'm ready to work so it's no big deal if things change and the commissioner has to back out. As long as we both know and agree on things up front, it's all good.
Jan. 8th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
I firmly believe that money shouldn't change hands unless the commission is ready to be started on. I suppose I didn't state my point clearly enough: to me, it is unprofessional to take money without any intention of starting the commission for months or more. This is what I primarily have complaints about. A waiting list is one thing, but taking money, saying, "I'll start on it soon!" and then having months upon months pass.... well. I think that's a lot different than having a waiting list.
Jan. 9th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)
it can depend. Some furs have to be special ordered and can take several weeks to arrive. Deposit money shouldn't be sitting around for months doing nothing, but if it goes on hard to get materials for an item to be started in a couple of months, I'm OK with that
Jan. 9th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
I'm not talking about art that requires expensive materials in advance. Honestly, I don't even really consider fursuits when I think about art; I'm not saying that they AREN'T art, but I'm saying I think that artwork like that is more of a special-case sort of thing. I'm talking about illustrations, whether they be traditional media or digital media.
Jan. 9th, 2009 08:27 am (UTC)
I take a long time on my commissions (a few months) because of the fact I rarely draw. I just do not get a lot of inspiration to draw big projects any more. Therefore, I would rather wait until I have the inspiration to draw, then force myself to do something that is not my best work. I feel that a commissioner should get work as good as my own personal artwork, and it would not be fair to do something any less in the interest of time.

I also suffer from severe mental health issues and chronic pain that can leave me unable to get out of bed sometimes, while attending college.

And just so I don't get called out on it... I don't actively advertise or take commissions because of these reasons. But every so often I have someone personally note me and ask if they can commission me, and I will agree. They are completely aware how long my commissions can take.

Considering I can take up to 40 hours to work on a commission (not counting the massive amounts of time I spend asking the person questions and trying to understand the characters I am drawing), and the fact I have been told by others I under charge myself for the work I do (it used to be 15 dollars for a fully coloured piece... 5 dollars for a background, 5 dollars for every extra character. Lately I've upped a fully coloured piece to 25, although the rest still remains)... I don't think someone waiting several months instead of a few weeks is that unreasonable.

I also don't require people pay up front either as soon as they agree to a commission. However, if I get inspiration and plan to start on it, then I will not start until I receive payment. I still have someone who commissioned me almost a year ago yet has not paid yet- I told them it was no big deal.

Now, on the other hand, if someone takes on a lot of commissions, and knows they're going to take several months, and even takes on MORE... then yes, I find that to be unprofessional.

Edited at 2009-01-09 08:31 am (UTC)
Jan. 8th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
I normally give the commissioner a heads up as to an estimate when it might be done. I tend to give them a ball park, and then constantly update them. One customer I was worried that she was getting tired of getting emails everyday, but she later said she really liked that I sent her progress shots, and updates. There were a couple of times with the specific piece that I was unable to complete the next step at x-time, but I made sure to e-mail them constantly to let them know that something had come up.
Jan. 8th, 2009 09:28 pm (UTC)
As soon as reasonably possible. In real life when someone gives you a job you don't really get to take your sweet time to finish it, nor should you for commissions. While I accept up to 10 commissions at a time, I don't expect payment from them until I am ready to start on theirs. Once I have their payment I don't take more than a day or two for a smaller work, or more than two weeks for a larger one (including having the commissioner correct sketches and stuff like that). Being able to take commissions means that you have already allocated the time in your schedule to do them.

Likewise, I expect my commissioners to pay me in full up front. I have a good reputation and am interested in keeping it, so for the last year that I have accepted commissions I really haven't run into any problems...

Just remember to lay out all of your terms clearly and to communicate as much as the commissioner expects! You don't need to inundate them but from this comm you can tell that disappearing for even a month is enough to make some people (rightfully) pissed.
Jan. 8th, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC)
In my opinion there is no standard. It's what ever time the artist and commissioner agree on. You'll only be able to figure your own personal times is by doing some and figuring out you general time for completion. It's different for every artist and as you've noted, depends on what your painting.
Jan. 8th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
Everyone is different.
I'm currently doing 5 pieces, 4 our of 5 of them are couples and those are hard for me so it takes a bit. Plus things happen so time usually can waver.
Honestly its a number of factors:
Type of art + life + artist skill + medium used + anything the universe could throw at them = Your commission time.

As long as there is good contact though, it's usually okay to take awhile...
Jan. 8th, 2009 09:55 pm (UTC)

Several factors will come into account.

First artist working speed, it's important for all commissioners to first find out what an average turn around speed is for an artist they want to commission, most artists will tell you this, they may also have varying turn arounds depending on what you want, my average turn around for a standard cartoon anthro image can be under a day but for realism complete with painstakingly painted fur and a full background, well 100+ hours of painting isn't unusual for that and that means a turn around of months unless I've got oodles of time if someone commissions me for that.

Secondly, what the customer wants. A wise person once said, fast, cheap, good, pick any two and forget the other one. If it's fast and cheap, it won't be good, if it's fast and good, it won't be cheap and if it's cheap and good? It won't be fast.

There is no hard and fast rule really, beyond that each transaction is individual.

Jan. 8th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
Time frame is all case-by-case basis. At least with me. Many of my clients don't have a deadline, and we don't agree upon one. But I have a good reputation, and generally they realize it can take a couple weeks or so, or...it'll take less then a day. It does shift and change with life. BUT, I do the one thing that keeps them coming back:

I stay in touch. I update even if there's no art.

If an artist I commission does that for me, I'll wait years. So long as they continue to remember what I've paid for. Communication goes a long way, but this is my personal opinion. It's such an individual thing.
Jan. 9th, 2009 08:35 am (UTC)
Yep, I agree. I take a long time with my commissions, but I am constantly contacting my commissioner, asking them questions about the character I am drawing, telling them I'm practicing to draw their character (which I do sometimes... I recently got a commission for a human character and I'm not great at humans, so I've been practicing them), etc. Making sure they know I did not forget them.

Not meaning to brag, but I've been told by others who have commissioned me that I have incredible customer service. It's something I pride myself on.

When I commission someone and they do not contact me often, except to get payment and tell me when it's finished- even if I like the piece of art a lot... I don't commission them again, as lack of communication is a huge pet peeve of mine.

Edited at 2009-01-09 08:36 am (UTC)
Jan. 9th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
I'm of the opinion that there really is no standard when it comes to that, BUT:

1.) If money is demanded upfront, taking more than 3-5 months (or longer, depending on the medium) to produce a piece is unacceptable, unless the ARTIST keeps the commissioner updated on the status (in which case, waiting much longer is reasonable).

Artists who don't charge upfront should feel that they have every right to take as long as they need. Artists that do charge upfront should feel compelled to finish pieces in a TIMELY fashion. It's not fair to a commissioner to take and spend their money without producing at least a WIP sketch after a couple of weeks/months. I can understand that having a job and whatnot takes priority, but if you know that you're going to be too busy to get ordered pieces to your commissioner in a reasonable time frame, then you probably shouldn't be taking on so many commissions in the first place.
Jan. 9th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)
For me? Probably like, a year, maybe even more, but this is only if the artist keeps in contact with me, and keeps me updated, and is willing to answer me if I ask how it's going. Communication is usually all I really want, I'm far more patient if I know what's going on.

If it's something tiny like an icon, that time does go down a good bit, I'll admit.
Jan. 9th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
I don't mind how long it takes just as long as the person keeps in contact with me. When they stop responding or whatever else, that's when I really start to get annoyed. I find it a bit ridiculous for someone to tell me the art will be done within the month and then 6 months later it's still not done... but as long as they're telling me they still have it on their to-do list I don't get too bothered. It's nice when the artist tries to contact the commissioner for progress details first, too.

I've had some people take a huge amount of time to get back to me without so much as a "sorry for taking so long" and someone else to apologize profusely for taking 2 weeks on something (seriously, I was like "hey man, this is the fastest turn-around time I've ever seen no need to apologize D:")

but yeah.. I'm sure everyone is different, just KEEP IN CONTACT is the main thing.. (: and don't quote people dates you can't keep.
Jan. 9th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)
A little irrelevant, but who thinks that it is TOTALLY unfair that you can ring a plumber to come around and he says "Sure thing, be there at one, today" and he doesn't come until the day after the next, even so, you're expected to suck it up. YET an artist MUST finish a piece when they said they were going to finish it or be faced with harrassment and people giving a bad rep? There'd be more plumbers than professional artists, but such a double standard.
Jan. 11th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
I don't see how it's a double standard at all. When I am paying someone for their time, and they give me a specific timeframe, I expect that timeframe to be upheld, whether it be plumber or artist. And you say this as if there is nowhere on the web to leave feedback on businesses, too; I often check Citysearch.com, or other comparable sites, before I contact a business for services.

So no, it's not a double standard whatsoever. I know I'm not in the minority when I say that it doesn't matter WHAT your profession is, it's still extremely rude to be late on whatever service you are providing.
Jan. 9th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
I'll go ahead and throw out my number (that as an artist I consider a good working time-frame) 4 to 8 weeks. I can do things faster than that, (and tend to do complex things in 3 weeks, which bleeds into four weeks if I'm busy). I know I'm faster probably than others, and the time periods I'm quoting are on the assumption of only having on commission (in addition to my regular load of time absorbing commitments), but for me, that's a good time frame. It's still reasonably short by some standards, but gives good leeway. Also, if the work gets done faster than that new projects can be started on.
Jan. 9th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised that no one thought of this.

Sometimes there are just times when the artist gets SCREWED over and can't get back to someone about their art. I've had that happen. I was actually the last in a line of five commissions that someone took. She lost her motivation for them at mine and as an apology for taking longer, sent me a free bookmark.

I think if you're honest and you throw in a little extra at the end, it's always appreciated and will boost your name.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )


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