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Advice on refunding commissions?

Hello Artists_Beware. :)

I have a question pertaining to refunding clients. It's two commissions; one I haven't started on. and the other I've gone about 1/4th of the way through. Now, for the past few weeks, I've been feeling drained concerning working on commissions, as at the beginning of the year, due to circumstances out of my control, I had to take on a fair bit more then I could chew commissions wise, vowing to myself that no matter how long it took, I'd try and finish everyone's commissions as fast as possible.

Sadly, I've hit the end of my rope. I have two clients from that batch of commissions waiting for their commissions, and because I'm in more of a stable situation now, I can refund them both.

However, I don't want to refund them and have it seen as though I'm merely being lazy. I'm not; the fact of the matter is, since the beginning of the year, I've burnt myself out time and time again trying to get all of these done in a timely manner. By this point, I'm so burnt out, I don't feel I can continue with these two commissions, and finish them with the best of my abilities, to deliver a product that's worth the money it was paid for.

I've asked a few friends, and they've told me I should probably just buck up and slough through them, but I don't want to give a sub-par product. I'm a little hesitant about giving refunds, too, because I feel as though I've failed my obligation to my clients, and they could somehow come after me.

What should I do? Should I explain to them both (Separately, obviously,) that I'm sorry, I've hit a point where I can't continue, and give them both their money back, or should I just continue on and try to get them done? Any help would be very much appreciated!

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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
growly
May. 29th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
How funny, I just refunded somebody for a commission I was taking too long on/lost interest in.
If refunding won't hurt you financially and will give you peace of mind, I say do it. It'll make finishing up whatever else you have go faster and you won't have the guilt hanging around you.
johnthornbush
May. 29th, 2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
Your milage may vary, but...
As a commissioner, I don't tend to think of an artist as lazy for refunding my commission if they are just too bored/tired/sick to do it. I only really wonder if it's only MY commissions that are getting refunded, as I usually offer to change the subject, propose different ideas, and try to keep the project engaging if I can.

Just figured I would throw that out there for you in case it might help.
celestinaketzia
May. 29th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)
I've received at least one commission where it was obvious the artist didn't have their heart in it. I had asked for a refund, but received the art instead.

Speaking as both an artist and a commissioner, I would refund. As an artist, you are right, you do not want to put a sub-par product out. Then, as a commissioner, I would not want to look at my finished piece and possibly see a difference in quality vs. older pieces.

So, yes, explain to them what's going on and refund them. If you can't do it, then you can't.
torinir2
May. 29th, 2010 08:04 pm (UTC)
Exactly. I, as a commissioner, would rather get my money back from an artist who's hit a burnout, than get a piece that LOOKS like the artist was burned out.
xxbalaaxx
May. 29th, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC)
I, personally, would rather issue a refund and offer an explanation/sincere apology to the commissioner than push myself through it. I would feel worse to do the latter simply, as you said, I hate to give an inferior piece of work to a commissioner, especially someone that has been patient. Art can be a business and as such all commitments should be treated professionally. But art differs from many other service oriented businesses in that it is not something that can just be manufactured and be on paar with other products. It is an intimate and delicate process that can be disrupted and as far as Im concerned it is more fair to the customer to refund them than do your best but still fall short of the mark.

I think most people would be understanding if you explained it politely, as you have here.
synviver
May. 29th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
Art can be a business and as such all commitments should be treated professionally. But art differs from many other service oriented businesses in that it is not something that can just be manufactured and be on paar with other products. It is an intimate and delicate process that can be disrupted and as far as Im concerned it is more fair to the customer to refund them than do your best but still fall short of the mark.

I love how you worded this, just FYI. It's bang on the money, I think.
snobahr
May. 29th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)
Another vote for Refund.
"As that I don't feel I can adequately finish your request to my satisfaction at this time, I am refunding your money. I'm sorry I was not able to execute your commission."
millilicious
May. 29th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
Just echoing everyone else and saying that you should just refund if you feel the commission quality won't be as good as your other pictures. Also, it's not fun on the commissioner themselves when they realise it's their commission that makes you feel down/upset/etc. I would personally feel better with just a refund if I knew the artist was a bit lowly about doing the picture.
shukivengeance
May. 29th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
I think you should talk to your clients first about it. Explain to them that you are burnt-out and don't feel that you could do their image justice. They might be happy to wait or they might not. Then decide.

Though if you'd definitely be happier refunding them and really do not wish to continue their pieces, be professional but firm.
viral_divinity
May. 29th, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
I've sent an e-mail to both of them about their art; by this point I'd really rather give them their refunds then allow room for negotiations keeping me engaged within the process.

(I did this with an earlier commissioner. I ended up redoing a commission I was hating into something I ended up loving to work on, but this time I'd prefer just giving them their refunds.)

Thank you for the advice. :)
spiffystuff
May. 29th, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
Maybe you could say something like "If you want, I can let you know first when I feel up to doing commissions again and we can try again - I'd just rather not be holding on to your money in the interim" or something with the refund :B
viral_divinity
May. 29th, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
That's actually a splendid idea. I think I'll do just that as soon as I get a response from either of them. :B
enveri
May. 30th, 2010 12:43 pm (UTC)
I am totally stealing this phrasing next time I get in this situation.

<3
moonvoice
May. 29th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think in this sense, a refund is ethically the best thing to do here. It's not only good for the clients; but it's good for you and gives you a space to recharge.

No one likes to say 'I'm not feeling so great about this right now,' but everyone goes through periods at work where they need to take their holidays, or need some time off, and this may just be your equivalent of taking time off and telling the boss that you can't do that report right now, because you're heart isn't in it.

Take a break, refund the money, and maybe give yourself a set time in which you won't take commissions, so you can focus on personal projects that nourish you, or take a break from all art (that it's possible to take a break from) in general.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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