Kitty in the Box (zackfig) wrote in artists_beware,
Kitty in the Box

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Advice: The line between friendship and business.

It's been a while since I posted here. Perhaps you remember, most likely you don't. This is a sort of follow-up to my previous post on this topic.

Where to draw the line between artist and friend? What about the line between a trade between friends and a business transaction? Is it advisable to commission your own friends or not?

It's always nice when you, as a commissioner, manage to establish a friendship with a really good artist. Sometimes, you get jumped to close to the top of the queue, sometimes you get a special discount for a piece -- or sometimes, you continue to get skipped.

Sometimes, the artist comes to you because the artist needs your money, art supplies, assorted goodies, et al, and is willing to draw you something back in return for your kindness. Most of the time, your friend will indeed return the favor; on some occasions however, you are expected to understand the artist because the artist is your friend.

Empirically speaking, I've had commissions been held up for close to two years now by a friend who is also an artist; said has repeatedly told me to understand that she has an artist block but however she does art for some pay sites and does produce art for other people. It is aggravating, but as a respect to the friendship, one could let it slide.

So, what to do when the friendship has gone sour? Had a friend whom I helped on several times, with an agreement to get a "commission" at the end. What if there was no actual transaction for the piece per se, but rather, a sort of understanding that a future service would be rendered in exchange for all the prior help.

Overall, after the friendship went sour, the agreement was pretty much nullified without any recourse on my behalf to contest it. In fact, prior to that point, at one point there was a threat that the agreement was not gonna be completed regardless, specially if I were to ask on its status. I still would like my piece of art *coughZoeycough*, but I highly doubt I will ever see it.

In any case, there are things I've learned from this. As you get close to a person, you get to see things a client might not be aware of. It is hard, because as a friend, you do want to help your friends who are artists, but concordantly, there is always the chance they can feel likely to slack because they do not feel as obligated as if it were a proper business transaction.

I've learned to not commission my own friends unless they possess strong business ethics. I also do tip more generously to commissioned friends that keep their side of the contract.

I'd like to know what others think, on both sides, commissioners and artists, and how can we keep things professional between both sides when there's a friendship in between. Specially because a bad transaction can end in a soured friendship, if not a complete split.
Tags: advice for artists, advice for commissioners, discussion
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