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Advice: Being a good commissioner?

Hello everybody! I hope this post is alright as I haven't seen anything similar as I looked through the archives from the past few months. Feel free to let me know if I'm in the wrong, as I've never posted here before. :3

Anywhoozle, I just had a quick question for the artists on this community, but I'll lead up to it a bit for background info. I'm no artist myself, so I just commission pieces (maybe 1 every few months) and I've only had good experiences until my most recently commissioned piece. I strive to be a good commissioner and not fuss over small details or be Douchey McNitPick. I want to avoid ending up as a bad commissioner on this community, haha!

So, normally I'm used to getting an approval sketch and even if I see a few details off, I never mention it. Like I said, I try to be super easy to work with and above all, I want artists to have fun with it! I understand how art is just like any profession in that you get burnt out and sometimes you're just not in the mood. So, I try to be nice and keep the artist interested by not limiting them with SUPAR SPESHUL details.

The most recent piece I commissioned had no such approval stage. I was simply linked to the finished art. I noticed a few things were off, but left a comment saying how much I loved the creativity and effort put into it. I do sincerely appreciate how artists take time out of their day to create something so personal to me. But after inspecting it a bit closer, I noticed that a LOT of details were either off or missing entirely. Don't get me wrong, the art is good, it's just that... she's my character, ya know? I understand the ins and outs of her appearance and a lot of that was missing. It's to the point where I don't think the artist actually looked at my reference sheet or took note of my details for more than a quick glance.

My question is: Would it be better if I am honest about a piece that I'm dissatisfied with? There was no approval sketch, so I'd be asking for the artist to fix an already finished piece. Or is it better if I stay super easy to work with, even if it means compromising the look of my character?

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( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
violetvirtue
Jan. 2nd, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
Ahhh, I see! Thank you for the advice! :D

I see what you mean in terms of price. I'm definitely not paying an arm and a leg for the art, so I don't need to be super detail-oriented. And I definitely want the artist to be happy and have fun. :3
(Deleted comment)
violetvirtue
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
You sound like you really, REALLY care about your customers, haha! That's so nice to truly care about their happiness with each piece. :D

And I thought it was unusual that I didn't get any kind of approval beforehand, but just let it slide. Maybe I'll just send the artist a note so I'm not being super public about it. :3

Thank you so much for the advice! I can see that this community is going to be very helpful!
laini
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:01 am (UTC)
The way I see it at the end of the day you're paying for a service.
If you went to a restaurant and ordered a well done steak would you be happy if it came back rare?

Having said that, like with anything, there are ways and means of going about it.
You can be dissatisfied with something and explain your reasons why without being a douche.

Also a lot of artists these days seem to have T&Cs stating what to expect and whether any changes can be made.

I remember one artist I commissioned a piece for didn't want to incorporate one of my details because it was unrealistic.
Forgetting the whole anthropomorphical animals and realism thing for a moment I was a bit annoyed that I had to argue for it. I knew it wasn't realistic, I didn't care and it's what I was paying them to draw for me.

violetvirtue
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
Thank you for the advice! And I do enjoy metaphors, so your restaurant metaphor and the plumber metaphor from the poster below me help a lot!

One of my biggest fears is coming off as a douche to the artist, haha! I'll send her a note so it isn't some huge public scandal and I'll word my note very carefully to avoid offending or just being rude.

Thanks again! :D
chrdoesscience
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
It's definitely better to be honest with the artist than to lie and say you're satisfied. It's entirely the artist's own fault if they have to edit a finished piece because they never ask for confirmation or corrections beforehand.
As you said, freelance work is just like any other job: artists are getting money for their time and effort. If you called a plumber to fix your sink and instead he installs a new toilet, you'd complain. It's no different when dealing with artists.

Also, just an aside: I like when my commissioners inform me, during the sketch phase, if I've made small mistakes on their characters. I'd rather spend a bit more time on a sketch than have the commissioner feel dissatisfied with the final product.
alexds1
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
I definitely give leeway depending on price. If I'm spending under $20 I tend not to be too picky (unless they specify that I can be, in which case go for it XD)

One way to be sure is to maybe ask them if they allow edits before you commission them. Or ask if you can view of the preliminary sketch before they finalize. Like I said, I kind of expect that for higher price commissions but for things like quick sketches it is best to take it easy.
ellonwye
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:11 am (UTC)
Sorry to nose through your gallery but I see the image you mean, and comparing it to your ref sheet I can also see the glaring inaccuracies.

If your character was complicated and had a whole bunch of little details that would be easy to get wrong I'd probably just say that just letting an artist do their thing is probably gonna lead to better work, unless it was a more expensive commission where accuracy is of particular importance.. but the details the artist has gotten wrong are things that shouldn't have happened with more than a casual glance at your ref sheet I assume you gave them.

So.. I'm not sure. Are you happy with the piece, or would you be happier if it were changed to be more accurate? They don't look like difficult edits and I'd assume the artist has kept the piece with layers intact. As long as you're not pushy with them about getting a change, maybe they will be happy to do some edits for you.
Personally I would be mortified at getting such simple details wrong and would fix them immediately but that isn't the case with everybody.

e: Should probably mention that the inaccuracies I can see are colour related, I don't know if there are particular things about the clothing, etc, that you asked for in the commission. Colours should be very easy to fix.

Edited at 2011-01-02 01:19 am (UTC)
violetvirtue
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
I thank you so much for comparing the piece to the reference! I don't think you were being nosy at all, just super helpful with your opinion. :3

I was hoping that it wasn't just me seeing the differences since she's so personal to me. I've sent the artist a note so it's private and I tried to keep it super nice and avoid coming off as rude.

Thank you so much for the advice! In fact, I want to thank everyone for their advice because now I'm getting too many replies to keep up with. XD
idess
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:12 am (UTC)
If a client was dissatisfied with art I did I'd definately want to know. If it is digital media, it may be easy for them to fix. I can see skipping over small details and appreciating the artistic license (You can't imagine how many times I've commissioned artists and something is different about the character than the ref showed [colors slightly off, a marking interpreted differently], but in the end it still looks like my character and I enjoy it!) But if it truly is so bad that it really doesn't resemble your character, I think it's in your right as a customer to mention it.

I assume it varies per person, like the first commenter who said to be an easy client, but as an artist I'd rather you tell me you're not so satisfied than think you wasted the money on a piece that doesn't look like your character!
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - idess - Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - violetvirtue - Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:38 am (UTC) - Expand
spiffystuff
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
I think you should always specify corrections you would like to see at the sketch stage. If you want to be an easy commissioner (admirable!) and would not mind if they weren't included, then just say that! "Usually my character would have ___, ___, and ___ as well, but it's up to you as an artist!" Or something like that.
Personally I like working with people to get their character how they want! (Within certain limits, of course)
However, once the piece is done that's a bit more hairy... depends a lot on the artists personality and how un/satisfied you are. Personally I always like to hear how I could have done better, but some folks seem to always take criticism the wrong way.
laini
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:24 am (UTC)
They would have if there had been a sketch stage.

If someone doesn't bother looking over an approval sketch and then complains about something the artist got wrong in the final version then it's their own fault :P

(no subject) - spiffystuff - Jan. 2nd, 2011 05:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - laini - Jan. 2nd, 2011 05:48 am (UTC) - Expand
celestinaketzia
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:18 am (UTC)
I am speaking as someone who gets commissions as much as they do commissions. It is entirely possible to let someone know about missed details without being difficult. I've only ever been in this situation once where the artist missed my desired pose entirely. I debated a good while about telling her, and I eventually did. She was very sweet about it, and redid the image.

As an artist, if you'd tell me I missed some details on your character, I'd be more than happy to fix it. You are paying for a service. It is the artist's fault for not offering you a step to see a work in progress. This helps curb issues like this.

Edit: I think I've found the image, and I can see what was done wrong. Personally, if it were me doing your work, that wouldn't be hard to fix. I also don't believe it would be an unreasonable thing to ask to fix, either.

Edited at 2011-01-02 01:38 am (UTC)
forsaken_malice
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:23 am (UTC)
I'm an "artist" and I'd MUCH rather have the person that commissions me be completely happy with the work I've given them than not have to fix anything. I leave little mistakes alone when I commission others, but if it was a major detail- or a BUNCH of mistakes (especially to the point that it doesn't look like your character anymore) then damn straight I'd really want it fixed :/
shiftergoddess
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:27 am (UTC)
Echoing a lot of what others have said already, it's best to be completely honest with the artist you're working with because in the end you paid them for something and they didn't come through completely.

As an artist, even on trades, i take great care to follow references because i know if i were the receiving end i would be a little disappointed if something was off.
ciderfox
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:28 am (UTC)
Hmm. I always give out progression shots for larger commissions, but I usually don't for $20 or less. I'm always open to editing in anything I've messed up though, as I am the only one to blame so long as accurate refs were given.

I think no matter what, they're liable to fixing errors, as you did pay for a service.
skulldog
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:39 am (UTC)
Having taken a peek at the art is question, I think asking for the color imperfections to be changed wouldn't be out of line or make you a 'difficult' commissioner.

Worst case the artist says no, right?

Honestly, I know I've made mistakes on colors in commissions, and I'd much rather have someone point this out, than to be unhappy.
violetvirtue
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
Ahhh, okay! Thank you very much for the advice! :D

And thank you for looking at the piece as well! I like having outside perspectives on it as well. I didn't want my bias to inhibit seeing it objectively and comparing it to the reference. And since it is just some coloring details, I was hoping it wouldn't be too much to ask for, but I'm so super shy. XD

I've sent the artist a note to keep it private and I tried to word it as nicely as possible. The last thing I want is to come off as rude and throw a tantrum. XD

Once again, a huge thanks for your response! And to everyone else as well! I wasn't expecting so many replies so fast! Haha!
rupertistheone
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:44 am (UTC)
I think I see the commission piece you're talking about, and comparing it to your ref sheet I have this to say: if the artist is anything like me I could make those color changes in two second. I keep all the colors on separate layers from the shading in indvidual things. I'm not sure if there's anything besides color problems, so I don't know if there's anything else, but if I were both you as the commissioner and the guy as the artist, I'd ask him if he wouldn't mind changing the colors and as the artist I'd say sure I'm sorry here it'll be a quick fix.

But who knows! It's up to you, I would politely ask, I did ask that once on an art trade, and the person did fix it for me which was nice.
stormslegacy
Jan. 2nd, 2011 02:05 am (UTC)
If accurate refs are given and it's not obvious why the error occurred (like, you forgot to mention it or sent a potentially unclear ref) I would talk to them about it. As an artist I would prefer a commissioner be open with me, the worst that should happen is that they say no. being a bad commissioner is more about HOW you approach things rather than the act of asking itself =) You paid for a service and (with reason and some leeway for style) the character drawn should accurately reflect the design shown on your refs.

I do have experience asking for corrections as when I do commission art there's an extremely common error that artists make with my fursona: on my ref it specifies that my fursona has a broken wing that can be shown however the artist wishes (frayed, bent, in a cast, missing, bleeding stump...anything goes). It even says right on my ref "This is the ONE detail that really makes my fursona special, please make it obvious!" and includes a picture of how I draw it myself but a good number of artists I have commissioned either forget it entirely or pose it purposely so that it can't be seen. It wasn't until I started politely correcting for it that it regularly showed in commissions as I wanted it to, and so far every artist I've asked has been very pleasant about it, even in the two cases where no progress pics were shown.
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