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Unusual situation with commissioner?

This isn't a beware -- it's more of a "I need advice" sort of thing.

I was commissioned recently by someone who wanted to commission a gift for a friend. They commissioned me rather close to their friend's birthday and so they agreed to pay for it as a rush order, we agreed on a date and I was very comfortable with everything. They were very, very nice, reasonable and paid quickly and in full!

I got probably like 80% done with the plushie (due date was the first week of June, I was prepared to have it finished last week) when I got a message from the commissioner saying that I should put the plushie on hold due to some troubles that seem to have come up between them and their friend. From what I understand the friend in question probably wouldn't appreciate a gift from them right now and it doesn't seem like the commissioner would want a plush of their friend's character hanging around if they are having an out, so I understand why. But I'm not entirely sure what to do. I put the plush on hold for right now and I'm just hoping the argument wasn't too terrible. :<

Like I said, they paid a rush fee and I was going to be able to have the plushie done early -- I just feel bad because they did pay extra and it was a pretty expensive plush to begin with and now it seems like that will have been a waste of money on their end one way or the other. So, I'm tempted to offer them their rush fee back -- though I set quite a bit aside to finish it on time, so I also don't want to, haha (and of course I can use the cash myself).

I also don't know what I should do about finishing it. I'm anticipating probably another 6 hours or so of work until it's done, which is not terrible but I could be using the time to finish some other more time-sensitive projects (preparing for AC, etc.) and they gave me permission to set it aside, but again I feel guilty, haha.

Anyway, it's just an odd situation. I feel terribly because the commissioner was so nice and it just seems like a really unfortunate situation for them. What would you guys do? D:</cut>

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( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 25th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
Until you hear otherwise in writing, I'd finish it, since then you cover your bases. You're not obligated to give any money back after you've been paid and done the work, but it's probably safest to have the work done just in case because if you do keep the money, then you better have the work done. You're just covering your butt that way by completing the 'contract'.

Certainly, it'd be very kind to offer something back, but I'd talk to them first about it and only offer what you feel comfortable with and make sure any new arrangement is clear.
May. 27th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
I agree with this advice.

Also, if they turn it down and you refund them some of their money (such as the rush fee), you could also alter it and sell it at con as a generic plush (or use it as a sample) and offer to make your client something special for them that will just take longer to do, as sort of a consolation. It requires a bit more work on your part, but in time you could recoup your losses while compensating your client for their payment.
May. 25th, 2011 11:26 pm (UTC)
I would agree with galis. Complete the work now and then deal with the client's needs after.
May. 25th, 2011 11:28 pm (UTC)
If they want it set aside, then set it aside. If they no longer want the plush, refund for the amount of work remaining, and no more.

I would not refund them the rush fee. The fee was basically "overtime" pay for you, and you did work overtime to complete it on schedule. You should be paid for you work, regardless of whether or not the commissioner decides to continue with the commission at a later time.
May. 25th, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC)
Also, it's really best to set it aside now and not finish it. If they wind up wanting to cancel the commission, at least at that point you will be able to give them a partial refund for the work that you had yet to do. If they cancel it and you've already completed it after they asked you to set it aside, that could cause some issues, because they'd likely want some money back... and once the commission is complete, there's no amount that should be refunded.
May. 25th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
I agree with this. To finish it even though they asked you to hold off on it is not 'covering your bases' it's actively going against what the client wants. What the rush fee was paid for is already work put in but I think going ahead and completing the plush anyway when that's not what the client wants would be a bad idea.
May. 25th, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC)
Eh, yeah. I'd try to tell them that at this point it's too late to cancel and you can finish it up and send it to whoever they want. Maybe just send it to the commissioner and they can give it to the friend whenever things settle down, or keep it, or give it to someone else (the plush is the commissioner's char, not the friend's char right?)
May. 25th, 2011 11:37 pm (UTC)
"it doesn't seem like the commissioner would want a plush of their friend's character hanging around"

It is the friend's character.
May. 25th, 2011 11:41 pm (UTC)
From the sounds of it, its the friend's character and thus they want it set aside. If I commissioned my own character as a gift for a friend (which seems slightly odd in and of itself, although not unheard of) I'd personally be fine with it being finished. If its my own character I can keep it instead without too much weirdness like keeping someone else's character would be ya'know?
May. 26th, 2011 09:09 am (UTC)
I've had quite a few plushie commissions from people who are buying one for a friend so I don't think it's that uncommon ^^
May. 26th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know its not uncommon for people to buy a commission for a friend. Its just uncommon for the commissioner to order their own personal character for the friend in place of the friend's character from what I've seen. :)
May. 25th, 2011 11:33 pm (UTC)
"though I set quite a bit aside to finish it on time"

That's exactly why the paid the rush fee, for it to be made priority. The fact that they asked you to put it on hold is moot, because you already put extra time into making it before this situation came up.
May. 25th, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC)
I'd set it aside since its what they asked for, and that should probably be respected since it doesn't really hurt your schedule much if you've already been paid to do so.

If the fight is bad enough the friendship ends they can get a partial refund from you to cover the unfinished work. Then you're not cutting yourself short on the hard work you did, and you can message them back today to let them know since its not finished they can get some of their money back as a way to "do" something for them and their situation if the worst happens. :) Empathizing is good, but there's no need to make it unfair to yourself for the sake of kindness.

I'd also feel much better about that if I was in their shoes anyway compared to being told "I finished the plushie anyway, so you better take it" more or less.
May. 25th, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
First I'd wait, they might always get back and want the toy by the original due date.

If it's put on hold, what I would do is refund the percentage of the rush fee you had left to do. If the rush fee were $50 because you're 80% done, I'd refund $10. You did have to do overtime for that 80% and you should be paid for it.

As for the larger potential issue of complete cancelation, if you can alter it enough to make it generic, I'd do so, then offer a refund of the profits from it. If you can't alter it, well, I'd refund for the remaining 20% or if you could use it for something (e.g. a sample to take to cons) offer a partial refund.
May. 26th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
A lot of people are saying wait, and while I agree, my question is, how long is too long?

I mean, no wants a piece sitting aside for months. And a lot of people feel unmotivated or bad giving low quality work because it's different then what you do at present. True, it is what they paid for, but it's still hard on the artist sometimes.
May. 26th, 2011 02:30 am (UTC)
This is a toughie. With digital art, if a piece is 75% done and someone has a falling out with someone else, you can potentially alter it to be someone else (and can ask for a little extra if it's going to cause you to do an extra day of work). But with a plushie, I mean, altering it is pretty damn hard, if at all possible. I don't guess there's any way to salvage it... but you DID do the overtime already, and so the rush fee shouldn't be refunded.

Personally? I'd finish it up anyway and send it on. No one has need for a half-finished plushie, so refunding for work not rendered and sending them something that's half done isn't going to be worth anything to them, anyway. It isn't your fault that they had a falling out, though it's, of course, unfortunate. I'd finish it and send it to the commissioner. With physical art like plushies, there's really not a lot of options once the piece is paid for and the work is almost done, except to send it along and say "sorry it didn't work out for you, hopefully you can give this to them eventually."

This is why I have a bit in my ToS reminding people to only get gifts for people they trust -- yes, ABSOLUTELY you never know what can happen, and NO one can be blamed for buying a gift for someone and then having a falling out. But I put it in my ToS to remind potential clients that it DOES happen, that it IS unfortunate, but that there's only so much the artist can do on their end. Unfortunately, with my work, I can always go back and repurpose the image for a new giftee... with a plushie, no such luck.

I hope it works out.
May. 26th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
I agree with this comment.

And, personally, when someone needs a "rush" job from me, the whole payment plus the rush fee and postage are due up front and none of it's refundable. (Usually I get 50% nonrefundable up front, and the rest due on completion.)
May. 26th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
The issue is that neither the giftee nor the gifter seem to want it because of their situation. If the commissioner finally says "Okay, I think it's just time to cancel, may I please have a partial refund?" The artist is going to be the one with egg on their face if they have to say "Oh, I went ahead and finished it even though you asked me to wait, therefore I'm going to keep all the money."

Overall a half-finished plush might not be worth anything, but the commissioner might want the partial refund more than the finished product.
May. 27th, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
Yes, I caught that. I'm sure the client WOULD prefer the money over a plushie that's essentially worthless, but the artist shouldn't be out all that effort AND money. It isn't her fault the two had a falling out. IMHO, stuff like plushies should just be non-refundable from the get-go. It would prevent people from buying unless they were absolutely certain, which is a good idea to promote ANYWAY.
May. 27th, 2011 11:21 am (UTC)
Yes, and right now 80% of that is completed and should be paid for, so why advise to complete the 20% when that portion could still be refunded? It would make the customer happy and would be no skin off the nose of the artist.
May. 27th, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
How is the artist getting stiffed out of the work they put into it and having to pay the client, out of pocket, for something that isn't her fault "no skin off the nose of the artist"? I'm not sure I understand your logic.
May. 29th, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)
They'd get paid for the 80% they had done and just refund the 20% they hadn't done. The refund is not out of pocket, and the work that has been completed would be paid for.

As far as I can gather, you are suggesting the artist finish that last 20%, then charge the client for that, even though the commissioner requested the artist wait.
May. 30th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
Nevermind. Pretty sure we misunderstood one another. While I still suggest an 80% completed plushie is useless to the client, if the commissioner requested that the artist wait, I guess that's up to them to decide.
Jun. 1st, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)
My point is that the 20% refund might be worth more to the client than the finished plushie. If you're getting married, then something happens and you have to cancel the wedding, it might better to get 80% of an unfinished centerpiece and 20% of your money back than a complete centerpiece you don't want anything to do with. None of us can make that call, but we can respect the wishes enough to hold off incase they want a 20% refund.
May. 26th, 2011 09:07 am (UTC)
Basically you have done nothing wrong so you have nothing to feel guilty about. They paid a rush fee, you did the overtime on it for the deadline and kept your end of the contract so no, you don't need to refund it. You are not responsible for the commissioner/ receiver's relationship, only for your own work.
(to make an example, if you did over time in a job, then the manager and assistant manager fall out and ask you not to work on Saturday, you probably wouldn't say 'should I give you my overtime pay back?')

As a plushie maker myself, I know it's a problem if you're stuck with a half finished plushie as if they're specifically someone's character, you can't change/resell it easily unless it's something very generic. So it's a bit of a dilemma on whether you want to spend the time finishing it or not.

Finishing it is up to you at this point. If you would like to as a kind gesture and in case they make up then do so. You can always do a little bit here and there on the plushie around the other stuff as the deadline is no longer applicable. The commissioner has asked you to put it on hold, you don't need to continue 'rushing' it, just finish it at your leisure. But if it's going to make it hard to finish other critical stuff then concentrate on those, shelve it and give the commissioner the offer to finish it when they request it (depends on how you manage your work load).

May. 26th, 2011 12:56 pm (UTC)
I'd set the project aside for a while - probably a week - then contact the commissioner and ask what's up. If they are still in doubt, I'd do a refund of whatever of the fee is leftover - regardless of the express fee. At a later time, I would finish the plush but different from the original commission. Alter things here and there so it isn't a rip off of the character and then sell it. No use letting it go to waste.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )


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