As of when I commissioned her, she seemed very good with communication. Not so good on the speed, but she's one of those very busy types, and she was very good at communicating, so I never felt that she had taken my money and ran or anything. Very approachable, friendly even. She had a system involving a seemingly infinite number of sketches, where she would make a draft and ask for feedback, make changes and ask for feedback on that, and keep going until told that it was absolutely perfect. Then she would do the coloring and finalizing and stuff. I found this to be very generous, as many artists' policies are more along the lines of "I'll show it to you when it's done" or one draft at the very most.
The thing with Ayame is that she apparently loves to draw. No, really. She loves to draw. On one hand, she's quite good at it. On the other, she can't stop, and this led to the biggest drawback to an otherwise perfect experience. She had a tendency to make a lot of unrequested alterations to the picture between any given draft. The first version of the picture had one of the characters' tail and muzzle a little too long. I pointed this out, and she was happy to fix it. However, the character in the next draft also had significantly larger breasts and ears. I didn't ask for those. She apparently just wanted to tweak those while working on everything else. I politely asked if she could revert those changes, and she did--again, to her credit, wonderful communication, friendliness, etc. However, the next version had other things changed. And so it went....
Here, of course, is a dilemma. I suddenly had the suspicion I was never going to get a perfect version, because she just could not restrict herself to only changing the things I asked her to. Every draft had something wrong with it, because she'd make something wrong with it in the process of fixing something unrelated (ask for a shorter tail, get a shorter tail and larger breasts.) To complicate the matter, with each passing draft I felt guiltier and guiltier about sending it back. I asked a few times and she continually swore up and down that she didn't mind, but I thought "Oh God, she's going to kill me if I make her do yet another draft" every time I saw an error in the latest version.
Eventually I told her that it was perfect and to go ahead and finish, even though I was less than happy with what I had. This was due to a combination of guilt ("I'd be such a prick to make her do another round of changes") and kind of just wanting her to be done before she changed anything else. She inked and colored and sent it off. Speedy shipping, by the way.
I have very mixed feelings. On one hand, it is amazingly well-drawn, because Ayame is good. On the other, I'm not especially happy with it, because of the flaws I went ahead and kept just for wanting the picture completed. Then again, without even telling me these existed beforehand, my picture did come with three (three!) alternate sketches of the same picture. Apparently it had taken her a few times to settle on one she liked enough to complete, or this was another side-effect of her seriously loving to draw. Either way, she had three versions of the picture before the one she finalized, and just included those in at random. (I like one of them much better than the one that eventually became a real picture, but eh....) I feel I really shouldn't complain just because of the bonus material there.
So now I ask for the opinion of the others here. I mostly want to see if I did the right thing, because I still feel guilty about sending the picture back as many times as I did. I mean, I would only have had to once or twice if she only made the changes I asked for, but...still! Even if I'm paying, I should think I owe artists a little more respect than to come off as picky or anything.
I know that I personally would not commission her again, but that is actually mostly because I got the picture on a sale and I consider her regular going rate to be a little above my price range. As to recommendations...well, all I can do is say what happened and ask, would you go through this with her?
...No, really, would you? I'm curious, because I still don't know what to make of the whole thing myself.