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Pattern Commission Advice

Guttentag, first time poster here. I was asked today for a commission I never have been asked for before. Now I am no stranger to commissioning and have been taking them for a few years now. I've had my fair share of screw-ups and becoming overloaded, making all the usual commissioning mistakes, but I've gotten into a good tempo now. Recently, I've been making and selling patterns, just to try something new. I made a MLP one and a dino and such. I just do it as a side hobby to bring in some extra money every now and then.

I received an email today asking to commission a pattern from me. I had never thought of taking pattern commissions before and so I am baffled as to what to do. I was thinking cost for how many pieces it would be, extra cost if I am unable to sell it normally, there should be something about commercial use, etc etc. I've never done anything like this before, so I would greatly appreciate advice and tips, plus pricing information and such.

I make plush, which is obvious from the above paragraph (examples here: loneplushieinfo.webs.com/ so you can judge based on my skill for like...pricing). My commission prices are usually in the 150 to 300 range and obviously a pattern won't be NEAR that much. So yes, just all advice and everything will be GREATLY appreciated <3
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Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
eveshka
Jul. 24th, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC)
The risk with a pattern is that the person could use it to make things to sell and undercut you. If it is a pattern for the plushies that you make... my answer would be to tell them no.

If it is not, then some things need to be considered.

A pattern doesn't just draft and magic itself into the object. You have to draft, test, re-draft and actually make the item each step to be certain the pattern works. If the buyer is not willing to pay you for the materials and time involved in ensuring that the pattern is a viable working pattern... then I'd personally walk away.

It is easier when you are talking to a customer about a simple sloper type pattern for a skirt or a pair of pants. But a complex 3D object that requires testing isn't something that one generally just spits a pattern out with a pattern software system. (And depending on what the person expects... this could well turn into a nightmare.)
glacidea
Jul. 24th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the advice! This is true. It's pretty much a plush commission with the addition of getting the pattern and making a pattern understandable for others other than the artist can be the most challenging in and of itself.

Thanks for the pointers. I'm going to def use them when drafting up terms and if it doesn't seem to be working out, I'll just tell them outright no.
notorious_hunty
Jul. 24th, 2011 01:34 pm (UTC)
Agreed with the poster above. I have a friend who makes plushies, and in her TOS she does NOT make pattern commissions for people because of the risk of selling it and ripping it off of you.

>_> And then you have to worry about the commissioner's skill, how complicated the pattern is/will be. If the commissioner isn't satisfied, it could be hell.

I would personally decline it.
glacidea
Jul. 24th, 2011 08:33 pm (UTC)
That's true, there's a HUGE risk of being ripped off. I don't mind if it's one I've made to resell, since that's usually basic and if I'm ripped off, oh well, not losing much, there's just SO MUCH involved in pattern commissioning that it really doesn't sound worth it to me. Plus if the commissioner can't follow it, that's a whole other shtick.

Thanks for the advice!
pinkpuppybelly
Jul. 24th, 2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
Eveshka has a point - you're basically going to need to build the plush to make sure the pattern works.

There are a few options: Tell the client that they're welcome to buy the plush that you have to make along with the pattern. OR tell the client that you will be selling the plush of their character to recoup the time, materials, and effort put into it.

If they argue or hassle you, you're always able to say 'nope, sorry' and decline the project.
glacidea
Jul. 24th, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
very true. There's more effort put into making a pattern followable by everyone (I free-hand things often) than just one for myself. And I don't want to lose out on material and my own time making something cheap, and if the pattern will only be exclusive to one person, I'll have to make a charge for that.

I'm loving all this amazing advice!
(Deleted comment)
glacidea
Jul. 24th, 2011 08:38 pm (UTC)
true, a plushie is there once, you could buy a pinkie pie from me and have just one, but with a pattern, you could make all 6 and it is more valuable. Plus I don't want to be stuck with their plush. And yeah, I'll have to have step-by-step instructions as well for each plush, which will be long and will require storage in photobucket, which will mean subscription fees since the files will get HUGE.

All good points!!

And thanks X3 I love MLP! I just HAD to make one, and ho better than the crazy party-master herself =)
sigilgoat
Jul. 24th, 2011 07:00 pm (UTC)
Patterns are worth A LOT. I wouldn't take the commission if I were you unless I knew the person very very very very well. It's like selling a trade secret or the code to a program.
kadaria
Jul. 24th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
This.
glacidea
Jul. 24th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
seconding this! You are SO right and in the wrong hands, I could be SERIOUSLY ripped off.
mialattia
Jul. 24th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
I see on your site that you do offer a MLP pattern for sale, so really this situation depends on what you would have to design (it seems like the pattern would be at LEAST half the battle of plush-making) and how complex it is, whether they intend to reproduce it or if you're going to keep it to make plushes off it, yourself, and so on...

I think it's a judgment call on your part, but do be sure to write up a specific pattern-commission contract with clauses you feel comfortable with, and if it's a complex design, I would highly recommend you be sure to charge accordingly! Your stuff is worth it; SUPER cute!
glacidea
Jul. 24th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks! and yes, I DEFINITELY need to draft up some pattern terms and conditions to prevent being ripped off because with a pattern it's so easy. Thanks for your advice! I'm so happy with how helpful everyone has been ^-^
neolucky
Jul. 24th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
I agree with the above, I'd decline it frankly. However I'd also be very careful with selling patterns of someone else's IPy. It feels a little in the 'wrong' to sell mlp related patterns =\. If you're not then no bigs, but if so, I'd just tread carefully. Plushies feel like a grey area in the fanart-market-business to me.
neolucky
Jul. 24th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
Er I meant I.P. (Intellectual property) not IPy lol, oops.
kadaria
Jul. 24th, 2011 11:24 pm (UTC)
I was wondering about that too since Pokemon and MLP are copyrighted characters. I thought we had a similar issue with someone making Pokemon scarves and getting upset when another artist did the same thing.
glacidea
Jul. 25th, 2011 01:02 am (UTC)
I know the Pokemon/Nintendo company is VERY aware of our selling custom plushies and they actually support and encourage it because it is another way of advertising. As long as we don't claim them to be official and make sure it's obvious that it' a custom, they're cool beans. Most of Japanese brands share this view. America is much less supportive, but I know that Hasbro was aware of a popular Transformer artist selling transformer plushies she made and really didn't care. Most often, if you don't claim it to be yours, then they're not going to waste hundreds of thousands in lawsuit dollars on one isolated instance. Plus at cons, sometimes the official people are there and they must be aware that at the artist alley tables, there is tons of fanworks being sold and they sometimes even buy those works, so yeah.

I didn't advertise my pony pattern strictly as a MLP pattern. I say that it's a pony pattern and that it works really well with MLP characters :3 the example is actually the naked pattern and then I show that I used it to make PinkiePie. So there's that.

And anyone can make Pokemon scarves, though I could see it being irritating to have another artist making your same thing.
glacidea
Jul. 25th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
I know the Pokemon Nintendo company is VERY aware of our selling custom plushies and they actually support and encourage it because it is another way of advertising. As long as we don't claim them to be official and make sure it's obvious that it' a custom, they're cool beans. Most of Japanese brands share this view. America is much less supportive, but I know that Hasbro was aware of a popular Transformer artist selling transformer plushies and really didn't care. Most often, if you don't claim it to be yours, then they're not going to waste hundreds of thousands in lawsuit dollars on one isolated instance.

And why would plush be any different than sold 2D artwork? Sculptures, Plush, 2D works, cellphone charms, etc, it's all the same if it's not something you own and you are selling it. Plushies just take more time.

I don't advertise my pony pattern strictly as a MLP pattern. I say that it's a pony pattern and that it works really well with MLP characters :3 the example is actually the naked pattern and then I show that I used it to make PinkiePie. So there's that.
neolucky
Jul. 25th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
I'm hoping you're not taking offense to this, it's not intended.

I'm quite aware of everything you've stated - I realize that some companies let things slide and consider it free promotion. -However-, it's still a grey area, and still technically illegal (If I'm wrong, anyone's free to correct me!) Japan is one thing, America is in another. You are in America producing sellable patterns for something thats trademarked/copyrite material. (Are you not in the US?) Is it still a "custom" once more then one of that item is produced? I feel like via selling the pattern, it no longer can simply be called a singular custom and goes into the realm of "mass produced".

I feel sort of like you're using the "Japan thinks it's OK!" as an excuse to hide behind the legality. Also, It's not any different then 2d work, I'm not claiming that =). It's a form of fanart, I realize that totally. I personally am not a big fan of seeing fanworks dominate the market but I realize it is pretty lucrative.

Ah...I think you're advertising your pony pattern pretty clearly as an MLP pattern. You have pinkypie in the image, granted it can be used for many many other things and thats fine but the initial usage looks to be MLP.

Just please proceed with caution. You'd be surprised how fast people can get Cease-and-desist letters for something that they think is supported when its not. I'm not trying to hamper your business, but give you a little of advice about IP. If anything, you could shoot off an email to any of the Reps for Nintendo and Hasbro and get their thoughts on it!

I'm also speaking as someone who's been there and done that in the world of selling fanart works, both on commission and to quite a few conventions. Not trying to be hostile! Just helpful as it's becoming increasingly more of a risk for artists to rely on fanart items for sales. And with plush works, they seem to get targeted a bit quicker because they're a higher dollar item.
glacidea
Jul. 25th, 2011 03:12 am (UTC)
Alright, talked to a friend who knows Copyright laws in and out. It turns out a LOT of companies turn a blind eye to us making customs because of the LABOR that goes into it. Labor vs dollar amount means that most artists aren't truly making a profit. Companies make factory/machine produced things for fast production and profit off little effort. We make money NOT because of the character, not because it's a Pikachu or Rainbow Dash, but because of the labor that is put into it to make it look as well as customs do. As long as your work is not being passed off as official, it is okay.
neolucky
Jul. 25th, 2011 01:42 am (UTC)
Oh! Also, I see you're selling Poptart cat patterns...did you ask Prguitarman for permission?
glacidea
Jul. 25th, 2011 02:03 am (UTC)
I did send him a note about it, dunno if he got it, but he frequents the chat I go to, so next he's on I'll ask him. I've only sold one, so if he has a problem, I'll just give him the 7 bucks xD everyone just wants pony and stego.
stormslegacy
Jul. 24th, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
I don't know a ton on the subject but i do know custom patterns *easily* cost more than the plushie...as others said A. you need to do tests but B. you're giving them unlimited ability to reproduce the design. Even if you say they can't sell it, that's hard to enforce.

One place I'd ask for help is the forums on Etsy, there are a number of people there that make all kinds of commissioned 3D items and you're likely to find an answer.

It might be best to look at other plushie-maker's policies to get an idea of standard business practices.
glacidea
Jul. 25th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
Yeah, I've done plush commissions for years, but you're right. a Pattern commission is infinitely MORE valuable since you can make as many as you want, especially if you get a plush out of it. I will check out etsy. Thanks!
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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