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Unsure on how to approach an artist..

 On July 19th I approached an artist and asked them for a commission of three chibi coyotes for my mate (a final value of $15, I know that's not much but this is still bothering me.), and they agreed and I paid directly up front for them. A few days later she posted a journal about how she was not going to draw because her boyfriend had gone to boot camp and she was so depressed that she simply could not finish her commissions or has any will to draw. So me being the patient person I am, I waited and waited and waited, and finally her boyfriend comes back (I guess her boyfriend didn't make it up to par for the military) a week ago. Then she starts drawing again, but when she starts posting up all these new pictures I shoot her a note and tell her that I had come into some financial hard times and then I ask her if I could get a refund on my purchase, considering she hasn't even started them yet and I've been patiently waiting for a month and being sympathetic to her feeling depressed that her boyfriend is gone. 

 When I ask her about the refund, she tells me that she no longer has my money, that she only has $2 in her paypal account. I ask her when she will be able to refund me, and she says she doesn't know and "whenever I get more commissions I guess." 

 What is the best approach to getting my money back? I honestly don't want to be waiting for another month to get $15. I paid for the commission up front and did my part, and I was disappointed by her services that even after a month she hadn't started or even sketched anything for me to look at. Do I demand my money back, or let her take her time on getting it back to me? I'm not really sure what to do, but I would really like my money back. :/ 


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( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 19th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
If it has been less than 45 days, you can get Paypal involved. That should light a fire under her.

I'd be more sympathetic to her situation but she doesn't even seem to care about her customers or want to keep them happy. You asked nicely and she was less than accommodating, so I'd say you're justified to file a dispute with Paypal.
Aug. 19th, 2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
Seconding paypal disputing her. Do it today if you can!
Aug. 19th, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC)
Err... I hope I don't come off snarky because I am not trying to be. But a month isn't a long time to wait. At all. And I am kind of baffled that you asked her for a refund because you were having financial problems. She is not a bank, she is someone you are doing business with.

However, she shouldn't have spent your money without starting work on the commission. I don't touch commission money until I have finished with the commission just in case something happens and I do need to provide a refund. But I understand that not everyone has this luxury.

It seems like you really have no choice but to wait for your money or for the art. Either way, it looks like you won't be getting either as quickly as you were expecting. :/
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 19th, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC)

No, there was no deadline as to when the commission was to be done, and I know a month isn't really a long time to wait, but as I said down there to Saitenyo, I believed her when she told me that she wanted to do my commission, and I should have asked for a refund when she said she was quitting art for a long time. The reason why I asked for a refund so soon is that all the art trades and gift art popping up on her page annoyed me I suppose, that she had not actually started my commission at all.

Also, another thing that really turned me off was the fact that when I asked her for the refund she was totally drunk (as she stated in a picture she posted as I was talking to her) and sending me strange messages when I was honestly trying to be civil about it.

And I understand that she is not a bank, and I am more than willing to do whatever the right thing would be, whether that means I scratch the refund and wait for the art or go after her for a refund. I wouldn't be so annoyed if she had at least started a sketch or had a stick figure or something to show me within the month period, I'm a patient person.
Aug. 19th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
I have mixed feelings on this. There have been situations I've been in where I had to notify commissioners of a delay (due to health, personal issues, or computer problems) but the proper thing to do in that situation is offer a refund right then and there. Then if the commissioner doesn't want to wait the extended time, they have that option.

Did she offer you a refund when she said she couldn't finish the commission at that time? If so, and if you declined, then it's kind of unfair to suddenly ask for one now even though you agreed to wait. If she didn't, then I would agree that's poor form on her part. Yes issues come up, but if you've been paid to do a job you can't just suddenly decide to not do it or delay it without checking it the commissioner is okay with the new terms. Nor is it good form to spend the money before completing the work, negating the option of a refund.

That said, a month isn't a totally unreasonable time to wait, so I wouldn't chalk this up as a total loss just yet. It sounds like you guys just need to work out some better communication and clearly terms about what is going to be done.

Since she's obviously able to draw again, ask if she can complete your commission. That seems like the fairest way to go about this. It's not fair to pull buyer's remorse on her because you're now low on funds. The only reason to demand a refund is if she's not delivering the product you paid for. You sort of already suggested you were fine being patient since you didn't protest the initial delay, but if she continues to be dodgy about actually producing the work now that she is able to work again, it's entirely valid to insist she find a way to refund you.

How you get the funds if she no longer has them is an issue I don't have any good advice for though. :/
Aug. 19th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
*and clear terms.
Grammar fail, sorry I am tired.
Aug. 19th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)

No, she did not offer me a refund at the time she said that she would no longer be doing artwork. I actually had noted her about it when she said it, and asked if she was still going to do it, or if I could have a refund back then. She said she wanted to do it still, and that I can be patient but didn't know if she was still wanting to do it, and when I had commented about her journal in a private note she specifically said:

"oh no ill still do it! i just hope that people arnt mad that i dont have them done asap. I still wanna do your commisions! dont take it that way lol"

At that point I said that I was going to be patient and let her figure her things out on her own. At the time she said absolutely nothing about not wanting to do my commission, and I believed her when she made it seem like she really still was intent on doing it. I know a month is not a long time to wait, but I figured that considering she was continuously posting art trades and gifts for her friends, and had not even started the commission I had paid for now a month and a week ago, it kind of got on my nerves and you're right, I did have buyer's remorse about it. I feel like I should have asked for the refund then, but I believed her and I feel like that was the wrong move.

I'll also point out something that I forgot to mention, that when I asked for a refund, she posted a picture on her FA saying that she was drunk. When she began replying back to my notes, her messages got stranger and stranger- as she was obviously drunk. I don't know if she even remembers our conversation, but I am unsure on if I should wait a bit longer or confront her again now. She didn't honestly seem like she cared whether I got the money or not when she talked to me, as it was on her time because she already spent it.

Aug. 19th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah this is a sticky situation. She is clearly being extremely unprofessional in how she's handling this, although unfortunately you have probably sort of unintentionally sanctioned this behavior in her mind by being patient about it all. She may be viewing that as you not caring when she gets it done. I'm not saying that justifies her behavior, just suggesting that you may want to be a bit more firm.

Be clear with her, tell her that since you paid for this art, you expect her to deliver the artwork you paid for or refund your money. Tell her if she intends to finish the art, she needs to give you a time estimate. Otherwise she can essentially just drag this out forever and claim you agreed to be patient.

At this point I wouldn't wait any longer. Get on her about this and make sure she starts making some progress, or has a good explanation for why she can't with a new timeline for you that you find acceptable.
Aug. 20th, 2011 01:37 am (UTC)
Tell her you want a refund by "x". It was not her money to spend as she did not render the service.

If it's been less than 45(?) days, then I would totally file a paypal dispute against her.

That's about the only way you can FORCE her to do anything. Otherwise, you're waiting until her happy butt takes more commissions and can refund you.

A thing to think about when buying a commission is " Hey, am I going to regret making this purchase if it isn't done in 1 month? 2 months? " Yeah, you should be able to pull out of this situation without issue. Yes, it was bad on her part to spend it. Yes, things come up in life (sudden expenses) that make you want to scrape up all the money you can..

But, if someone sets money aside for fun stuff often enough, I don't really feel like they should have a sudden buyer's remorse and go " Heyyyy.. somethin' came up and I kind of need that money back. " (But, like I said, stuff comes up that you don't always have the set amount of funds set aside for. ) Though, I don't feel like a month is a super duper long time to wait for something.

So, in short: try to be as nice as you can, but also firm. If you're within the time period, get paypal involved. Try to plan out commissions as disposable income (JUST IN CASE SOMETHING GOES WRONG/You don't end up with something you like/etc.) as far as you can. (Can not stress enough that I understand stuff comes up and that when it rains, it usually pours. )

Good luck. :)
Aug. 20th, 2011 01:43 am (UTC)
Or, it might be better if I phrase it like " It might be better on your part to just say you'd like a refund. No reason is really needed. " :X
Aug. 20th, 2011 01:55 am (UTC)

Thank you for the advice, that really helps.

I'll let you guys know what happens and whatever, what she says in response. I really do hope it hasn't been 45 days yet. Thank you.
Aug. 20th, 2011 07:31 am (UTC)
I'll try to keep this advice as short as possible.

I don't want to sound cold but bf going to boot camp is not your problem. I don't understand why artist feel the need to get personal about delays. Just let your customers know there may be a delay and offer refunds as needed.

This isn't necessarily a slam against you but I've seen so many people go from having surplus funds for art to financial need/hardship...I'm confused how one can go between these two extremes in less than a month. Not to mention the amount in question generally wouldn't cover an emergency like situation. If you're just generally unhappy with the service and want your money back; that's fine but it feels as much a guilt trip as saying your boyfriend went off to war. Neither situation is the other's problem.

Once again...not directed at you...just noticing a trend

refund over service not hardship
get a deadline upfront
Aug. 20th, 2011 09:19 am (UTC)
I'm confused how one can go between these two extremes in less than a month.

To use a personal anecdote as an example of how that's possible: I budget my luxuries based on whatever's left after household bills and my savings transfer. I almost never miss a shift (12 hours missed in almost four years, in my case). Two months ago, I was hospitalized with gallstone attacks and missed two shifts, thereby shorting my paycheque almost $200. Not only did that knock out any luxury surplus, but it also affected my bills.

Granted, that's more than $15, but it's the only situation I can think of offhand where I know I went from slight surplus to omg my bills! in less than a month.
Aug. 20th, 2011 10:35 am (UTC)
This situation is helping my point...$200 is quite a bit. I'm talking the $50 or less cases where financial hardship seems relieved by getting enough back for a large pizza. I'm not trying to lessen the personal value of the OP's refund but couldn't just...borrowing a couple bucks from a friend getcha thru on such a small amount instead of chasing artists for refunds?
Aug. 20th, 2011 11:52 am (UTC)
That was the most recent example I could think of, haha.

I'm not disputing your point, but if someoneis living in extreme poverty, or even if one is just hit with a sudden, unexpected debt, sometimes $50 or $15 or even $6 is the difference between having heat/power/food for the month/week and going without. If one has to steal ketchup from McDonalds to make soup, yeah, $15 is a LOT of money. Not saying that's the OP's situation, but it's not an unfathomable one.
Aug. 20th, 2011 06:45 pm (UTC)

I wanted to buy the commission for my boyfriend because it was our anniversary. I rarely ever spend money on myself and when I do I always pay up front because I am an artist myself and like to have that reassurance when people commission me, I have bills to pay and yes, I had a financial emergency in less than a month dealing with personal issues that arose overnight. $15 may not seem like a lot, yes, not compared to $200 or $80, but $15 at least helps a little bit with my situation and I do believe in the phrase every little bit helps. It was something I wanted to do as a gift for him, and because I am tight on money as it is I suppose I probably shouldn't have. As I had never done this before and dealt with an artist like this, I wasn't sure what the best route was to go on, and that's when I found this place AFTER I asked her for a refund. I believed I was justified in asking for a refund, but if I was wrong in doing that, than I admit I was wrong.

She has yet to read the note I sent her yesterday, and as I stated earlier, at the time I had sent her a note after she posted the journal and asked if she was still going to do the art, asked if she wasn't if she could give me a refund, and she said she was still perfectly happy to do the art. I believed her. So, that was my fault and should have taken the refund back then. I just didn't know how to approach it and probably did the wrong thing before posting here. I've learned my lesson on this one.
Aug. 20th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
Aw, I hope you don't think I was judging you, b/c I'm totally not. Everyone deserves to treat themselves or their family, after all. I was just trying to point out how what seems like a small sum to one person can be a lot to another. I've had times where $6 is the difference between eating or going hungry, so I feel you.

FWIW, I think you're totally justified in asking for a refund if the work hasn't been started and you find you need the cash. This is exactly why an artist should never spend commission money until after the work has been delivered. I hope it all works out for you.
Aug. 20th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC)
It's not unfathomable, but if someone is seriously that much in the financial hole, then they shouldn't be buying fun luxuries like art to begin with. :/ That's the buyer's problem, not the artist's.
Aug. 21st, 2011 03:34 am (UTC)
I had to buy an emergency plane ticket, and at the time I realized I needed the money back to help me pay for it (the saving funds I had in my account weren't enough at the time so I did honestly need as much as I could get. It doesn't really matter at this point because the emergency is over and I scraped up the funds. Right now I'm more or less focused on her services not being delivered...that was my problem at the time. But thank you for the advice and I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind next time I want to buy something. Not buying something on FA is super hard so I think if I only bought one thing I was doing pretty good with it. But I do agree with your point, have sent her a letter she hasn't read yet so far, and am waiting on the reaction. If I can't get the art or the money I will certainly post a beware on her and hope it doesn't happen to me again. :/ thank you for your help though. I appreciate it.
Aug. 20th, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC)
I think the issue seems to be that a lot of people do what you do: count whatever is left in your budget after bills as spendable. I know it's not really my place to lecture other people about their finances, but if I could offer some advice to help avoid future stress on your part, I'd advise reevaluating that approach.

I like to keep a significant financial padding in my bank account for emergencies. If I have to go to the hospital or one of my cats gets sick, I need to be sure I have the money to do this and not just be praying that nothing happens or that I get my next pay check in time. It's just not smart financial planning to budget only for what you know will happen and not leave any for what could happen.

Yes this means you may not be able to buy much fun stuff for yourself, like art (there are quite a few things I would like to buy right now but don't because I want to save money, even if I can technically afford it), but it's sort of a choice you have to make: decide what you'd rather deal with. Not being able to pay bills in case of an emergency? Or having that extra fun thing?

That kind of "be prepared" mentality in financial planning can really help a lot in the long run by getting you out of the position of living from paycheck to paycheck. It forces you to prioritize, decide what you really need right now, and save the extra fun things for when you're in a good financial position to spend more and still have some left over.

Because really, you can't rely on things like refunds if something suddenly happens. What if this artist had delivered the work promptly? You certainly couldn't ask for a refund then just because your finances changed. Asking for a refund because she's not delivering the product is totally justified, but wanting your money back because you didn't plan ahead for the possibility of your financial circumstances suddenly changing after you already made the purchase is not.
Aug. 20th, 2011 08:07 pm (UTC)
And just realized your not the OP, were just relating a personal example, but yeah, my point still stands.

I agree that the OP is entirely justified in asking for a refund because of the artist's poor behavior and lack of delivery. There's no question there. I'm just saying that whether or not the OP needs the cash isn't really relevant to whether or not the refund is justified.
Aug. 20th, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
Nah, I'm not the OP. As far as living paycheque to paycheque, that's what a lot of us do, for whatever reason. Sometimes there is just nothing left to put aside. And it doesn't matter how well prepared one is, sometimes, shit just happens. It's easy to blitz through savings if an emergency comes up, after all.

Regardless of whether the OP needs the cash, since the art doesn't appear to be forthcoming, I'd say she's entitled to a refund. The artist doesn't need to know why, nor should she have spent the commission money before the work was complete. It should be there in case a refund is required.
Aug. 20th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
Oh I totally understand that sometimes people are forced to live paycheck to paycheck with nothing to put aside due to circumstances beyond their control. My point was just that buying fun luxuries like art doesn't count as something beyond one's control. That's a choice. And if a person is really living paycheck to paycheck then the smart choice is to not add any additional voluntary financial burden to their lives until they can improve their situation a bit. I understand how frustrating it is as I have had to do this myself, but it doesn't have to be permanent and it sure does make life less stressful when you're saving more.

If there is money available after paying bills to buy something fun with, then that money is also potentially available to be saved instead. I'm just saying the smart choice is to save it. And once you've spent several months saving those little surpluses, suddenly you have a larger surplus, and then you can start treating yourself to something fun with each paycheck's surplus without burning through your safety net. Sometimes all it takes is a few months of extreme willpower and frugality. I've had to do it so I know it can be done.

I agree entirely on your second paragraph and am not disputing it one bit. I just don't understand how the buyer's finances are at all relevant to this situation either way. She'd be justified in asking for a refund for undelivered art regardless, I'm just not sure why people are discussing the financial issue as if it somehow strengthens her claim because it shouldn't have a bearing on it either way.
Aug. 21st, 2011 04:56 am (UTC)

Now I'm kind of in a hole. I am at 42 days, and I only have 45 days until I can take action against her Paypal.

She posted a journal two days ago, and all it said was. "going on vacation, BBL :D ". It did not state at all when she would be back, or how long she would be gone, or nothing. It just says she's going on vacation.

SInce I doubt this vacation is going to last 2 days and she'll come back and read my note by then. So what is the best option? Taking action against her paypal since I won't hear from her?
Aug. 24th, 2011 01:19 am (UTC)
Yes. Take action against the Paypal order, while you can still do it.
Aug. 21st, 2011 05:00 am (UTC)
^^^^^This was what I was trying to say. On both points too Saitenyo! Saving makes things like this ALOT less likely to happen and financial hardship has nothing to do with the original business transaction no more than the artist saying their significant other went off to boot camp...while I can feel for both situations on a personal level they don't belong in a business contract.
Aug. 20th, 2011 12:19 pm (UTC)
Maybe not so much financial need, but I know a lot of times I've gone from knowing I have plenty of cash and can buy fun things to "oh shit, hoard money, don't spend a cent on ANYTHING" in a week. :x If you're incredibly low income, things that don't seem like a big deal to people who make enough money to live on can just completely throw you. If I suddenly have to drop $80 on my car, for example, I can go from easily making my bills and being able to eat to scrambling for every cent.

Yeah, you'd think if someone's in that situation they would save every dime for emergencies, but...everyone likes to treat themselves occasionally. I guess the real problem is when it's a constant "yay, bought a commission! OH SHIT CAN'T PAY MY BILLS!" situation.
Aug. 20th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, everyone likes to treat themselves occasionally, but that's where willpower comes in. You just have to learn that there are times when you can't. treat yourself and you just have to live with that.

I mean I really do sympathize with people having financial issues as I have definitely been there. I graduated school with a mountain of debt in loans, no job, and enough money saved up for maybe a month's worth of bills. It really sucks to be in that position. But I also know, having been in that position, that it is quite possible to resist the temptation to buy fun things, even for an extended period of time. So I guess I have less sympathy when people complain about financial issues that arose because they weren't saving responsibly or were spending money on fun stuff when times were tight.

Edit: Fixing broken html markup.

Edited at 2011-08-20 08:12 pm (UTC)
Aug. 21st, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, everyone does need to have willpower and not spend when they shouldn't, but that's not really what I'm saying. If you know you need to save, say, $200 a week out of a $250 paycheck for bills or something, and one week, you find that instead of getting $250 you got $350, maybe it doesn't seem like such a terrible idea to buy a $20 badge from that artist you love. But then 2 weeks later, the universe decides to reprimand you by slapping you with some sort of tragedy. :/ Yeah, maybe you SHOULD have saved that $20, but at the time that didn't seem like such a huge luxury and wasn't stopping you from paying bills or anything.

I'm not condoning people who spends completely irresponsibly or people who use their bill money/savings/etc to pay for commissions, I'm just saying if someone happens to come into a little extra money and decides to spend it on a commission and then suddenly has a financial problem, it may not always be their fault or them being irresponsible. There are definitely a ton of people who blow all their money on art or whatever and then go 'woe is me, I can't pay my bills!", but I'm sure there are plenty of people who usually make their bills, spend responsibly, and don't have a lot of extra cash, who maybe got a bonus or something and wanted to buy a little something nice.
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