There's an artist on DA and FA who is quite popular for his Sonic-styled art dealing with specific themes. His own fan character is also quite popular, and many commissioners have him put into commissions they buy, myself included. I consider him to be a very nice person and his social interactions with me and other fans are usually very good, but his business practices are beginning to irk me. More after the cut.
I first commissioned this artist in December of 2009, right after Christmas. It was a single B&W comic page, $30. It involved his character interacting with one of mine, and I left the outcome up to him. The commission was finished June 15th, 2010 - long, for sure, but not unacceptable. The artist has streams regularly, which I watched often. Since he was usually working on commissions, I felt he was being responsible, and I liked the finished comic very much.
I liked it enough that I commissioned him again that November 14th, initially for a $15 single image. He agreed to it and we made the transaction, as I offered him the details of what I wanted done, which he also agreed to. At some point I paid him an additional $15 to expand the commission into a comic, which was also agreed to.
During one of his streams towards the end of March of 2011, he got around to my comic. Unfortunately, during this period he had pulled up his commission list - a small WordPad document with commissions kept next to VERY loose and vague descriptions. It was also made clear he did not do them in any particular order, but basically randomly. When he did my comic on the stream, it was nothing like what I'd ordered, probably because of the very basic descriptions he refers to. I corrected him once during the stream and he made a minor revision. It still wasn't what I'd ordered, but - and here's what I consider my first screw-up - I felt I'd disrupted the stream enough and kept my mouth shut so he continue on to another piece. I contacted him in a note on DA after the stream, restating my original order description, and he agreed to change it again, saying the new version wouldn't take long and that he'd try to have something by the end of the next week.
When that time came around with nothing to show, I sent him another note inquiring about it. He said things had been busy IRL but had calmed down, and he'd get to it. During this same time period, because I was a fan of his character, I offered to make a theme song for him. I sent him a link to the instrumentals and he listened and liked them. It was also at this time that I posted a journal to my DA account, detailing the process and my grievances.
We spoke a bit more through comments and he informed me he'd had trouble coming up with an idea to fit what I'd requested. Wanting to get the issue resolved, I loosened my requirements a bit and made a list of components that could be combined into over 100 possible plots for the commission that would meet my needs, hoping it would at least inspire him. He noted me back on May 10th saying the list had given him an idea and that he'd try to have something in the next few days.
After this, unfortunately, he saw the journal from before this correspondence and became upset - not ANGRY, and he didn't do or say anything mean - but I felt terrible once one of his friends contacted me about the situation. I tried to get in touch with him over comments to make sure he wasn't too upset, since I do still like him as a person. I eventually noted him, and on May 15th he responded, apologizing for being slow and blaming it on being easily distracted. At that point, he had finished the pencils for the comic. He sent them to me, and they fulfilled the revised requirements quite well. I gave him my full approval and it was finished May 23rd.
Once again, though, I was satisfied with the result. I also still felt bad about hurting his feelings and all the confusion and misunderstandings. Because of this, on July 11th I commissioned him again for a single image, being sure to make this commission open-ended like the first one to avoid possible confusion. I also paid him $20 instead of the usual $15 as a form of apology. He accepted the commission and said he'd also do some coloring for the extra $5.
During this time, I'd drafted up some rough lyrics for the theme song I'd been working on and asked his opinion on them, but he never got back to me. This project fell by the wayside and I gradually forgot about it. Over the summer he began to hold more streams than usual. Instead of commissions, though, he began doing request streams, in which a person was randomly chosen to get a free pin-up like the one I'd paid $20 for.
That August, he promised to go "gung-ho on nothing but commissions". Indeed, he took a break from request streams during this month and got a decent amount of commissions done. Faith was restored.
In September, he finally landed a proper job and closed commissions, citing his backlog. Instead of dealing with this backlog, he started the request streams again. During one of these streams, he asked me what had happened to the theme song project I was doing for him (for free and without him asking me for one). At this point I'd largely forgotten it and lost the lyrics. I wrote new ones and recorded the song, which was posted on September 10th. He thanked me profusely and said he loved it.
On October 12th, partially because I actually wanted it and partially to slyly remind him that yes, he owed me a commission, I asked if he had started it, and if not, could he upgrade it to a comic page like the last one? He replied by saying no, he hadn't started it, and yes, he would do an upgrade. He then asked for the details, implying he didn't remember what I'd commissioned him for in the first place. I gave him the details again and he's promised to work on it as soon as he can. I paid him $15 for the upgrade on top of the $20 for the original commission - still an extra $5, though I should add that was my own doing and he did not specifically ask for $15.
A couple of days later he posted an art dump from another request stream, which I'd apparently missed. There was one commission included however, so I haven't lost hope completely.
So I suppose I'm just unsure about the situation. As I said already, I like him as a person and he's always been very kind to me in social interactions. But his business practice needs a lot of work, and I'm reluctant to point this out to him having already hurt his feelings once (I'm very sensitive, so sue me). I suppose I'm just looking for advice... what would you do in this situation?