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Need Advice - Long Wait for Commission

I find myself in a delicate position with an artist I commissioned some time ago to produce a piece for me and I was hoping this community would be able to give me some advice on how to proceed.

I do not, at this stage, want to reveal the name of the artist in question. They have been very friendly and pleasant at a professional level and I don't want to tarnish their name or anything, I just want some ideas about how to communicate with them more effectively.

Here's a basic summary of the situation.

26/01/2011 - After discussions of what I wanted and what they were able to produce the (at this stage very enthusiastic)the artist confirmed via email that my commission was slotted for the two weeks between June 6 and June 17 ("give or take". Later that day they confirmed that they had received my payment of $300, a 50% deposit for the piece (a significant sum of money, in my opinion, but something I was and am certainly willing to pay for the piece)

15/05/2011 - The artist sent an email explaining that, as a result of personal circumstances, they would be rescheduling and that "The latest I would start your (piece)... under this new schedule, would be mid July, and it would be finished and in the mail before August."

19/07/2011 - Sent out a bulk email to commission clients "...you may need to wait longer than expected for your product".

1/11/2011 - The artist sent a note on an art website stating that had made some but not all of the components for my piece but that they had not taken photos yet.

1/01/2012 - The artist sent out a bulk note to all commissioners on an art site stating that they intended to have all work completed before they left for FC.

18/01/2012 - The artist posted photos of the parts they had completed for my commission. It was still not entirely complete.

This is the last time I have spoken to or heard from the artist and I am unsure of how to proceed from here. I am concerned that if I push too much they may not complete my commission at all, and after waiting so long I really don't want to give up now (especially when I have already paid a $300 deposit!). What would be a polite and non-confrontational way to ask this artist what the progress of my piece is and when I can expect it to be completed? How much longer do you all think it is reasonable to wait without being given a deadline.

Oh, and in case it makes a difference to your opinions on what I should do, I do know for certain that the artist is currently producing other work.

I try to be as patient as possible with artists I commission and I really don't want to be a bitch or anything. I just need to know when would be an appropriate time to contact this person without being unreasonable and hassling them and what exactly I should be asking them for (a concrete deadline? more frequent contact? a refund?)

Please help!

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 4th, 2012 01:14 am (UTC)
I understand that it's been some time since you heard from the artist, but I don't see any mention of times you've contacted him/her. It's a little difficult to advise you without knowing that, so can you elaborate please?
Jun. 4th, 2012 07:06 am (UTC)
Thanks for your response.

I haven't contacted the artist since January 28 when they posted images of the parts they had so far completed of my commission (which I was thrilled with, btw).

I should probably have done something before now, but I am completely inexperienced with this kind of situation and I am uncertain of how much (if any!) prodding of the artist is appropriate, especially when they have made posts in the past about personal issues and have stated how stressed these commissions are making them.

I guess the reason I came here is for some guidance about the correct was to approach an artist about overdue work without being offensive. I know a lot of the people here are professional artists themselves, and I'm assuming you may have some idea about how you would prefer a commissioner spoke to you in this sort of situation. Does that make sense.

I suppose the situation is not helped by my timidity and generally sub-par social skills. I feel like a need an instruction book for things like this!
Jun. 4th, 2012 07:04 pm (UTC)
It's been a very long time since you've heard from the person and they seem to have been good with updates prior to this despite the tardyness, so I do think a polite but generic email along the lines of "Hello, can you update me on my commission please?" to open discourse is what I'd go with personally. Depending on the response, my suggestions on how to handle it would vary.

Artists are generally find with being asked for updates as long as it's not too frequently (like every day, which certainly doesn't apply here in this case) or done in an aggressive manner.
Jun. 4th, 2012 08:51 am (UTC)
Why not just ask? Sometimes it's the simplest solutions we over look. Just be honest. If the last time you checked in was January I think you can ask for progress again. Tho I do feel that someone running late like that when they missed their own set deadline should contact their customers to let them know when they can expect their goods. Also, I've heard of too many artists letting things get back logged because many of their customers just give them a green light to keep pushing deadlines back.

anyways...two points of advice

1. In the future if a deadline isn't set, ask for one and talk frankly about possible delays, refunds, and what the artist's stance is. If you get all that out of the way up front you don't have to run into this situation again. This is a business trasaction and if an artist can't respect that maybe you shouldn't be working with them. Basically ask them, "Will there be delays, if so what is my compensation?" "how long will the wait be?" etc...they should be able to answer these questions. I know we can't anticipate life issues arising but you can protect yourself if they do.

2. You owe them another $300 right? I would assume you plan to pay them when the job is done so ask when you need to send the money. Honest and polite inquiry right? It'll open up conversation to discuss any other concerns you may have up to this point without sounding like "WHERE'S MAH ART!!!"
Jun. 4th, 2012 09:10 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, millislim! This is very practical advice and I will be following up with the artist keeping your points in mind.
Jun. 4th, 2012 06:21 pm (UTC)
Like Millislim said, just ask them. I would strongly recommend that you try to set a deadline with this person. If they miss the deadline, discuss compensation or possibly even a discount. They already missed the first deadline, and it's been over a year. I think they're mistaking your timidness for "complete it whenever you feel like it." Sometimes it's better to be more firm about your expectations. :P
Jun. 4th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
I just leave a short message along the lines of "Hey, may I get an update on my commission? Thanks!"

No ones ever called me out for 'being rude' when using it, so I guess it's good? XD
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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