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Alright, so. Back in September of 2011, I commissioned an artist for a $15 icon and a $30 digital badge, to be worked on/completed in October/November of that same year. Said artist was trying to raise funds to move across the country, and, as I was looking for art, I went ahead and commissioned her. Paid the $45 via paypal, it was received, all was well.

After her move, she did complete the icon, along with all the other icons she owed. She forgot a couple of details, but she was happy to add those, and I was satisfied and very happy with the finished result. All I had to wait for was the badge, and as I was quite far down her queue, I was prepared to wait a while.

In October, November and December, she sent a mass email update stating that she’s taken on a bit more than she can chew, and the remaining commissions are going to be delayed. She posts a rough estimate for when they will be done. Mine was to be done in March, then in June, and now she’s removed the estimates altogether.

I’ve had five email updates from her, all stating that yes, she’s working on them, she’s going to get them done, very sorry everyone, and so on. I understand completely that she’s overwhelmed, and that she needs to take occasional commissions to gain money to live on. She frequently takes, and finishes, streaming commissions. She’s posted several over the last couple of months.

Meanwhile, her queue of thirty-five plus commissions that are overdue by 6-8 months is standing still. I’ve contacted her via twitter to ask what’s going on, and was told that she planned on sending out another email to update everyone. Which is fine, it’s great that she’s keeping everyone updated, but every email says the same thing. She apologizes, says she feels guilty and overwhelmed, and says she will finish her outstanding queue.

She’s offering voluntary refunds to those interested. I’d rather not take that option, since I really do love her work, and I do want my badge. The issue is not the waiting, it’s that I’ve seen no actual progress on her overdue works. None have been finished thus far. The one at the top of her queue is still listed as “pending sketch approval”, and has been for sometime. That’s the only one on a list of 35+ that has anything other than “unstarted” next to it.

I’ve contacted her on twitter again, stating that I understand that she needs to take additional commissions, but the fact that there’s been no movement on her backlog concerns me. It’s been nine months since I paid her, and roughly seven or eight since the work was initially supposed to be finished (which, whatever. I was prepared to wait if I had to, but not indefinitely). Am I just impatient, or am I right to be a little concerned?

Note: Not revealing the artist, although it's probably obvious to some people, because again, this is not a beware. I'm just looking for advice on what to do, and how to approach her. Also, I'm sorry if this is a little confusing, I tried to be as clear as possible on little sleep.

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Comments

( 70 comments — Leave a comment )
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - Jun. 24th, 2012 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
leahtaur
Jun. 24th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
On the one hand, 34 commissions without progress is crazy. On the other, by refusing a refund, I feel that you are giving up your right to complain. A refund would be the easiest and fairest way to resolve your issue right now for both sides. You can always commission her again when she has things under wraps, and she may actually appreciate it if you gave her the "out".
carristo
Jun. 24th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
Gonna have to agree with Leahtaur, refusing the refund means you are just gonna have to tough it out and wait. I don't think she deserves a beware if she's keeping you guys up to date(even if there is no progress) and offering refunds if you get tired of waiting. It's not her fault you don't want the refund :P
sbneko
Jun. 24th, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC)
Maybe you can suggest this to her:

She does one new commission, then one old one, back and forth like that. She -should- be working on only what's been paid first, but since she seems to need the money, I'm going to presume that isn't going to happen. By working this way, she can both make some new cash, while still working on her queue.
spartanwerewolf
Jun. 25th, 2012 05:16 am (UTC)
That's a good idea, I should bring it up to her and see if it's feasible. Thanks!
zackfig
Jun. 24th, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
I don't know why refusing the refund means giving up the right to complain.

I refused a refund a while back for several reasons
- the artist really didn't have the funds at that time
- the artist eventually closed the commissions and hasn't opened since
- on principle, because I really want that art.
bladespark
Jun. 24th, 2012 11:10 pm (UTC)
Refusing a refund sort of holds the artist hostage though. If they don't want to do the art, but you won't take the money, what are they supposed to do? Force themselves to make some horrible piece of crap just to get it out of the way?

Maybe you don't have *zero* right to complain after you've refused a refund, but you have very little, in my book. They offered to do something to make it right, you turned down that offer.
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 24th, 2012 11:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Jun. 24th, 2012 11:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - Jun. 24th, 2012 11:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Jun. 24th, 2012 11:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 24th, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Jun. 24th, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 24th, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spartanwerewolf - Jun. 25th, 2012 05:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - Jun. 24th, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 24th, 2012 11:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - Jun. 25th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 25th, 2012 12:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - Jun. 25th, 2012 12:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Jun. 25th, 2012 12:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - carristo - Jun. 25th, 2012 12:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spartanwerewolf - Jun. 25th, 2012 05:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - Jun. 25th, 2012 05:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spartanwerewolf - Jun. 25th, 2012 05:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ryu_no_tenshi - Jun. 25th, 2012 06:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spartanwerewolf - Jun. 25th, 2012 06:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ryu_no_tenshi - Jun. 25th, 2012 06:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frazzled_niya - Jun. 25th, 2012 06:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Jun. 25th, 2012 11:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marus_puppy - Jun. 25th, 2012 12:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 25th, 2012 12:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marus_puppy - Jun. 25th, 2012 02:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 25th, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Jun. 26th, 2012 01:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 26th, 2012 01:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - Jun. 26th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marus_puppy - Jun. 26th, 2012 02:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 26th, 2012 02:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marus_puppy - Jun. 27th, 2012 12:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 27th, 2012 12:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marus_puppy - Jun. 27th, 2012 03:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zatanna_333 - Jun. 25th, 2012 01:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 26th, 2012 02:35 am (UTC) - Expand
shukivengeance
Jun. 25th, 2012 12:51 am (UTC)
I don't really see why wanting the art instead of a refund somehow makes the artist innocent of any wrongdoing. They have irresponsibly created a huge backlog for themselves and refuse to work on it. A customer has the right to be upset at missed deadlines and while communication is nice, when it's just a stream of the same tired excuses it gets real old. It'd be different if there was some visible sign of progress.

That said though, arguing over the application of blame isn't going to resolve OP's situation. My personal opinion is that you should accept the refund because there is no guarantee when if ever your art will materialize and like Leahtaur said, the artist may feel slightly less burdened and you always have the option of commissioning them again once the backlog is gone. Otherwise... yes you may have the right to be upset at paying for a service but that's not going to make the art appear.
bladespark
Jun. 25th, 2012 12:58 am (UTC)
Wanting the art doesn't make the artists innocent. That's not at all what I'm trying to argue here.

I fully agree the artist should have done the work as originally promised. BUT if the artist has offered a refund, they've made a good-faith effort to make it right, and turning down that effort really does put some of the burden of the situation on the customer. If the customer has been given a chance to resolve things and refused it, how is their choice not their responsibility?
(no subject) - shukivengeance - Jun. 25th, 2012 01:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zackfig - Jun. 25th, 2012 01:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - Jun. 25th, 2012 05:31 am (UTC) - Expand
mialattia
Jun. 25th, 2012 02:05 am (UTC)
Speaking as an artist, if she needed/wanted to refund you, I hope she's aware that she can do that and terminate the contract/commission on her own.

By choosing to go with the art, the contract is still valid... she will have to deliver. If she terminates, she is free to send the money via Paypal and notify you that she has done so.

As an artist, I would not hesitate to refund if I felt that was my best option for resolving a longstanding issue that I would not be able to complete to anybody's satisfaction.

So what I'm saying is, yeah, you are still well within your rights to get your art and contact her about it.
sbneko
Jun. 25th, 2012 02:23 am (UTC)
This.

People are disagreeing about the refund bit, but I think they're forgetting that there's a huge difference between taking too long, and making a refund optional for those who aren't ok with the wait, compared to not wanting to do the art at all, making a refund the only option and the commissioner still refusing.

The artist isn't held hostage, the refund is just a nice gesture. I do it as well if I'm taking longer then I like, I let commissioners know I can do so if preferred since some might be a bit shy to outright ask for it.
(no subject) - bladespark - Jun. 25th, 2012 02:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sbneko - Jun. 25th, 2012 02:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Jun. 25th, 2012 02:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spartanwerewolf - Jun. 25th, 2012 05:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
zackfig
Jun. 26th, 2012 01:50 am (UTC)
I've learned this the hard way.
curiodraco
Jun. 26th, 2012 04:24 am (UTC)
I'll come clean, it's me in question here. I'm not mad for being featured here. I don't even blame him. (and I want to thank him sincerely for being civil and honest in his not-at-all-unreasonable complaint.)

I know my backlog is ridiculous. I know people are tired of waiting. I also know there are only so many hours in the day, and I have been trying to figure out ways to both continue to make ends meet financially, and still make reasonable progress on my backlog. If anyone is interested in the finer details of how I gained such a backlog, it's all detailed here. http://furry.curiodraco.net/plan.html (TL;DR version: I was setting up to move across the country, and needed all the help I could get. I didn't brand them as "emergency" commissions, and truly thought I could get through them faster than this)

I'm not trying to avoid the work. I'm just having a hard time balancing hours I can spend on the backlog, hours for new work, hours to spend on personal chores, web site maintentance, getting out for anything fun once in a while, and more recently, trying to make time for more physical activity because sitting at my computer working on art for days on end is starting to take a toll on my waistline x_x

All I do is work. I don't play video games, I don't art for myself (short of the very rare project, something quick and silly every other month maybe), I turn down most offers to get me out of the house.. I want to be clear here that I don't say this seeking a pity-party, I say this to show that I am truthfully dedicated to my work. If I'm not working on art, I'm working on other tasks or chores necessary for life as an adult. I want to get these commissions done as much as the people still waiting.

As far as my streaming commissions, yes, there are a lot of them in my recent uploads. But please know that I only do these new streaming commissions 2 days out of the week. The ones I offer are purposfully quick and easy so I can take them and finish them on the same day they're purchased (or at least within the same week, for I do take 2 pre-orders every week to start off said 2 days). The commissions in my backlog are of a different style, in which more concern is given for anatomy and details, and thus can take longer by that aspect (it also doesn't help when your art software totally eats an entire day of work, setting me back even further. Seems I'm still learning just what NOT to do when I use Sai :/ Rare problem, but did just set me back a day this week.)

I can't do streaming commissions any other time unless I can rearrange time slots with my roommates. Our internet is pretty worthless, and unfortunately it's the best available for where we live (welcome to the corner of No and Where, please leave your high speed internet and any cell signal at the door, 5 miles away!) They like to use the internet as well, and we have it arranged that we can all share it to different extents on different days. So cramming as much new work as I can into these 2 days is pretty much the only way I'm keeping a roof over my head right now. Furthermore, I'm purposefully limiting how much new work I take, streaming or not, to just enough for me to survive. I could be earning more than enough $ to spoil myself stupid for having the extra cash lying around to do so. But I won't, knowing that this backlog is my #1 priority before I can rightly pursue anything like that.

I'd like to note also that in addition to offering these voluntary refunds, I've offered everyone in my backlog extras to try to make up for the wait, such as life-access to my hi-res collections that I put out periodically, or an extra single-character doodle of sorts (even to those who may opt for a refund, for holding on to their $ for so long with nothing to show for it)

I know full well that this kind of wait is unacceptable, and constant apologies only go so far. I didn't want to get myself in a situation like this. But here I am, I put myself in this situation in spite of my best efforts, and I'm just doing whatever I can think of to get through it with minimal damages.

If anyone has any helpful suggestions, or knows where I can hire personal assistants who would be happy to work for peanuts, I'm open for feedback on the matter.
sigilgoat
Jun. 26th, 2012 01:35 pm (UTC)
I would highly recommend you stop adding on extras. From what you've said, you're already very far behind. Why add more work for yourself?

Instead why not keep a separate list of the user names of the people who have waited and perhaps when you've caught up, you can pick from that list to use as examples of quick things, or do some headshots or something.

Right now though, you need to focus on the work you've been paid for and that's behind, not giving yourself MORE work on top of it!

I did the same thing to a lesser extent when I had a heavy backlog and it did nothing but cause me more stress. Yes some customers appreciated that I'd done something extra, but people appreciate MORE getting what they paid for.

Do you have a well organized system for your commission information currently? Once I switched to Google Docs for -everything- and went no-notes, my commission efficiency is very much improved. I noticed your queue has a nice organized spreadsheet and that's awesome.

What other things are keeping you behind? You mention needing a personal assistant, but for what sorts of tasks?
(no subject) - curiodraco - Jun. 26th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Jun. 26th, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - curiodraco - Jul. 2nd, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spartanwerewolf - Jun. 26th, 2012 02:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - curiodraco - Jun. 26th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ryu_no_tenshi - Jun. 26th, 2012 06:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - curiodraco - Jul. 2nd, 2012 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cyiakanami - Jun. 26th, 2012 02:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - curiodraco - Jun. 26th, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marus_puppy - Jun. 27th, 2012 12:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - curiodraco - Jul. 2nd, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marus_puppy - Jul. 3rd, 2012 03:07 am (UTC) - Expand
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