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Hi, everyone! I apologize for bothering you again, but I have a few questions on my mind and would be very thankful if the kind members of this community took the time to answer them.


I wanted to know what people's opinions (artists' and commissioners' alike) were when it comes to artists asking for small donations...(Not in exchange for or in exchange for art)? Or even for commissions for either desperate or charitable causes? 

Although I'm an artist myself, I've also donated and commissioned some artists for those reasons, but I honestly don't know what other people's viewpoints are on these issues.

And um, if my fellow artists can give me a little of their experiences on how to avoid and repel bad commissioners, please share. (Especially when there are commissioners out there who like taking advantage of artists...)

As always, I look forward to improving my skills and services as an artist and would welcome any advice and opinions on these matters. Thank you.

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Aug. 19th, 2012 05:26 pm (UTC)
I don't donate to artists. I will occasionally buy commissions where the funds are donated to a charity I trust. I've personally participated in donation drives for animal related charities in the past as well.

As far as how to "repel bad commissioners", an artist should have a very clear and thorough Terms of Service, and should be very diligent in following their own rules. I also require all cash up front for my work, and I only allow 3 fixes per commission, so my time isn't exploited.

Other than that, by keeping myself as professional as possible online I've avoided a lot of the issues I've seen other artists go through. I don't turn my customers into friends, though I do have some friends that happen to be my customers. They know that once we're having a working relationship, our communication is professional.
Aug. 19th, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
Regarding donations:
I feel pretty strongly on this issue. The frequency with which I see artists, especially in the furry community, begging for money disgusts and frustrates me. There is a high chance that I will unwatch and never commission them when I see it. Your personal problems aren't anyone else's business, and expecting strangers on the internet to care about it and take out their wallet comes off as extremely entitled especially in the current economic climate where just about everyone has it hard.

Exceptions to this are if I actually know the person - I will help out a friend if I can - and if it is a real emergency of a one-off variety like a serious illness or their house burned down or something.

Emergency commissions:
These I usually avoid like the plague because all too often the artist takes on more than they can handle in a reasonable amount of time and ends up struggling with the backlog. If they are not someone that I've done prior business with before and trust, it's out of the question.

Bad commissioners:
This question is a bit too vague to give any real advice on because there are SO many different problems that can arise and how to handle them is usually on a case to case basis.

Having a ToS and asking your customer to read it is a good preventative measure, as is not starting work before payment.
Aug. 19th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
Ah yeah, when I see someone opening for EMERGENCY COMMISSIONS - RENT I am pretty wary. Rent and other utilities (phone bill, internet, groceries, etc) are things that should really be budgetted and taken care of with normal work. When someone continually posts EMERGENCY, it makes me really nervous too!

BUT if it's like someone broke their leg, got in a car accident, their pet got really sick, etc I have put money towards that.
(no subject) - shukivengeance - Aug. 19th, 2012 06:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Aug. 19th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC)
hopefully this is coherent
I'm going to speak as someone who has been there early on in my time on FA. I did the whole "donate and get art", and it was a terrible, terrible thing. I got backlogged very quickly, and my motivation to work was low. I don't suggest people do this unless you know you can manage it.

I don't personally hold it against anyone if they have a one-time emergency. Goodness knows I've been there, and had to do it myself. I've got no issues with purchasing commissions from people who need the funds to continue working. (PC repairs, messed up tablet, etc.) The issue is when the emergencies become common and frequent.

If one cannot make enough funds with a reasonable amount of work to get rent and utility bills paid on time every month with the art delivered in time to take on more for the next month? Art is not for you, or you need to re-evaluate how you are running your business.

A lot of young artists don't realize how much work and effort it takes to make commissions into a viable form of income. Selling your items at dirt cheap prices and taking on a bunch at once is not going to help. It's only going to build you a massive backlog and start your reputation off on a bad foot.

I've been burned by a fair number of Emergency Commissions, and I will unwatch any artist who makes them seem like a constant thing. I don't purchase for "desperate" situations, because I don't want to feel pressured into commissioning someone. If I want to buy from someone, then it will be for the merit of their art. (Or as stated above, to help them continue working.)

And um, if my fellow artists can give me a little of their experiences on how to avoid and repel bad commissioners, please share. (Especially when there are commissioners out there who like taking advantage of artists...)

A solid terms of service and the realization that those who are out to take advantage can sometimes target artists who have low prices/ and or not a lot of experience.
Aug. 19th, 2012 09:49 pm (UTC)
Re: hopefully this is coherent
I'm going to speak as someone who has been there early on in my time on FA. I did the whole "donate and get art", and it was a terrible, terrible thing. I got backlogged very quickly, and my motivation to work was low. I don't suggest people do this unless you know you can manage it.

I did it recently to fund vet expenses for a kitten my friend found on the side of the road. The way I managed it was to set a limit [I think $100, though the vet bills and cat food ended up costing me about $150] and didn't take donations past that point. I also made sure people would know the donation art would come in my own time and not to expect it immediately.

Selling your items at dirt cheap prices and taking on a bunch at once is not going to help. It's only going to build you a massive backlog and start your reputation off on a bad foot.

Learned that one the hard way a couple years ago. ;___; And I'm only just starting to get everything under reasonable control, so if any just-starting-taking-commissions artists are reading this, LEARN from my mistakes and the advice of others. :P
Aug. 19th, 2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
I don't think so many artists should continuously need to do "emergency" commissions and tend to avoid giving them my money. I notice a large back-log with these artists and worry some of them may be biting off more than they can chew. I have also unwatched artists for habitual "emergency" commission posts.
It may sound harsh but if someone must ask for donations or emergency commissions to make ends meat their art is not making them a living and they should supplement with a part of job of some sort.

Art for charity I don't mind. I've joined auctions where my art would go to a good cause and even had done a few commissions in exchange for money being donated to a local bird of prey rehab center and another reputable charity I support.

As for keeping bad commissioners away make sure you write up a good and solid TOS. You cn't really just keep the baddies away but you can protect yourself in case they find you.
TAKE PAYMENT UP FRONT or at least before you move past the sketch stage. Most people who rip you off will do so to artists who do the art before payment in required.
Aug. 19th, 2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
As an artist I always try to never ask for donations. I had to one two occasions, one when I was hit with a 2k powerbill out of the blue (due to the building owner putting the public laundromat on our bill) and when I was hospitalized and had an ambulance bill to pay.

For emergency commissions, I always state my current work list, and limit the slots, or do a stream for 'done on the spot commissions', usually for $5 a pop. Sometimes I'll hold a preposed auction, or sale too.

Sometimes I don't make enough for rent, or food/bills, so I'll have a sale or something to sell so I can indeed make rent. it's not (although I have seen people blow their money on crap, and then beg for donations) bad budgeting like they said up there, it's just I didn't sell enough. I don't see why this warrants an unwatch, I think is someone had this opinion I wouldn't want to work with them to begin with. Someone blowing their money on stuff and then asking for help is stupid though.

Emergencies happen, and I've been helped out greatly when they do, and if I ever have spare money, I give, or commission, someone else who needs it.

You also have to keep in mind that because someone is getting or posting commissions doesn't mean they bought it then. I got 'attacked' for showing off a commission I had ordered 2 months before, just because it was completed when I was in a tight spot.
Aug. 19th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
Pretty much what others have said.

I avoid 'donations for art'. Even IF it's going to a charitable cause; if I wanted to donate to that cause, I'd do it myself for the reason of being charitable, not to get art. I'm even leery of donating to one-time emergencies. I've just seen far too many artists get way over their heads and the art mysteriously never shows up. I think I know of maybe two artists I'd ever even consider donating to or emergency commissioning, because I've watched them long enough to know that the art DOES get done in a somewhat reasonable time frame.

As to avoiding bad commissioners, my best advice honestly is to check through this very community! We have lots of tags, the very first on the list being none other than 'advice for artists'. Read up on what other people have done, how they've handled good AND bad situations, see what fits you best and go from there.

My big three things are: don't undervalue yourself, be firm on deadlines, and communicate. Especially communicate. Half the bewares I see on this community could probably have been avoided if communication had been better from all parties involved.
Aug. 19th, 2012 08:55 pm (UTC)
I try to approach donations-for-art/commission priority/other reward and emergency commissions on a case by case basis, but I have to admit that I'm jaded to both due to frequent abuse by certain members of the artistic community.

This is especially true when it comes to artists repeatedly trying to make standard bills. Once or twice doesn't phase me. Sometimes major unexpected charges come up and in order to pay them a person has to dig into their other resources. As someone who has been forced to cut back on extras or reroute payments due to unexpected vet transactions I can completely understand that emergencies come up.

When an artist is trying to make a living on their artwork and is having to post 'emergency' requests or specials every month in order to make ends meet, that is when it becomes an issue. That is the point where rethinking a primary source of income should come into play.

Even with the above, if the artist in question is meeting their owed work I'm more likely to give them a pass. When it comes to a combination of emergency fund pleas and lack of progress on existing work leading to backlog then I'll go so far as to block or unwatch. There are artists I adore who I would love to support out of the good of my heart that I might donate to just for the pleasure of seeing their work, but would never pay for an emergency commission from, just because I know I'll never see it. (Or, worse as far as I'm concerned, I'll see my commission but someone who had been waiting for months or years gets their own pushed back yet again. I'm one of those odd people who would rather go without art than disrespect another commissioner that way.)


Avoiding bad commissioners:

I'm not an artist, so I'll leave this to those who are for greater depth. Having a solid Terms of Service Contract, reviewing advice posts on A_B and never being afraid to go with your gut instinct about your clients should all help in the long run.
Aug. 19th, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC)
I am very on the fence with the topic of donations. Because I accept them through a legitimate health-based fundraiser. So my view on it is a bit different then whats being explained here. I do not give anything in return to my donations, I make that very clear. They are real, honest donations to help with my aftercare for an organ transplant. I make it very very very transparent what the funds go to.

Given that, I used to donate to the "help [insert cause here]!" once in a while. Sometimes I know they were legit reasons, sometimes I wasn't so sure. This is not donation for art, as that is not a real donation. If I give money, I give money with no expectation to anyone, or organization. Our viewpoint on the donation or it's causes do not matter. It is up to the donator with what they do with their money in the end. We can't stop people from donating to bad/good/otherwise causes.

Lastly, I do not donate anymore unless I physically know the person involved, what they need, why they need it, and how it'll be used. If the person needs assistance, they need to get off of the internet and apply for it in real life. Gathering money from a fandom is seedy to me.


Repelling bad commissioners?...You can't. You will run the risk of losing the good ones alongside the bad. It's case by case basis, and personal opinion on whose 'bad' and whose 'good'. You're going to always get a couple bad out of the many good there are. Just brace yourself and learn how to deal with the 'bad' ones in a polite, firm, professional way. Don't try to repel them, try to learn how to identify them before you do business with them.

Aug. 19th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
I sometimes donate judging on a case-by-case basis [how trustworthy I find the artist, what the money is going toward, what MY current financial situation is], but I never donate expecting anything in return and I make that clear in every case. A donation is a donation and if I find the cause worthy, I will help out. I've been in some bad situations over the past few years and I know how stressful that kind of thing can be. I just try to pay forward the kindness shown to me when I can.

BUT when it's chronic "emergencies" like others have said, I tend to avoid those people. There have been countless cases where donations have ended up going to drugs or commissions instead of what they were supposed to go toward and as a result, I'm pretty wary. Most of my donations end up going to reputable artists in a bad way or personal friends of mine.
Aug. 19th, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
RE: Charity, I only donate if I know and trust the artist, and if I know it's for something important that's not brought upon by their own foolishness. So 99% of "money trouble" journals I ignore, because I've noticed these kinds of folks in trouble again and again and again because they keep making the same mistakes. But I've donated to victims of accidents and surprise life-threatening illnesses.

I sometimes leave tips on art, especially if I think the service rendered was really exceptional, or the artist undercharged for the quality.

When I commission someone, it's because I want their art, not because I pity them. If there's some big emergency going on that they have to take on extra work, history has shown that it will be a very long wait and the finished product may be rushed.

RE: How to repel bad customers, there is no real surefire way to do it, but if you get more commission inquiries than you have time to fill, you can pick and choose your commissions, do a little bit of googling on the person inquiring and see if you think they'd be good to work for.
Also, avoid labeling your work as "cheap", that really sends across the wrong message. That attracts a well, cheap viewerbase. Have pride and confidence in your work. It's okay to have low prices if that's what you want to do, but be sure your selling points are in the work itself, not the price.
Aug. 20th, 2012 01:58 am (UTC)
I may put on a sale in hope to entice buyers, but I've never asked, and never will ask, for donations. It makes me feel weird. I have had a couple of people ask if it was ok to give me a donation... and I said that I will only take money if I can draw a picture for them. Otherwise I was not comfortable taking their money.

I am like that. Even with things like food. Most of the time, I can not afford to being a lunch to work and my boss will try to give me some of her lunch. It makes me uncomfortable to accept it, so I will say thanks but pretend I am not hungry even if I really really am.
Aug. 21st, 2012 05:48 am (UTC)
^ All of this.

I will happily do sales upon sales upon sales to try and drum up business for myself, even if that means grossly underselling my wares. Doesn't always work out, but to just post and ask for donations would make me feel horribly skeevy. Getting something for nothing just makes me feel like a mooch, and that's a really gross feeling to me.
Aug. 20th, 2012 02:19 am (UTC)
I used to, but now I steer clear of anyone that has "Donate" or "Emergency" in their titles...

Been burned enough times already, so screw them with ************************

So, yeah.
Aug. 20th, 2012 09:09 am (UTC)
Regarding donations, it should be taken on a case by case basis. If someone is raising funds for a genuine cause - be it an animal rescue, a friend or family member who has a serious illness or injury, a community project - then as long as the artist(s) has a good standing and is trustworthy, I don't see there's any issue at all in buying art from them for charity. If you're in any doubt whatsoever, ask to see links to the charity or a receipt to show the donation being made - the artist will more than likely be happy to reassure you.

Things are a little more difficult when it's a personal donation. As others have said, it's very offputting when you see artists who have a new EMERGENCY every week for which they're taking donations or commissions. Buying these EMERGENCY commissions can be problematic because artists who are prone to this often take far more commissions than they can comfortably complete, leading to huge backlogs, poor customer service or rushed work. Genuine serious emergencies do happen however, and if an artist does have something serious come up and is normally responsible in handling their workload, supporting them in that time can be much needed. It's up to you to look at it and establish what you feel the situation is.

Edited at 2012-08-20 09:10 am (UTC)
Aug. 20th, 2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
I'd like to share my opinion from a few sides of these situations...

As a buyer of art and supporter of artists, I set aside a bit of money each month from the funds I pull in from my own commissions that comes in after all my own bills and expenses are taken care of. I do this so that if one of my favourite artists or any of my friends get into a spot of trouble and need some help, I can throw a bit of money their way. Sometimes I buy emergency commissions, and leave a nice big tip(or pay double), and sometimes I just throw them some money because I want to know that they can eat at least one good meal while they're taking care of their temporary drama. I don't however, do this for people that I don't know well, or haven't been watching for at least a couple months. I donate to personal emergencies like medical bills, vet bills, transportation issues, or busted work equipment. Freelance artists don't get benefits, so if someone gets hit by a truck, they really are in trouble. I sympathize with that, I sympathize with any animal lover, and I want the people I enjoy to continue making art.

As someone who had a very drama-free life for many years, I don't particularly like even watching people who are chronically having personal "emotional" emergencies of a non-medical nature, who chronically struggle with different addictions, or who just simply carry a lot of drama with them. I don't like drama.
However, having in the past year experienced my fair share of big stupid personal dramas, I can say something from that perspective as well. I still don't sympathize a whole lot with it, but more than that, NOBODY wants to be the person who always has drama going on. It wears on your friends, it wears on your business, and it wears on you. Whenever possible, it's best just to keep it away from your business/art life. I've never asked for donations or emergency commissions, but I can say that even just talking about it publicly, or having it be the reason for a delay in regular commissions is very tedious. So unless you are going to die, or you need the money because your tablet busted or computer fried, just... don't bring it up. :P It's not worth the stress and buttache just to vent your big stupid personal issues to a large audience. They only need to hear it if it is relevant to your business, and even then... it's best kept short and sweet.

On a side note, a good way to avoid emergency situations, as an artist, is to remember that your work doesn't come with health benefits or a retirement pension or anything like that, and SAVE ACCORDINGLY. My god, if you have 3 dollars that you aren't using, tuck it away. You will need it later, I promise.

Avoiding bad commissioners is so easy, it's ridiculous. Don't do any work you don't want to do. If they aren't willing to pay you properly for your time, work for the people who are. If they don't treat you properly, work for the folks who do. If you don't like their ideas, work for the people whose ideas you DO enjoy.
Your work will be better for it, and you'll attract the sorts of folks you want to work for. Make sure that you have "backup" income that makes money when you don't have pen to paper(t-shirts, stickers, prints, whatever), and you won't suffer too badly if a bit of a lull in commission work happens, or if you take on a job in the name of passion rather than dollars.
If you positively cannot find enough good work to pay your bills, and no one will buy from you except the people you don't want to work for, it's a sign that you need to find a different line of work. It's a harsh thing to discover, but it leads to happier career opportunities in the long run.

I hope that helps! I know I wrote an awful lot. x_x
Aug. 20th, 2012 04:19 pm (UTC)
Repelling bad customers: More about having a clear and solid TOS and an ability to catch "red flags" early in a conversation and be willing to turn down or refund money when something doesn't feel right.

Emergency commissions: If I see that they have a public to-do list and they are posting art on a regular basis and consistently AND it seems legit I will totally grab a spot. Sometimes is a good way to get art and help out a friend.

If they have "emergencies" every 20 minutes and no public backlog list, haven't posted art in 3 weeks to a month with no legitimate reason (if they are injured and can't do art then why take commissions?) I'm more likely to -unfriend and/or block. I don't need to be guilt tripped with a dozen journals.

Charitable donations: If the charity is raising money for some animal hospital or fire department or family or something else and you want to contribute, just send the money directly to the people who need it. No need for a middle man, however raising awareness to people who are in need is pretty legit.
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