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So . . . how long does it actually take all of you guys to finish commissions, or how quickly do you expect your commissions to be finished?

Reason I'm asking is because I've had this commission for a while, and I'm taking a long time. The first part of the delay wasn't my fault, my tablet had broken so I had no way to finish it. But I've had a new tablet for a while . . . and my problem is I'm just not inspired to work on it and feel like I'm actually doing a good job. I am working on it and I will finish it, I'm just wondering when latness gets to be unacceptable. I don't neglect to reply to any of his emails inquiring about progress, but I'm starting to feel guilty nevertheless. At the same time, I don't want to rush the piece in fear that it'll turn out badly.
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( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 25th, 2006 11:50 pm (UTC)
I generally don't take much more than a week on a commission. I can get them done in a day or two, but it really depends on how busy I am. It also depends on what they want. If someone is really clear on what they want it won't take long at all, but if they're like "Draw my sons how you see them".. uh. Tough.

As Razzek said, set a goal for yourself. :3
Mar. 25th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC)
for me it depends on the commissions and how much I have going on in my life at the time. For instance right now I am in the moddle (actually nearing the end of) a very busy semester at school, and I had virtually no time for commissions whatsoever. I have them waiting, I just need to find the time to do them. =/ I'd say if it's simply a lack of motivation, do what [Unknown LJ tag] suggested, but give yourself a couple days ahead of time to just NOT worry about it. Do your own stuff, don't even think about it at all. Then when you have it all done, you just won't have to worry about it anymore! =)
Mar. 26th, 2006 12:01 am (UTC)
Depending on the complexity and my real life I try to take no more than a Month. But sometimes things come up, I do keep the person aware of what is up if its more than that. And sometimes even when its that long I try to at least toss in a fast freebie pencil as a sorry took forever.
Mar. 26th, 2006 12:13 am (UTC)
My results are also very varied. It depends on the subject and how used to it I am. If its new and a challenge it will take longer. If it requires a background and or more detail. That too also takes more time.

Media too, i am usually quiker with reall medias and take twice as long with digital.

Also depends on whatds going on in my life and how communicable my commissioner is.

Mar. 26th, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)
From my perspective (commissioner, not artist), as long as the person let me know what was going on and that they would in fact get around to it, I'd probably be fine with it taking a little longer. The only exceptions would be gifts for other people (i.e., I generally like to have Christmas gifts on hand by Christmas), and smaller pieces, like conbadges. For the gifts, I generally try to get those commissioned well in advance (think on the order of a year- I was actually stunned when a local artist who normally takes a year or more on commissions said that he could turn a piece around in just a few months!); for things like badges, I'd get a little annoyed if it was coming up on a year barring major life trauma or a preexisting agreement stating the expected turnaround time.
Mar. 26th, 2006 12:58 am (UTC)
My results were varied when I did/do paid for art. Usually I try to do mine within a few days of recieving payment, but it always seemed to vary... (sometimes with my beign forcefully made to do it the same day I got the payments!)
Mar. 26th, 2006 01:29 am (UTC)
Yeah, it depends for me as well. On the commission, on the time, on what's going on in my life, etc. A typical CG commission done in the summer when I don't have school to worry about and nothing goes wrong (like my hard drive crashing a year ago) usually only takes a few days. During school though, I warn people that commissions can take as long as the entire school semester considering how little free time I have. But of course I tell them this right when they ask to commission me and give them the option of waiting until I have more free time.

I've found most commissioners are very understanding and realize that a lot of us have pressures to deal with like school, a regular job, etc. that may delay a commission. Even lack of inspiration is a valid excuse, I know what that's like. Basically, I find the best policy is to be completely open and upfront with the commissioner, give them options. If they really want the commission now, tell them you'll do your best but make them aware that the rush job may lower the quality. Give them an option of a refund if you really can't finish it in the allotted time. But typically I find commissioners take the third option and are more than happy to wait to get a quality piece so long as you reassure them that it will get done (of course there are exceptions, like gifts and stuff, at which point you need to asses in the first place how long it will take you to get the piece done and if you feel you can't do it, tell the commissioner upfront before any payment is exchanged).

I have found that if I really need to get something done, I can actually devote one solid day to it, sit down, and complete the whole thing without too much quality loss (sometimes even none if I'm really motivated). Obviously those are not optimal working conditions, but if need be, you'd be surprised at what you can accimplish when you really focus (I also recommend having food handy for any "marathon commission days" like this, because food always helps me focus better, keps your blood sugar up and stuff).
Mar. 26th, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)

Varied as well, I'm taking a long time over some recent commissions because I've messed up my shoulder. Otherwise they might be done by now.
Mar. 26th, 2006 03:19 am (UTC)
I don't do many art commissions, but the ones I have taken vary from a month to several months, depending on how busy I am with other things (school, "real job", etc). None of my clients have complained about waiting several months - key being that I always kept them updated on progress. Most are pretty understanding so long as you keep them updated.
Mar. 26th, 2006 03:35 am (UTC)
Well, working on a commission has less to do with inspiration and more to do with discipline. The hardest part is to sit down with the artwork and your drawing stuff. If you just concentrate on getting to that point you'll forget about worrying about whether you're inspired.
Mar. 26th, 2006 06:20 am (UTC)
Did you tell the commissioner what you told us?

I take a long time too, and I feel guilty as well but on the other hand, if you stay in contact with the customer and tell him/her that "If I'm taking too long, just ask for a refund and I'll give it to you." in my experience customers don't mind waiting as long as you're honest and they know that you're eager to give them the best you can.

Run-on sentences ahoy ;)
Apr. 5th, 2006 06:35 am (UTC)
I never remind you about my commission cause yer a pal. I dont sweat it when I know the person is actually busy with life, yanno?

Mar. 26th, 2006 10:17 am (UTC)
As others have said, I also tend to take a while. If I sit down and force myself to draw, I usually can't get anything to look right and I end up frustrated and in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Of course, I have had some impatient commissioners that I basically had to sacrifice quality and mood for because of their rather impatient deadlines.

It depends on the artist and commissioner. I usually don't actually take more than say two weeks, unless the piece is particularly complicated or they want a species I'm not used to, or they want a hard background, etc. I tell them how long I think I'll take beforehand but I try to avoid making an actual promise or anything.

With the commissioner, I think experience on their end is important. The impatient commissioners I've met usually tell me they've never commissioned anyone before, or that they were lucky and got artists that were fast, so they wanted to hold me to that expectation, too. To make it worse they seem to be more patient until they see the approval sketch and then send payment, as they seem to expect the piece to be inked and coloured just a day or two after payment (for me, colouring is the hardest part).

But as I said, I think experience is key. I read a post on some forums a while back from someone looking to commission a Furcadian Portrait artist. They said in the original post that they wanted it done in one day, two at most, and stated that their reasoning was because they had commissioned someone before that had managed to do all that work in just one day. Of course, she got plenty of people telling her that if she wants a good portrait she better lighten up, because she won't find many (if any!) GOOD artists willing to do anything in just a single day for all of 10 dollars.

Anyway, for me, if I was just doing a simple character sketch with no inks or anything, I'd try to get it done in two or three days and I'd start to feel guilty after a month. Anything more complicated/detailed than that and I'd probably start to feel bad in 3-6 months, but plenty of artists take even longer than that, and the commissioner eventually has to decide between waiting and getting the best piece or getting it sooner and sacrificing quality.

Also, I tend to try to speed up the process after I receive payment. Something about knowing I have their money motivates me into getting it done as quickly as possible.

And lastly, I think if I were commissioning someone, I'd ask them how long they expect it to take if they don't tell me to begin with. I'd try not to get my hopes up to get it that soon, but I'd probably start getting antsy after several months just out of excitement for the piece. I'd probably give them up to six months before getting worried, and talk to them about it and go from there.
Mar. 26th, 2006 12:34 pm (UTC)
So far, lately, because I don't have a real 'working' enviroment, all my pieces are taking a while. I need a good table I can sit at with a good chair and be able to get my reference books and stuff easily if I need them, and have my lightbox out. My commissions can take about 3 days(once I get started on it) to 5 months depending on different things. I expect things to turn around in my productivity when we go and get the chair's from my fiance's sister that go to the table we have. o.o At least then I'll have a place to sit and work.
Mar. 26th, 2006 12:35 pm (UTC)
Before I take on any commissions, I always like to review how busy I am that month, and only take on as many commissions/characters as I can cope with for ~that~4 week period. I advertise it as an opening, expressing something like ‘no more than five characters plus complex background.’ When I perceive I am full for the month, that’s it, shop closed, and anyone else will have to wait until the following month. This is made excruciatingly clear on my website/LJ for both parties benefit.

I like a 4 week turn over, simply because it A) It is an agreeable timeframe for both artist and commissioner B) The deadline was agreed before work began C) Deadlines keep me working and prevent undue procrastination D) You as an artist will look good for having a reliable turn over and commissioners will feel secure buying art from you.

If I ever have a delay, I e-mail the commissioner asap, outlining the problem, the new predicted date of completion, and openly offer them a refund if they can’t wait for me to finish. ‘Bumming around’ because I’ve lost my ‘inspiration’ is not something I feel most buyers could relate to or sympathise with, however true to life it might be for the artist. Sometimes this means an uphill struggle with art you might not be 100% satisfied with. But if a commissioner can see progress (I suggest a URL with regular WIP updates they can review weekly), then most will hang in there until the artwork satisfies both parties.
Mar. 26th, 2006 04:55 pm (UTC)
Sometimes it takes me a month, sometimes several months. I warn people of this before accepting any commissions. Take honest stock of your time and consider making the same warning next time.
Mar. 26th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC)
My thoughts to everyone on accepting commissions:

If you want to professionally accept commissions, then have a set date/time spelled out when the items is ordered, and stick to it. Work until 5 am if you have to. Unfortunatly, we do not get paid for overtime (unless it's bought as a rush order) but that's life.

I don't commission people who cannot give me a good estimate of when it will be done, as it makes me assume they are a) not professional and might go bankrupt/run off/etc or b) do not know the medium/figure/etc enough to do a good job if they do not even know when they might be done.

Inside the furry fandom, it doesn't matter so much, but out in the public world, people want what they paid for when it was promised to be done. They probably won't complain if it isn't but they might not buy from you again in the future.

I actually give a deadline a week or so beyond when I figure I will be done. One for a buffer if something happens in my personal life to hinder me, and also so I can call them up early and say it's done, and they get happy for me being ahead of schedule :D
Mar. 26th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)
Just to add:

Often I'm not inspired on working on a piece either, everyone gets like that, especially when it's been giving you trouble. Or you've been working on the same thing for so long and it's getting boring.

My advice is to leave it. But only for a day or two. Set yourself a time to work on it, and stick to it. Like, I make informal agreements with myself to work on a particular piece when a good tv show is on. The tv is my reward for trying and it makes me work fiendishly during the commercial break to do a bunch of things that require all my attention before the show comes back on.

More often than not, I get engrossed, and work on it all throughout the next show, even if it's something I dislike but I don't even want to stop long enough to turn the tv off :)

A writer (sorry, don't remeber who.. might have been the foreward in one of my Starwars books..) once wrote that even when he didn't want to work on a manuscript, he had a set time that he sat down and punched out 20 or so pages. Sometimes it was like pulling teeth, and other times the words wrote themselves. And, at the end of it, all parts of the story were written identically well. Even when uninspired, he could do good work, and that's how he knew he was a good writer.
Mar. 26th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
Art takes as long as it takes. Some commissions ramble on for months, even years...
Apr. 15th, 2006 09:40 am (UTC)
Oddly enough (well, at least it puzzles me, considering it only normally takes me a day or two to do a finished piece, maybe more if it's got a lot of characters or such...), I've ended up taking 4 months to just over a year for several commissions. One was for a close friend/boyfriend (we started dating somewhere in the middle of my being supposed to work on his piece) and he flat-out told me to worry about stuff with stricter deadlines first. One was a trade-for-goods that I just kept forgetting that I had to work on. One (that took 1 year+) was a piece I didn't have time to finish before I moved out of the country for a year, and somehow managed to not burn the reference images to a CD for, even when I thought I double-checked, so it had to wait until I returned home. The last was just plagued by bad luck -- I'd wait for confirmation on the sketch, forget to work on it once I had confirmation, somehow managed to completely lose the sketch (still can't find it), redid it, got confirmation, so on.

I try to keep in touch when I can, though, excepting the one commission where I lost my reference because I also lost his email address and couldn't find it by Googling.

And then most of my other stuff takes 1-2 weeks, and I'm never late (nor, usually, really pressed for time) for the LJ art exchanges.

I'd say work on the bits that don't require much dedication in the meantime, so that you make some progress. (Character construction and flat colors usually are easy enough to be done mechanically, for instance.)

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )


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