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Trouble With a Customer

It's been a month or so since this event took place, but considering I was steamed up enough about it to completely remake my TOS, I would say I still need some advice with how to handle it.

I do adult commission work over on FurAffinity, and I am usually witness to repeat customers. One particular customer, who enjoys adult art of copyright characters, has really gotten on my nerves. They had me do a full digital commission while in stream, and did not mention in his description that the character was a copyright character (his links also weren't all working, so if he supplied a reference that was recognizable to me as a copyrighted character, I probably would have said something.) I didn't actually find out until AFTER I had done the work and posted it, and that sort of annoyed me. This is a minor problem that I simply shrugged it out on, but he got worse soon after.

Upon completion of a VERY adult artwork of a copyrighted character, I sent him the finished work, as well as a smaller resolution work for him to post to his account with linkage back to me. Because I wasn't comfortable with posting the image, I asked him nicely to post the smaller resolution work only, and to keep the large image for his own personal archives. He proceeded to throw what I can only compare to an adult temper tantrum, going so far as to say that I was "neutering" the work and that I was being unfair. He very much wanted to post the larger image, and insisted that other artists he had commissioned had let him post the large image. I told him that because I wasn't comfortable with the material in the commission (I had already gently told him before that copyright characters beyond Pokemon/Digimon/generic weren't my thing and there was a strong possibility that I would not be posting them to my gallery) and because it was my work, I requested that a smaller size be posted so that I wouldn't be seeing a big version of art that I wasn't comfortable being linked to me all over the internet (previous commissions I had done to him had ended up on "adult toon" sites in a matter of days.) He hasn't so much as talked to me since (we used to chat casually on Skype) and has not been a repeat customer.

I got so steamed about being treated in such a way after delivering a decent piece to him that I entirely rewrote my TOS to include a segment about dictating the size of art posted to galleries other than my own when I wasn't comfortable posting them myself. Looking back I am still upset about the situation, but I wanted to see what you guys thought. Was my action correct? Should I have done something different?

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( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 23rd, 2014 03:56 am (UTC)
I'm going to Go There and be the blunt one and outright ask.
He played dirty pool (giving you references that didn't work with all the various ways you can Google up a source image these days reeks of avoidance) so why do you think he wouldn't do the same with image size and posting? (After all, he's posted your work to "adult toon" sites in the past. Not exactly the best track record for playing by the rules, IMHO.)

I don't really think you -can- dictate the size of the image that the buyer can post on the internet; once they have purchased the art, they can post it in as high a resolution as they wish from what you gave them. (You can ask politely and hope.) I do think, however, you can adjust your TOS to include the following:
1. If reference links do not work, it will not be drawn at that time.
2. Adult artwork of copyrighted characters will be on a case-by-case basis, and limited to your comfort level, not the commissioner.

Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:02 am (UTC)
oh! he doesnt post the adult art to other places, it just ends up there courtesy of people who scrape FA and other places for that sort of thing and repost them to conglomerate sites. sorry i didnt make that clear.

thats a really good idea with the TOS, i do have something like the second adjustment, with a clause that reads i am not usually comfortable with copyrighted character porn and you will need to ask me about it before commissioning me. the first should definitely be added, thanks!
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:04 am (UTC)
Ah, gotcha. Sorry about that... the way I read it made it seem as if he had posted them himself.

Still, the lack of working references rubs me the wrong way, as if he knew and somehow wanted to skirt your preferences.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:07 am (UTC)
i dont honestly know if that was a maliciously planned event, and considering i WAS streaming it i suppose he could have said at any time that it was a copyrighted character, and i know that if he had i would have remembered because i would have put the breaks on REAL QUICK and asked him more specifically about it.

he's the type of guy who is incredibly good natured, but if you go an inch under that layer he's a stinker who just tries to sweet-talk you into stuff you wouldn't normally be comfortable with.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:09 am (UTC)
Ah, yes. I try not to let that type re-commission me. They just aren't worth the time and stress, I find.

Working references would have solved a good bit, I fear.
Jan. 24th, 2014 07:06 am (UTC)
actually, legally, the artist can dictate what size is allowed to be posted on any gallery. The artist here did not do the commission as a work for hire [ i am assuming], and thus did not give the rights of the art over to the commissioner. If the artist states they do not want the artwork posted in a certain resolution without permission, the commissioner is obligated to adhere to the artist's demand. If not, they can rightly not post it at all.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 03:57 am (UTC)
Honestly, I would have done the same as you. If he's going to cry about it, he can just not post it to his gallery at all. And if it were me and he went and posted the high res anyway despite the chat, I would go directly over his head to a moderator to get the piece pulled completely.

If he doesn't like it, he doesn't have to commission you. And if he doesn't, no skin off your nose.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:30 am (UTC)
that's what i more or less told him when he confronted me about the issue, and as a result he's taken a hike and i am pretty okay with it.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:43 am (UTC)
If I'm the commissioner, I need to know what resolution I can post the finished work publicly at from the beginning. If you draw images at 4,000x3,000 but only let the customer post publicly (often the only place the art gets seen by the commissioner's friends) at 400x300, that customer better know before paying that this is how it will be.

Anything less is a bait and switch and would be a solid commissioner beware, regardless of whether the commissioner also did something wrong.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:52 am (UTC)
i agree completely with that notion.

however, the original size and the size i asked him to post was less than a 400 pixel difference. the art size i post is at least 900 x ___ in size, which is a nice gallery presentation. if the situation had been handled in a way that didnt feel like sheer bullying the artist to let them have their way, i would have actually been inclined to let this slide with him and let him post the larger version. as the words he said to me were incredibly hurtful and immature, i did not take this route.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 05:30 am (UTC)
Rather than make a request that really won't undo the damage, just for spite at what the commissioner did, I think a more productive way to deal with the problem is to let the guy post as he wishes, post a beware, and be done.

One thing I find odd is that you wish to be disassociated with the art, but at the same time you still want the guy to include a link back to your gallery...?
Jan. 23rd, 2014 05:56 am (UTC)
i guess the issue is that i need to be upfront with my comfort level. i should have told him before he even gave me any idea of what he wanted that the piece wasnt going to be in my gallery, and that there would be some restrictions to the art being posted online. that way if he had accepted with these parameters, he couldnt try to backtrack and say that i had never warned him of my TOS.

i handled the situation as well as i could at the time it occurred, and unfortunately there was no GOOD way to handle a volatile commissioner, since i had never had one before. i wasnt acting out of spite, i informed him as soon as i gave him the commission that i wasnt comfortable with the large size being posted and requested he post a smaller image, for my peace of mind. i should have worded that better in my previous comment, i did not tell him he couldnt post the original resolution AFTER he was rude to me, i told him and THEN he was rude to me, and i decided to stand firm on my original request due to this behavior.

i DID learn my lesson, and my TOS is updated because of this experience. i didnt think to make a Beware post here simply because he was gearing up to commission me for yet another piece after this one was done (he is a chronic commissioner type, who will commission you for 4-5 and even up to 10 pieces at a time) and i wanted to try to discuss with him my feelings about the image before we went any further. i wanted to have a dialogue with the commissioner in live time, rather than rolling over, letting him have his way, and then having this issue crop up again not even a week later, possibly in an even more aggressive format.

as for the link back, since i never sign any of my adult work, i ask for a simple link back to my adult gallery, since i live off of these commissions and need the traffic to help pay my rent.

Jan. 23rd, 2014 07:27 am (UTC)
You're within your right, if you see him posting a large copy (which could be used commercially by anyone who finds it) just DMCA it. Your word goes, and if he doesn't like it he can learn to draw for himself.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:45 pm (UTC)
at this point i'm pretty much cutting my losses on him, since he hasnt talked to me for a good couple of months now about any new commission work. thats honestly OK by me, since he was always pushing me into a realm where i wasnt comfortable in the first place.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 01:10 pm (UTC)
You're definitely within your rights. You control the distribution rights of your work. What you asked was not unreasonable; they are throwing a tantrum.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:57 pm (UTC)
i'm just the silly artist who thought that asking nicely would be enough ;v; its in my TOS now tho, so no making that mistake again!
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:17 pm (UTC)
Personally I prefer people post the 're-siezed' versions I give them simply because trying to look at a full-res image on any website is just a pain to scroll through. You can tell them to post the small but sometimes you get that one customer who completely ignores your regards. Honestly you can't do anything about that. (I also prefer the small image because it makes it hard for others to take and 'edit' the art, though that rarely happens it's still a concern of mine.)

Regarding the copyright that sucks. Personally it doesn't bother me. But if this person makes you uncomfortable I would just cut them completely from taking commissions from them in the future. Especially since they treated you so poorly and basically lied. They really don't seem like someone I would want to work with either.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:56 pm (UTC)
all of my art in my gallery is at the same size roughly, and i am like you in that i hate having to scroll to see the full image. if he ends up posting the large image i cant do anything and i dont plan on it, since it wasnt in my TOS at the time and i cant dispute it if it wasnt written somewhere anyway.

i'm actually pretty ok with copyright material, in terms of drawing it anyways. i just dont like posting it too much because its the art of mine that ALWAYS gets scraped and reposted elsewhere without my permission.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 07:37 pm (UTC)
With copyright images I can agree. Typically tho if you watermark em pretty good hopefully the credit is still in the image and not cropped out. (Hate when people do that) But I totally understand that.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 05:48 pm (UTC)
When I commission other artists, I always size the image down to post it on my gallery and link to the large version posted on the artists gallery. That way, if people that watch me want to see the bigger version, they have to go to the artists page and see it. Gives the artist more views and potentially new watchers. :)

When I give a customer of mine their final image, I typically never give the full resolution image. Though to be fair it is usually only 1200x1200 anyway.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:30 pm (UTC)
I'm going to be 'that person' and say; If it was not in your TOS that he could not post the full size, then he can post it. If it was, he is in the wrong.

Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:43 pm (UTC)
no no, thats a completely fair statement to make! at the time it was not in my TOS, because it wasnt something i had even thought about. if he ends up posting the large size there isnt anything i can do about it, and i wouldnt want to re-engage at this point anyway to dispute it. however, i have gone back and completely overhauled my TOS, and there is a specific segment in there about uploading my art, so i am pretty sure i've covered my bases now. i just needed someone to come along like that to see what i needed to improve upon!
Jan. 23rd, 2014 11:19 pm (UTC)
Copyrights aside, I always deliver to my customers a watermarked and an unmarked image. I politely ask them if they share the image in a gallery or wherever, to use the marked one. This limits theft and also points back to my gallery since the link is in the watermark.

I also make sure to absolutely always mark any fanart, commission or not, because it's snatched and reposted or thefted more than orignals.

Out of curiousity, and you don't have to answer if you don't want to, how did you manage to draw a copyrighted character with no references anyway?
Jan. 23rd, 2014 11:29 pm (UTC)
THAT situation came about because i was in a stream with the customer and a ton of other people. he said he wanted me to draw something for him, and i complied, and asked for refs. he sent mostly art that was previously commissioned by him as references, but also sent along what i can only assume was possibly a real life screenshot of the character (if youre interested, it was the female bear character from the Cleveland show, a super minor entity who only shows up in a few episodes.) however, that reference wasnt linking properly, and because he never said anything about it in the stream, i didnt think it was a necessary piece of reference material.

none of his other uploaded fanworks had any markers that they were copyrighted characters, beyond the fact that they slightly resembled the Family Guy/American Dad/Cleveland Show kind of look. there werent any tags to hint that it was copyrighted either, and since i had never even seen the show (i dont have cable) i wasnt aware that a generic bear with a bobbed haircut was actually a copyrighted item.

long story short, he sent me references of mostly stuff he had already commissioned of this character, and the only actual show reference (i assume thats what it was) he sent didnt work. he didnt mention anywhere in the body of the commission that it was a copyrighted thing either, and i had no outside knowledge. i drew the character as asked, and only after the fact did he say "yeah that character isnt mine, it belongs to the Cleveland Show."
Jan. 24th, 2014 07:20 am (UTC)
Hm, well... generic bear with a bobbed haircut doesn't seem all too original. I wouldn't worry too much over it. If someone tries to come at you with legal action you didn't know it was their character is a plausible defense. I think that's the word I'm looking for...
Jan. 24th, 2014 06:30 pm (UTC)
I have a clause in my TOS to avoid this kind of situation, mostly because I give a watermarked, smaller file for the client to post and a larger, unmarked file for them to enjoy. It usually helps to outline it straight away in a TOS so that a potential commissioner can make their own decisions as to what they prefer. So far they've been pretty happy with it, although in fairness it's probably because the larger image is really quite large.

So no, I don't think you've done anything wrong. It's not something you'd usually think of at first, true, but it's good to know you've already edited your TOS to reflect that. And honestly I don't think he's a commissioner worth putting up with if he's treated you with that much disrespect.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )


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