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This is a tricky situation I need some opinions on. Please note ahead of time, I'm NOT trying to get out of paying an artist! I just want some opinions on where you draw the line.

I commissioned an artist for a portrait. I specified that I wanted the focus to be on the face, because I wanted a visual representation of the character's face. Mentioned the armor designs of what he should be wearing because I wanted some of it to be shown, so I was hoping to get a bust portrait.

I got sent very small (about 150-200 px wide) sketches of three different thigh-up clothing designs, basically on a blank mannequin face/pose. I asked the artist if the images were scaled down, because I needed the focus to be on the face. He responded that "this size is good enough," and that the images were not scaled down.

He's been REALLY difficult to work with (communication delays, ignoring questions, etc), and looking at his gallery, he's more of a concept artist than a portrait artist anyway, so I'm thinking of cancelling.

Question comes in, at what point do you say "the art you gave me is not what I asked for, so why should I pay you?"

Please remember I am NOT trying to get out of paying, and I have every intention of giving him something for his time! I'm just curious about where the line is drawn. If you request X and get Y, why do you pay them for work you didn't ask for? To me it's the same as asking for a drawing of a dog and getting a cat. I was specific about wanting a face portrait, but he gave me sketchy clothing design mockups that I didn't want, and have no use for. :|

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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 21st, 2014 04:16 am (UTC)
Oh this is a tricky one.

I think you are very much within your right to cancel immediately. In fact, I would if I were you. The cost difference between a bust and a full body is potentially very large.

Just a polite "In my initial request I asked for a bust commission, but the items I'm receiving are far more than what I requested. I'm going to have to cancel here."

It would be kind to offer to compensate, but if someone is blatantly disregarding your request... well, I wouldn't expect compensation if I were the artist.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 21st, 2014 04:38 am (UTC)
I actually agree with this. I'm normally the last person to say an artist shouldn't be compensated, but they weren't paid to do whatever they wanted. I feel like paying them would be enabling them to continue having such an attitude, since after all, they apparently decided to do whatever and they're going to get paid for it anyway! Don't do it.
Feb. 21st, 2014 12:58 pm (UTC)
It's ok to agree with this because it also applies to other business transactions easily. Could you imagine this in a more professional setting? "Dear publishing house, I know you asked me for a book cover illustration with a close up of a man's face on it for this novel but I decided to do a whole sexy, shirtless Viking instead so here you go. Pay me!"
Feb. 22nd, 2014 10:54 am (UTC)
Go into a restaurant, ask for a burger and they bring you out a deluxe steak dinner.
"Okay so, pay me please!"
I'd pay for the price of the burger in exchange for the steak or walk out, lol.

Edited at 2014-02-22 10:55 am (UTC)
Feb. 21st, 2014 06:05 pm (UTC)
Yep yep, my thoughts exactly.
Feb. 21st, 2014 04:40 am (UTC)
Wait not only are they no following your directions, they're only going to give you a completed file that 150-200px? Isn't that basically a slightly large icon? I would definitely send them a message politely declining continuing the commission and if you really feel like it offering small compensation for their time.

However, I think you should really consider an artist's full gallery before you commission them. I know the onus is on the artist to decline if they feel they can't do the request but when you approach an artist to do something completely different from their body of work you're kind of taking a risk there.
Feb. 21st, 2014 05:13 am (UTC)
Oh yes, I definitely understand that. The artist has done portraits, he just focuses more on designing armor and such, doing full-body concept art, than just portraits. I originally came to him for a full illustration (two characters, detailed background), but he charges close to industry prices and it was far out of my range. So I settled on a (pretty pricey) portrait.

But yeah, the images themselves were really small. After posting this, I decided to send him a note about the size of the image and he agreed to enlarge it and crop it so that it's more of a facially-focused image, but... yeah, still not sure if I want to go ahead with it. :|
Feb. 21st, 2014 05:20 am (UTC)
Oh ok! That makes more sense then. I've seen people commission super frilly/girly artists for tomboy characters before and they are inevitably unsatisfied with the finished art. I never understood that!

Yeah, I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be continuing a pricey commission when they've ignored my basic descriptions right off the bat.
Feb. 21st, 2014 10:32 am (UTC)
I think you should really voice these concerns to the artist (that you want a portrait and not just a cropped image) and make the decision to quit or continue based on what they end up saying. I'd say that especially for a concept artist following job instructions should be expected (at least if they have any actual job experience).
If they don't seem to get the issue, I'd cancel the commission.

EDIT: changed a word to a more fitting one

Edited at 2014-02-21 10:47 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 21st, 2014 06:17 pm (UTC)
With there being a bajillion and one artists out there, I doubt it's the same guy. Don't really think a beware is necessary as I don't believe he's doing it intentionally, he just has that 'professional artist who doesn't appreciate smaller commissions' thing going on.
Mar. 3rd, 2014 01:18 pm (UTC)
Without breaking the 'don't ask who it is' rule, this really does seem eerie close to an issue my friend recently had with an '(comic) industry standard' artist on FA. After this person took almost a year to do the commission, they charged my friend for colours they decided to add. After all of the waiting and additional charges, they had the audacity to ask for a tip.

"I asked the artist if the images were scaled down, because I needed the focus to be on the face. He responded that "this size is good enough," and that the images were not scaled down."
Is a big red flag for me. I have to agree with other posters, if they respond poorly to your requesting a partial refund, it might be worth posting a beware.
Feb. 21st, 2014 06:11 pm (UTC)
You could ask for a partial refund? The amount minus the amount for the sketches?

And this is an existing issue, also with other customers, is it maybe a communication issue? Is English their second language maybe? It might not be malice is all I'm saying.

Personally, if I get "carried away" with a commission, I don't expect the customer to pay me the difference. I just consider it a gift because I enjoyed the commission, apparently.

Edited at 2014-02-21 06:13 pm (UTC)
Mar. 3rd, 2014 01:12 pm (UTC)
"Personally, if I get "carried away" with a commission, I don't expect the customer to pay me the difference. I just consider it a gift because I enjoyed the commission, apparently."

I agree entirely. I've gone overboard myself, and I just chalk it up to learning and enjoying the work. Trying to make the customer compensate for it seems like really bad business practice. :/
Feb. 22nd, 2014 03:06 pm (UTC)
By any chance has this artist just misunderstood what your actually after? You mentioned you described the armor detailing to them and they might have mistook it that you want all that detailing to be included in the portrait. Maybe let them know your really only after a face and shoulders 'shot' and that they only need to focus on the armor details around the neck/shoulder area, not the rest of the suit.
If they are still adamant to not do the bust then suggest that you both cancel the commission due to artistic differences and pay for the sketches (if your happy too).
Mar. 3rd, 2014 05:08 pm (UTC)
You were specific about you wanted up front, the "this size is good enough" thing is a huge red flag because basically the artist is saying that he doesn't care about what you want. I read your update in a comment, and it's good that he'll listen now and is willing to enlarge and focus on the face, but if it were me I'd politely cancel due to the other communication issues you mention as well, since this doesn't seem to be a one-time thing.

Generally I'm an advocate of paying the artist for their time even if things don't work out, but even the sketches weren't what you asked for so you're under no obligation to uphold the original agreement. Again, this is what I would personally do, but I'd give him 'permission' to re-use the pose sketches for something else and walk away.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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