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A commission guide.

     This was sorta inspired by kaputotter's earlier post. The one helping other artists how to deal with commissions. I'm going to tackle it from the other end. I figure this is as good a place to post it as any.

     The biggest and best piece of advice I could pass all is Know the artist. Study their past works, look at how they draw things, look at the content they enjoy. Look at the difference between past commissioned work and their own personal work. Why would you do this? Every artist has their own tastes, they enjoy some things more than others. For example, I wouldn't approach Xian Jaguar for Tentacle rape. As hot as you might think it'd be, it's just not going to come out looking good. (Or in her case, I doubt at all) ;)  Everyone has thier own style, make sure it's what you're looking for.

     You want to know what *your* character will look like? Look to see if that artist has drawn your species before, or the closest match. That will be a decent preview of the basic outline for how you're going to be drawn. If you don't like it, then maybe that artist isn't for you. Be a smart shopper. The artist is still going to do what you paid them for, but you should at least attempt to prepare yourself.

      Finally, do a background check. Do they have an already long list of people waiting for art? Expect to get in the back of that line. Do they have a history of being uncooperative, ignoring you and drawing what they want? Perhaps you shouldn't get involved. A lot of the commissions I've gotten have been because friends have had good experiences with them, just as I have recommended things over to friends.


     Very similar to the first section, but this deserves it's own.  I've gotten a lot of very nice pics done in the past, not so much because *I* have good ideas, but because the artists do. They're the creative ones. So at the most I'll provide a description of the characters, one or two visual references and a basic idea of the scene. From there I like to see the artist's interpretation of what I've given them. I actually encourage them to be adlib things, and add their own ideas in both the character design and posing, etc. Now I don't expect this to be for everyone, but the factor in this equation is that it allows the artist a great amount of creative breathing room. Usually this benefits you directly.

     I've seen pics where the artists were annoyed at the commissioner, or where there was just too much in the way of 'knitty gritty' detail work. You'll never get the piece you're looking for that way. The artist will almost never be able to draw what *you* see inside your head, though some may get close, if you're lucky.


     This is a big one for me. I expect communication from the artists I commission, and I give the courtesy of communicating back.  I ask them what they think after I pass along ideas. I get feedback from them and feel them out.  Maybe you have an idea in your head, and maybe they have a better one. Perhaps your pose is anatomically impossible, and you've overlooked those minor details. Keep an open ear and an open mind and make sure you're both on the same page.


     This is one of the most delicate areas.  From my own personal experience, this can quickly sour a decent business relationship as well as spill over to the quality of the piece. The most I can do is advise that you treat it as a business transaction. You are hiring someone to do work for you, as the customer you must be clear and prompt in your transactions.  I would never suggest that you pay someone upfront for work where you have not even seen a sketch. A promise over IM, Email or Message board isn't worth much.  I would suggest that you turn over at least 50% of the total agreed payment once you've seen and agreed upon a sketch. Then depending on what you and the artist work out, the final portion upon completion or near completion. The artist may choose to show you a low res version of the final product until you turn over payment, or maybe something else.  Be fair, be honest and be quick with how you do business with someone, I've had a few bad run-ins with some very talented folks, and I'll tell you now, no matter how good someone might be at what they do, it just isn't worth it if they can't do proper business.

     This also works on the flipside. Artists talk, I've seen them do it. If you treat one artist poorly or rip them off, you'll soon find it hard to get work from any future artists. And if they happen to do work above and beyond what you expected, a little tip goes a loooooong way. (You might even find an extra surprise too, lagniappe)


     As I stated earlier, I've had a lot of work done for me, it's a hobby, I enjoy porn getting many different perspectives and interpretations on my character. For those that know me, the now infamous tailbell... not my idea. It just showed up one day.  Do your homework, and be fair. If you make changes midway though, expect the artist to be annoyed. Know what you want ahead of time, and communicate it clearly. If an artist turns you down, don't be mad, it's not (usually) personal. Maybe what you want, they can't provide, or maybe they have a full plate now.

That's about it. If any of you feel you have something you could add, I'd love to hear it.
Artist's beware has moved!
Do NOT repost your old bewares. They are being archived.


( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 3rd, 2006 12:36 am (UTC)
For example, I wouldn't approach Xian Jaguar for Tentacle rape. As hot as you might think it'd be, it's just not going to come out looking good. (Or in her case, I doubt at all) ;)

*dies laughing*
Yeah, I don't think you'd get very far asking me for that. ;)
May. 3rd, 2006 12:36 am (UTC)
Aww, come on, Xian! You know you want to!
BWAHAHAHA! - xianjaguar - May. 3rd, 2006 01:11 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: BWAHAHAHA! - calorath - May. 3rd, 2006 01:17 am (UTC) - Expand
P.S........ - xianjaguar - May. 3rd, 2006 01:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: P.S........ - xianjaguar - May. 3rd, 2006 01:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: P.S........ - wolflahti - May. 3rd, 2006 04:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: P.S........ - synchra - May. 3rd, 2006 09:04 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 3rd, 2006 12:36 am (UTC)
Ah, good advice overall! Having been on both sides of commissions, this is good advice that generally has both the artist and commissioner in mind, or at least a fair compromise between what may be best for the artist and best for the commissioner.

I might also add, since it's something I've seen in not only my journal, but others as well- That if an artist advertises commissions on a public forum or public journal entry, it's rather impolite to tell them that their prices are too high right there where potential customers can see it. That can put the artist in an uncomfortable position, as well as possibly dissuading customers from purchasing. It's much more polite to discuss things like that through email or similar.

May. 3rd, 2006 01:27 am (UTC)
You know, I think it all depends on how they respond to it. Something like 'dude your pricing is rape! you're stealing blah blah blah' is just juvenile.

But a healthy challenge where an artist can reply in a mature and calm manner justifying what they charge, I'm all for. I don't mind seeing things like that out in the open if it's handled properly..... then again, I suppose generally this fandom would gravitate towards the former example rather than the latter.
(no subject) - tenna - May. 3rd, 2006 01:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xothia - May. 3rd, 2006 03:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chlorophyta - May. 3rd, 2006 12:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - calorath - May. 3rd, 2006 10:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilenth - May. 3rd, 2006 04:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
May. 3rd, 2006 10:38 am (UTC)
(no subject) - loiosh_de_talto - May. 6th, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 3rd, 2006 06:05 am (UTC)
Wonderful article. :)
My only complaint is where you said the customer should pay after the artist shows them a sketch. Too many people just run off with the free sketch and never contact you about the commission again. I really wouldn't advise it.

If you're commissioning a well-known or even semi-known artist, they have their reputation at stake, while a lot of art buyers are people no one's ever heard of. Very few artists will run off with your money without giving you anything, and those who do get such bad publicity that they get few commissions from then on out.

Basically, if you are willing to commission someone, you have to have a certain amount of trust in the artist.
May. 3rd, 2006 10:46 am (UTC)
You'd be surprised at how many well known artists out there that will take full payment and then not turn over even a sketch.

I've had it happen now twice to me. I can only simply advise that the buyer ensure he or she and the artist are comfortable with the situation. I flat out tell people that I'm not comfortable paying upfront because I've had to wait 3 - 4 years on a pic that I paid for upfront.
(no subject) - loiosh_de_talto - May. 6th, 2006 03:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 3rd, 2006 10:17 am (UTC)
Really good advice, though I think you should add something about previewing the work and WIPs. Does the artist offer sketch previews? How many revisions are they happy to make before they reject the commission/charge you extra?
And of course, I’m all for regularly updating a URL that I supply to the buyer, that shows my artwork in progress - in addition to three sketch revisions as standard. But because of this careful tailoring to the commissioner’s needs, I ask for full payment upfront. But I’ve not had a single buyer complain about that when they get so many opportunities to alter their picture, and so much time to review the artwork in progress. And I strongly encourage my buyers to visit the URL regularly and notify me straight away if they see anything they aren't happy with.

Some buyers might be put off an artist because of a ‘pay full upfront’ rule, and some buyers even find the part-and-part payment method a pain in the neck. So I’d advise any buyer to look at how much communication they can expect, how many times will they be able to review the work in progress? There’s no fear of getting ripped-off by an artist, when they offer a constantly live feed to a WIP.
May. 3rd, 2006 10:43 am (UTC)
The things I've said are mere suggestions. It's really up to the buyer and seller to come to an agreement. If the buyer is comfortable paying up front, then that's fine. The amount of revisions and so forth can all be hashed out too.
(no subject) - gothwings - May. 3rd, 2006 02:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tril_latel - May. 3rd, 2006 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gothwings - May. 4th, 2006 12:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tril_latel - May. 4th, 2006 02:21 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 3rd, 2006 02:43 pm (UTC)
This is sterling advice that you've offered and with the comments people have added it has become much refined and gives a good view across the board.

I have a problem with artwork that nobody has mentioned yet here, both as a customer and an artist. I'm in the UK. This means that to the US market my prices are double what they'd expect.

Therefore, because most of my trade comes from the US I do get some rather pushy customers wanting a lot for their money. This is all well and good, but they seem to forget more often than not that I cannot produce the work I do for such a small amount of money.

Would you expect an artist to create a full colour, A4 (Letter?) sized image in ink and pencil for $15? I certainly wouldn't.

It's not something that I shall ever see resolved until the pound is weaker or equal to the dollar. The UK market is too small to support all the artists over here too, which is a shame. I would love to be a full-time artist, but I know it is not a feasible goal... and now I'm rambling.

In conclusion: thanks for your advice, it's very well received.

p.s. Kobi La_Croix did my icon which is from a larger image. He's got some pretty good art out there, check him out if you can.
May. 3rd, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)
I’m also a UK artist, and I’m in full agreement. It’s hard offering quality art at the extremely competitive US prices out there. But then it’s also why I take on very few commissions, since going to work is far more beneficial to my bank account. The pricing guide of ‘ask what you’re worth’ always struck me as a very inaccurate way of pricing your own art.
(no subject) - calorath - May. 3rd, 2006 05:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - neongryphon - May. 3rd, 2006 09:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 3rd, 2006 05:06 pm (UTC)
I vary how I do the commissions I do, Right now I have a fully inked ready to go peice and haven't been paid yet, but I have good comms with the commissioner, and its basicly because if i get inspired to do a piece I work on it, and may even finish it completly before getting any payment of a sort. I don't send out the actual picture until I get paid.
If the person is patient with me, they get good reviews and extra sketches from me.
May. 3rd, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you, this entry is wonderfull! I was wondering if you'd mind me adding it to a currently going faw that might be upon my site =)? I would give due credit! http://nikorescafe.com
May. 3rd, 2006 11:09 pm (UTC)
Faq^ Dur!
(no subject) - calorath - May. 3rd, 2006 11:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )


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