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First time doing this, so please bear with me.

I'm looking for advice on how to approach an artist in regards to an owed commission. I don't want to be pushy on the subject or be confrontational, so I want to avoid offending them in any way.

Back in May, I commissioned an artist for a large piece, which cost me a few hundred. The piece is a full-shaded digital image involving three characters. I paid up front and in full. I never received an update until September, which is understandable, I can certainly relate to people being busy. Hearing nothing, I followed up again in November asking for a status update. I was told that they'd have it done that week in November or early the following week, "at the latest."

December rolled through, they were still clearly doing other commissions. I even entered a livestream, and witnessed them start and finish a commission overnight. So at the end of December, I requested another status update. Now, I don't like bothering people - it shouldn't be up to me to bother artists with progress, and I feel like an ass when I have to ask. At this point at the start of January, I was told that they'd be inking the image, and finishing the image soon. To be honest, I wasn't impressed that it took from September to January to even get to inking an already sketched and approved image, so I was a little concerned.

By mid January, I was lucky enough to have caught a stream and catch them working on my image. I was pretty ecstatic that it was finally in the colouring phases! Unfortunately, the stream ended and the image was unfinished. So close to it being finished, I thought I'd expected to see it soon, so in mid February I requested another status update. They were kind enough to send me a WIP of the coloured image, and it looks really promising, but they got hung up on the shading. It's now the start of March, ten months since I first commissioned and paid for the image. This artist has still been producing other work (starting and finishing commissions), and I'm getting more frustrated with each passing month.

I'm not too sure how to deal with this artist, and I need help, I think. Any suggestions on how to handle this or where to go from here would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

EDIT - After chasing the artist up with an email with the advice from you guys, they ended up finishing it pretty quickly. Thanks for the help, all.

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Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
timelapsedecay
Mar. 3rd, 2014 07:50 am (UTC)
If they can start and finish any commission in a night, they should have finished your piece loooooong ago.

I would contact them (politely) with a deadline- I would suggest maybe a month- as you have been waiting long enough quite patiently. If they don't get it done by then, request a refund. If they don't do that, or refuse, I'd move toward action through paypal or possibly posting a full beware

Good luck!! I know for a fact you have been a polite, patient and kind client while working with me! :)
thaily
Mar. 3rd, 2014 09:58 am (UTC)
"If they can start and finish any commission in a night"

I can finish a simple commission in a night, like a 1 character pin-up? But they did say it was a large piece; 3 characters and maybe even a background? That would take considerably longer to plan out, sketch, ink etc.

That said, 10 months is a good while. I guess the artist feels uninspired or is struggling with the piece, maybe even worried about being able to deliver on the price tag and the wait. But they still need to get it done.

I think the OP could stand to be a little confrontational with the artist, even if it's just a "I've been waiting almost a year, I'm a little disappointed and worried it's taking this long. I'd really like to see it finished soon."
timelapsedecay
Mar. 3rd, 2014 04:01 pm (UTC)
Of course it would take longer.
If they can finish a commission in a single night, whatever commission they owe the OP should be done by now. The details, however numerous, are not to blame for the delay at this point.
Sorry that wasn't clear enough
the_spiner
Mar. 4th, 2014 04:45 am (UTC)
What frustrated me the most is that it took from September until January to even start inking an already sketched image. It was already planned out at that point. And so seeing same quality art being done overnight irked me.

But, thanks for your advice in the last paragraph there. That seems like a reasonable way to go, doubled with perhaps asking to refund the price difference as mentioned below by Catwithpen.
the_spiner
Mar. 4th, 2014 04:39 am (UTC)
Thanks, TLD. I'm too polite for my own good. Last time I pissed off an artist and their friend, (a whole other story for another time), I got really substandard art from them. Never going back to them again, or the friend. ...I could probably add so many bewares on here, lel.

But anyway. Another issue I'm worried about is backlash, I suppose, if I try to be too hard on this artist. They're a pretty popular artist, with a large social circle of other artists involved. While I do want to get my commissioned piece, I want to also avoid any repercussions that might have on me as a commissioner.

Edited at 2014-03-04 04:46 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
shukivengeance
Mar. 3rd, 2014 05:12 pm (UTC)
I agree with this!

Ten months is a long time, even for a large project and it's highly possible the artist is struggling with it or unhappy with their work which is leading them to procrastinate.

Approaching them with the possibility of downgrading to flat colours and getting a refund for the difference between flats + shading is a good compromise. I understand that you don't wish to pressure the artist or be a hassle, but it's not unreasonable to express your unhappiness with the wait in a polite manner.
the_spiner
Mar. 4th, 2014 05:33 am (UTC)
Thanks guys for the input. I greatly appreciate it.

At one point, I was almost ready to just call it quits, cut my losses and just ask for a refunded difference. But a mixed combination of what Thaily, Cat and Shev seems like the appropriate way to go.
aeto
Mar. 3rd, 2014 11:29 pm (UTC)
I've got an artist who has a few pending commissions from me, and they've started doing the same thing, even though there's a few thousand worth of pending commissions of mine in the queue. It's almost exactly the same situation: mine are large, extensive pieces while the others are smaller, "do it in a night" commissions. (In fact, your statement is so similar I almost wonder if it's the same artist, but I'm not going to name the one I have here, since I actually am getting good communication and interaction with them.)

What I'm actually about to send them tonight is basically an email which says, "I understand you want to not just devote all your time to the things I have in your queue, but also understand I don't want to be waiting a year for these to be finished. Let's work on making sure we can balance these two things."

IMHO, when you're dealing with multi-hundred dollar commissions which are pre-paid, you, the commissioner, has every right to start being a bit pushy with timing. I'd say, a few smaller commissions slipping in, both to keep the artist getting new income and to make sure those can actually be done is OK, but when you get multi-month delays, it's time to raise the flags and say, "this is becoming excessive."

I do agree 100% with shukivengeance's comment: It's important to stay polite in the correspondences. Especially once the amounts are measured in thousands, this IS a business relationship, which means I do sometimes switch to the sort of language I would use in that relationship, which can be a good mix of polite but firm.
the_spiner
Mar. 4th, 2014 05:00 am (UTC)
There are a few artists on my current queue list which are like this. One in particular just pumps out personal art after personal art, while promising on commissions frequently in journals, while never delivering. Albeit I haven't been waiting half as long for that artist than the one in my OP.

I agree, it is a business relationship. But I count that as a business relationship from the get-go, as soon as contact is established with intent to buy, I'm a customer. And this artist in particular seemed to have such a business ethic to them, in the way they handled taking on commissions.

As for the correspondence, I'd like to think I've just been polite in the way I've been contacting them. But I still feel like I've been shafted and just disregarded.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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