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.
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.