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I wanted to get some advice on how to deal with this as professionally as possible.

In my TOS I have stated that I will make any changes the commissioner requires that are based around a character's design (colours, accessories etc.) but I have the right to refuse changes that I feel impact on the artistic quality of the work. My problem is that I have never encountered a situation where I have had to enforce this.

Recently I have had certain commissioners ask that I change things such as the colours I have chosen to shade with, or make anatomic changes that impact on my style as an artist. I need to know how to decline these changes if I don't want to make them and what to do if a commissioner becomes confrontational about my choice.

Thank you in advance!

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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 13th, 2014 06:15 am (UTC)
Since you have something in your TOS about it, let your clients know about that. Tell them that they're basically violating your TOS by requesting changes that you feel is impacting your work. Maybe you can include some examples in your TOS (like the way you shade and style) and really tell people to read it before commissioning you.
Mar. 13th, 2014 07:41 am (UTC)
In theory, a commissioner is paying you to create a piece of art inspired by their character, but subject to your artistic judgement. In practice, the transaction can be more of a guided rendering process. Commissioners expect something which concords with their own vision of the character. If they don't get it, they're likely to be upset - even if you think the result is "better" in some way, it's worse for them! :-)

I once commissioned an artist to create an image of my personal character. I requested a sketch first; most artists are unfamiliar with the species. They rushed ahead, creating a coloured work which they offered in addition to the commission; unfortunately, it looked wrong to me (in an uncanny valley way) and would require significant changes to bring it into line with the design I had in mind.

When I suggested these changes, the artist chose instead to abandon the commission (I paid them a little for their work to that point). This might be the least-bad solution if you are at an early enough stage in the process. Alternatively you could offer a discount - or complete the work even if they don't accept it (but bear in mind that some galleries require authorization from the character owners for display).

You could also just suck it up and do what they want, as far as possible. It's not a sin to say "the commissioner wanted it that way". Depending on the situation, you could also create an alternate version, assuming they are not opposed to this (and you don't mind them displaying their own preferred version in their gallery).

The key is to get feedback as early as possible. That way you'll know if there will be a problem before it's too late, and you have the maximum flexibility in dealing with it.
Mar. 13th, 2014 10:01 am (UTC)
I've had to adjust anatomy in ways that were not my cup of tea many times before-- usually, I just don't upload the resulting piece to my gallery.

It comes down to your priorities.

Are the alterations being made for free? If they are, will making these changes significantly affect your enjoyment of working on the image? Do you feel that if you choose to not upload the piece to your gallery you will be losing a lot of advertising potential?

If the alterations were made with an additional charge, would this offset the inconvenience of having to make them?

You could initially refuse the changes, outlining that you feel they would negatively affect the final product. The commissioner may bow to your expertise.

If the commissioner insists on the changes, you could say that you will only make the alterations for an extra fee to offset not being able to post the art in your gallery, as the final piece won't be within your artistic standards. If they refuse that, then refund them their money less a portion for the work you've already completed.

If the back and forth above is too much hassle, you could just cut to the chase and drop the commission now: refund them less a portion for the work already completed and have done with it.
Mar. 13th, 2014 11:14 am (UTC)
Hrmm, tricky.

You could try explaining your choices to the customer; maybe redline the anatomy on a separate layer, explain the colour theory behind your choices. If they persist, give them what you have and give a partial refund citing that he is in breach of your TOS. And unless he has asked for editing rights beforehand, he's not allowed to change those things himself.

It's really frustrating when people, especially non-artists, don't trust your experience as an artist. It always makes me wonder why they didn't just draw it themselves if they want complete control over the image :/

Edited at 2014-03-13 11:27 am (UTC)
Mar. 13th, 2014 02:48 pm (UTC)
Basically, I'd explain to them why you have chosen the colors you have- whether you're going for a certain look, or if it's due to the environment you're coloring the character in (a character standing by a volcano is NOT going to have a cool, blue highlight on them!). As for anatomical changes... I think it depends on what it is. If they think the torso looks WAY too long, that is something you may want to check with your references. But if they want you to put anime style eyes on their character when it isn't something that you normally draw, I'd explain to them that "hey, I know you like your character drawn in certain ways, but you have access to multiple examples of my work in my gallery, so you should have expected that I would be creating this work in the style I typically work with- if you wanted anything otherwise, you should have asked me if I could do that before work began."

If they argue this, or if they get belligerent, link them to the TOS that they agreed on, and quote the passage about your rights to refuse changes. There doesn't need to be discussion past that- they agreed to your TOS, and if they decided to say they agreed without reading it, that's their own problem!
Mar. 13th, 2014 03:41 pm (UTC)
If it is in your TOS, then costumer agreed when he or she commissioned you.

I would say "Look, in my TOS it says "insert TOS statement here" thus I refused to change the color pallet or anatomic changes as you requested. You have seen examples of my work and understand what my art style is.
Mar. 14th, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC)

Though I would say - before money is exchanged and work begins - get all the information/references before accepting any payment from the commissioner. This way, if there's something about the character/idea that you're uncomfortable with (whether it's the color palette/anatomy/whatever), you can always decline to commission and no time is wasted.
Mar. 13th, 2014 03:49 pm (UTC)
It's in your TOS. You don't owe them anything but a courtesy apology and a sayonara.

Otherwise, maybe you could charge them an extra fee for changing it, and then post both versions in your gallery in a side-by-side format ("...and on the right is the version the customer wanted!") along with disallowing the commissioner from sharing anything but the side-by-side version, or tell them like it is and send 'em on their way. Something like, "I'm sorry but we're both bound by the TOS and doing this isn't possible." If you want, explain why their ideas are detrimental to the work and how showing something sub par in your gallery could negatively affect you.

There's nothing you can do if they act like a baby about it. They are the one who entered in to a binding contract without reading the small print, as it were. I only commission art so I can't speak with any kind of experience or authority, but it just seems to me offering a refund or special treatment for something clearly outlined in your TOS is unfair to you and your commissioners who make sure to abide by the rules.

If it goes sour for any reason, IMO just block them and post a beware.
Mar. 13th, 2014 04:43 pm (UTC)
Like the others said--just point out exactly what your TOS says, and tell them they can either let you do your artistic thing or you can end the commission. Honestly I wouldn't try to explain WHY you're making the artistic choices you are. From what I've seen on this community, it seems that the commissioners who are already getting picky about what color you're shading with are the kind of people who are going to try to nitpick and find loopholes with any explanation you give them. You shouldn't have to explain your art style to them anyway, they should very well know what it is based on your previous works. I mean, that's the reason they commissioned you in the first place, right?

If they do get confrontational, or keep insisting on these changes, just tell them that you're sorry you can't help them any more, and end it. Period. Don't stress yourself out by attempting to continue business with those kinds of people.
Mar. 13th, 2014 11:54 pm (UTC)
It's my opinion that if it's an easy change or the customer's willing to pay to make the changes happen, might as well make them happy and do it. You can save an unaltered version of the work so you can have at least one version of it you're proud of. If you don't want to get more commissions in that vein, don't post it, or post the version that you like best.

Making things that aren't your cup of tea is just a part of doing commission work. If they micromanage the commission too much though, you can politely ask them to back off a little, or charge them for each change.
Mar. 14th, 2014 04:50 am (UTC)
When I did some website design work with a company, sometimes we had to make changes we really didn't agree with, because that's what the client wanted. Regardless of what your TOS says, I really would make the effort to make the client happy, at least in a way that doesn't abuse your time.

First if you can, I would try at least to make some form of compromise. Maybe the shade color chosen makes the character look too green or red and it looses the character's color (some people are picky about that) maybe another shade will be agreeable for the both of you. Sometimes even some slight shade differences can help.

Same with the anatomical changes maybe there's a compromise that will suit you both, without loosing quality.

However, if the commissioner is insistent and simply will not budge in any compromise that isn't awkward for you, I would just make the changes and be done with it. Maybe see if it's alright if you upload your version to your galleries, and they can upload the changed one that suits them to their own gallery, that way you can at least display what you worked on without it bothering you too much. If they still don't want to do that, then just don't upload it. Yes, you can't display your work, but anyone following your gallery from the client's upload will notice the difference.

It's better to have a pleased client, than 'sticking to your guns'. Maybe make a note that you two just don't mesh, and it'd be better not to take a commission from them in the future. It happens, it's not great, but better to leave it on a good note than a bad one.
Mar. 14th, 2014 11:19 pm (UTC)
I disagree. The client understands and agreed what the artist refuses to do in her TOS in the beginning. If it in the TOS, then the artist have every right to decline the client's request.

If a client came up and ask an artist to make an adult picture when it clearly says in the TOS "I don't do adult artwork", the artist should stick to his/her guns.

That's what it comes boils down to.
Mar. 14th, 2014 11:40 pm (UTC)
But how is the client to know what the artist considers to be a negative impact to the quality of the work? It may be in the TOS but it's so subjective and arbitrary, it's going to cause more conflicts than resolve them. Your example is -completely- unrelated to this issue.

Using shading as the best example, if the client wants it shaded with gray instead of purple or blue, sure it looks more drab that way but maybe the client thinks it looks better that way to them. If the response is just 'no I'm not going to make that change because I don't like how it looks. My TOS says I can do that.', that comes off as really rude and demeaning to the client. Is it really worth it to get into an argument whether it makes it look better or not?

If the changes take a long time, charge for them. You can even be clear and say you don't feel it's your aesthetic so you don't want to upload it to your own gallery. But for goodness sakes at least work to make the client happy with the work they paid for don't leave them feeling like commissioning (general)you was a mistake.
Mar. 14th, 2014 11:55 pm (UTC)
But why should the artist go against their own TOS/comfort level to please a commissioner who should have taken the time to read said TOS before requesting a commission in the first place?

If a person likes an artist's style, they're commissioning the artist based on that style. It's actually rather disrespectful to expect and artist to change their style to better fit the commissioner's personal preferences than it is for an artist to stick to their own comfort zone.
Mar. 15th, 2014 12:08 am (UTC)
The real problem here is that the OP's post is much -much- too vague. I feel like many people are leaping to conclusions of comfort, thinking changes being requested are fetish-y or sexual in nature, when it's likely far more simple. The shading example was just one of the things that can be attributed to taste and 'comfort'. here's another:

I have a client that is really specific in the way the feet are drawn. They're very stubby, to the point where they look like they have no ankles. When doing pixel icons, adjusting the feet/ankles took me just a few minutes. I already had everything drawn out and done, and it was perfectly fine for the rest of it. I really didn't think it was right for me to refuse those small adjustments for something that was agreed, paid, and nearly completed for just because I didn't like the look. It wasn't something outside of my style, it wasn't something out of my comfort zone, it was just something that made me go BUT THAT'S NOT ANATOMICALLY CORRECT.

If I had a similar TOS model of "I have the right to refuse changes that I feel impact on the artistic quality of the work" and refused to make those very small changes, I really don't think that'd be good business at all.

Here's a thought on the flip side. An artist completes your piece but because of the color adjustment or shading they did, the colors don't look close enough to the character's colors, it doesn't read right. You ask the artist for some small color adjustment, maybe the green reads too yellow, the blue too purple, and you'd like it closer to your intended colors. The artist refuses to do that because they state it will ruin the quality of the piece and it's in their TOS so too bad. Wouldn't you walk away from that with a bad taste in your mouth? We've -had- artists put on beware for doing things almost exactly like that.

Sure, the artist can use that TOS, but I really don't think refusing a -minor- adjustment on the grounds of 'I don't like it' is good business at all.
Mar. 16th, 2014 03:44 pm (UTC)
If a person likes an artist's style, they're commissioning the artist based on that style. It's actually rather disrespectful to expect and artist to change their style to better fit the commissioner's personal preferences than it is for an artist to stick to their own comfort zone.

I'm in agreement here. I'm not really okay with being asked to alter my style to make a client happy. They saw my portfolio when they commissioned me, and if I wasn't what they were looking for when they saw that, they shouldn't have commissioned me. :/

In the past I was asked to put a certain bit of anatomy upside-down because the commissioner said in their opinion 'it would look better'. As the artist I was worried that people would just assume I made the bit incorrectly by accident. I didn't feel comfortable with that knowing it would be posted online, and politely stuck to my guns and declined the alteration. The commissioner understood and didn't give me any issues about my decision.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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