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Advice on how to proceed

The advice I need is on a sketchbook commission I have had for over a year that I need help on as far as how to proceed. The reason for this commission having taken so long is waiting for feedback, waiting for payment, a big move, and edits.

I am currently tackling older commissions and I am hung up on this one. The individual's ref sheet is difficult to understand and they stress the importance of their character's markings, which I understand..however it is hard to interperet with the reference given. I am almost done with the sketchbook, every page is filled and I am just have some inking and coloring of a few pages to do, but I get extremely anxious because every time I give a work in progress something is wrong with the markings of the character in question and each time it takes 4-5 edits everytime that character is in the picture.

They like everything else, but I feel like they are just going to be disappointed every time I try to render their character and I cant justify the amount of edits going into the sketchbook.

I dont know what I should do. Press on, or do what work I can and refund them for unfinished work?

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 17th, 2014 08:20 pm (UTC)
I feel like if someone's going to be extremely picky about their character, it's their responsibility to invest in a good, high quality reference sheet. I have seen a lot of people who will buy even expensive art, but fail to invest in a good ref sheet for some reason.

Have they already asked for edits? I'm not clear on that going by your post. Or are you assuming they'll ask for edits? It's possible they'll be more relaxed about it than you're assuming, if that's the case. If you have already dealt with them being picky, however, chances are good you haven't been paid enough to deal with the extra stress and hassle. You can either ask for a fee for edits, or refund them for unfinished work and wash your hands of it. Definitely one or the other. The money, especially the low pay in the fandom, is rarely worth the aggravation.
Apr. 17th, 2014 08:24 pm (UTC)
They have recently asked for marking fixes after I gave them a wip at the end of last month. They arent asking for HUGE edits but at the same time it is taking time to redo their markings, send a wip and wait for a response.

Adding: last wait for a response was 4 months

Edited at 2014-04-17 08:28 pm (UTC)
Apr. 17th, 2014 08:45 pm (UTC)
4 months?? That is ridiculous. I definitely recommend refunding unfinished work and letting it go. If it was important to them, they would be more prompt.
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - Apr. 17th, 2014 09:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 17th, 2014 09:19 pm (UTC)
I can refund without problem. Figuring out how much is going to be the problem.

The cover is painted and the entire book is filled with sketches. I was thinking of adding a reference page for good measure and ship it to her.
Apr. 17th, 2014 10:03 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you put a ton of time and effort into this sketchbook, it's not really fair of them to make you wait so long for responses and do 4-5 edits every time that character shows up.

If their ref sheet is hard to understand, maybe use an existing template to create a new one just so you can finish the sketchbook? Maybe add a bullet point of the things that are important to them. Also, no more edits after the inking stage, considering it's traditional media :/

Next time you take a sketchbook commission, you should make it a "wing it" sort of thing; they give ref sheets and a short list of things they like and then just draw in the sketchbook as you normally would. You could say you'll colour x-amount and ink y-amount, but not let them micro manage every sketch you make.
Apr. 17th, 2014 10:18 pm (UTC)
That is really great advice for future sketchbook commissions. I like doing traditional work for people, it has just been frustrating to fulfill this customer's needs in a way that we are both satisfied.

I will try the generic template as a means to make sure I get the markings right and so we are on the same page.
Apr. 18th, 2014 03:13 am (UTC)
My general rule when it comes to edits is that the only extensive edits are done at the sketch phase. Once a sketch is approved, I do a final drawing. At that stage, only minor edits can be done. Anything major should have been requested at he sketch stage. Once the final drawing is approved, I complete it (color, I'm the case of a painting). If they cannot settle on what they want in the first two stages, then they either don't know what they want, or they're trying to get extra work out if you (five versions of one piece!)
Apr. 18th, 2014 08:30 am (UTC)
OK, you put time and money (material costs of the sketchbook and pens and pencils and such) in it. I do not think you should refund the thing. Charge them extra for all these edits. If they do not want the edits, deliver the sketchbook. I don't see why you should refund this if they keep making changes and make you spend more time on it. Treat this as a regular job. In a regular job you get paid for your hours, even if the work is not what they exactly wanted.
Apr. 18th, 2014 09:14 pm (UTC)
Whoa, you need to be a little careful with that last sentence. It sounds like you consider a 'regular job' working for a wage.
You'd don't really get paid an hourly wage if you are a sole proprietorship/self employed. You get paid whatever you earn(based on how you priced your work) minus your costs and what you choose to reinvest in your business at the end of a transaction.

If someone is not completely happy at the end, and if they are justifiably unhappy and feel ripped off, you might end up having to loose a chunk or all of your fee. It's not like working for a company who pays you a wage for time you work separate to what product is produced, or commission where you are paid by the employer based on the amount of revenue you generate for them; and if you goof up an order/deal/service to a customer it's up to your boss/company policy and your area's labour laws how much of your wage they can dock for that unsastifactory work.

Being an SP if you guess it might take 10 hours to do the sketch book and feel you are worth $10 an hour, plus 5 dollars for the sketch book and $5 for a new pen, so you charge the customer a flat fee of $110, you can't ask for more at the end of things because you had to take 20 hours and used 3 pens.
You eat the loss, or both your time and money. That's part of the risk of being a SP. It's the easiest business to set-up and manage from a legal stand-point but it's risky in terms of personal loss. You have to be very careful to price yourself competitively but also earn enough to pay for what you need(and want).
Small businesses that are unlimited liability run into the same issues.

I suppose an artist could sell a sketch book with an agreement of being a materials + 'labour' cost, with the invoice delivered at the end and proof of keeping track of their hours over the course of completion- and in fact for a big project like this that might not be a bad idea. I'm just not sure how many commissioners would agree to that since they would only have a estimate of the final cost not a concrete price.
Apr. 18th, 2014 09:15 pm (UTC)

In this case I think the artist just needs to add some terms to their terms of service and buyer's agreement a little more. Maybe add in something about reserving the right to refuse to draw a character they feel does not have clear enough reference material, and definitely add in a clause about how many edits are free in the sketch stage, and how many, if any, are allowed after that.

I have to say that just personally when I think of a sketch book I think of an artist having control over the art to a large degree. Because well: sketch book, so full of sketches. The artist taking a character and some prompts and drawing whatever comes to mind about that character on the pages. It sounds like what the buyer was thinking of was more like a collection of separate, finished pieces all in one volume and so they feel entitled to and are asking for many specific changes like you would on an individual commission piece. I think that's pretty unfair to the artist, since if this buyer bought the pieces all induvidually it's likely it would cost more than what they paid for as package deal.
But the artist is in a tricky spot if they didn't say no edits, or only x amount of edits, it leaves a lot of wiggle room for the buyer to be unhappy.
I think they should be able to put their foot down and say enough is enough on the edits, but then they may have to deal with the buyer saying they aren't happy with that specific piece unless the changes are made. That puts seller/artist in the position where they may offer additional edits for a fee, but the buyer doesn't have to agree to that, so the artist may just have to do a partial refund based on far along the piece is when the impasse happens.
(you know if it's only in inked stage, refund the difference between that and a coloured piece)

Just one more example here on AB why you can't be too specific in your contract! Put in every detail you can think of that might cause an issue down the road. Make sure along with accepting the agreement as a whole you also get your buyer to specifically acknowledge clauses in the agreement you feel really need meeting of the minds on. In this case those would be the number of edits in the sketch stage, cost for additional edits past that(it shouldn't be a number you make up on the spot after the piece is started, the per edit price should be in the initial contract) and at what point you cease to do edits.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )


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