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Advice: Dissatisfied with a commission

In short; I just received the final product of an digital art commission I'm gifting to someone. What should I do if I am dissatisfied with the end result?

Occasionally I'll commission various artists to do work of people's characters. I gift folks once in a while or I'll send some of them money and say "go commission an artist you like".
I recently commissioned an artist who has done some amazing work in the past to do a full body commission for someone's creature character. I provided them with a reference sheet and additional pictures if by chance it wasn't enough. I was given the option to receive progress pictures or not and I declined assuming the reference was clear enough with it's picture and written information. I gave them a brief description of the character's personality as they requested and suggested a simple pose if they were without any ideas.

After some weeks the end result is posted online and though it's beautifully done, shading an all, I feel it has very little similarities to the character it was meant to be. The colors are there spot on but it's as if the character/design was a combination of simplified, brought down in proportion (i.e large bat like ears are small donkey like ears, described and depicted as muscular but looks like its drawn with an average build) and 1-2 details completely left out. I'm letting artistic style be the excuse for much of it looking so little like the concept in certain areas but even in the tags it's referred to as species it's not (probably very nitpicky of me though, I know). I've done this a fair amount of times for others without a hitch so I'll admit I didn't expect this to happen and I don't want to come off as unappreciative. I'm unsure if it's because this particular person's character is different from what's more commonly asked for or maybe I wasn't clear enough or provided a good reference. Granted who it was for is happy with it mistakes or not (they call it an "interesting take on the character") as they've never received art from others before. But I'm not happy things here and there were left out or changed so heavily.

So the recipient it's for likes it, I don't. Recipient is even considering commissioning them eventually once they've made a "clearer reference for them to work off of." Should I bring up to the artist the errors they made or should let it go? I made the choice not to receive W.I.P.s in the first place but I also expected them to be more accurate to the character given all the information I gave them.

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( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 4th, 2014 06:55 pm (UTC)
The progress/WIPs are specifically there to avoid conflicts like you've mentioned. But since the artist offered WIPs, and you didn't want them, this is all on you.

You can give them feedback about your picture, and why you didn't like it. However, asking for lineart changes isn't exactly fair to the artist; IF...it is that you're going for. If not, I apologize for assuming.

I'd say just let it go, and chalk it up as an experience/lesson learned. You can't assume artists are going to get your characters down to a T always. Artists are human, too, and are bound to make mistakes. That is why WIP images are there; it lets the customer see how their product is coming along, and if there needs to be changes, it can be done then and there.
Jun. 4th, 2014 07:06 pm (UTC)
Hit the nail on the head perfectly.

Unfortunately, OP, you did decline. If you want to tell them how you feel, do so, but I don't think it'd be right to ask for changes at this point.
Jun. 5th, 2014 12:29 am (UTC)
I have to agree as well. The above two posts pretty much worded what I wanted to say ten times better than I could have said it.
Jun. 4th, 2014 07:05 pm (UTC)
I dont understand why you chose NOT to have WIPs. Not every artist works the same and assuming such is a bit of a risk.

Since you chose not to have WIPs which would have enabled you to make changes and fix errors, this should be treated as lesson learned. Artists can make mistakes and not know it or miss details.

Edit: typo

Edited at 2014-06-04 08:38 pm (UTC)
Jun. 4th, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC)
Getting non-Wing It style commissions (this one was not a Wing It as progression images were offered) is one part faith in the artist and one part participation from the client.

When you are offered WIPs, always take them (within reason/Artist TOS of course). The artist WANTS you to be satisfied with the image itself, so don't let these opportunities slide by.

If you want to bring up what you felt was not done quite to your expectations, you can (privately! politely too!). But don't ask and don't expect the artist to adjust the image to your own satisfaction.

I hope you take this experience as a lesson learned going forward.
Jun. 4th, 2014 07:10 pm (UTC)
Ahhh.. yeah. Unfortunately, in making the choice you did, you accepted the risk. I could understand complaining if you commissioned them for a dragon and they gave you a fox, but that doesn't sound like the case.

If the receiver likes it, especially, I would let it go. Your goal was to make -them- happy, right? Sounds like you succeeded. Take it as a lesson to accept WIPs next time.
Jun. 4th, 2014 07:17 pm (UTC)
Skill comes into play in situations as these as well. You say it's a creature and different then the usual thing, so maybe that's just the best they really could do. I can make a really nice picture of a species I haven't drawn before, but it'll likely not look like that species as much as another artist could do it.
Jun. 4th, 2014 07:23 pm (UTC)
Agreeing with everyone else. You denied WIPs thus you must face the consequences that you cannot have changes (at least not for free). WIPs are there for a reason.

Edited at 2014-06-04 07:23 pm (UTC)
Jun. 4th, 2014 07:29 pm (UTC)
I was just wondering, is the recipient more keen on artistic license and alterations than you are? Some people are okay with certain details being left out, heck some people prefer it. It's possible the recipient saw it but didn't care/didn't think those specific details were important. It's hard to say without asking them if they're okay with it, and if it bothers you this much, I really think you should ask if they're okay with it.

Granted yes, it's frustrating they were left out in the first place, and if this was a commission for you I'd definitely bring it up to the artist to see if it could be altered. Even if you didn't have any WIPs, if it's digital that means alterations CAN be made, and if they're things like markings or small shapes, it's not unreasonable to alter. (but personally I give WIP for anything that isn't small to avoid this issue in the first place)

As for why those details weren't there in the first place, sometimes things get lost translation having too many sources can be more confusing. Personally I prefer about 2 to 3 images as references at max, more than that and you'll find you'll actually have a greater chance of having details left out. (especially if the images are done by different artists because there will always be inconsistencies)

Edited at 2014-06-04 07:32 pm (UTC)
Monster Candlelocket
Jun. 4th, 2014 08:05 pm (UTC)
I honestly can't say, but that's quite possible as they seem very open to interpretation things. This would be their first piece of art of their character drawn by someone else so they're happy someone else drew them something. Though yes, they seem alright with it. I personally can be more strict to artistic license but it depends on the subject matter for me. Because this was to be their fist time receiving art I did want it to be nice as it was and accurate (and because of that it's all the more reason I should have accepted to see WIPs so I am well aware where I went wrong).

I provided the artist with 1 ref sheet and 1 separate image showing a closer detail of it's head.
I wouldn't ask for the artist to make alterations to it in the end though. I had another time close to like this once when the recipient wasn't happy with it and I simply commissioned the artist for a new piece after mentioning the issues they had. I always felt asking them to go back and alter it was more stressful then just getting another one made though I'm not sure if that's true. But the difference then was who it was for wasn't happy with it, and this one is.
So I'll be letting it go.
Jun. 4th, 2014 07:33 pm (UTC)
Afraid this falls on you in this case. Like everyone else said, you declined wips when they were offered, so it is far too late to ask for changes when the piece is already complete, if that is what you are hoping for.

It is especially important to make sure you receive wips when you are commissioning something that is different from the artists usual works. Unfortunately, even with the best and most clear reference not every artist can draw a character perfectly.

Just take this as a good learning experience. :)
Monster Candlelocket
Jun. 4th, 2014 07:40 pm (UTC)
Appreciate the response and looking back at it once more I'm in agreement, it was indeed my error for not asking accepting to see WIPs so yes I shouldn't complain nor be upset with what was received in end result.
I wasn't going to ask the artist to make changes in any way as I know it's the finished piece though I would have given them feedback privately in the end. I'm not one to fuss or stress others out so I was conflicted. But again, I should have agreed for WIPs then none of this would have happened.

I am indeed taking this as a lesson learned and yes if who it's for is happy with it I should and will let it go. Thank you.
Jun. 4th, 2014 08:17 pm (UTC)
I think I've seen this commission you're talking of and besides what was already said I think the artist took license and simply made it less exaggerated (much smaller build/proportions) based on the description of the character.
Calling it a fox when it was meant to be more avian inspired is a bit off putting, but I think they may have just forgotten what it was suppose to be and just tagged what similar looking qualities it had. For this particular character if you went and did this again either with this same artist or others, WIPs would just be a must, that's all.

You're a stickler for details and their cool with artistic interpretations so you'll both have different opinions. In the end they're happy with it so don't stress yourself out with any more than/if you have. :)

Edit cause I could use some spaces in there.

Edited at 2014-06-04 08:29 pm (UTC)
Jun. 5th, 2014 09:12 am (UTC)
I personally do sometimes tag monster looking creatures with species tags that are more likely to get searched as long as the creature somewhat resembles the tag. It's possible that's what this artist did? I also try to make sure to tag it with the species name that the client uses as well, though.
Jun. 6th, 2014 05:28 am (UTC)
That makes sense so I can understand why an artist would do it.
Jun. 4th, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC)
What everyone else said, and then I'd say mention to the artist what you feel they left out, just in a casual way. That way, if your friend commissions them, they'll know for future reference. :)
Jun. 4th, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC)
Double-posted for some reason. :(

Edited at 2014-06-04 09:04 pm (UTC)
Jun. 4th, 2014 10:56 pm (UTC)
This is the kind of situation in which I can say, this is why I give people WIPs.
I would hate to be the artist in this scenario because, as everyone said, you declined-- it's not on them.

I want people to be happy with what I give them. Hell, I'll redraw something 10 times if I have to until it's right. I've even had customers redline my WIPs to their liking, and I appreciate that.

Next time don't say no. :( Always take them, it's important.

Me, personally, speaking from a customer perspective-- I absolutely LOVE when an artist gives me something with a unique spin on it. I want to see their take, and as long as most similarities are there, I don't mind at all if it comes out looking different.
Jun. 5th, 2014 09:31 am (UTC)
I prefer working without giving WIPs and have it in my commission sign-up form and ToS that people need to ask if they want to see WIPs on smaller commissions [on larger/inked commissions, I don't give people a choice].

Personally, I would rather have someone tell me if I overlooked something. For example, if I drew the character with two horns when it only had one or overlooked the horns completely for some reason...I would want to know about it and would be fine with fixing problems like these, even if the commissioner did decline WIPs. If it's on the reference, I shouldn't miss it or arbitrarily leave it out. It's not up to me to pick and choose what parts of the reference I include unless I am specifically told that the character is open for interpretation. Even then, I'm really not likely to deviate in large ways.

Not all artists are going to be open to revisions at this point, though and I'm way in the minority with my opinion on this community, but if you are still bothered, you could maybe bring it up with them and offer to pay a bit extra for their time. The body type and such I might not be adamant about them changing because that's a whole re-draw, but if they forgot a few smaller details about the character, it shouldn't be too hard to add them, I shouldn't think, depending on their style. Kinda hard to say without knowing what I'm talking about, haha.

However, it's possible you just feel more slighted because you are the one who paid for the image. I did read your comment where you said you were planning to let it go. Like kayla_la said, if your friend is happy, you can chalk it up as a win anyway! :)
Jun. 5th, 2014 04:04 pm (UTC)

first comment said it all. This sounds douchey of me to say, but when you declined those you really shot yourself in the foot. please use the WIPs next time.
Jun. 5th, 2014 07:15 pm (UTC)
Should have said yes to the WIPs.
Jun. 6th, 2014 04:33 am (UTC)
Just because I'm curious -
What are peoples thoughts on when a artist DOESN'T offer WIPS and then the customer is unsatisfied with the product?
Jun. 6th, 2014 05:15 am (UTC)
That's a bit more tricky there. Did you know this before hand? is it in the TOS? If it is then that should be a red flag right there for you to not commission them. You should ask(and they should tell) if there will be wips or not.
Jun. 6th, 2014 05:43 am (UTC)
Thank you - I never originally read their T.O.S (Because.. shame on me.) and they do state in there they do not do WIPS because it interferes with their artistic process, nor do they refund for if you are unsatisfied.

That's okay though. Having now read their T.O.S I probably won't commission again. Should have done that first.. ;P
Jun. 7th, 2014 01:22 pm (UTC)
Some artists do not offer WIP'S on icons and badges if they are like just 15 bucks or something (and in some cases, commissions under 50 - 100 $) . The time to scan, edit , send, and wait for a reply / confirmation / do edits is time consuming for commissions that are cheap.
Jun. 7th, 2014 02:12 pm (UTC)
Oh I realize that about icons/badges. This was a larger commission, in the mentioned price range. I don't really want to delve much deeper as it was my mistake for not reading their T.O.S :)
Jun. 7th, 2014 02:17 pm (UTC)
That's okay.
Jun. 6th, 2014 05:29 am (UTC)
Not sure. I guess just give them some feedback on why you're unsatisfied with it.
Jun. 10th, 2014 08:09 pm (UTC)

If anything, this post makes me NOT want to work with you ever.

As immature as it sounds, you make it seem like it's the artist's fault, when in fact it was your own.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )


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