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Advice: "Private" Commissions

  I wonder what the group thinks of this concept. Every once in a while someone would come to me over FurAffinity's im system asking me for a commission but wanting to make it "private". Usually what that means is they are asking me to forfeit my rights to display the finished art in my own gallery or galleries on other art boards. Usually it's an adult commission involving fetishes they're embarassed about. The commissions in question never involve the real person it's always their fursona or one of their fursonas, so the customers in quesition usually worry someone that knows then inside the fandom will find out they're into this or that. I understand customers wanting to keep themselves discrete but at the same time I'm very reluctant to loose my ability to display my own art, if not other reason being that it's usually my main source of advertisement for future commissioners.

  I have a few solutions here and there that seem to help. First I let customers know that I can keep their names anonymous and always make a point of asking them about this. Occasionally I've been able to offer "clean" or at least "vanilla" versions of the commission that at least allows me something I could display. If neither option is viable I usually ask for an extra fee to keep the commission "private" agreeing to it never seeing the light of day, basically.

  Annoyingly one or two have asked me to keep trades private. Something I've been repeatedly refusing to do as it usually involves me doing free art, and then doing free art that I don't have rights to!

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( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 3rd, 2014 04:00 pm (UTC)
I frequently see information about private commissions listed in artists' ToS. Some don't charge a fee for it, and some do [either a flat rate or a percentage of the commission cost]; I don't see anything wrong with either way of doing it.

Edited at 2014-11-03 04:01 pm (UTC)
Nov. 3rd, 2014 04:07 pm (UTC)
I don't allow for it anymore unless under very specific circumstances. I've been burned by "private commissions".

In the first instance, the person was commissioning characters belonging to other fandom members. They didn't have permission to do so, but had so much art made by others that it looked like they did.

In the second instance, the person was claiming the art as their own. It was relatively benign; they weren't using it for profit. It was annoying, however.

Whether or not you charge for keeping a commission private should be up to you. I remember someone mentioned here a while back that it can keep good relations with clients, especially long standing ones. Me? I believe that if I'm going to lose rights, I should be compensated well for it.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 04:18 pm (UTC)
That's a good point. I wonder if it would be appropriate to include a subtle watermark somewhere to try and prevent art theft maybe, in this instance. Not to mention of course, holding on to the working PSD file or full resolution version of the drawing.

Edited at 2014-11-03 04:20 pm (UTC)
Nov. 3rd, 2014 08:01 pm (UTC)
I actually ended up having a similar instance of a person come to me with a character that wasn't theirs while telling me that it was, but they didn't ask for the commission to be private, I made that choice because it wasn't a subject I really did much.

Im happy to say though at least all my private commissioners have been totally respectful though, but I have a feeling were I in your situation Id of probably stopped accepting them too, yikes.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 04:08 pm (UTC)
This is not a new topic, I know we have a post or two on this from both sides (client AND artist) in the archives of our advice tags.

Your options are all ones that have been suggested, but I knoe the add-on fee for not being allowed to display the work was the most prominently accepted idea since something needs to make up for loss of traffic and potential revenue.

Just make sure.whatever you do is always in your TOS they agree to.

Trades being private seems backwards unless its a thing between friends only; trades, like posted commissions are things that bring traffic and potential revenue, so no trades really shouldn't be private in my mind.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 05:41 pm (UTC)
I've done a couple of private commissions, I didn't charge extra of them since they were the type of art that I wouldn't have ever even uploaded myself so I didn't find it a loss in that situation.
Ironically enough though, I have been in a backwards private trade situation, where I had hoped that my part of the art would have been kept private (it was fandom shipping stuff, nothing outrageous but something I didn't want to be known for drawing at that time) and considered this to be between two fans, only to find that said image had found its way to some public fandom shipping directory. Though I can't be sure whether said person was the one who put it there or if it got snatched through other means.

In any case, I can understand wanting trades/commissions being kept private (I'd figure plenty of people have characters that they like to draw/see in adult art but don't want that art out publicly) and since I personally don't post a large part of the art that I do anyway I myself am pretty ok with both, especially since my living doesn't depend on commissions.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 07:16 pm (UTC)
Haven't really dealt with this, I'm mostly a clean artist so it never really comes up. My immediate instinct however was just do a palette swap on the character(s) that the buyer is concerned about. explain the anonymous one would be posted, they have the copy with the characters.

1. I don't worry about reupload since it's still going to clearly be mine.
2. I have something to upload
3. It's anonymous.

The concern I guess is a bit more work, so maybe charge a slight fee, but eh.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 07:56 pm (UTC)
Personally Im fine with them and don't mind that users wants something just for themselves. That said I charge considerably more for them as I am essentially giving up my rights to the image.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 09:10 pm (UTC)
I've done a few. I usually offer a clean version, or add on a fee. Most often people pay the fee but sometimes people argue this with me and I just tell them no fee, no privacy and to go else where.

Posting up the finished work draws in new customers.

But for trades? No. never.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 10:14 pm (UTC)
I'll be the first from the other side! I'm a commissioner of private art (I fall under the "embarrassed about fetish/paranoid about clients finding my porn" category.) And most of the time there's a fee or they just flat out don't do it. I don't mind fees, since the artist is losing traffic by not posting the commission. Which is also why I understand that some artists don't do it for that reason.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 10:30 pm (UTC)
When I ask for/would ask for a private commission it'd be because it's adult art of my husband and I and A) I don't want weird comments of adult art of my husband and I and B) I don't want to think that furries are getting off to adult art of my husband and I. Not because of kink embarrassment.
I also don't mind artists charging a fee for private or making the commission SFW in public instead. I think if anyone asked me for a private commission I'd ask if making the characters unrecognisable for public posting (ie changing the colour scheme) would work instead of a fee, maybe. That'd depend on the commissioner though.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 11:39 pm (UTC)
This is why for me as well.
Nov. 4th, 2014 12:28 am (UTC)
Personally I ask for an extra fee to keep something private.
Nov. 4th, 2014 02:14 am (UTC)
I just charge an extra fee. The concept of losing traffic over one commission/client doesn't bother me over respecting their desire for privacy. As long as proper character usage permission is obtained, it's just more money for me.
Nov. 4th, 2014 09:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah I don't want to sound like I don't care about the client's privacy. It was really only a concern after sometime earlier this year when there was about 3-4 private commissions going on.

I'm trying to move back to doing more clean and vanilla art and this is one of the reasons for it, customers are all wanting me to draw them dirty kinky porn lately, so requesting private commissions has been getting common. >>;
Nov. 4th, 2014 10:05 pm (UTC)
I only mention that because I can see where it looks otherwise in my post looking back on it.
Nov. 5th, 2014 02:04 am (UTC)
For these situations I find the best choice is typically whatever your gut is telling you... If something's telling you not to take *any* private comms, or take them very occasionally, that's what I'd do. It's similar to watermarking your work, or only uploading a very small version publicly; yeah, arguably your clients might be more pleased in getting exactly what they want, but if it's not worth the discomfort it causes you, you don't have to do it.
Gain vs. sacrifice and all that. 95% of the time, (in my experience) responsible artists are doing PLENTY + then some for their clients/fans already.

I missed touching on this in my first comment, but for trades? No way, that's just silly. Maybe for a close friend, but otherwise it seems wholly unreasonable.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 4th, 2014 06:26 pm (UTC)
Basically you try and estimate the loss of potential income from exposure, any potential new watchers who might buy something, people who might be prompted to commission something after they see it, potential sales as prints etc.
And the cost of buying the right of redistribution and commercial exploitation from the artist. So it can go up pretty high yes. Some artists charge less, which is great for potential customers, but doesn't mean other artists should also charge less.

It sounds like a small thing, but it's a considerable transferal of rights and loss of potential income.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )


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