WHERE: http://jace-wallace.deviantart.com/ & http://wakkawa.tumblr.com/
WHAT: $150 digital painting commission
WHEN: November 26th, 2014; sketch received and payment sent December 12th, 2014
Initial order: http://i.imgur.com/8VBVvr0.png
Proof of payment: http://i.imgur.com/QV4EzFw.png
Well, it's finally time for the official A_B post. I asked for advice back in June, and since the situation is more or less "resolved", it's time for me to put it all together and post this as a warning to others.
I commissioned Jace at the end of November in 2014, the same day he put his commission post up. He's an art idol of mine and I'd wanted art from him for ages, so I jumped on the opportunity. He always seemed very professional to me, so a $150 commission seemed like a good idea at the time. The original commission post said they would be finished by Christmas (2014), and he sent me the sketch WIP on December 12th. http://i.imgur.com/Jy4btWg.png
The WIP at this time: http://i.imgur.com/Vs5UUDe.jpg
At that time, he said his plan was to send out more WIPs that weekend and have them finished the next week. http://i.imgur.com/TpYsWTe.png
After that message claiming that WIPS would be sent out that weekend, I didn't hear from him again. In fact, he seemingly disappeared from the Internet altogether. Not too strange, possibly, considering it was the holidays. However, he had made a firm promise of a deadline, and with the commission being $150, I was a bit more wary than I normally might have been. I let the Christmas deadline come and go, but on January 10th I noted him asking for updates: http://i.imgur.com/keQ7LmU.png
As it is still, it went unread and unopened.
I continued not to see any activity on DA, Tumblr, or anywhere else. I was getting worried, mostly due to the $150 amount and the fact that I have been burned before. Since I hadn't seen him open my note, I decided to email him in hopes of getting an answer that way, on January 24th 2015: http://i.imgur.com/rvEROmB.png And I never got a response to that either.
On January 30th, I sent Jace an email and a note on deviantArt telling him that I would be opening a Paypal claim. http://i.imgur.com/dDiUr7J.png
As I say in the message, it was mostly to get the money back in case he was unable to access the computer as I didn't want to let Paypal's claim window come and go. Even with Paypal's claim window having been increased to 180 days, I felt uncomfortable enough to do it at this time given his complete lack of responsiveness.
Jace must have seen the claim, for he mysteriously reappeared just a few days after I opened the claim. I received the next WIP on February 2nd, 2015. I cancelled the Paypal claim at this time, despite the fact that he made absolutely no note of it or that he had even seen it. http://i.imgur.com/S3umDjv.png
The WIP he sent at this time: http://i.imgur.com/ZTqd2N0.jpg
It was quite off putting to me that he made no mention of the claim or the wait much at all. But, then again, I felt a bit bad for filing the claim in the first place -- especially with his reasoning of mental illness. I figured, since he had given me an updated WIP, he would have the piece done pretty quickly. My response to him is here: http://i.imgur.com/kiuiFpu.png which he never responded to either.
More radio silence. I sent him a note on May 15th, 2015: http://i.imgur.com/8gJHWmT.png to which I got no response. (I do believe he opened/read this note.)
The next time I heard from him was in June of 2015, strangely and conveniently after I sent him a note telling him that I would be contacting my bank about the money (given that Paypal's claim window had then passed for me, by a few days) and posting an Artists Beware post about the situation. http://i.imgur.com/RXa81Ov.png (He was still active on tumblr during this time.)
His response, with a slightly updated WIP: http://i.imgur.com/fwz0yd0.png
The WIP at this stage: http://i.imgur.com/UHguQJN.jpg
This was when I posted asking for advice on A_B. I was mostly just pleased to actually have him RESPONDING to me again, and at this point I assumed that if I went ahead and posted the A_B on him right then, I would NEVER get the piece. So I tried to get him to agree to a deadline. He then agreed to have the piece finished by the end of July, 2015.
So, another month and it would be done.
Obviously, that came and went. Surprisingly, he took the initiative to note me on his own on August 1st, telling me that his tablet had broken. (I had already seen him post about it on his Tumblr, which he was continuing to update regularly with paintings and posts.) Again, pleased that he was CONTACTING me and not ignoring me, I accepted his claim that he would have it done the next week. http://i.imgur.com/1Nk8ri2.png
Aaaand that didn't happen, either. He did not contact me again past that point, AT ALL. (I send him another note on September 3rd, 2015: http://i.imgur.com/BbhcdiY.png )
In fact, the only way I got him to contact me again was rather direct and annoying. On top of updating his Tumblr regularly while ignoring my messages, he had gotten into the habit of streaming quite regularly on his Twitch account. Sometimes games, sometimes painting personal works. I subscribed to the channel, and was receiving emails whenever he started streaming. At first I was just happy to see him working on something, and didn't interact with him. However, when he continued to ignore/"not see" my messages, I decided to bite the bullet and reach out to him during a Twitch stream.
On October 25th, 2015, I entered his Twitch stream and inquired after my commission. He had his mic on, so I don't have a record of his responses, but here's the chat: http://i.imgur.com/jOrPowU.jpg
Basically, he reassured me and told me a very long story about how he had gotten locked out of his DeviantART account AND the email account associated with it, so he hadn't been able to log in at all. He promised to email me after the stream. He sent me an email that night and he attached another WIP and claimed it was pretty much done, just needed to be cleaned up and tweaked. (Note: this was quite a small screenshot that didn't allow me to see closer details.) http://i.imgur.com/d7KZdbe.png
My response: http://i.imgur.com/vW59uJl.png
The WIP he sent at this stage: http://i.imgur.com/3kNQwSj.jpg
And, again, that was the last I heard from him. I actually let him be for a while after that email, mostly due to how incredibly fed up I was at this point. Plus, he said it was close to being done, so I figured it wouldn't be long. Again, wrong.
I emailed him on January 12th (3-4 months later) asking if he had any updates on the piece or on his situation. http://i.imgur.com/Lr2bYa6.png
I got no response. He continued to be active on Tumblr, quite regularly posting text posts and art.
So, on January 27th, I emailed him. http://i.imgur.com/1uUNoke.png
Of course, I do realize asking for a refund at this point may seem out of line to some, but like I say in the email I figured it would be the easiest way to resolve it. I didn't want to wait around forever to get the finished piece and would have been satisfied with the file as-is and a partial refund, even 10% of 25%, ANYTHING so that I could FINALLY take it off my list and forget about the heartache.
On January 28th, 2016, he emailed me and claimed the piece he had sent in October was the finished piece, minus the rendering of one hand. He then claimed he would send me the finished file as soon as he smoothed out the hand. As well as a quite P.A. comment about the fact that if this had been for a freelancing company, it would have cost me $2000. http://i.imgur.com/V2OP8si.png
Half an hour later, he sent me the .psd of the 'finished piece'. It is almost entirely unchanged from the screenshot from October. And, to my dismay, it's quite rough and not as refined as the sample piece he used for his commission post. There's a part in one of the character's irises that bleeds into the eyelashes, really badly. The ear is a block of unrendered, unfinished painting. The male figure is very rough and untouched compared to the female figure. Overall, the entire thing is quite sketchy, quite unrefined, and quite unfinished -- when compared to his sample.
At the very least, it is not what I would hope for after over a year of waiting for a $150 commission that had a much more refined example.
Here is the final file he sent me: http://i.imgur.com/91E4qbU.png
Note that it's barely changed (if at all) from the WIP from October. Over 3 months for that lack of work done on the piece.
Here are some closeups of a few of the problem areas I identified: http://i.imgur.com/ePJmE2v.png
Again, here is the image he used in his commission post: http://i.imgur.com/t0PaIRP.jpg
As it is, this situation is "resolved". I'm NOT happy with the piece, but I sincerely doubt he will ever give me any partial refund (the piece is, after all, 'finished' according to him) and I don't care to see how long it would take him to refine the piece more (I'd prefer not to wait another full year, really). And while I feel the end result is not in line with what he was offering, my complaint is about his unprofessionalism rather than the art itself. Art is subjective, and though I may not be happy with the piece, it is "finished" in his eyes. My gripe is his refusal to keep in touch, the constant ignoring of my messages, and the continuously broken deadlines.
In the end, this is a beware to all other artists and commissioners out there. Do not commission Jace Wallace. I have no clue if he plans to ever open commissions again, but if he does, it's not worth it. This is hands down the most frustrating experience I have ever had with an artist. It's not even the year+ wait that bothers me -- I've waited that long before, I'll wait that long again.
But EVERY time I attempted to contact him, I was ignored, unless I had made a direct claim that I would be pursuing action against him, or I approached him directly IN PUBLIC. (There were a few times when I commented on his submissions on DA or profile on DA, but he has hidden the comments at this point.) He set deadlines, and then he broke them with nary a word. He made excuses, avoided contact, and continued to be active on Tumblr regardless of the owed work.
At least with other artists I've had this problem with, they disappeared entirely. With Jace, he was still active on Tumblr almost this entire time, just deliberately ignoring my messages on DA, Tumblr (where he was active, WHILE HE WAS ACTIVE) and via email. In the end, I feel disrespected, insulted, and disappointed - and I don't want anyone else to go through the same situation.
EDIT: The final email he sent to me, after I submitted this A_B post and informed him I would be doing so. http://i.imgur.com/GDdiT2M.png