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SO about three years ago I took a materials-only pokemon head comission for a friend, and it went great. Her younger brother loved it and wanted one of his own, so we began planning a full body pokemon cosplay for material cost only. The project kept getting put on hold for one reason or another, usally me being in school or him not having the $300-$500 needed for materials. Now that I've graduated college I have the time for side projects, and now that he has a regular job he has the funding to get started. He was about to send me money via paypal when I asked when he would be sending a duct tape dummy. Long story short, he can't get anyone to help him with it despite living with two people. The three of them are my friends, and they want my boyfriend and I to visit their city (four hours away) so I can make the duct tape dummy.  My boyfriend would need to come because I don't have a car or insurance, so he'd have to be my unofficial taxi. I don't want to waste a weekend driving four hours one way to help with a one hour project; on top of food and gas (I'm diabetic and they never keep food that I can eat) we'd also have to get a hotel because my boyfriend is extremely allergic to their cat. I think it's sort of rediculous to ask that in the first place. They also offered to come to our apartment, but even though they're our friends, hosting them can be really exhausting. Again, I don't feel like going to such effort over a duct tape dummy NOR do I wish to inconvenience my boyfriend that badly. If my friend's brother really and truely can't find someone to help him, I don't think I should do the project, and I told him as much. I know he was excited about getting the costume and he's upset that I've canceled, but what am I supposed to do? I don't feel comfortable working off measurments alone because this costume involves a lot of shaping, and I don't have a dress form to work with. He is tall and extremely slender, so I don't know anyone locally who could act as a body double. Is a duct tape dummy really that unreasonable to request? I know they're standard in the fursuit community, but I don't know about the cosplay community.

My other question involves the shipping of materials. Back when we first started planning, I sent him a thorough list with all the materials we would need, their prices, and sources to purchase them. His sister works at Joanne's and the fleece we needed went on a really cheap sale, so they purchased $50 of materials and brought them down to me during a visit. It's so much fabric that it takes up an entire moving box, and I've been storing this stuff for over two years. I didn't ask them to buy it and I certainly didn't ask to bring it down, but nevetheless here it is. When I told them I was canceling the project, I said I wanted to mail them back the materials and they could either a) paypal me the shipping costs or b) let me keep some materials and I would pay shipping. They haven't responded, and now I'm not sure if this was inapproriate to ask. My apartment is teeny, so keeping a huge box of stuff really has been an inconvenince for me. I have no use for 90% of the materials and I don't feel I should be responsible for keeping them when I didn't ask to buy it in the first place. I'm fairly sure they're already mad because I won't arrange a trip to make the duct tape dummy, and this is icing on the cake.

If it helps, I'm not terribly concerned about damaging the friendship at this point; it has been declining for months and I just want to move on from this project. I have other cosplays I'd like to work on, and I'm tired of being on hold for this pokemon costume. I did tell him that when he had both the dummy and the money I'd be happy to work with him, but for the time being I had other things to work on. Am I handling this right?

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( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 9th, 2016 10:55 pm (UTC)
This sounds really familiar. Have you made a post about this situation before?

"If my friend's brother really and truely can't find someone to help him, I don't think I should do the project, and I told him as much. I know he was excited about getting the costume and he's upset that I've canceled, but what am I supposed to do?"

Nothing. You already did what needed to be done: cancel the project. Because you're right, what your friend is asking for is completely ridiculous. If he can't get a DTD out then he shouldn't have a fursuit. You don't need the burden he's suggesting, ESPECIALLY when you're not being paid for your labor.

"When I told them I was canceling the project, I said I wanted to mail them back the materials and they could either a) paypal me the shipping costs or b) let me keep some materials and I would pay shipping. They haven't responded, and now I'm not sure if this was inapproriate to ask."

I don't think it's inappropriate to ask, but it is sort of insulting. This is one of those situations where it's hard to tell who's right. You said the commission was only for the cost of materials. Instead of him paying you for materials, he bought materials since he had the ability to get them cheaply. From what you've provided, it doesn't sound malicious, it just sounds like miscommunication. And now the supplies he provided to you, he has to pay to get back?
I would offer to at least go half and half on the shipping. It seems like nobody is going to win in this shipping scenario so you may as well split the pain.

"Am I handling this right?"

I'd say you are. If you did in fact make a post about this situation earlier, I believe the advice was to cancel the commission back then. So I'm surprised you've held out for so long. Cut your losses as soon as possible.

Oct. 9th, 2016 11:12 pm (UTC)
Yes, I did ask about this before on AB and I was going to cancel, but he was SO excited for the costume I decided to give him another chance. Our plan was to wait until I had finished school and he had a steady job, and both of those things have happened. Unfortunately, I think there would always be some logistical issue; if it wasn't the duct tape dummy, it would be something else.

I'll admit I was mad when I asked for the shipping, but in my defense they brought down the materials without telling me ahead of time. When I said they couldn't leave them at my apartment unless we were starting in the next few weeks, my friend's response was, "I'm moving so I'm not taking them back." Her apartment was several hundred square feet larger than mine, and we were already living with a box wall (our place was 400 sqft with one teeny coat closet for storage). I was in the process of selling a lot of my own materials, so I wasn't pleased at having to store theirs. Regardless, I'll help them pay shipping to get the stuff back, especially if it reduces friction. They're straight up ignoring me on social media and texting so I'm assuming they're angry.
Oct. 9th, 2016 11:32 pm (UTC)
If the shipping isn't too much and you're not hurting for money and just want to clean your hands of the issue, if I were in your position I'd just ship them to him and pay for it myself.

Then it doesn't matter if he never replies, and you can block him on everything if he becomes abusive.

The other option, which I think would be a real dick move but it is there if you're concerned he will never respond to you, is to send it with postage due on delivery, and then paypal him half of it with a note saying the amount that's due at delivery so he knows to expect, and that this is your 50% payment towards that as a courtesy.

[edited for clarification]

Edited at 2016-10-09 11:33 pm (UTC)
Oct. 10th, 2016 12:45 am (UTC)
Haha, as much as the petty part of me wants the second option, I'll just send it back myself; no need to ruffle anymore feathers. They're already fuming that I won't plan a trip.
Oct. 10th, 2016 12:03 am (UTC)
Making you drive that far and at considerable expense to you just to make a DTD because he can't find one single nearby person to help him is ridiculous.

As far as the materials go, I waffled a bit on this one but I think in order to finish the situation and free up the space in your apartment, it'd be best to ship the materials back to them and just eat the shipping cost.
Oct. 10th, 2016 12:31 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm sending the stuff back at my expense but boy oh boy are they mad o.o I guess this is one way to find out who your friends are.
Oct. 10th, 2016 01:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's unfortunate :/ they would probably have been even more mad if you'd kept the materials though.
Oct. 10th, 2016 05:00 am (UTC)

I agree with just cancelling the project and moving on. They want you to do way too much when you're not even making profit
Oct. 10th, 2016 01:13 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to state that as a cosplayer and seamstress DTD are NOT standard for cosplay. We use actual dummies or go based on measurements sent to us.

However in this situation I believe the DTD is necesarry as you are making a fursuit and not just an outfit
Oct. 10th, 2016 02:09 pm (UTC)
I'm... really confused on why you commented about a cosplay. OP is asking for advice, not whether they were in the right or wrong to ask for a DTD. It wouldn't hurt to have the client make one anyway if you want to get measurements right.
Oct. 10th, 2016 03:10 pm (UTC)
Because they asked if DTD was a norm for cosplay...its in the actual post?
Oct. 11th, 2016 11:52 am (UTC)
Is a duct tape dummy really that unreasonable to request? I know they're standard in the fursuit community, but I don't know about the cosplay community.

OP more or less asked in the post, but I guess you could interpret it as being rhetorical?
Oct. 12th, 2016 04:19 am (UTC)
I have seen DTDs used a few times for cosplay, but my guess is that they are a rarity. While I could have done this project without a DTD or even a dressform, I felt like using one would lead to a better fitting costume. I have made clothes before, but for so much complex shaping and skin-tight features a DTD just seemed like the better way to do it. I was asking because I was maybe being unreasonable to request on in the first place.
Oct. 10th, 2016 02:12 pm (UTC)
I fell into a similar predicament earlier this year (minus the DTD part, which you are in the right to not want to drive 8 hours to make them one or have them come over at your own expense).

Just mail them back their stuff, if you want to impress them and don't mind spending a few extra bucks then covering the shipping costs won't be such a bad idea. If they offered to pay then you can let them do that, too. After it has arrived or they've confirmed they've received it I'd wash my hands of the situation, it sounds like nothing more needs to come of it.
Oct. 10th, 2016 09:47 pm (UTC)
This is a rough situation, I honestly hope you don't take "materials only" projects in the future, I want to urge you to know I think your time is worth something and I want you to know that this sort of thing is ALREADY a gigantic favor to these friends. You deserve to be paid minimum wage or above if you create things. (further reading: Article I wrote on timing and pricing)

Ultimately, you are not wrong in wanting to have a duct tape dummy to make this easier on you to create. You are also not wrong in desiring to cancel this transaction. Just the time dealing with this situation is unpaid, so you for sure deserve to get it off your plate and move on to paid work that is worth your effort.

Reading the above comments it sounds like you've already decided to cancel and are now returning the materials you sent back. It REALLY sucks for this to have to be your expense, but unfortunately to end the situation diplomatically, it is best to use your own funds to ship the box back (try shopping around services to get the best price on it, it does not have to go back to them on a fast service, but check them anyways because sometimes there are less limits on box sizing)

They are not in a position to expect anything from you any longer, and it is OK to move on from this transaction. They can be mad at you all they want, but they have what they paid for, the materials. So you do not owe them anything further.

I hope you can get paid work set up soon, instead of materials only work, try to make something to sell as an artist-designed piece at auction. You for sure deserve to be paid for your time in the future.
Oct. 12th, 2016 04:59 am (UTC)
I have read your article on pricing before, but I chose materials-only commissions for a few reasons: while I'm confident in my costume-making abilities, I felt I needed more experience/portfolio pieces before I could expect someone else to have the same confidence; because I wasn't charging for time, I could take as much time as I'd like and work on the projects at a leisurely pace (and every commissioner has been well aware and prepared to wait); I got opportunities to work with nice materials at no expense to myself; and finally since I wasn't earning a profit, I could make copyrighted characters. This has worked for the most part because I have been working for friends and people I trust, and I certainly wouldn't do it for strangers. However, after this incident, I'm not sure I'll be doing it anymore at all. The friendship was already souring, but this whole incident isn't helping. I guess it's time to start making pre-mades :)
Oct. 11th, 2016 12:03 pm (UTC)
Cancel, ship back the materials using the cheapest method as someone else said, if they send it back or kick up a fuss or something sell it online I guess and maybe get some money back, and just write this off as a learning experience. From everything else you've said about them, (the food thing, bringing a gigantic box down without asking/letting you know and dumping it on you, refusing to do a DTD and demanding you come drive down to do it for them and not even offering to pay you gas money or something?) they don't seem like the sort willing to meet you halfway on anything, so if it were me, I'd just give up. :/
Oct. 12th, 2016 04:29 am (UTC)
When I sent messages asking about splitting shipping I got no response, but they wanted me to drive to their city to drop it off or else arrange a trip to my apartment to pick it up?? o.O They REALLY want to visit and won't take no for an answer... I'm going to have to ship it in such a way that my address isn't on the package lest they take matters into their own hands.

One other pickle is that they agreed to let me use some of the fleece for a personal project since they had purchased more than necessary. This was months and months ago, so I'm sure they've forgotten about it. Unfortunately it's very obvious that some pieces are cut out, and they're cut along the warp so I can't hide it without removing a lot of yardage (why did I do it that way?? D:). Personally I think the small amount I used is more than fair trade for the shipping I'm about to pay, but it wouldn't surprise me if they made a fuss about me "stealing" materials. Should I include money for the cut yardage?
Oct. 12th, 2016 05:30 pm (UTC)
I know you've said you don't have a lot of space, but if you could use the materials, and it's only $50 or so (I don't know what postage costs are like in the USA, but you're looking at a fair chunk of $50 just to ship a big boxful, surely?)... could you not conceivably just buy the fabric from them?

It'd save you the cost of shipping the stuff (with the associated question of keeping your address private - although do they not already know your address, if they dropped them off in person?), and also the question of "should I send them some money / how much, because I've used some of it".
Oct. 13th, 2016 04:59 am (UTC)
Well, the materials were only $50 because my friend used her employee discount, a lot of coupons, and an annual sale to purchase them. Full price they would have cost $80-$100, so replacing them will be more than $50. It's not a bad idea though; I'll see if they're up for it.
Oct. 13th, 2016 03:46 am (UTC)
I mean, putting down a RTS address is pretty much optional here, I don't know about where you live though. If you don't want them to know where you live, offer to meet out somewhere, make a sort of social event of it like getting coffee and lunch. Go with your boyfriend so you can put the box in his car, then give it over to them to drive back. If nothing else, it offers an opportunity to talk to them to work out everything face to face, which is easily the best method, and gives you an opportunity to bring up that you used some of the fleece as they agreed to let you do. To be honest, while I understand not wanting to give them your address, this is a pretty good opportunity actually to work things out amicably. If they're offering to drive down to you, at their own expense, to pick it up, more's the better.
Oct. 13th, 2016 05:12 am (UTC)
Oh, I thought return addresses were required to mail anything in the US (but what do I know, lol). My main problem here is with the commissioner's sister; she has been extremely pushy about arranging a visit and won't take no for an answer (hence me not wanting to give them my address... I wouldn't put it past her to just show up one day). She knows I was excited to do this project, and I believe she was trying to use the duct tape dummy as leverage to make me visit them. The past few trips have ended horribly at my expense, so I have zero desire to see her in person even if it costs me $50 to mail their box instead. Part of me was hoping I could work around her, but her brother doesn't have the motivation to work with me so that's that. I just want to be done with them.
Fralea Comms
Oct. 14th, 2016 01:02 am (UTC)
I would just pay for the fleece you used (at the price per yard they paid for it) and ship the remainder to them. After you give them a tracking number you can pretty much cease contact.

Either that, or like keanu said send them the $50. You might could sell the fleece to someone else pretty easily since it would be at a reduced price. I wouldn't try to make a profit on it though, if they found out it could be another point of contention.

It sounds like it would be worth it to you to cut ties quickly and not have to ever deal with these people again. But its up to you, obviously.
Oct. 16th, 2016 03:40 am (UTC)
Yes, but I live in Australia, and it's optional to put a RTS address here in my own experience. :P

But yeah it sounds like you've already decided on how you want to go forward. Ask someone if you could use their address I guess, short of that if you don't want to give your address, just send them $50 through paypal, and wash your hands of both the job and the friendship.
Oct. 12th, 2016 07:17 pm (UTC)
It sounds like this commissioner is not that committed to the project given the extra steps they want you to take to get it started. I bet not having to pay for labor is a big reason for the lack of commitment; essentially they have no real cost in the endeavour and haven't taken the offer seriously.

I would straight up cut my losses at this point and move on.

Since you've used some of the materials, purchase Postal Money Order of the originally spent amount and then sell (locally), donate, or use the rest of the materials yourself. I imagine the fabric is not that unique and this gives the commissioner the option to either also call this a wash or find someone else to take on the project whole.

Include a letter to the effect of: This is not working out, I am canceling this commission. Here is what you originally paid for the materials. Good luck to you in the future.

Use a local foodbank address as the return, so if they're ridiculous enough to send a payment back it goes to an excellent place to help your own community.
Oct. 13th, 2016 05:17 am (UTC)
You'd think someone would be thrilled to save hundreds of dollars on labor, but then again he has NO idea how much work it takes to build these things. He met someone at a con who bought a Pokemon costume for $240, and he was taken aback when I said materials alone would be $300+. I think he is probably too immature to be commissioning things just yet.

I will see if they'll sell me the materials, although they were purchased on a very cheap sale so it would cost them more than $50 to replace. If it wasn't a copyrighted character, I would buy the materials, finish the costume (I have most of the planning and patterning done at this point T.T) and sell it. Unfortunately I won't have much use for them otherwise, but I'm sure I can think of something :/
Oct. 14th, 2016 03:11 pm (UTC)
Again based on other comments you've made, I recommend cutting your losses and moving on.

Don't ask for permission to sell the materials, they will continue to stall. Mail them a payment of $50, either use a food bank address or none as the return, and write a note of severance. Once you'd mailed the payment I would email that's what you've done to resolve this, include the text of the note with the payment, and reiterate you consider this project canceled.

It doesn't matter that the materials were worth more when they paid, that's what they paid. You're not a bank, they don't get interest. It's less of a hassle to get the money order that will make them whole. They can't complain that some material is used. They got a good deal on the materials? Good for them. Not your problem. If they kick up a fuss, remind them you've been storing all this time free of charge, you didn't ask them to buy the materials, you've made them whole with what they've spent and you are done. End of story.

Do whatever with the material, it's yours once you send off that payment.

This is the most telling thing I've read by you: "The past few trips have ended horribly at my expense, so I have zero desire to see her in person even if it costs me $50 to mail their box instead. Part of me was hoping I could work around her, but her brother doesn't have the motivation to work with me so that's that. I just want to be done with them."

It seems like you are trying to be nice/amicable to these folks that clearly are not willing to meet you halfway in anything. They also don't understand and/or respect your business, service, or offer and it's no longer your job to educate them. You don't want to do this commission, that's okay. Reimburse the $50 and be done. They can find someone else or move on.
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