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Advice: Lost Contact, but not really

So, I've gotten myself into a situation and I could really use some advice from any artists who may have found themselves in a similiar scenario.

Over a year ago, I commissioned an artist for a follow-up piece to something I'd had done previously. The artist was amazing and I was happy she was willing to take on the next request I had. I paid up front, she went to work, and I received a sketch about a month later (an acceptable timeframe). The problem was, the approval sketch came during a life upheaval so I didn't even see the email with the approval sketch (it was honestly the last thing on my mind). Time passes, things settle, but in the kerfuffle, the commission is totally forgotten about.

When I remember, I'm so chagrined that I forgot that it took me a while to reach out to the artist. I finally get up the courage, apologize, tell them I love the sketch (because I did) and would they be willing to re-take up the commission. Due to the length of time that's passed the artist lets me know her prices have changed and I readily agree that as far as I'm concerned, the first payment I sent is hers to keep, and I don't consider it downpayment on finishing this commission and that we can start from scratch. We agree on a new price, I send payment and she starts working on the lines for the commission, since I was fine with the sketch.

So... you might have guessed where this is going. I receive the lines for the go-ahead for color and once again, things are on my plate where the email was simply missed. By the time I notice it in my inbox, months have passed and I feel like absolute garbage for doing this to her a second time. I can say with all honesty this is not my normal MO, and I definitely feel the burden of it on my conscience. Because I felt so guilty, I sort of stuck my head in the sand and tried to forget about it. But I couldn't, and here's where the advice question comes in.

The fact that the second piece is not finished is completely eating away at me. I love her art, and loved the first drawing she did for me. This companion piece was meant to be displayed with it, as a set. As a result, I haven't even felt like I could print and hang up the first piece without it, and it's so good it just breaks my heart. It's all my fault - I know and completely own that - but if someone had done this to you as a commissioner once before, would you be willing to give them a second chance? Every reason I give sounds like an excuse, and to be frank, some of it is personal and nothing she needs to be burdened with anyway. I feel like the polite thing would be just to let it go and not bother the artist again, but the rest of me so badly wants it finished. I think what I'm most afraid of is that the artist won't want to do it and then it will be unfinished forever. It's to the point now where it's causing me no small amount of anxiety. What should I do?

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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2016 03:26 am (UTC)
I'll be honest with you. As an artist, if this happened a second time right after the first, I think I would be done. I would have found the paypal you paid with, refunded the money and told you it was canceled. I likely would refuse any future work with you, as well.

But that's just me. I'm sure others would give you another chance. But nobody can really tell you how this specific artist would feel, so I recommend reaching out to them, and being gracious if they don't respond or refuse you. Be completely understanding of their decision, and that's the best you can do (as well as putting more effort into preventing this from happening to anyone a third time, of course).
Dec. 6th, 2016 04:59 am (UTC)
I'd agree with kayla_la that it's in your best interest to take it up with the artist themselves, and be understanding of their feelings / decision on the matter. While unlike kayla I'd probably be willing to take you back up on the commission, I'm not the artist you're dealing with. It is 100% up to the artist to make the call here. However, you'll never regain any standing with them by completely dropping it.
Dec. 6th, 2016 05:04 am (UTC)
Since you're asking for opinions about taking the commission;

You did get a second chance. I would not work with someone if they did that to me twice, like Kayla, I would have refunded. But every artist is different, and it also depends on how they work. I personally work quite fast and wouldn't want to work on something that old. Others take more time and wouldn't mind it at all. And if it's already inked, many wouldn't mind adding the colours.

So all in all, you have to speak to them, not ask others what they would do, because everyone is different. The artist may not even have the original file anymore if it's been months.
Dec. 6th, 2016 05:41 am (UTC)
Echoing everyone else here - you can't really know until you reach out to the artist themselves. The longer you keep quiet, the worse it's probably going to get. I get how embarrassed and guilty you feel, but the only thing you can do to improve the situation at the moment is to just buck up and contact them.

If I was in their shoes, the fact that you paid for the commission beforehand already would probably help ease my suspicions (if I'm reading correctly). If it was partial payment or pay on receival, it'd be a different situation entirely, but if you put the full payment forward already, it would be easier to believe your sincerity.

I'm curious though if the artist ever sent any kind of follow up emails, whether for the first incident or the second? I also know if I was in the artist's shoes, I'd sent a follow up nudge probably after a week, and then another one after a month, especially if I'd worked with someone before and didn't have a previous issue.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 6th, 2016 02:01 pm (UTC)

If it were me, I would refund you and move on.
Dec. 6th, 2016 04:47 pm (UTC)
To be honest, if I were the artist, I would have tried contacting you to see if there was still interest in the commission as it has already been paid for. If that didn't succeed, then I'd just refund and move on, as others have pointed out.

Personally though, I'm not too keen on the idea of the artist keeping the funds for the original piece and then raising the price for the commission to be completed; they should have at least given you a partial refund the first time the commission fell through- that money was never theirs to keep beyond the work already put into it.

But yeah, all you really can do is apologize and make a point of notifying the artists you commission if life issues are popping up and you need some time- it doesn't need to be flowery or full of reasoning; I think most people can understand "hey, I'm going through some stuff right now, I might not be easy to reach for a little bit. Can we put this commission on hold until then?" and then make the decision to either retain the funds until you're ready to continue or just refund and ask that you come back when things are better for you.

Wishing you the best of luck!
Dec. 6th, 2016 05:23 pm (UTC)
See that was a point I was about to bring up. The original commission was made before the price increase, so in my honest opinion I don't see it has fair for charging someone again for something already paid for. Me personally I would understand that it was my fault because I forgot about the commission, but I'd still refuse to pay again for a commission.
Dec. 6th, 2016 05:50 pm (UTC)
I think OP meant he was the one to offer keeping the first payment in full, just bad wording on saying "I agreed to", so we have no idea if the artist was offering a refund, since they felt they couldn't work on something at the same price, or not. (I could be wrong, but to me, it sounds like he was saying sorry for the wait and letting the artist keep that first payment, hopefully OP can clarify on this).
Dec. 7th, 2016 04:18 am (UTC)
I would like to hear more about this, myself, as I translated it that the artist A) wanted to charge more for the commission due to the change in pricing and B) wouldn't accept the initial payment as a down payment toward the "new" price.
Dec. 6th, 2016 05:28 pm (UTC)
As an artist, it depends on the relationship I had with the client.

If it was someone I'd worked with before, and trusted, I honestly would have just slid the WIP off to the side and worked on other stuff until they were able to contact me again. I would attempt to get in contact with them once more and if they didn't reply, then I'd just hold on to it until I heard from them.

And frankly, even though the artist has raised their prices, you've paid for a piece TWICE. I think this artist should be more than willing to be patient with you based on that fact alone. However, don't be surprised if they don't want to work with you in the future. I don't think this current transaction is beyond saving, but future ones might be jeopardized.

All you can do at this point is contact them and see how they feel! Hopefully things go well for you though. Good luck.
Dec. 7th, 2016 06:45 am (UTC)
Thank you everyone for your advice. I definitely intend to take it to heart, and plan for a back-up plan, even if I think I might not need one again. There are a couple of things I want to clarify about the situation, since there was some confusion.

1. It was entirely my idea to have the first payment be provided as a "tip" for her previous work for me. At no time did she suggest she wouldn't apply the previous payment towards continuing on with the commission, but I honestly felt with the first work that she might have been undercharging anyway. I was happy to pay full price for her to continue the sketch to lines/colors, under her new pricing. This - again - was my idea. It's not at all on the artist. Sbneko hit the nail on the head, basically - it was my way of apologizing for being a bad commissioner and trying to be as fair as possible in trying to right what I'd done.

2. The commission was paid for up front in full, both times. I was/am definitely sincere about having her finish.

3. There wasn't a follow-up poke, but again, it's not, to my mind, really, for her to have to chase me down. The ball was in my court and I dropped it. I think many of you differ on this - completely fine because everyone works differently - but I would not expect (nor do I intend to ask for) a refund. She put in the work; she's entitled to the money. I do understand the sentiment behind "washing your hands" of the commission at that point because of how high maintenance it turned out to be, however, and simply reinforces the seriousness of what I did to me. I knew in posting this that the admission about what happened might result in being blacklisted by some of the artists who frequent this site. It's understandable and nothing I would try to argue anyone out of. Everyone has to deal with the consequences of their actions.

I think that the reason I posted this was to get a general feeling for how much disappointment I should prepare myself for. The consensus seems to be that the majority of artists wouldn't want to work with me again, and although it's not going to prevent me from contacting her, I am mentally preparing for a letdown. Only she can answer the contact, but it's better I brace myself for the worst, rather than pie in the sky myself the best possible outcome to our conversation.

Thank you everyone, for taking the time to comment. I do appreciate the feedback. I will contact her tonight, and let you all know the outcome, if she ends up replying (and she may not, and that's okay too. I'm not going to badger a piece out of her). If she doesn't, I'll walk away and learn from it.
(Deleted comment)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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