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As a friend of an artist I commissioned before approached me and mentioned that I came off as obnoxious, pushy and rude for giving out criticism after my last commission went a bit awry, I'm really confused and sad now, because I never intended to come off as that. I really find her to be a nice person and like her art, so I planned to stick to her as my "to-go"-artist.

To clarify:
I commissioned a cover for a story I wrote, paid 40 dollars and gave every detail in the notes. After waiting several months, I received it and while I really liked the quality, a few (important) details were forgotten and/or ignored, and I got the impression that she works chaotically. As I wasn't entirely satisfied with it, I asked her if she could do the changes and that I want to talk to her about a different topic later (the criticism) and she agreed to the changes.
Then I sent a note with all the criticism and friendly advice, which she thanked me for and explained herself professionally, which I found excellent, because I always fear that the person on the other end might rage at me. So considering that she is still young (No offense, but my experiences tell that it are mostly the younger ones who can't take it well), I found it very impressive! And now I have to hear that she actually took it very harshly.

This is my note for everyone who is interested:

To be frankly, the only sentence which I could find rude is the assumption that she works chaotically, that she did those things where she wasn't entirely sure on her own without asking me first and where I asked her to think about my points, as I would it find really sad to lose her (As if I would be her only customer).
And now I'm asking myself what I have done terribly wrong that the artist thinks of me as a jerk and that I would think I would be too good for her art. After trying to get out more information of the friend, he told me that Americans take it differently.

So my questions are:
Where did I appear as a jerk and is this sort of a mentality-thing, where it's considered rude in the US of A to give out unwanted criticism? Because at least here in Germany if you are presenting your work to the public, you are simultaneously free to be criticized and shouldn't complain about that, as long as its friendly and constructive.

Advice is really appreciated, as I would like to keep good business relations to artists I commission and not destroy them because they were actually offended by something.

THX 11-38 in advance!

EDIT 1: Edited for clarity.

EDIT 2: Cut isn't working, so I'll just point to my first post in the comments, which contains further explanation and replies to some comments.

EDIT 3: After receiving a confusing answer from the artist to my apology so I have finally no idea what to think and/or do, I'll just leave her alone. I consider the matter resolved - sort of. Thank you for all your answers, as they really helped me showing my wrongdoings and how to behave in future commissions!

EDIT 4: Now my commissions were deleted (also replaced with a simple placeholder-image) from her site with a text that I harrassed and treated her bad, she would fear for her safety and no refunds would be eministered. She also blocked me from commenting and messaging her, making me wonder how I am going to get those images back in case my HDD dies.
Now that's what I call an overreaction...
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May. 5th, 2017 01:03 am (UTC)
I don't know...also from the US here and your message didn't really come off as rude to me. I've always lived in small towns, so I don't really think I'm desensitized or anything...I just think it read like critique to me.

However, a LOT of folks generally don't respond well to unsolicited critique. People want to ask for it first and have it be expected. Also taking into account the artist's younger age, she may just be inexperienced in these matters. Personally, the advice you gave to her took me years to learn and I really wish someone had taken the time to make those suggestions to me far before I eventually heard and then implemented them. To be honest, to this day I'm still struggling with a couple of them due to other issues in my life and not having them rooted in routine quite yet.

For the future, my advice would be to stick to what you as a customer specifically need. Maybe say things like "in the future, please link me to the artwork before it's posted." Or "next time, could I see a sketch before you finish the piece in case there are details you forgot or that I didn't make clear initially?"

I would also suggest keeping everything you want in your commission in one message, rather than spread over a few. If the artist ends up having questions and you answer them in further notes/emails, make sure you quote the last email you wrote into the thread and add the new information to it. That way, they have all the info in one message and won't have to worry about reading through 2-5 of them to get the details needed for your commission.

However, I realize this is asking more of you than should be expected. An artist should be professional enough to take notes and make sure all the info necessary is in a place easy for them to get to. BUT a lot of artists, especially younger ones [and myself included at times] end up not taking notes for one reason or another...being on their phone, having a hard time in life, just forgetting in general...

There just really isn't a solid answer for this, unfortunately. Each person is different and each artist will have their own ways of doing things, their own sensitivities, etc.
Next time, I'd ask specifically if the person is okay with business practice critique rather than mentioning a "different topic" [which she may have assumed to be discussion of a further commission or just small talk]. And in regards to this artist, now that you know her habits, if you commission her again, you'll know what things to avoid and which things to do to help her remember what you want in your piece.


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