"Nestly": Female | 27 | Pieces | Dog Trainer | Digital Artist | Gamer |
Because I have seen too many people make this mistake lately. I need to address something.
When you first start having people pay for your art. (Take on "Commissions") Whether it be in person, on DA, Facebook, WHATEVER.
Never, never, NEVER draw them art BEFORE you receive payment.
I know what you're thinking:
"But I KNOW this person! They'll pay me!"
"I was just so excited to draw them ____! Because I wanted to impress them/make them smile!"
"They're just on hard times right now, but they'll pay as soon as they can!"
No they won't.
Because a lot of these people do NOT understand the value of art. Let's face it-- when compared to everything else that needs to be purchased in life, art comes last.
They already received their art. Why would they pay for something they already got?
Something that makes people think this way are the ways that artists represent themselves.
By not being professional and confident about selling your art, you will find that people, (ESPECIALLY people you know in person) will take advantage of you.
Remember to set boundaries, and don't be afraid to turn people away if you feel uncomfortable about their demeanor or what they want you to draw.
Be respectful to every client, but do not be a pushover. Let them know exactly how you expect to be paid and how the process is meant to be done.
Remember, when you are an artist doing commissions work, you can SET YOUR OWN RULES. So make sure people follow them!
Trust me, people respect that.
It's not bad to be personal with people. But try your best to be professional as well. When discussing prices, try to avoid using chat-speak and smiley faces.
I cannot stress this enough:
ALWAYS GET MONEY UP FRONT BEFORE YOU START DRAWING.
The only exception is if someone wants you to do a larger, more expensive project that you don't have a lot of examples for. In this case, I make people pay me HALF the amount. I show them the sketch, and once it's approved, I require the rest of the amount before I continue inking.
Make sure to let them know that the work you have started is non-refundable. So if they back out, you still have half the payment to compensate for your time. (I work at a $10/hour rate this way. So if the sketch took an hour to do. I will return their money minus $10 of it for my time)
To avoid these complicated commissions at first, only take specific styles that you have tons of examples for.
If someone demands a sketch, tell them you're sorry, but there are plenty of examples to know what you're image will end up looking like.
(It's up to you whether or not to offer a sketch if they have paid you up front. I do not offer this on my cheaper commissions, as it takes more time to save the file, upload it, send it to them, and wait for their approval.)
If this is something you truly want to do, I would suggest charging a small fee for a preview. (Enough to warrant your time)
Don't be afraid that these rules will drive people away from your art. You are only driving the people that don't respect your rules. Thus, people you don't want to deal with anyway.
Some extra tips on working on commissioned art:
-Work on a decent size.
Don't get in the habit of drawing commissions too small. Give your clients the option to print out their purchases and use them as background images and such! Working in a larger canvas can be more challenging, but it's worth it. I even charge more for larger canvases because of this!
-DO NOT MERGE YOUR LAYERS!
Do NOT get into the habit of marging your layers. EVER! If the customer wants something small edited, or you made a mistake, it's SO much harder to fix things when you have merged all your working layers! Keep your layers clean and easy to edit just in case. Also, lable them! Trust me, you will be thankful later!)
-Do NOT post your art publicly BEFORE showing the customer the final version privately!
This is something I see almost everyone do! Even extremely popular artists! Resist the urge to post your commission before you have an okay from the commissioner, just in case they want something fixed. If you post it publicly, they have to feel like an asshole asking you to change something. It's also extremely rude to only post it on your site and ASSUME they will see it. Don't assume. Take the time to privately message them and be considerate.
-Signiature & Watermarks
Sign ALL of your stuff! Sign and date if you like, but always at least sign it! Sometimes a premade symbol/logo can be fine as well, but to me, a signature feels more personal and less "company" feeling.
Use watermarks when posting more expensive commissions publicly, especially if you feel they may be stolen otherwise. Commissioners appreciate you using watermarks as well, as the art they've purchased is less likely going to be used by others against their will.
I recently started working at a new job and two of my co-workers asked me to help them with an art project they wanted to do. I smiled and said I'd be up for it. After a couple days of talking about what they wanted, I mentioned that it could get very expensive if they wanted it animated.
In response I got a clear, "Oh I hope you know we're not willing to PAY for anything!"
I was outraged. They expected me to know that they had no intention from the beginning to ever pay me a cent.
Yet I assumed, as an artist that has a business selling art commissions, that they were.
It reminded me that many, MANY people do not understand the value of art. And when it comes right down to it, art is not what most people think to use their fun money for.
But maybe they would see it differently if more artists DID respect themselves and the work they do.
I hope this helps anyone who has thought about, or is currently doing commissions in some form.
Remember that your art does have value. Once you find what value that is, stand by it, and always, always, ALWAYS demand to be paid up front.
Especially your friends, family, and people you know in person.