Commissioning an artist can be frustrating. Being an artist that gets commissions can also be frustrating. One person has the vision, but the other person is the creator. Getting an artist into your headspace - or, as an artist, figuring out what the heck your buyer wants - creates headaches, annoyances, anxiety, and more.
As an artist who takes commissions, I actually reward my regular commissioning buyers because they have learned to make the process smooth for both of us. And now I’m going to share what I think makes the process work better (besides getting to know some people over the course of years).
This is geared primarily for Aywas and Flight Rising, so also tagging it for that, but I’m sure it’s also useful for people in general.
As a buyer:
- Be as specific as possible. This is the most crucial part of any commission, because artists aren’t mind-readers. If you tell us you want a painting of a dog, then you might be disappointed when the artist comes back with a Cocker Spaniel and you were thinking of a German Shepherd. Tell artists exactly what you want, or don’t want, and don’t be afraid of giving them everything on your list. You are the buyer, and you have the right to ask for exactly what you want - but please, put those blueprints on the table for an artist first, and not a week or month down the line.
- Ask if the artist is comfortable with your request. This might just seem like overarching courtesy, but a good artist will tell you, “Hey, this is my first time drawing feathers, if that’s alright with you.” This will let you know whether an artist may be the perfect fit for you before you find out they can’t draw kitten’s paws worth a damn.
- Ask for an estimate. Even if the artist has a price list that says how much different tasks are going to cost (sketches are $3 USD, or SCCs are 20GP), verify or get an estimate from the artist in your initial request, before the artist starts working on something. This way, there’s no confusion in the sales contract when they come asking for their payment.
- Learn to give constructive criticism. Give your artist feedback every step of the way. There is a link below which I think is a very good, simple guide for buyers and artists, please check it out. If your artist is a good one, they will do just about anything to make that piece perfect for you - even if they don’t agree with the changes.
- Listen to your artist’s feedback. "Wait, but the customer is always right!" you might exclaim. Meanwhile, the artist is cursing under their breath, "If you want it done like this, why don’t you do it your damned self." Why? Because the artist is ready to tell you what they don’t think will work, or is working. Whether it’s an artist telling you, "Look, I can’t fit a twelve-headed hydra in a 200x200 pixel pet," or "I think the design is getting cluttered with all these edits," listen, consider, and then engage in dialogue. Don’t bully your artist; try to see their point of view and work toward compromise where it may be needed.
As an artist:
- Be honest with your abilities. If you’re not comfortable making super-gory zombies, then tell your buyer. If you’re new to doing shading and the project requires a full reshade, let them know. Many buyers will be happy to let you work on and improve your skills, but give them the choice before time and money has been committed to the project.
- Show your buyer progress every step of the way. Show them your sketches, your lining, your shading, your coloring, your multiple ideas for eye edits, etc. Engaging the buyer keeps them interested, and it makes sure that you get as much feedback as possible to save yourself heartache and headache at the end. There’s nothing like thinking you’re done, to have to turn around and redo half the project because the buyer hated it.
- Be professional. “Professional” is a very vague word, but by it, I mean be prompt, courteous, and dedicated. Once you’ve agreed on a commission, it should be in the top priority box - no matter how much, or how little, the buyer is paying you. Yes, even if you’re doing it for free.
- Learn to receive criticism. Have an open mind to the buyer’s feedback, and be ready to make changes. Once again, there’s a handy link below about constructive criticism. Check it out.
- Accept you may not like the finished project. Sometimes, to make the buyers happy, you have to produce something you detest. If the colors are hideous, if the edits are cluttered, if the thing looks impossible or implausible - and the buyer is happy - accept it. So long as you’ve done your best, and your buyer is pleased, you have no guilt or shame to carry to your grave.
Giving Feedback: The Art of Constructive Criticism: This is geared for writers, but it is useful for any artist to learn from - and any commissioner, or critic.
I did a tutorial.
WHAT A BIG WORD, TUTORIAL. It’s just a step-by-step on how I usually draw. I change the way I draw every time so it isn’t very accurate.
I still hope it can be useful for someone
IMPORTANT: the brush settings are here don’t ask.
The drawing is here