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When you are unhappy with the commission, what do you do?

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I'm very new to dealing with any kind of original art, but I have picked up a few pieces and had some (mostly very inexpensive) commissions done. I am usually satisfied that I the quality was what I was expecting. Until recently, the only surprises have been occasionally getting even better work than anticipated.

 

The commission I contracted for at SDCC is now the lone exception. We talked about the work and seemed to understand each other pretty well - it went from a simple sketch to a full 11x17 illustration he planned to finish after the con. However, when I saw the finished piece I was underwhelmed. I said thank you and paid the other half that was due and plan on moving on.

 

What experiences have you had and how have you handled them?

 

 

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All I can say is I've had the same experience and did nothing.

 

Unfortunately, the risk of a bad commission is ever present, and I sort of consider it as part of the pricing, and that's why my limit for commissions/sketches is something I can afford to lose. Which as I've said has happened to me but I just move on.

 

Malvin

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I think a lot of people encounter what you're discussing, but of course few actually voice their disappointment, and in truth, with some artists, underwhelming feelings may be due to a lack of effort, for others it's due to a lack of living up to expectations or perception. The former is the biggest shame, whereas the later, can't really be controlled other than if you almost become an art director to the commission.

 

I've had many artists fall alseep at the wheel and produce mediocre (to both their standards and my expectations - as well as to the value of what I paid) artwork.

 

I've talked to many artists, and some love getting art direction, providing prelims and layouts of positions/poses and really working closely with the collector.

 

Other artists don't like to be directed and are actually a bit annoyed by being told exactly what to do. I can see their perspective and understand how if you limit their creative freedom, it can become more of a chore and probably come out a bit forced rather than natural.

 

I usually find, when approaching the artist, you can provide simple guidance and explain what you'd like with flexibility, as far as what type of poses, styles, attention to detail, etc.- from that initial conversation you'll get a feel for what type of artist you're dealing with by how they respond and then go from there.

 

You are the customer, so you should be able to speak without fear. If you went to a restaurant and the food was not good, would you not comment?

 

Many art fans put these artists on such high pedstals it's almost comedic to watch them bow in near worship of some of them. Unfortunately, there are some artists who feed of that and have really bad attitudes, almost dishing out ungracious behavior with comments like "I'm not sketching now, I might or might not later on" or making promises they can't deliver. Again, using a restaurant analogy, if you went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak, how would you react if the waiter said "we'll bring it when we bring it, but if we don't then don't expect to eat" or if you ordered it medium rare and the chef said "i'll do it the way I want to do it, you just take it and pay me"

 

The collectors are the customers and really need to take the power back. Not to be rude, demanding or arrogant about it, but keep those less fan friendly artists in check to remind them that if not for their fans who buy their comics, write letters to the editors and come see them at the conventions, they'd have no work.

 

The more frustrating aspect of commissions is paying cash in advance and being held hostage with no leverage to get the piece done. In one breath, if you keep inquiring and "bothering" the artist, you probably will fear you'll end up getting a rushed piece done in haste to get you off their backs. So, patience is the true virtue in that regard. I admit, I am amongst the timid who reside on the sidelines - - but also, i'm pretty casual and not so intense, nor place high priority to comic commissions in the grand scheme of life.

 

I prefer partial deposits, then you have money given in good faith (as I could imagine if not done cash in advance and for all the work and efforts, some artists get burned by deadbeats who refuse the piece, end up having money issues to pay, or fall off the face of the earth), then both parties have skin in the game.

 

One of the best ways to scout out artists who do extraordinary commissions is to go to a site like Comic Art Fans, then look up commissions by varied artists and then you can see the quality of their commission work, and even print out a copy to show the artist what "level of quality/style" you're wanting in your piece for them to do your commission in the spirit of.

 

I've had great luck with some artists who walk you through the process wanting to ensure complete satisfaction, like Gilbert Monsanto, who provides layouts as the work is being done and won't accept payment until the collector sees the final piece and expresses satisfaction. Todd Nauck is the same, and even taking it up a notch, he does a layout, then does the piece, and includes the layout for free (so you get a nice complimentary piece to show the evolution of your commission) - - a pet peeve of mine is when an artist does a layout of a commission, then the commission - - and tries to sell or charge additional for the simple sketched out layout - - kinda not fan friendly in my opinion.

 

To me, this is why I value published artwork far more than commissioned artwork. With published art, it's pretty much authenticated, you see what you're getting before you buy it, you often get multiple pannels of various characters, backgrounds and nostalgic context (the story and comic you collected). With commissions, it's so hit/miss, artists charge for multiple characters, backgrounds, inking, size, etc.

 

I know some commissions are like splash page, pin-up or cover quality, where generally a collector my not either find nor afford something like that, or some fans like a certain character and want that artist who's never drawn that character before in the published arena, to draw that for them. That's fun to collect, but to me not obsess about nor overpay for.

 

Instead of dropping $100 to $500 for commissions, having to wait in line, run the risk of getting disappointed - often times that money or less can get you a nice published page - - published pages are true one of a kind items - - although commissions are unique and one of a kind in the same sense, not in the same spirit in that the artist can crank out multiple equal to or greater than (or less than) quality pieces at any time - - but a published piece is "the one and only one"

 

Just my opinion 'tho...

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I think for a con sketch, it's no big deal. You're asking him to create on the spot his interpretation of your request. That's what you asked for and that's what you got. Some artists have a policy (and say so upfront) that if you don't like it for whatever reason you don't take it.

 

For more expensive commissions, unless you are completely familiar and comfortable with the artist's work and know you'll like what he'll do, you should get prelminaries beforehand to make sure you're both on the same page. A good artist (that charges a good sum) will keep you informed throughout the process.

 

 

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I've actually spent some fairly big dollars on a few commissions though I don't routinely dabble in original art. In one or two instances, I wasn't really happy with the outcome or the work itself. But I did voice some concern and the artist did work with me to correct my lack of satisfaction. That in turn, kept me willing to do more commissions.

 

I really love Buzz's work, and in fact am plunking down a hefty amount to get a commission done. I plan to do the same with Jim Starlin at some point. Buzz does amazing work and I've never been dis-satisfied -- so I stick with those who have done great work.

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Only time I've been underwhelmed on commissioned art were the one I purchase at cons.

 

The ones I order via the artists online, I've only gotten a few back that I felt were so-so. It totally helps when the artists does a couple preliminary sketches to layout in advance what they're doing so you don't get any surprises along the way. There was maybe once where a piece had a way different set-up than the preliminary sketch, but I let it go since the price was ok.

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I've actually spent some fairly big dollars on a few commissions though I don't routinely dabble in original art. In one or two instances, I wasn't really happy with the outcome or the work itself. But I did voice some concern and the artist did work with me to correct my lack of satisfaction. That in turn, kept me willing to do more commissions.

 

I really love Buzz's work, and in fact am plunking down a hefty amount to get a commission done. I plan to do the same with Jim Starlin at some point. Buzz does amazing work and I've never been dis-satisfied -- so I stick with those who have done great work.

 

Hey Foolkiller,

 

Are you in the process of talking with Buzz and about to give him money? Sad to say I'm waiting for an almost finished piece from him for the last couple of years...if you are in contact with him, could you shoot me a message off board?

 

Thanks!

Simon

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I very rarely like the commissions that I have done. I always check out their work before I contact them. So the majority of times I get nice pieces. Even if it is an exceptional piece I get rid of them. I trash it if it is bad, give it away, or sell it if I can. I just prefer to see the piece before hand. Every once in a while I forget/ignore that and give an artist some money. I just pay them knowing the eventual outcome on my end.

 

I do however still have the last commission I had done. Not sure how that happened.

 

padme.jpg

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