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CONVENTION COMMISSIONS - Rates, Quality, The Process and Tips

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Does anyone want to share their experiences with getting commissions from artists?

 

Which artists step up to the plate and hit 'em outta the ballpark with masterpieces?

 

Which artists fall asleep at the wheel, producing lackluster or disappointing pieces?

 

How much certain artists charge? It seems like the norm now is $100 for lesser known artists; then $200-500 for better known artists; and then $1,000-$3,000 for the top artists.

 

Who takes cash in advance, but doesn't deliver (or people are put on the eternal "waiting list")? How long is the longest anyone has waited (or are still waiting) for a commission they pre-paid for? What happens if the artist passes away before the piece is done and it's been paid for?

 

Do people like "head" vs "head to bust/shoulders" vs "full figure" vs "full figure interactive with backgrounds" vs "multiple characters" vs "cover recreations" ?

 

What do some people think about some artists who refuse to do quick sketches and sign their name to essentially artwork that is not representitive of their style and best efforts? I sort of agree with this, in that I know a lot of artists who don't want mediocre efforts in the marketplace whether for sale/resale or just viewing (especially in the internet age and with sites like CAF). Also, as a fan, I'd speculate a doodle with an autograph isn't really satisfactory for a collection and not representitive of that artists best work, so in one sense it's a nice gesture to get something, but in another, I can see where both sides (artist and fan) could be better off either waiting for a fully rendered commission or abstaining from having mediocre work churned out.

 

How long does the typical artist take to do commissions at the shows? In-person, is it roughly 20 mins per sketch/commission? At any given show, is any artist able to do about only 3 pieces?

 

What's the best and most fair method you've seen artists handle their commission policies? I know with recent "flipping" incidents, some artists are wary of doing anything for cheap or free as well as if they have a limited amount of time, trying to ensure the artwork goes directly into the hands of the fans rather than into the hands of essentially a dealer who will profiteer.

 

What do people think of those who "flip" pieces on eBay? Do you feel, if a person paid the time and efforts (traveling, waiting, and paying for it) and owns the piece, he or she should be able to sell it without being cruified by a hostle art community or the artist? Do artists care themselves?

 

I personally think that to stop that type of profiteering, maybe artists who care about that aspect of the business should:

 

1) Personalize all commissions with the "fan's" name on the actual piece. I'd assume those who try to resell will have a harder time selling a piece with a person's name not of their own.

 

2) Take a photo (and with cell phones it's easy with today's technology) of the piece and the commissioner (person buying the commission), so if anything odd happens with the piece, they can treat it the way some stores do with "bounced checks" and have a point of reference to who's done what

 

3) Take a list and cherry pick what they feel like doing, rather than the 1st come 1st served style of sequentially doing commissions from a list in chronological order. I think this enables the artist to pick what they feel like drawing and ultimately also selecting who gets what, so eliminating those who are suspicious or rude. I know Adam Hughes used to do that and I always felt that was the most fair system out there.

 

4) Auction (via eBay or using a "silent auction" technique at the show with a piece of paper the 1st day and allowing fans to write down how high they're willing to pay for a piece, then after the 1st 2 hrs of the show has elapsed, pick the winner or winners) off at least one slot (or more), not all slots (since that would then put economics into the mix, and only the wealthy can afford commissions and the art may not be going into the hands of some of the fans who are less fortunate). This enables the artist to maximize revenue, establish rates (by the laws of supply and demand), as well as for that one (or those one or two or so) fan who has deep pockets, to be guaranteed something and it becomes "win / win" for the artist (who gets the money) and the fan (who gets the art without having to wait in lines or go through the random uncertainty of getting on a list). I know a lot of artists are selling their "guaranteed sketch/commission" via eBay before most major conventions and sometimes those command final bid prices in the $3,000 range.

 

 

WHAT'S THE BEST PROCESS RECOMMENDED TO GET COMMISSIONS FROM ARTISTS?

 

I'm hearing, it's sometimes good to contact the artists in advanced directly or through their reps ahead of the conventions they appear at, then you're able to potentially pick-up the piece at the convention (and sometimes the "at-home" commissions are of greater quality too!)

 

I know with San Diego Comic Con and other shows, people often line up hours before the show opens, then once it opens, they run straight to the artists table and squat in the line to get on the list.

 

Some are fortunate enough to get dealers/exhibitor passes or press passes to circumvent the waiting and are already inside before the show opens, and that's why sometimes 10 minutes into a convention opening, lists are already filled up.

 

Do people have any recommendations for getting penciled artwork inked by any certain inkers? What are the typical rates? I've seen inking rates higher than the actual pencilers at some shows.

 

Do people sometimes like to get their artwork colored, hand colored or digitial coloring by colorist artists?

 

I thought this would be a good thread to share experiences, stories and knowledge with each other in the pursuit of these custom commissions comic art fans collect.

 

 

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MY FOLLOW UP QUESTION IS (and I've been faced with this before):

 

What do you do when you receive a commission that is disappointing that you feel you've either overpaid for or were overcharged for?

 

Do you ask for it to be redone or modified? - I've done that when an artist provided a preliminary layout (which by the way, I think is a nice process - - but on a separate note, find it sort of lame when an artist trys to milk more money from a fan by offering to sell them the prelim/layout piece instead of just including it for free with the commission)

 

Do you express your disappointment to the artist in any way?

 

Do you try to renegotiate the price to what you think it's worth?

 

Do you simply refuse the piece and decline the purchase due to dissatisfaction in the quality?

 

Personally, I've handled it, maybe the wrong way, which is to "say nothing" (but a kind "thank you"), make payment and chalk it up as an experience. I'm finding with the higher prices go for commissions, it's a harder pill to swollow when you're disappointed.

 

I sort of used to see it like when dining at a restaurant - where I don't think I've ever sent food back nor refused to pay for a meal no matter how bad it was (on the other hand, a restaurant has offered compensation proactively for customer satisfaction, which I've accepted before) - usually after a bad experience, I simply choose not to support that restaurant anymore. - - but now I'm feeling I'm sometimes paying for Kobe Beef and getting Hamburger instead.

 

I wonder, from the artist's perspective what their views are on fans who provide negative feedback on commissions?

 

Also, the flip side to where fans complain about artists who hold their money and don't do their commissions - - have artists done commissions for fans who either refuse to pay (for whatever circumstance) or end up being out of communication (falling off the face of the earth), as deadbeat customers?

 

 

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Rick,

 

So many questions and so much good stuff here! I am hardly the most experienced collector on these boards, nor the most knowledgeable...but at the same time, I've always hoped that someday there would be a consolidated place at which people could get answers to the types of questions you've asked, so I feel I'd be doing the community a major disservice if I didn't answer. My experience or relative knowledge notwithstanding. :)

 

So here goes!

 

Which artists step up to the plate and hit 'em outta the ballpark with masterpieces?

 

Aside of the master (Adam Hughes), I feel that the best convention sketch I've ever gotten was from Stéphane Roux. His work is just incredible and the type of quality he can muster while working in the convention hall is amazing to me. Maybe even more importantly, he's fast and can therefore get to a lot of sketches in a weekend. If you get on Mr. Roux's list, you're unlikely to get the "I couldn't get to your piece...can I work on it at home?" deal.

 

Some other guys that've really hit it on the screws for me have been Buzz, Georges Jeanty, Steve Epting, Joe Pekar, Stuart Sayger, and Terry Moore. I should mention that everybody I've listed is also very affordable, in my opinion.

 

Which artists fall asleep at the wheel, producing lackluster or disappointing pieces?

 

The guy that comes to mind for me immediately is Neal Adams. Considering what he charges, I don't think you get your money's worth, by any stretch. Unless you've got a real nostalgic attachment to his work, I would stay away from him. The only other artist that springs to mind is Bob McLeod. I had an experience with him (he talked on his cell phone the whole time he worked on my piece and did what I thought was substandard work) that left a bad taste in my mouth, for sure.

 

How much certain artists charge? It seems like the norm now is $100 for lesser known artists; then $200-500 for better known artists; and then $1,000-$3,000 for the top artists.

 

I could spend a substantial amount of time on this question, so I'll just list ten random guys (and gals) that come to mind in the interest of conserving space. Besides, I figure people will come behind me and add to the list accordingly.

 

Kevin Maguire: $100 (headsketch, inked);

Phil Jimenez: Free (headsketch, inked);

Terry Moore: $150 (full body with minor background, pencil);

Mark Brooks: $300 (full body, greytone marker);

Ethan Van Sciver: $200 (full body, inked, some greytone marker);

Jason Pearson: $500 [!] (full body, greytone marker);

Art Baltazar: $1 [!] (full body, crayon);

Comfort Love & Adam Withers: $60 (full body, greytone marker);

Cat Staggs: $200 (full body, greytone marker);

Steve Epting: $250 (torso [though his idea of "torso" is more like full body to me], inked with some greytone marker).

 

Who takes cash in advance, but doesn't deliver (or people are put on the eternal "waiting list")? How long is the longest anyone has waited (or are still waiting) for a commission they pre-paid for? What happens if the artist passes away before the piece is done and it's been paid for?

 

I have been very fortunate, I think, in this regard. The longest I've ever waited for a piece that I pre-paid for was from Tommy Castillo (I waited a little over a year). I'm currently waiting for two years on three pieces from Alex Owens...but those aren't convention pieces and so are out of the scope of this question. And right now, I'm on Bill Sienkiewicz's list...so I'm quite prepared to break my personal record with respect to that one. ;)

 

As far as the artist passing away...I've always wondered about that one, myself. I have no experience with that, so I can't answer personally...but would be very interested to hear from collectors who've been in such a situation.

 

Do people like "head" vs "head to bust/shoulders" vs "full figure" vs "full figure interactive with backgrounds" vs "multiple characters" vs "cover recreations" ?

 

Generally speaking, I try and get the most "fully realized" pieces I can from any given artist. The way I see it: If i like an artist enough to get something from them--I want to get the best example of their style that I can. That means, for me, I'll always try and go full body and color, if the option is available to me. If not, I'll go for as close to that ideal as is possible.

 

The art I collect tends to be of a "pin-up" style, so I don't go for cover recreations. I might go multiple characters, if the option is available, but considering that I also like to go full body...I usually stick to single character pieces. My pockets just aren't deep enough to do both most of the time...not to mention I notice that most artists don't like to undertake such involved pieces at shows.

 

What do some people think about some artists who refuse to do quick sketches and sign their name to essentially artwork that is not representitive of their style and best efforts? I sort of agree with this, in that I know a lot of artists who don't want mediocre efforts in the marketplace whether for sale/resale or just viewing (especially in the internet age and with sites like CAF). Also, as a fan, I'd speculate a doodle with an autograph isn't really satisfactory for a collection and not representitive of that artists best work, so in one sense it's a nice gesture to get something, but in another, I can see where both sides (artist and fan) could be better off either waiting for a fully rendered commission or abstaining from having mediocre work churned out.

 

I agree with that point of view completely. I know, if I were in their shoes, that would be my personal approach. In fact, I was just on the phone with David Williams tonight (a super all-around guy, by the way), and he told me he's no longer doing con sketches for that very reason: He simply doesn't feel he can put forth his best effort while working in the Con hall, so he'd rather not do anything at all rather than risk letting somebody down with a sub-par job. I doubt he's the only artist out there that feels like that.

 

How long does the typical artist take to do commissions at the shows? In-person, is it roughly 20 mins per sketch/commission? At any given show, is any artist able to do about only 3 pieces?

 

This is tough to answer. The rate at which most artists work varies so much that I just can't say. Additionally, at a show, I'm running around the Con hall so much trying to get to the heads of various artists' list that I rarely have time to stand there and watch them work (not to mention that I feel kind of self-conscious doing so). That said, I think that three pieces a show is about par for the course for the bigger names. But there are aberrations. I know that at this year's Heroes Con, Steve Epting knocked out about twenty-five over the weekend. Comfort Love & Adam Withers were each in the mid-teens, too. I think Rebekah Isaacs did about fifteen, too...and that doesn't count all the pieces she did for charity, either.

 

What's the best and most fair method you've seen artists handle their commission policies? I know with recent "flipping" incidents, some artists are wary of doing anything for cheap or free as well as if they have a limited amount of time, trying to ensure the artwork goes directly into the hands of the fans rather than into the hands of essentially a dealer who will profiteer.

 

There is no good answer to this question. I know a lot of people like a "lottery" system, but the truth is, "flippers" can get into the lottery just as easily as anybody else. So that system's effectiveness is questionable to me. So really, at the end of the day, I think "first come, first serve" is still the best.

 

Eric Basaldua is doing something interesting these days: You have to prove to him that you're not a "flipper". You can do this by showing him your CAF gallery at a show or your art portfolio (or he just might know you personally). That freezes out a lot of collectors without access to a smartphone or who just don't like carrying their portfolio, but I think it's proving effective at locking out art profiteers.

 

What do people think of those who "flip" pieces on eBay? Do you feel, if a person paid the time and efforts (traveling, waiting, and paying for it) and owns the piece, he or she should be able to sell it without being cruified by a hostle art community or the artist? Do artists care themselves?

 

I'm of two minds on this. I really believe in the freedom of somebody who's purchased something to do as they wish with it. Plus, I can relate to people who undergo financial hardship for any number of reasons or simply become disenchanted with a piece in their collection. Who's to say WHY somebody sells something in their collection? At some level, it should be their right to do with their property as they wish.

 

That said, the impact that "flippers" have on our hobby is undeniable. One needs look no further than the Adam Hughes situation for proof of that. Those collectors who want a piece from him--probably undeniably the king of the convention sketch--now face having to lay down $3,000+...all because of such practices. That fundamentally bothers me just as much as removing the above freedoms from collectors to do what they wish with their artwork.

 

In the end, I hate "flippers" for purely selfish reasons: They make it harder for me to get the pieces I want to get at shows. Because of them, I'm forced to jump through hoops that I wouldn't otherwise face. But I also understand it's hardly such a cut and dry equation.

 

Do artists care themselves? Ask Adam Hughes. But on the flip side of that coin, ask Ethan Van Sciver...who told me the other day point-blank that he couldn't care less. I'd say that there's two distinct camps of opinion on this and that the split is about 50/50.

 

I personally think that to stop that type of profiteering, maybe artists who care about that aspect of the business should:

 

1) Personalize all commissions with the "fan's" name on the actual piece. I'd assume those who try to resell will have a harder time selling a piece with a person's name not of their own.

 

I've always been a huge proponent of this practice. But that said, let's consider this: I die tomorrow. I'm the primary breadwinner for my family. My collection is a major asset to my wife when it comes to keeping our house and finances running smoothly in my absence. She tries to sell my Adam Hughes with my name on it...and can only sell it for a fraction of its value because of that personalization. Again, the answer's not so cut and dry.

 

2) Take a photo (and with cell phones it's easy with today's technology) of the piece and the commissioner (person buying the commission), so if anything odd happens with the piece, they can treat it the way some stores do with "bounced checks" and have a point of reference to who's done what

 

Is it realistic to expect an artist to run your face through a "virtual library" to check you out? Consider the length of some artists' lines. Could Darwyn Cooke really do this without spending have the show flipping through a three-ring binder? This is a good idea...but it might be ultimately unfeasible.

 

3) Take a list and cherry pick what they feel like doing, rather than the 1st come 1st served style of sequentially doing commissions from a list in chronological order. I think this enables the artist to pick what they feel like drawing and ultimately also selecting who gets what, so eliminating those who are suspicious or rude. I know Adam Hughes used to do that and I always felt that was the most fair system out there.

 

Another good idea, but I'm forced to play Devil's Advocate again. Let's suppose I'm a huge Rick Leonardi fan. I show up at MegaGigaCon at four in the morning to ensure I'm the first guy in the convention hall, knowing he does one show a year and I REALLY don't want to miss him. I'm also the fan of some fringe character (we'll say, Malice) and am really looking forward to getting him to do a piece with her in it. The doors open--I sprint over to his table and am lucky enough to be first in his line.

 

I request Malice, he nods, smiles, and writes her name down. The next guy in line requests Spider Man 2099. Somewhere in the middle of the line, somebody asks for Cloak & Dagger. At the very end of the line, a dude asks for Nightwing before he shuts the queue down. Leonardi is well-known for those three characters and so, he decides to do those to the exclusion of the MEGA-fan's Malice (which, in my experience, is more common than not). I walk away from the show heartbroken, wondering what more I could've done.

 

How fair, I ask, is that?

 

4) Auction (via eBay or using a "silent auction" technique at the show with a piece of paper the 1st day and allowing fans to write down how high they're willing to pay for a piece, then after the 1st 2 hrs of the show has elapsed, pick the winner or winners) off at least one slot (or more), not all slots (since that would then put economics into the mix, and only the wealthy can afford commissions and the art may not be going into the hands of some of the fans who are less fortunate). This enables the artist to maximize revenue, establish rates (by the laws of supply and demand), as well as for that one (or those one or two or so) fan who has deep pockets, to be guaranteed something and it becomes "win / win" for the artist (who gets the money) and the fan (who gets the art without having to wait in lines or go through the random uncertainty of getting on a list). I know a lot of artists are selling their "guaranteed sketch/commission" via eBay before most major conventions and sometimes those command final bid prices in the $3,000 range.

 

Great idea...in theory. Here's the holes:

 

George Perez uses a live lottery system and I watched it in practice at this year's Pittsburgh show. I was very close to the lottery box, while I was waiting in line for Phil Jimenez and here's how it played out: Most fans bought from one to ten tickets. Some bought twenty. Who do you think was the guy that bought ONE HUNDRED? That's right: A dealer. He could afford to, because--for the most part--the dealers are the ones in this hobby with the deepest of deep pockets. Guess who won a slot in the auction?

 

This goes for Adam Hughes, as well. His system is actually the worst, in my opinion, for everybody but Adam Hughes. Not only is he freezing out 99% of his fanbase with the prices of his commissions on eBay...but it really does nothing to prevent "flippers" from winning his auctions. In fact, as I pointed out above--it might even encourage it, to some degree.

 

So I'm against the lottery system, by and large.

 

WHAT'S THE BEST PROCESS RECOMMENDED TO GET COMMISSIONS FROM ARTISTS?

 

I'm hearing, it's sometimes good to contact the artists in advanced directly or through their reps ahead of the conventions they appear at, then you're able to potentially pick-up the piece at the convention (and sometimes the "at-home" commissions are of greater quality too!)

 

Whenever possible, this is what I do. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. More and more, I'm seeing that artists would prefer you to get in line at the show so as to be more fair to their fans. When it works, though, as you say, you tend to get better art.

 

I know with San Diego Comic Con and other shows, people often line up hours before the show opens, then once it opens, they run straight to the artists table and squat in the line to get on the list.

 

Some are fortunate enough to get dealers/exhibitor passes or press passes to circumvent the waiting and are already inside before the show opens, and that's why sometimes 10 minutes into a convention opening, lists are already filled up.

 

This is true, with regard to the dealer passes...but more often than not, most artists--not being the punctual types--don't show up until a few minutes after the hall doors open anyway, so this practice is kind of hindered. For example, at Heroes Con this year, the only guy whose list was jammed the instant the doors opened was Cliff Chiang (at least, out of the artists I made contact with).

 

With respect to the fans that run into the show and get into the head of artist's lines...I think they should be the ones the artists are paying attention to. From where I sit, a guy who's set in line for four hours before the show doors open and done everything he can to get to the head of my line has earned my attention. Plus, remember...if they're camped out in a given line, they can't be simultaneously in another artist's line ("wingmen" notwithstanding). And as they say, there's more than one fish in the sea. :)

 

Do people have any recommendations for getting penciled artwork inked by any certain inkers? What are the typical rates? I've seen inking rates higher than the actual pencilers at some shows.

 

I have no experience with this at all. I'd be horrified to let an inker touch an original piece that I like. Blueline? Sure. Original? No way.

 

Do people sometimes like to get their artwork colored, hand colored or digitial coloring by colorist artists?

 

I've never done this, but I've been intrigued by it. I'd like to hear other people's opinions on this.

 

What do you do when you receive a commission that is disappointing that you feel you've either overpaid for or were overcharged for?

 

Do you ask for it to be redone or modified? - I've done that when an artist provided a preliminary layout (which by the way, I think is a nice process - - but on a separate note, find it sort of lame when an artist trys to milk more money from a fan by offering to sell them the prelim/layout piece instead of just including it for free with the commission)

 

I have had to ask an artist to redo a piece exactly once. It was an eBay commission that I got from Hoa Phong. Simply put, his sample pieces that were put up as representative of the type of piece one would get when winning his auction was nowhere close to what he tried to give me. I was very honest with him that I felt like he rushed the piece and I encouraged him to start over and take his time. Quite frankly, the piece he eventually gave me wasn't very good either...but it was a whole lot better than the piece of [censored] he tried to give me in the first place.

 

Do you express your disappointment to the artist in any way?

 

Do you try to renegotiate the price to what you think it's worth?

 

Do you simply refuse the piece and decline the purchase due to dissatisfaction in the quality?

 

Personally, I've handled it, maybe the wrong way, which is to "say nothing" (but a kind "thank you"), make payment and chalk it up as an experience. I'm finding with the higher prices go for commissions, it's a harder pill to swollow when you're disappointed.

 

Like you say, it may be the wrong way to handle things, but I say nothing at all. But I'm sure to tell my friends that collect art to stay away from said artist. In that respect, I try to let the product they give me shape people's opinions of dealing with that given artist: For good and for bad. Do a great piece for me and I'll sing your praises to anybody that'll listen to me. Do a bad piece for me...and, well, I'll do the same. ;)

 

I wonder, from the artist's perspective what their views are on fans who provide negative feedback on commissions?

 

I'm sure they see those fans as ungrateful sods.

 

Also, the flip side to where fans complain about artists who hold their money and don't do their commissions - - have artists done commissions for fans who either refuse to pay (for whatever circumstance) or end up being out of communication (falling off the face of the earth), as deadbeat customers?

 

This happens. I've seen it happen personally when talking to artist friends of mine. Usually, they're not too upset about it unless it was a REALLY unusual request; they know they can just put it up on eBay and at least recoup SOME of their loss.

 

Whew! This may be the longest post I've ever written on any board I've ever been on. If you're at this point, I'd like to thank you for caring enough about my opinion to stick with me. Hopefully, it helps somebody and doesn't expose me as being too ignorant/naive about our hobby. In closing, I'll ask myself one question that Rick never asked that I think is important:

 

What artist out there gives you the most for your money?

 

My top three:

1. Comfort Love & Adam Withers;

2. Rebekah Isaacs;

3. Joe Pekar.

 

Great thread, Rick! Thanks for starting it!!! :D

 

 

casl

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This thread reminded me why I stopped going to cons and stopped chasing sketches/commissions. Too much headache and competition! That and artists' egos just seemed to get worse and worse.

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Ankur,

 

There's no doubt that there's a lot of that going on. But, by the same token, there is a certain attractiveness to the challenge involved. I suppose my love of the art just outweighs the hassles involved. Plus, I've gotten to meet some great people through my brand of the hobby...so all in all, it's been more of a good experience than a bad one, at least in my case. :)

 

 

casl

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Very true. What got me was artists giving a turnaround time if months and taking years. Or just disappearing altogether and stopping all correspondence.

 

My best con experience was with Brian Stelfreeze who was very gracious. My worst con experience was with Arthur Sudyam. I know I wasn't alone in regards to Sudyam.

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Ankur,

 

Unfortunately, what you describe with respect to "deadbeat creators" happens all too frequently. It's a shame, too...because just as "flippers" tend to ruin the hobby for all collectors, the deadbeats ruin it for all the artists. Because of some of the poor experiences you've had, for example, there are a lot of really good and honest artists out there that will never have the chance to create something wonderful for you (and be well paid for it, of course).

 

I can't agree with you more about Mr. Stelfreeze. At this year's Heroes Con, I was lucky enough to get to have dinner with him. It was the first time I'd ever met him and he was kind, insightful, and very engaging. As for Mr. Sudyam, I've never even spoken to him before...but that's frankly by design. You're right: You're not the only one to have a bad experience with him...and if nothing else, word travels fast in this very small community of ours. Some collectors I respect warned me away from him--and it seems like that was good advice. :(

 

As for my own good and bad experiences...I've had so many good ones that it's tough just to pick a few. Stéphane Roux was incredibly gracious to me. Rebekah Isaacs is a wonderful person as well as a great artist. Listening to Rick Leonardi speak while he worked on my art was like listening to a professor of comics giving a dissertation. Gene Gonzales is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. If I had to pick just one, though, it would be with (future superstars) Comfort Love & Adam Withers. They're SO genuinely nice...so full of energy and passion for what they do...that it simply stuns me every time I see them. Just a wonderful experience, getting to know them! :D

 

 

Your friend,

 

casl

 

P.S.--> I know nothing at all about coins, but I followed the link in your signature and feel compelled to tell you that you've some beautiful examples in your collection! Even a guy like me who's ignorant as to what such things are worth can definitely appreciate them...and that's probably saying something!

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Great thread . . . so many topics.

 

I started getting an interest in both OA and convention sketches about 3-4 years ago. At that time, CGC just started their certified sketch series. So, I went crazy getting sketches, unfortunately, many I love, many I regret getting. But, with so many, I have formed my own opinions to answer some of your questions.

 

First, I find that at conventions, most artists are friendly and take the time to answer questions and discuss their work. Top of mind are: Terry Moore, Whilce Portacio, Stan Sakai, Herb Trimpe, Brian Stelfreeze, Francis Manapul, many others.

 

I got a Wolverine from Ron Garney. I wasn't specific, and he came back with an old man version. At first, I was disappointed. I said thank you to Ron and walked away without really saying anything else. Now, it has grown on me and I really like it.

 

Quickies vs take your time: I would much rather have an artist do fewer homeruns at a show rather than many quickies. I think this opinion was solidified in San Diego last week. I had tried for years to get a nice convention commission from Adam Hughes, but I was never successful. I went to his booth first thing Thursday morning and managed to get a quickie of Wonder Woman based on his new policy. It in no way represents him. I don't regret getting it, but I don't feel it is special.

 

Exception to the quickie sketch rule: Sergio Aragones

 

I have had a little success contacting an artist prior to an event to prearrange a sketch. The best experience here is Thom Zahler. He finished the piece, on my comic backing board that I mailed to him, before the show. He also gave me a color printout of the piece after he digitally colored it.

 

I don't like personalization as I think it distracts from the art. And, the art may hang in one of 3 kids rooms as well as my space.

 

Prices quotes above seem right on. There are cheaper, but I agree, go with the best the artist offers. In San Diego, I can remember the following (I don't keep good records):

 

Jeff Smith: $0 (quickie sketch)

Jerry Robinson: $100 (Batman head sketch)

Oliver Nome: $40 (full figure inked Kid Flash)

Adam Hughes ($20 (donation to their dog fund for quick marker of WW)

Jamal Ingle: $100 (mostly full figure inked Flash)

Greg Schigiel: $?? (drawing a blank, full figure Flash)

Art Baltazar: $0 (crayon sketch, I begged for him to sell a cover, but he's keeping them)

 

Albuquerque I got the following:

 

Michael Golden: $200

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Ethan van Sciver $200

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Jill Thompson: $100

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113106.jpeg

 

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I'll try to answer as many of these as I can. Keep in mind 95% of what I ask for is Vampirella. Only on a rare occassion have I asked for anything else.

 

Does anyone want to share their experiences with getting commissions from artists?

 

Which artists step up to the plate and hit 'em outta the ballpark with masterpieces?

Tony DeZuniga every time! Anyone that hasn't gotten Tony to do something is cheating themselves as you won't get better quality for the price. Look at this Red Sonja done in less than 45 minutes:

 

70f5fd90.jpg

 

When Tony came to Dallas we couldn't stop throwing money at him and every piece was better than the next.

 

Another over-achiever is someone that I took for granted for many years because I see him 2-3 times a year and that's Kerry Gammil. For $20-30 you get this:

 

http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryPiece.asp?Piece=546945&GSub=50689

Kenneth Rocafort comes to mind also. You're going to get an outstanding piece for little to no money.

 

Which artists fall asleep at the wheel, producing lackluster or disappointing pieces?

 

I've been disappointed on a couple occassions but I consider it a learning experience more than anything. I won't name names but it's not hard to find the lackluster pieces in my CAF gallery.

 

How much certain artists charge? It seems like the norm now is $100 for lesser known artists; then $200-500 for better known artists; and then $1,000-$3,000 for the top artists.

Only on two occassions have I paid more than $200. Mark Brooks and Mark Texeria. At least that's all I can remember. My Texeria piece is actually a "combo" style piece. Pencils were done first years ago and then watercolored this year.

 

Who takes cash in advance, but doesn't deliver (or people are put on the eternal "waiting list")? How long is the longest anyone has waited (or are still waiting) for a commission they pre-paid for? What happens if the artist passes away before the piece is done and it's been paid for?

Very very rarely do I pay in advance for anyone if I don't have to. There's always a few that ask you to though but many times I haven't. I waited about 9 months for Mitch Breitwiser and was very pleased with the piece.

 

Do people like "head" vs "head to bust/shoulders" vs "full figure" vs "full figure interactive with backgrounds" vs "multiple characters" vs "cover recreations" ?

I've gotten to the point where I actually ask people to consider something dynamic over a static "just standing there" pose. When you have 70+ sketch/commissions of the same character you want variety.

 

What do some people think about some artists who refuse to do quick sketches and sign their name to essentially artwork that is not representitive of their style and best efforts? I sort of agree with this, in that I know a lot of artists who don't want mediocre efforts in the marketplace whether for sale/resale or just viewing (especially in the internet age and with sites like CAF). Also, as a fan, I'd speculate a doodle with an autograph isn't really satisfactory for a collection and not representitive of that artists best work, so in one sense it's a nice gesture to get something, but in another, I can see where both sides (artist and fan) could be better off either waiting for a fully rendered commission or abstaining from having mediocre work churned out.

No comment

 

How long does the typical artist take to do commissions at the shows? In-person, is it roughly 20 mins per sketch/commission? At any given show, is any artist able to do about only 3 pieces?

Mark Brooks rarely gets more than 2-3 done at any show no matter how many days it is. Eric Basaldua is horribly slow also but it's because he's so friendly and chatty. I don't have many "20 minute" jobs.

 

What's the best and most fair method you've seen artists handle their commission policies? I know with recent "flipping" incidents, some artists are wary of doing anything for cheap or free as well as if they have a limited amount of time, trying to ensure the artwork goes directly into the hands of the fans rather than into the hands of essentially a dealer who will profiteer.

I have mixed feelings about this. I can understand it from all perspectives. Nature of the beast really. Adam Hughes will reach a point where he's not popular as hard as that may be to believe. I think some artists are turning off their real fans by some of their odd policies as well.

 

What do people think of those who "flip" pieces on eBay? Do you feel, if a person paid the time and efforts (traveling, waiting, and paying for it) and owns the piece, he or she should be able to sell it without being cruified by a hostle art community or the artist? Do artists care themselves?

Here again, nature of the beast. Does it in the sandbox for everyone else? Sure it does, but greed is greed and someone is always going to be raping someone else in terms of profit.

 

I personally think that to stop that type of profiteering, maybe artists who care about that aspect of the business should:

 

1) Personalize all commissions with the "fan's" name on the actual piece. I'd assume those who try to resell will have a harder time selling a piece with a person's name not of their own.

 

I often ask artist to personalize what they've done for me.

 

2) Take a photo (and with cell phones it's easy with today's technology) of the piece and the commissioner (person buying the commission), so if anything odd happens with the piece, they can treat it the way some stores do with "bounced checks" and have a point of reference to who's done what

 

Would never work.

 

3) Take a list and cherry pick what they feel like doing, rather than the 1st come 1st served style of sequentially doing commissions from a list in chronological order. I think this enables the artist to pick what they feel like drawing and ultimately also selecting who gets what, so eliminating those who are suspicious or rude. I know Adam Hughes used to do that and I always felt that was the most fair system out there.

Mark Brooks has been doing this for several years also. Typically it's a "who you know" situation and anyone losely connected to an artist through friends is always going to come out first. Building relationships with artists is probably my biggest recommendation instead of simply treating them like servants.

 

4) Auction (via eBay or using a "silent auction" technique at the show with a piece of paper the 1st day and allowing fans to write down how high they're willing to pay for a piece, then after the 1st 2 hrs of the show has elapsed, pick the winner or winners) off at least one slot (or more), not all slots (since that would then put economics into the mix, and only the wealthy can afford commissions and the art may not be going into the hands of some of the fans who are less fortunate). This enables the artist to maximize revenue, establish rates (by the laws of supply and demand), as well as for that one (or those one or two or so) fan who has deep pockets, to be guaranteed something and it becomes "win / win" for the artist (who gets the money) and the fan (who gets the art without having to wait in lines or go through the random uncertainty of getting on a list). I know a lot of artists are selling their "guaranteed sketch/commission" via eBay before most major conventions and sometimes those command final bid prices in the $3,000 range.

I don't agree with this practice at all. I know it's common for about 2 artists, but I believe it artifically creates value with a perceived inflated price. There are a small handful of collectors that are capable of buying every one of these opportunities when they come up. We know who they are.

 

 

WHAT'S THE BEST PROCESS RECOMMENDED TO GET COMMISSIONS FROM ARTISTS?

 

I'm hearing, it's sometimes good to contact the artists in advanced directly or through their reps ahead of the conventions they appear at, then you're able to potentially pick-up the piece at the convention (and sometimes the "at-home" commissions are of greater quality too!)

 

I have done this both successfully and unsuccessfully. Depends on the artist.

 

I know with San Diego Comic Con and other shows, people often line up hours before the show opens, then once it opens, they run straight to the artists table and squat in the line to get on the list.

 

More and more artists are requiring that you actually be there to get the commission. Next person in line is the next person to get one. That is the most fair practice IMO.

 

Some are fortunate enough to get dealers/exhibitor passes or press passes to circumvent the waiting and are already inside before the show opens, and that's why sometimes 10 minutes into a convention opening, lists are already filled up.

Don't try this with Adam or you'll feel the wrath of Allison. Other artists, most of them don't seem to care or will politely tell you that they are still setting up and can't make a "list" yet. This is another situation where getting to know these people helps 100-fold.

 

Do people have any recommendations for getting penciled artwork inked by any certain inkers? What are the typical rates? I've seen inking rates higher than the actual pencilers at some shows.

I have done this recently but only for an artist combination of someone who actually worked together. To be fair to the original artist I will ask them what they think of me having so and so ink a piece. You'll know what you should do if you do that... blue line copy versus original pencils.

 

Do people sometimes like to get their artwork colored, hand colored or digitial coloring by colorist artists?

 

I've done this also with mixed results. I had Texeria watercolor his original pencils with beautiful results. He was just as tickled a I was:

 

http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryPiece.asp?Piece=771985&GSub=50689

 

Would I have someone color an original that wasn't theirs? I highly doubt it.

 

I thought this would be a good thread to share experiences, stories and knowledge with each other in the pursuit of these custom commissions comic art fans collect.

 

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that Red Sonja piece is fantastic

 

Thank you, it's a tad blurred because I didn't have my large format scanner at the time and I pasted two images together.

 

Saw Tony and Tina again at SDCC this year and Tina instantly remembered my first name and the Red Sonjas that Tony had done for me. (I had 3 done and the 3rd one went to Richard Evans)

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Does anyone want to share their experiences with getting commissions from artists?

 

Which artists step up to the plate and hit 'em outta the ballpark with masterpieces?

For commissions:

Ed Barreto is one of the best at commissions, he had been very sick about a year back but has recovered. He did my favorite commission. I know he has done commission for others. Very reasonable pro ices. cover retains for $500 to $750.

Jim Silke, he is fast and does great work. His color pieces start at $2000 but well worth it.

John Byrne - while many don't like his opinions and ego you can't fault him on his work ethic. His commission list is always full but he gets thru them very fast and goes some good work. His inking to me can sometimes be a bit weak.

Chris Sprouse ($350)- Another fast commissioner. easy to work with.

Mark Heike ($100 full figure inked) - HE has been working for AC Comics for years. I have commissioned him twice, very fast, does a great job and very

Doug Sneyd - If you read playboy then you have seen his work in every issue. He is doing $500 single figures.

Mike Mckone (???) - Mike has been getting into inking and watercolor. He turned out some killer pieces before SD Con. One was a Starfire for me.

 

Con Drawings

One I just got from San Diego con - Jim Calafiore ($100), he did a fantastic job with a Metal Men iPod idea

Terry Dodson ($200) is at the top of my list when it comes to con drains his MJ iPod is one of my favorites

Dean Yeagle (was $100 not sure of the price now always) does great pieces

Joe Linsner ($175 BW figure) - Is also one who puts out some nice pieces at cons

Bob Mcleod ($125 full figure inked)

Rich Buckler ($125 pencils full figure) - He did a Starfire for me at NYCC, which he didn't know what an iPod was he did a great job incorporating it

Alex Saviuk ($100 full figure pencils) -

Tony Dezuniga - he is the tops when it comes to con pieces fast and very good

Paul Smith ($200) - hasn't seen him at a con in a while but always see nice pieces by him. he did a great Jean Grey iPod

Tim Vigil ($125 inked figure) - I have gotten two pieces from him over the years. More risky but very good

 

 

Which artists fall asleep at the wheel, producing lackluster or disappointing pieces?

I tend to be very picky on whom I choose to get con drawings from. I look at what they have done before. I hav't had a bad con drawing experience.

 

How much certain artists charge? It seems like the norm now is $100 for lesser known artists; then $200-500 for better known artists; and then $1,000-$3,000 for the top artists.

Most con drawings I go after range from $100-$200. I am not really into the new hot artists. I tend to choose artists I know and remember reading the comics the drew. But there are exceptions.

 

Who takes cash in advance, but doesn't deliver (or people are put on the eternal "waiting list")? How long is the longest anyone has waited (or are still waiting) for a commission they pre-paid for? What happens if the artist passes away before the piece is done and it's been paid for?

 

Do people like "head" vs "head to bust/shoulders" vs "full figure" vs "full figure interactive with backgrounds" vs "multiple characters" vs "cover recreations" ?

Head shots do nothing for me. I prefer full figure. Most times with my iPod theme its just a single figure for con drawings. For commissions it depends on the subject. For my Barreto piece it was very complicated covering a number of things.

 

Do people have any recommendations for getting penciled artwork inked by any certain inkers? What are the typical rates? I've seen inking rates higher than the actual pencilers at some shows.

If I get a penciled piece inked I will blue line it (make a copy and print it in a light blue) I like having both pencils and inks. Both have their strengths

 

Do people sometimes like to get their artwork colored, hand colored or digitial coloring by colorist artists?

No

 

 

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Sad news but San Diego Con was Tony's last. He is retiring and moving to the Philippines.

 

Glad I was able to get his autograph then of Black Orchid's first appearance in Adventure Comics.

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I've heard some collectors are also "tipping" artists for commission work, so if the baseline is met, then they pay the asking agreed upon rate, but if it's hit outta the ballpark, they insist on paying the artist a little extra money.

 

This is probably done strategically as motivation for getting future work and to get some sort of a preferred customer status.

 

I guess to that degree, it's no different than any other service industry such as at a restaurant, bar, strip club, hair salon, vallet, etc. where tips are given based on appreciation for services rendered as a bonus gift, for a job perceivably well done.

 

In a way, I can see if that became an industry norm, not expected, but rather earned and part of the etiquette of a relationship, it might motivate and inspire artists to outperform the standards in hopes of that reward of appreciation.

 

Any thoughts to this?

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Just the other day I tipped an artist whose work went beyond what I had expected. The artwork that I received was, to me, an exceptional piece, and when I picked it up and paid for it, I decided to give him and extra $10 for his work. The only reason I did that was because I was really blown away with the job he did on my art, and I felt he deserved a little bit extra for it.

 

Does that give me some sort of preferred status? I doubt it. Did I do it for some sort of reward? No, I did it because I simply was floored by the quality of the piece. I've only tipped one artist before (and never on a mail commission) and it was for the same reason, because I was blown away by the art. My normal thanks is letting others know of the job they did for me, and keeping them in mind for the next time I want a piece done.

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