Commission Problems
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36 posts in this topic

Hi all,

At the last SDCC in Nov, I commissioned a fairly well known artist at his booth.  He said it would be done by the end of the show.  At the last day of the show he said he would like to mail it to me because it wasn't ready yet.  I agreed.  I've traded a few texts with him where he said he would get to it soon.  Last week I texted him and said I was just checking in and I am also ok with a refund.  He has not responded.

At the last Wondercon in April, I commissioned a fairly well known artist by email ahead of time.  I gave her three options to draw and she agreed.  At the last day of the show she said she would like to mail it to me and will get it out by the end of this month.  I traded a few emails and then heard nothing.  I saw that she was offering commissions at the next con she was going to.  I emailed last week that I was just checking in and I was ok with a refund.  Her agent or person who was involved in the transaction said for me to hold my horses because she they are lining up commissions for this next show and nothing was agreed upon regarding the date.  I screenshot the email that he had got when she said she would get it out by the end of this month.  

I suppose maybe I'm just more tired than mad about all of this.  A few years ago I waited a few years for a Bill S commission that he did great on by the way.  After covid and the way the world is right now, if I don't do something right away for my job or treat someone without less than perfect communication, there are bad consequences.  I guess when I see this now I am less than thrilled and it sucks the joy out of the comic art.  I suspect both of these artists are reputable and you would know them.  I don't really want to go on the Facebook site Art Buyers Beware or something like that.  Maybe I'm just venting writing this.  I'm not sure what to really do.  What are your thoughts in the community?

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I feel your pain.

I am thinking not to commission anyone at the big conventions. I was supposed to get something by last Christmas from one artist. The latest promise is early June. He did do an outstanding preliminary, by the way.

And, always check that Facebook topic in advance. Too many bad actors. 

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I am by no means an expert in the commission game but I hear of this situation often. I myself am currently waiting a year and a half to receive my commission. I'm not really sure why artists do this. Is it truly the fact that they have no time or are they purely just slacking off? 

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not to be mean, but you will see regular advice to NEVER give payment in advance.

Many years ago I would email Rich at comic book resources (it was called something else perhaps then, but I digress) and he would contact the artist and they would see the value in refunding. He never ran a story about them but it worked twice.

to specifically address your examples, I would follow up with the Wondercon rep and again ask for a refund. (Beware you have entered the "patience is a virue" territory though.) Just be clear and firm and brief, if they have a line of paid commissions it should be no problem to refund. Thank you and you will continue to support the artist, but please address quickly. Then follow up again in a few days and warn that you will post publicly if not addressed immediately. You can be firm and follow through or do nothing, I wouldn't huff and puff without being willing to blow the house down.

the other one is tougher, maybe I would ask for a date or offer a date and say a refund would be needed after that date.

I had my joy sucked out of the art by a few artists. Oh well, there are more artists out there.

I do hope you consider the money those artists are taking for those shows while knowing they more likely than not will not deliver. Get your money and then out them, they may not be stealing but it is not honorable.

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On 5/24/2022 at 7:27 PM, New School Fool said:

I am by no means an expert in the commission game but I hear of this situation often. I myself am currently waiting a year and a half to receive my commission. I'm not really sure why artists do this. Is it truly the fact that they have no time or are they purely just slacking off? 

A cynical man would say they only care for themselves, not you or their promises. A very cynical man might use the word sociopath. A generous man may say they are just overestimating their TAT and mean no harm. A fan might say you are lucky to even be on the list. You can choose one of those or make your own but the the older I get the more I see thieves who rationalize what they are doing as something other than a confidence game.

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Me... I rarely commission artists these days... to avoid all the hassles described above and (probably) later in this topic.

In the end, it's a risk / reward calculation.  When a convention drawing starts at a few hundred dollars, I'm practically bailing out already.  All it takes is one good night of partying at the con and that sketch list could be out the window.

It's a problem if you can't even depend on the artist's rep to keep things on track.  The rep isn't supposed to just collect $$$.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/24/2022 at 8:04 PM, Will_K said:

The rep isn't supposed to just collect $$$.

they are working for the artist, they don't want stress in the relationship so why hold the artist accountable if the artists aren't doing it themselves

I waited for a Bill S myself once, got people involved and he came through lickety split. You have to hold feet to fire unfortunately on some occasions, and the rep in the OP is complicit if the tale is accurate. Even if the rep doesn't know what the artist is saying, once shown proof they should have fallen on the sword and sent the refund immediately. so short-sighted, we generally want to throw money at these artists whose work we admire but because the lines are deep they burn the bridge without care.

Edited by Bird
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Posted (edited)
On 5/24/2022 at 8:14 PM, Bird said:

I waited for a Bill S myself once, got people involved and he came through lickety split.

since this was a nice story I may as well complete it

I paid Bill 50% upfront for a recreation of his Superman 400 pinup. I had had luck with Bill earlier, 50% upfront and he mailed the already drawn piece (Roger Waters) within reason, so I was confident it would go in a similar fashion. But silence. So eventually I made a few public inquiries about how to resolve the situation, on here and comicart-l list likely, and someone contacted me out of the blue. Said he knew Bill and he would look into it. Then I got word my piece was done, not sure from whom, and it would be in the mail and it was. I thanked then person and it turns out he runs a convention somewhere outside the US and was able to talk to Bill about it personally I guess. He came to NYCC the next year and we were able to have a beer so I could thank him personally and properly...maybe two beers each. And I don't really drink (thinking now and cannot recall last one, ooh, I drank two pints of blackberry at a family wedding 2 months ago but was out to dinner tonight and had a cola). I was ready to keep drinking and talking but he wisely said enough was enough and we parted ways. But I had a very nice encounter with a true gentleman that made the wait no issue, and when the piece came I didn't mind that it was black and white and not color. Didn't mind too much I didn't. But meeting the fellow collector was real fun, and I don't socialize too often.

Edited by Bird
I asked Bill, "you lightboxed it right?" "oh yeah"
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Posted (edited)

Several years ago, I commissioned an artist for a Jonah Hex drawing. Just a headshot, not any action or anything, but it was going to be used as the cover to my fanzine, in which I was featuring Jonah Hex. The artist, a good friend of mine, said he would not only do the cover drawing, but he'd also contribute an essay to my fanzine about what he thought about Jonah Hex. I was so excited. The new Jonah Hex series by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray was getting ready to start and I had interviews done with every major creator who'd ever worked on the character. It was going to be a great fanzine, chock full of cool stuff. I had been collecting Jonah Hex headshots from different artists just to get different takes and this artist had offered his services and it was such a cool idea for him to be drawing the cover to my fanzine. He guaranteed me it would be completed in a few weeks and knew that I really needed it within that timeframe in order to get the fanzine printed before JH #1 was released. I went ahead and paid up front. Long story short, four years later, I finally got the commission. By that time, DC had killed the Twomorrows Jonah Hex Companion that I was under contract to create (they liked the idea and the work I'd done on the unpublished fanzine and figured it would be a good companion book so I went that direction) and the movie had been so terrible that I lost all interest in JH and sold off nearly all my Jonah Hex commissions and published art. The artist did keep in contact with me throughout the entire four years. So, fast forward to Summer of 2020 and the artist offered to do a cover recreation for me of the character he was most famous for. He was churning out commissions left and right and agreed that he had taken way too long on the Jonah Hex, so he guaranteed me he would have it finished NO LATER THAN November of that year. This time, though, he only took partial payment. After a year had passed, I messaged him and he told me it would be done shortly and for me to keep onto him to get it done. Unfortunately, he doesn't even answer me now when I ask when it is going to be finished. Maybe before 2024, is my hope.

Edited by Michael Browning
I wasn't really done with the thread.
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Michael Browning, this artist lacks character. Nowhere can I match up “good friend” with this two time unkind, unprofessional back stab behavior. How are you still standing?

Lose this guy and consider naming him publicly.

 

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Commission virgin here, but certainly have put out feelers. Recently contacted an artist who gave me the terms and stated a year turn around. I considered it but didn't want to wait that long. A few days pass and the agent contacts me about the list filling up and wanting to confirm the booking. I told the agent I didn't want to wait a year and would pass. I was then offered to jump the line if I paid an extra fee. Soooo, red flags? Normal?

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On 5/29/2022 at 9:10 PM, cstojano said:

Commission virgin here, but certainly have put out feelers. Recently contacted an artist who gave me the terms and stated a year turn around. I considered it but didn't want to wait that long. A few days pass and the agent contacts me about the list filling up and wanting to confirm the booking. I told the agent I didn't want to wait a year and would pass. I was then offered to jump the line if I paid an extra fee. Soooo, red flags? Normal?

RUN AWAY

Hope that is clear enough

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On 5/29/2022 at 9:10 PM, cstojano said:

Commission virgin here, but certainly have put out feelers. Recently contacted an artist who gave me the terms and stated a year turn around. I considered it but didn't want to wait that long. A few days pass and the agent contacts me about the list filling up and wanting to confirm the booking. I told the agent I didn't want to wait a year and would pass. I was then offered to jump the line if I paid an extra fee. Soooo, red flags? Normal?

do you really want to be on that list?

RUN AWAY is great advice, yes it is red flags. only red flags. anyone with a year turnaround should be no money down, contact when you name comes up next.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/30/2022 at 12:49 AM, Michael Browning said:

Several years ago, I commissioned an artist for a Jonah Hex drawing. Just a headshot, not any action or anything, but it was going to be used as the cover to my fanzine, in which I was featuring Jonah Hex. The artist, a good friend of mine, said he would not only do the cover drawing, but he'd also contribute an essay to my fanzine about what he thought about Jonah Hex. I was so excited. The new Jonah Hex series by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray was getting ready to start and I had interviews done with every major creator who'd ever worked on the character. It was going to be a great fanzine, chock full of cool stuff. I had been collecting Jonah Hex headshots from different artists just to get different takes and this artist had offered his services and it was such a cool idea for him to be drawing the cover to my fanzine. He guaranteed me it would be completed in a few weeks and knew that I really needed it within that timeframe in order to get the fanzine printed before JH #1 was released. I went ahead and paid up front. Long story short, four years later, I finally got the commission. By that time, DC had killed the Twomorrows Jonah Hex Companion that I was under contract to create (they liked the idea and the work I'd done on the unpublished fanzine and figured it would be a good companion book so I went that direction) and the movie had been so terrible that I lost all interest in JH and sold off nearly all my Jonah Hex commissions and published art. The artist did keep in contact with me throughout the entire four years. So, fast forward to Summer of 2020 and the artist offered to do a cover recreation for me of the character he was most famous for. He was churning out commissions left and right and agreed that he had taken way too long on the Jonah Hex, so he guaranteed me he would have it finished NO LATER THAN November of that year. This time, though, he only took partial payment. After a year had passed, I messaged him and he told me it would be done shortly and for me to keep onto him to get it done. Unfortunately, he doesn't even answer me now when I ask when it is going to be finished. Maybe before 2024, is my hope.

Oh no! Damn that must be really annoying! 😰

This is what I mean, the artist knows he messed up with the first commission. So much that he felt guilty to put it right with the second. I mean, they're aware of them messing up. But then only to do it again (when I assume they're actively trying not to....!). Are their schedules just so hectic that they can't avoid it, or are they just so bad at scheduling and forever putting it off to tomorrow? Surely this behaviour can't be intentional right?

Coincidentally, I've just been updated that an artist I requested and paid for a commission that I have been waiting a year and a half for has finally finished it. The artist works digitally so I asked for a traditional recreation of one of their digital covers. This enables me to directly compare the two, and while I'm glad the artist finally finished it after so long, it's obvious they rushed it in the end so left feeling a little bittersweet.

Edited by New School Fool
Sentence construction
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" I have been waiting a year and a half"

"it's obvious they rushed it in the end so left feeling a little bittersweet."

New School Fool that's a very sad outcome. In many ways some of these artists are like small business contractors I came across in my field of business. They take on more work then they can possibly finish on time. They over promise and as a result they don't come close to delivering.

Why do they do this? It's business and if someone offers to pay you than you take the job and money.

A better paying job comes along. That bigger client gets more attention so you get bumped down the list.

Sometimes it's laziness. The artist is paid so their motivation to finish what they were paid for diminishes :(

Sometimes its a lack of integrity.

I had a big commission idea in my head for so long but I probably won't pursue it. I can't believe how many horror stories I'm hearing. I feel like I'd have to be a lawyer' who could bind the artist with an actionable contract should they grossly fail to meet even the basic standards of work completion to my satisfaction.

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On 5/30/2022 at 7:31 AM, grapeape said:

I had a big commission idea in my head for so long but I probably won't pursue it. I can't believe how many horror stories I'm hearing. I feel like I'd have to be a lawyer' who could bind the artist with an actionable contract should they grossly fail to meet even the basic standards of work completion to my satisfaction.

Contracts can be done (including "personal satisfaction" standards in contracts). Collecting a judgment is a different matter.

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