***RUNE Commission // Art by Aimee-Lesley-Sim***
Just got this lovely commission today from a friend of mine, and decided that it was the perfect time to talk about reliable artists. In the last blog (non-highlight-related) I spoke about how to avoid bewares and bans within the fandom…and this expands on this (to an extent) for artists-only.
But, this goes beyond bewares and bans…and basically will just cover how to be a reliable artist and how to keep your customers happy and satisfied so that they keep coming back to you with orders.
So…lets get down to the “Reliable Artist 411”:
- Have examples of your work:
—Any artist wanting to get out there and start taking commissions (selling art for money) needs examples of what they can do. This should be common sense, but I have seen people in the community asking for money in return for something that is a complete mystery because they want to “protect their style”. People will not take kindly to this and will see it as a scam. Besides, if they can not post the artwork afterwards to show it off, most likely, people will not want it anyways. So, make sure you have examples.
Not only just a few examples, but examples of all the different things you might be offering…so if you do chibi characters, have examples. If you do anthro and feral, have examples of each of those. Show the difference between sketch and colored commissions and what they look like. Show off the different species you have drawn. People are particular in what they want because they want to see their character in a style that represents them best.
—Again, common sense.
Yes, over time your prices may lower because they might be too high and the customers are not biting. Same as prices may go up because your quality of work has become better…but, in-between all that, make sure your prices stay consistent. Don’t offer headshots on Facebook for $10 and then do them on FA for $15. Someone is bound to notice. also, changing prices weekly is bound to make people mad when they know they paid more than the last guy and/or they paid more than what you might be offering that week. So, stay as consistent as possible with prices to keep people happy and avoid stupid feuds.
- Never bite off more than you can chew:
—When taking on commissions, it’s easy to get carried away. It’s easy to think that you can take on a lot of orders and finish them quickly…but guess what? Life happens. Artist block happens…THINGS happen. Then what? Suddenly you have this massive list of people expecting art from you and you can not provide it to them. Suddenly you’re getting angry letters wondering why they have not been drawn yet, you have people posting bewares on you thinking that you merely scammed them for money. People will demand refunds, and you will now have a crappy reputation as an artist.
This is why long-term artists often open up ‘slots’, only taking on 3-5 people at a time then taking another 3-5 once those first ones are cleared. Pace yourself…focus on doing a few pieces at a time so that you can get them out in a timely manner and still have them be pieces of quality rather than a rushed mess. I know people can get eager when it comes to money, but, it’s not worth all the mess it can create if you can not deliver what you promised.
- Don’t jump into art expecting to be famous/popular/or in huge demand:
—I’m not saying to not be ambitious…but you have to understand that while art may in be in high demand, people are looking for certain quality art. They are often looking for experienced and trusted artists…and even if your artwork is amazing, someone just joining the art scene will have to work up to having a steady customer base. This means joining art sites and posting your art and figuring out if people are interested. This means setting up reasonable prices based on what you think people might pay for your art and then raising it/lowering it based on the results of sales or lack thereof.
This means joining furry groups, getting your name out there, hosting some events for freebies, and finding ways to advertise your product. People jump right into commissions and think they will be super popular and always be busy doing art, but this is not often the case…then they stop posting examples, stop trying to keep their pages current and stop trying to find a customer base, and, I have even seen people quit art in general just because they were not immediately as popular as you wanted to be.
So, know that this is not an easy road to be an artist…and know that it takes a lot of work, a lot of patience, and a lot of determination.
- Do NOT spend money until you have finished an order:
—I do not know why I need to cover this, but I’m being completely serious when I say that you should NEVER spend money before you complete an order. I understand that some artist do emergency commissions to get rid of some sort of debt, but, it still stands true that the money is not yours until you complete and order and have sent the finished product to the customer. A lot of the time…life happens, and then, if you cannot complete and order, the customer will ask for a refund. What happens when you can not refund that money? You get a beware post…you are now officially a thief. Yes, they sent you money to help with your cause, but they were expecting something in return. It was not charity…it was not free money, and it’s not yours for the taking until you have given them what they have asked for. Again, not worth all the mess and trouble it will cause in the end if you get a beware post slapped on you…and then no one will commission you ever again because you scammed someone out of their money.
- Expect criticism…constructive and otherwise:
—Artists have it hard because their work is always being scrutinized. People will be blunt with you…especially when you’re trying to sell your work. They will tell you if the anatomy is not correct, they will offer advice on different techniques for this, that, or the other thing. Do not take it badly, do not get mad…just take it and do with it what you will. Usually, these people are only trying to help…because, as an artist, you are only expected to do one thing: improve. Also, if you’re selling one type of media, some people might try and argue prices because of online demand and what might be more popular (like how people prefer digital art to traditional art a lot of the time)…or they might tell you that you might have better luck doing a different style as to what you are currently doing. Do not take it as an attack…and if it bothers you, ignore it. However, you will get a lot of criticism in the art world and sometimes it is insulting…so, take it with a grain of salt and just keep pushing forward. Trolls happen too…but hopefully you can just brush it off and know that they are deliberately trying to get a rise out of you. DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
It’s quite simple: If they do not like your style, they do not have to buy it. However, this does not mean you can not take their advice if you find it particularly helpful.
- Have some sort of queue or list (stay organized):
—If you’re going to be taking multiple orders, then, it’s advised that you have some sort of list that you can show your customers so that they know where they stand. It’s always helpful and calming for customers when they can see who might be in front of them so that they can gauge when they might be getting their art. Leaving it open and a mystery and then posting art at random makes people think they are being ignored or are being pushed aside for friends and etc. I have this issue right now with someone I am waiting on…they post freebies and etc as they feel like it, and I don’t even know where I stand in the list. I don’t even know if my art will ever be done, and I might need a refund. So, even if you think it’s stupid…it puts your customers at ease and makes it so that they do not think they are being scammed.
*** “Opportunity Awaits” Art beginning to end by Thelostcause86***
***Characters belong to Element02/Shewulf7/Thelostcause86***
- Be prepared to show a WIP:
—If an art piece has been in the works for awhile (weeks or months), occasionally, a customer might ask you for a WIP. Especially if the piece is an expensive and/or very important one. What a WIP does is that it helps the customer make sure you have the basic sketch right, that the details on their characters are correct. It’s always a great feeling to get a WIP and be asked if everything is correct because it really means that the artist cares about the quality of their work. Now, for quick pieces this is not necessary and sometimes, customers might not even ask for a WIP…but if they do, be polite, and show them what you have been working on so that they can approve it and you can move on. Best to catch mistakes now rather than later.
- Be polite and answer questions:
— If a customer has a concern or wants to know something, the please be considerate enough to try and answer them question, even if you don’t always have the right answer. So, if they want to know how long it might be…if you’re not sure, let them know….but tell them what your working hours might be, tell them if there are orders in front of them. Offer to mail them once you start the commission if it might make them feel better. Same with the prices…if they ask to add a character or take out a detail, or have questions regarding the piece itself…answer them. If you’re too far in to add anything else, let them know. If you will have to charge them more for something they want to add, let them know. If they throw a fit about it…remember, YOU are in control. you might have to refund their money and refuse to finish the piece…but you still answered their questions, stuck to your principle and policies, and (hopefully) remained polite and calm about it. It’s give or take…but, the more you cooperate with your customers, the more likely they are to recommend you to friends.
- Keep your customers informed of any changes:
—As I have said again-and-again: LIFE HAPPENS.
Computers get a virus, flash-drives get wiped for whatever reason. People get sick, relatives die (sad but true), and sometimes other things like work and school get in the way. We all have trouble like this, but, you NEED to let your customers know if there is something that pops up which will affect their commission. If you no longer have a computer in which to do art, then you have to be willing to accept that you might have to give a refund since you cannot complete an order. If you’re going away on Holiday…let people know and usually they will be patient with you. Same if you’re sick. People can be very understanding but, only if you let them know what is going on.
- Try and get your orders done in a timely fashion:
—Everyone has their own pace, and quality art takes time…but, that does NOT mean to get around to it whenever you feel like doing it. When you take an order, you are making a promise to get started on that piece as soon as possible and to make sure it gets to the customer. As I said above…the money they paid you is not yours until you have completed their order, so, why put it off? Yes…art blocks happen and sometimes people fall into a depression and just can’t even fathom drawing something or painting, but, if you’re deliberately putting it off just because you think you can get it done quickly then you are not being very fair to the customer. I have many artist that finish my art within a few days or within a week at most…they are what I consider top-notch quality and they are professionals. They do not always feel like doing something, but they know that this is their job, this is about their income, this is about keeping a steady and satisfied customer base. Being an artist is a thankless job…because it’s not about you, it’s about the customer and about you giving you 100% so that they can show off your work to the world. As mentioned before…if there is a legitimate reason as to why you can not do art, then let your customer base know. Most will understand…but, don’t be that jerk that ignores messages and then just posts when they feel like it.
- If you can not finish a piece…provide a refund:
—Simple as that. If you will never EVER finish a piece, then give that person a refund and let them know why you are giving them their money back. If you are giving up art, or are too depressed, or you re grieving, or you are too sick, and etc…give people their money back. Like the points above, the money is not yours until you have finished their order, people rely on you for a product and not giving them that product but keeping the money is stealing. Blocking the person so they can not message you is the lowest thing a person could do…you will get a beware post, you will most likely be reported to Paypal, and it could cause a lot of legal trouble as well as issues on social media or wherever you post your art. If people tell you to keep the money, that’s one thing…but don’t just assume people will just forget about what they ordered because, that’s not generally how this works.
Being an artist is tough work…it takes a lot of practice and a lot of determination. Some people cannot cut doing commissions because of all that it requires. That’s not to say that you should not give it a try, but that you should be somewhat prepared before taking it on. Getting your name out there and finding that steady customer base takes a lot of work if you do not have the right connections…and it’s a very competitive field, especially in the furry community.
But, follow these small tips and hopefully it will help you on your way…be a reliable artist instead of the other guy and you’ll already shine brighter than some. The one thing that furries worry about most is scams…we see them happen all the time. The last thing we want to lose is our money and/or our characters…so please keep that in mind. It’s hard trusting a little-known artist, and that’s because there are so many thieves out there that it’s hard.
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and watch for the post for next-week’s question!
Thanks for tuning in, and, I will see you in the next one 😉