Are You Ready To Accept Commissions?

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Commissions Week


Hi everyone, as part of Commissions Week at projecteducate in this article I will go over some basics that will help you know if you are ready to accept commissions yet or if it's still too soon.  

A lot of artists struggle to know if they are ready to start accepting commissions or not.  I hope to shed a little light on that for those of you contemplating breaking into the commission world.  

Below I will outline a few important tidbits to consider if you're looking to open commissions.  


Pricing:

Pricing is a big part of determining if you're ready to enter the world of commissions with your art yet or not.  When we look at the aspect of pricing being an influence on if you are ready to sell commissions yet you want to ask yourself if your art will sell at a price that pays you a fair wage for your time/energy/skill/supplies used?  

If it takes you 40 hours to complete an illustration but you don't believe you can charge more than 10$ for it without customers backing out, taking commissions may not be for you yet.  
Please be sure that you can ask for a proper wage before taking commissions.  


Time Commitment:

Something that artists who take on commissions struggle with is the time commitment that goes into them.  
Before you open up commissions ask yourself if you can complete the commissions you take on in a timely fashion.  
While clients are generally pretty forgiving when it takes a while to complete a commission, it can also leave a very bitter taste in their mouth if it takes months and months to get the finished product.  

If you are sure that you can finish any commission you take on within a reasonable amount of time, then you have one less thing standing in your way of being ready for taking commissions. 


Responsibility/Maturity:

Taking commissions is something to be responsible with, just as you would any other job you accept.  
Being mature enough to understand this can go a long way when you open up commissions.  You'll need to be able to effectively communicate with your clients about any possible problems or delays.  You also should be able to communicate in a professional manner.  Remember, this is a job and not just some fun hobby.  

If you find that you can't get through talking with a client without dropping some F bombs, or you can't bring yourself to tell them what they requested isn't working out as you thought it might, you may not be ready to accept commissions yet.


Art Level:

I feel like I should tread lightly here and make it very clear that your skill level will not prevent you from selling your art as commissions if you know how to market yourself properly and to the right people.  That is a different subject though, and if you're interested in knowing how to sell your art I wrote an article about it here: How To Get Commissions 

Back on topic though, I want to take a moment to discuss how your art skill level can be a deciding factor as to whether or not you are ready to start accepting commissions.  

There are 2 basic reasons your skill level may prevent you from being ready to take commissions.

  • Your skill level is lacking and you don't know how or where to market your art properly.
If your art skill level is still relatively low and you also don't know how to market it in order to get sales, it might be a good idea to take some time and work on bumping your art skills up a few levels before you consider opening commissions. 

  • Your skill level is good enough to get you commissions but the time it takes you to reach that level for a single piece would raise your prices astronomically.  
If you're an artist who can create amazing pieces but in order to do so you spend countless hours on it, you may want to re-think opening commissions.  Remember that you should receive adequate compensation for your work.  If you feel you can get adequate compensation however, by all means open your commissions, just don't lower your standards for a quick buck.  

Refunds:

This is a really important one to consider.  Over the years I have seen a lot of artists take on commissions that for one reason or another they never completed.  In some cases I have seen people be refunded, however more often than not refunds are not issued.  Often the artist will give some sob story as to why they can't or even worse, shouldn't have to refund the money even though they have no intention to actually complete the work.  

While this may be a common practice in the commissioning world on DA, it is a really awful thing to do and can ruin your chances at getting future commissions, as well as your overall reputation.  

When taking commissions the money you receive should not be spent until you have completed the work.  If you are unable to guarantee that you can give a refund should you not be able to complete the work, you are not ready to take on commissions.  



Not quite ready to accept commissions yet but you want to make a little cash with your art anyway?  


The best suggestion I can give to people who aren't quite ready to take on commissions themselves yet but want to make a little cash from their art is to take requests for donations.  
Be sure to take payment/donation after you have completed the work.  You'll likely find yourself surprised by how much people are willing to pay for your work when the price is left in their hands.  

Try it out, feel the waters, pick up some new skills.  



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SinistrosePhosphate's avatar
Thanks a lot for the article! It's really quite helpful. 
Recently someone asked me if I do commissions and I've been stuck on an answer. Reading your article helps quite a bit! (the answer would be no. And I am glad to say that... ) 

So... thanks a million! :w00t: