New Books! + Commission Advice for Beginners

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Calmality's avatar
It's been a busy year with many losses and unpredictable stress, but I pulled through and got as much work done as I could.
I'll be announcing some exciting shows I'm in next year as well as some more book releases for 2018 in the upcoming months. Thank you for all your continued support and kind words. Some of the best comments I've ever received have been here and I so appreciate all the encouragement over the years. :heart:

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I've been meaning to make an advice Journal for awhile and I've been getting more and more questions about doing commissions so I wanted to explain my process for working with clients and how to be professional in all hired work (and not get screwed over ;p)

  • Firstly, don't undersell your work. I see a lot of artists reasoning that they don't think their art is worth a higher rate, but I would challenge them to instead think of the time they are spending on a commission rather than what the commissioner can afford. Let's say you decide $X is your minimum hourly rate. Next, do a piece and time yourself. If it takes you 3 hours, charge $X x 3 or more. For a more detailed piece, raise the $X price. Regardless of your skill, someone willing to hire you has to pay for your time. Value yourself first. Commissioners will respect you much more if you respect yourself.
  • When someone contacts you for a commission, have prices ready to go right away for what they're looking for based on your art subjects, style, detail, and time estimates it takes you to complete a piece. Have all this info decided and written down before you accept any commissions.
  • Make it clear in writing that the client will pay the full amount at the completion. In addition, lay out "edit" costs. Tell clients you will send them a sketch before you finalize anything. The first round of changes on that sketch costs nothing, but a full re-do sketch will be $X. Make the free changes and send the new version for them to see. Any further changes to the revised sketch or the final version will be $X. Each round of changes is charged.

  • Lay out all the pricing right away in your first correspondence so the client knows and you have everything in writing documented somewhere. Each time they ask for a change, say exactly what they'll be charged for that edit in addition to the already-agreed commission price. Make sure they know any changes after that first round will not be free and people will get their act together and give you all the info you need at the beginning.

  • If you get hired for an expensive commission, ask for at least a 25-50% deposit before you begin. Bigger projects take more time and personal/material costs. If your client is serious about the project, they will have no problem giving a down payment for your security in the event the project is cancelled or delayed. This is industry standard- do NOT feel bad about asking for upfront payments for time-consuming art. (What you determine as an expensive project is subjective, define what a "high-end" commission is for you).

    By agreeing to a down payment, clients are saying, "We trust you with the project and plan to see it through to the end". Clients will be less likely to back out of the project and both you and the client stay motivated.

  • Make an invoice template for project completions. An invoice is a list of services and their cost. It is a bill you send at the end of a project for clients to see how everything adds up. It should have the total they owe with your payment info. Invoices don't have to be fancy or complicated. Here is a link to my SAMPLE INVOICE. Send it as a pdf or jpg so it can't be easily edited or altered.

  • Know that it's ok to decline a project. If there are subjects or styles you are not willing to do, that's normal and don't feel ashamed about it. Decide beforehand what you are unwilling to create; whether is be moral reasons, stylistic choices, or skill level. For example, I have been approached a few times to do horror-themed art. One look through my gallery and you know it's not my forte and would require a lot of unwanted time and energy for me to figure out.

    Sometimes clients find artists to replicate a style or skill level of someone more expensive- and I have found it offensive when someone expects me to work outside of my style so they don't have to pay the (pricier) artist I'm supposed to be replicating. Sometimes it's just better to decline a project rather than subject yourself to very stressful work.
  • Do NOT send a full-res file until you receive payment. Send a low-res with a large watermark over it until you receive your full payment. Never ship originals until you are fully compensated. 
  • Optional: I created a google survey (it's free!) with questions that I usually had to ask through many emails to better understand what a client was looking for when starting a commission. By putting the questions in a survey, I can avoid many emails at the beginning of the process, hone in on exactly what the client is looking for, how involved they want to be in the design process, and general budget. This allows me to be able give an accurate price quote for commissions right away. You can view MY SURVEY HERE if you want an example.

I know these steps can sound intensive but this does a few things:
  1. Puts everything in writing for any disagreements.

  2. Makes it look like you get many commissions and you're professional. Look professional = higher level of initial respect.

  3. Sets prices so they're non-negotiable at the end. There are some people I have worked for a long time and I'm not as rigid with them because I have developed a trust. But I do this will all new clients and it prevents many arguments.

  4. Sometimes clients don't know exactly what they want and expect you to spend your time figuring it out. If they know making changes will cost money, they are much more likely to gather references for you, make accurate descriptions of what they want, and decide on details right away rather than waste your time telling you to change your art later.

  5. If a clients gets nervous or angry when you lay out this process, chances are they're not going to be easy to work for anyway.

The first chilren's book I ever worked on was published last year and I still have some copies left! They are jacket-wrapped, canvas hardcover at $23 each, shipping included (U.S). Please message me here or on my Website if you’re interested!


The first two volumes of the book series I illustrate, Bubba Heard a... are now available on Amazon. These chapter books are great for dog lovers and children (especially if you like Frenchies ;))

Check them out on Amazon

More book releasing will be coming next year~ Stay tuned!

Amazing works I have discovered, all with less than 200 favorites! Give them some much deserved love ~

inktober 30/2017  by Doringota  Inktober 2017 - Days 10-12 by Sieskja    October 10th by Grimmla  Inktober 2017 - Day 6 - Cat by Hikasawr    Journey by Checanty  Inktober Day18 Filthy Eye by Avoice    celebration by vonnbriggs  Northern Woods I by Dferous  The Three Crows by Avoice  Can You Fly In Rain? by indigoatmosphere  Hide and Seek by Manuela-M  The Walk by sofierimmer  Ruby Beach by slaaaaade  cows by CHolja  Tiny Inklings - Kirin herd by JuliaBeutling  Sulphur by monkey-cloneShadow Kids by alterlier    grief by valuing-a-life  Project Female Soul | Sunset 4 by spharta 

© 2017 - 2022 Calmality
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monkey-clone's avatar
I'm a bit late to comment on this but thank you so much for featuring me!