New Books! + Commission Advice for Beginners

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Calmality's avatar
By Calmality
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 Gnulia  Sulphur by monkey-cloneShadow Kids by alterlier    grief by valuing-a-life  Project Female Soul | Sunset 4 by spharta 

© 2017 - 2021 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!
e-MMasArt's avatar
Great tips! Thank you for your time Heart bum 
Calmality's avatar
My pleasure, thank you! :heart:
valuing-a-life's avatar
Thank you very much for the feature! 
Your book looks awesome *0* :heart:
Calmality's avatar
robert-kim-karen's avatar
Very good advice. All that you wrote can be applied to any freelance type work.
Calmality's avatar
Never thought of that, but you're absolutely right. Thank you- I'm glad you liked it! :heart:
Avoice's avatar
ah, thank you so much for including me in your feature.  Your book looks very beautiful!!
Calmality's avatar
Of course! Thank you dear! :heart:
Penstray's avatar
Great to know news about you and your activity, I wish you a better 2018 than this almost-over year was. And thank you so very much for the valuable advice on commisions' process, it's extremely useful, well tought out and practical, much appreciated :rose:
Calmality's avatar
Thank you! Yes, I feel like these last few years have been so much more stressful for everyone in general. There's so much to be worried about. :(
Glad to hear it! I think I'll try to give advice in my journals in the future. (If I actually have anything useful to share ;p)
Penstray's avatar
Yeah, unfortunately that's true. At the same time there are also many more possibilities for awesome stuff compared to other periods in history, so there's that too. But indeed we don't live in balanced times, unfortunately it kinda tends towards the negative. Let's hope we can paddle ahead and just accept everything that happens and strive to do our best.

Thank you for the advice and for all the future ones, really appreciate it. And here's to a way better 2018 for you and all your loved ones.
Manuela-M's avatar
Thank you so much for the feature Heart  I love your art and I'm super happy that you like my work! Hug 
Calmality's avatar
PaulaMela's avatar
Thank you for featuring my work with these other lovely works!
You've illustrated such wonderful books! : )
Suomuurain's avatar
Thank you for the feature!
MysticFlamer's avatar
So happy to hear from you again because I was actually worried but from the way it sounds it seems like this year has been bad for a lot of us...Yay for another book and the new works look great! Thank you for sharing.
Calmality's avatar
Aww, so sweet of you to worry about me! I'm doing well now- just had a stressful summer of family health scares and people passing away unfortunately. When it rains, it pours- and it did for sure.
Yes, I really feel that everyone has been so much more stressed in general the last few years. So much to be worried about! :(

Thank you so much dear! :hug:
MysticFlamer's avatar
You are always welcome~
Sieskja's avatar
Thank you for the feature (:
NikiKalat's avatar
Less than 200 favorites... :D That kind of made me feel really lost :D
I am curious for your new projects, keep the art coming! :3
Calmality's avatar
Haha- I know! There's so much I want to fave :D
Thank you dear!
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