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So you want to do commissions?

Journal Entry: Thu May 19, 2011, 1:02 PM

A basic guide to setting up commissions

When it comes to commissioning, there is so much that needs to be decided, arranged and thought of that it can all appear a bit daunting at first.
However: when following a couple of basic guidelines, setting up commissions really is not as hard as you think!

If you find the article informative, please :+fav: it.


First things first

So you have decided you want to start doing commissions. That's great!
The first thing to do is to determine what you want to offer.

Do you want to offer drawings, or designs?
Will you be coding journal-skins for people, or will you be pixeling?

Take a look through your gallery and try to determine what you do best and what you like to do the most.
Because that will most likely be what you'll be offering.

  • TIP:
    Stick to what you're good at.
    Don't promise what you can't deliver when someone is paying you for it.

Now that you've most likely decided what you want to do, it's time for the next step.


Payment & payment methods

Time to start writing up a price-list! But how much can or will you charge for a piece of your work?

A good way of going about this is to ask yourself the following:
* How good are your drawings?
* How many hours do you spend on a single drawing?

Chances are that if you just started drawing, you can’t ask the same price as someone who’s been doing it for years and does a better job at it.  

Don’t over-price, but also don’t under-price yourself!

Ask a couple of people you know for an estimate and for some advice. That way, you’ll have a broader view and you’ll be able to write up a price-list with more information.

Now is also the time to decide whether you want to be paid in advance, paid after the work, or paid in segments.
This is pretty much up to personal opinion, though most artists prefer payment in advance.
That way, when a client suddenly cancels the commission, you still get some payment for the work you've already put into a drawing.

Something to also keep in mind is that if you can't do the work, or if the client is not satisfied with the commission, is that in some cases you may have to refund.
Try avoiding this by doing your very best with every single picture and don't spend what you were paid before completing the commission.

Also: no rushing and definitely no sloppy sketch-deliveries when you were asked for a painting!

Moving on to payment methods, you have the choice between the two most used methods on deviantART: points or Paypal.

* Points are deviantART’s on-site currency and may be purchased here. Once purchased, they can be donated or, in this case, used to pay for a commission.

* Paypal is an online service that allows you to safely pay and transfer money over the internet.
Information on how to set  up a Paypal-account:

Right about now you should be having a lot of information. Time to move on to the commission journal!


Setting up your commission-journal

To let everyone know you’re taking commissions, it’s a good idea to have a commission-journal.
There, you can notify people of what you can be commissioned for and for how much. It's also a good idea to keep a list in your commission-journal of who you are currently working for and how the commissions are progressing.

I’ll try to dissect the commission journal point by point and link to a couple of examples afterwards.

But first of all:

* Commissions: open/closed?
Are you taking commissions or not?
This is important since it lets people know whether or not they should contact you for information.

* Amount of commission slots available: ?
How many commissions will you be taking at a time?
How many slots have already been filled?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew and keep it reasonable.
When starting out, I suggest keeping 3 commission slots.
You can always add more later on when you're accustomed to being commissioned.

The next thing to do is specify what you can be commissioned for. Include samples for each type of art you are offering and make sure to show your best works. After all, you want to get people interested, no? It’s also usually in your best interest to include a list of what you can / will do and a list of what you can’t / won’t.

Keep your lay-out simple and orderly.
No one wants to dig through a wall of text in order to find what they’re looking for. The easier your journal is to navigate, the better!

You can always add a list of completed commissions at the end of the commission journal to show what you've already done.
A plus is that it also shows people you finish your commissions and that you are trustworthy.

A couple of examples of commission journals:
example ~ example ~ example ~ example


Getting your name out there.

On this part I will be brief, though it's also something important that most people forget. Let people know you're taking commissions!

* Put a link to your commission-journal in your signature.

* Put a link to your commission-journal in your most recent journal and keep it there for as long as you're taking commissions. Nothing is worse than to have to dig through loads of journals in order to find the commission journal.

* Advertise it in the projects-forum for commissions you do in your free time.

* Advertise it in the job services-forum if you are wanting to take your commissions seriously and treat them as you would a real job.

And if all goes well...


I am being commissioned; what now?

Ask for details about what the client wants of course!
Also set up a clear set of rules in Terms of Service (ToS).

* If the client is not satisfied, will you re-do the piece?
If yes: how many times?
If no: do you refund?

* When you finish the piece, how will you deliver it?
See below for various methods of delivering said piece to the client.

* Do you give progress-reports?
If yes: how often?

* Will the client be able to change his/her mind?
If yes: will there be extra cost?

There are a plethora of things that can be discussed to avoid complications later and I hardly listed them all. But I think you get the general idea, no?

When the commissioned piece is finished, you need to show the client, of course.
How you will do this all depends on what you have agreed upon with the client, but a couple of options are:

* Uploading it to deviantART and linking it to the client.

* Sending it by e-mail.
I recommend making a separate e-mail account for commissioning only.
Make sure people know about it and that they can contact you there

* Sending a copy / original in the mail
Keep the cost of sending things in mind and be sure to notify beforehand if the shipping will be included in the price or not.

This list is not exhaustive, of course.

Do not send out the full-res, unwatermarked copy of the commission if you haven't been paid yet.
In cases of payment-after-commission, send a low-res and watermarked proof of the commission being finished.
You can send over a higher-res version after confirming you have been paid.


Last but not least

Have fun with it!

And then all that rests me to say is: good luck!


* A couple of related tutorials *

Commission Guide by DarlingMionette Commission tutorial by shingworks

Skin by SimplySilent
Add a Comment:
heartychloe Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
when setting up a paypal account, should i choose personal or business?
PlatypusLovesBlue Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2018  Student Traditional Artist
I believe business is the safest method. From what I've heard, it's easier to get scammed on a personal account.
heartychloe Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
ok, i've already made some research and i made it a business account ^^
CharaTheYanderex Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2018  Student General Artist
Do you have to be a core user to do commissions? I just want to know before I read this and get my hopes up aha,
Naviiy Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2018  New Deviant Hobbyist Digital Artist
where and how do you transfer DA points? like, is there a certain page for it? can you transfer points over notes???
hxckitty-smol Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Go to the person's profile, click on "Give" (top right corner under the badges) and click "Give points"
Naviiy Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2018  New Deviant Hobbyist Digital Artist
oh, thanks!
hxckitty-smol Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem :) (Smile) 
saiyanpikachu Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2018  Hobbyist Artist
But how old do you got to be to do commisions?
Im 17 years old right now.
TacoTiiger Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
You can start whenever you want!
As long as you have time, patience and skill to do so, you can even do it when you're 13!
TajjaCz Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2018
Thank you for help. I just got first commission offer and was freaking out for the whole hour, 'cause i dont know a damn thing about how it works.
imanisiman Featured By Owner May 30, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you
Miss-Oli Featured By Owner May 13, 2018  Student Digital Artist
commission me lol
AlphaCharlieEcho247 Featured By Owner May 2, 2018  Student General Artist
What's the point of doing it through the site if doing it all independently will let you keep the last 20% of the payment?
TacoTiiger Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Make people pay you through the donation pool! You'll keep all thenpoints if you do so
ARandomRiver Featured By Owner May 1, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you very much for the guide, just set up my commissions
hopefully it all goes well :D
bobvilia Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hello, I'm on the paypal page asking me my payment set-up. I'm not sure which method I should go with. Recommendations? 
kitchen-s-i-n-k Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2018
This is super helpful. I just set up my commissions widget today, and I had no idea how to do commissions before this. Thanks so much. <3
BHuman Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2018  Student General Artist
I've been interested in the idea of commissions but judging by the lack of reaction my work get's everywhere except Instagram, it's hard to believe that anyone would even want them
galaxy-livzzard Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Hi, I have a quick question. So I'm going to be setting up commissions on my page, and I'm selling one for 100 points, though my earnings say I'm going to earn 80 points. Where does the other 20 points go?? It's so confusing to me. *~*
SolarSauce Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm new to commissions. I accepted someone's request and they said the points had been deducted from their account, but the points don't show up in my account. Is there something I'm doing wrong?
fatmathetomato Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm sorry, but have you found a solution to this? Cuz it's happening to me too. And i don't want to embarrass my client... 
SolarSauce Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
It's not quite a solution, but it works. So what happens is when you accept the commission, the points go to your earnings where you have to wait a certain amount of time for it to 'clear' (around 2 weeks i'd say). When it clears, you can collect it, but you only get 80% of what the original point amount was (It's just the 80% Royalty fee so they can keep the widget going, explained better here: Introducing Commissions on deviantART. I personally didn't like this very much, so what i did was i just made a commission journal like this: Commission Journal (not to advertise, i'm just showing an example) so that when they pay you (either through donations or directly) you get the full amount and you don't have to wait weeks for it.

I hope this helped <3
fatmathetomato Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oohhh,I didn't understand it very much, Thank you!
SolarSauce Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
no problem, glad to help!
SaladStarry Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is gonna help me so much! Thank you! :) 
HaileeQuinn Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
This helped a lot! Thanks my dude!
Silenthilllz Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2018  Student Digital Artist
I never understood pricing commissions because i didn't think people would buy my art, I ..

stupidly priced it 10 points for bust shots, colored and lined

still didn't get alot, but I have no idea how to price my art.
Lone-Moose Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
This has been extremely helpful! Thank you very much!
SmilingFeline Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2018  Student Traditional Artist
If I do traditional art should I mail in the piece to the client or can I just post it to here?
BHuman Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2018  Student General Artist
Most artists I see online seem to mail the peace or a copy, maybe you could have both options.
BinaryBarfer Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Do I need a credit card account to receive Deviant art points?
KatnipWickerBasket Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2018  Student Digital Artist
No you don't, it's an in app currency .(if you are using irl money to buy them then I don't know but if it's being given you don't need a credit card)
coricancha Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2018  Professional General Artist
This journal is extremely useful. Is there a way to upload a commissioned piece so that only my client can see it?

Thank you for sharing your experience with the community. 
KoltonArt Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
very useful
mondetactica Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Helpful journal!
SaoriAzumaya Featured By Owner Edited Feb 15, 2018  Student Digital Artist
Thank you very much for this journal, it's very helpful!

I have been thinking for a while about opening commissions since drawing is my greatest passion and my dream would be to be able to work as an illustrator. I would like you to take a look at my gallery and tell me if you think I have enough level (improving over time) to receive commissions.

Thanks in advance!
Suthay Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So if you don't take commisions by first come first served, how do you choose which people to do the commission for? I mean if you have more potential clients than slots available. Can anyone give me some insight on this?
Hardrockangel Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2018
Ahhh, that's up to the individual artist. Personally I work by "first come, first served" since that makes the most sense for me. :giggle:
Suthay Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So another way would be for example to take the ones you like most? Do you know other ways people do it?
HotChocolateHugs Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
whoa, tysm, this is super helpful!
iShadowLink Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I've been thinking about doing art for commissions for a while. This tutorial could help me so much! 
Fox-Speedpaints Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
I had commissions open for a while, but nobody notices me, even though I an at DA for 2 years. I am really upset about it, what can I do?
SHI-RII Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You can go to other, more used social media platforms. :D Like Instagram, FaceBook,Twitter etc
Tundra747 Featured By Owner Edited Jan 27, 2018
MissVaemys Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much for this little journal, it helped me to think about a comission.
t0xxy Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
maybe this will be a stupid question, im new in the platform, the comissions are real posters and that? or they can be virtual wallpapers and that lol
Hardrockangel Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2018
Commissions are any type of custom made art that someone asks an artist to create in exchange for payment.

It can be digital files, or physical traditional art, depending on what was discussed. :)
t0xxy Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
oh thanks! :)
Add a Comment:

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Submitted on
May 19, 2011


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