Question about commissions.

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So I just had 2 people both dodge on getting commissions from me because they wanted sketches first before payment. As a rule I do not do that because I've had too many people dodge after getting the sketch and I don't know if people really understand this, but that "sketch" does take a bit of time, especially if the image is complicated. It's the foundation of the image. These two got rather snarky with me when they found that I would not start any work until I was paid which led me to believe they weren't ever going to pay to begin with. They are not the majority but I made me think about this a bit.

As a paid artist do you do a sketch before being paid, and why?
As a 'client' do you require a sketch first and why?
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ryukaiun's avatar
I don't do traditional art, but rather web design and development. I rarely charge my clients a deposit unless I've not worked with them before or they were not referred to me by a current client. I generally outline all the costs and time expectations and then send a bill after the work is complete. But then I don't usually do flat-fees for my work, so it's a little harder to accurately estimate time and hours.

With regards to art, I can see both sides. As the buyer, it's nice to see a sketch so if there are any minor alterations or edits, they can be addressed before the art is finalized. Also as a buyer, I have paid a few artists in advance and then had the requested commission take excessively long, making me the bad guy in having to continually follow-up with them (or not getting the art at all). So, not paying until I know the artist has actually started on the work is a nice reassurance.

Perhaps the best compromise, is a "deposit" or half payment and then after the sketch or WIP, then if the buyer flakes out the artist is still compensated in some fashion, and if the artist flakes out then the buyer isn't out the entire cost with nothing to show for it. Both parties bear the risk of gains or losses.

Love your art btw, I hope you haven't had too many occurrences of people trying to cheat you for work and not paying. One of these days I'll get around to making commissions from the growing list of awesome artists I follow. :)
Crimson-Lunar's avatar
Maybe you could have a small up-front fee for the sketch when clients 'require' one. Then have that either subtracted from the final cost so the commission is still the same price or just added on for the hassle. (Depending on how much the fee is)

Just inform anyone that demands the sketch first that there is a fee, and if they don't agree with that they probably didn't want to pay to begin with.

I know a few who artists who will just charge for a sketch and if they want to get a finished piece they can just pay the rest of the fee.

Just my take on this. Sorry if I rambled.
JustinianKnight's avatar
This is actually a good idea. Thanks.
Crimson-Lunar's avatar
Hehe, glad I could help.
Krootman's avatar
As a client, I like having a sketch first. But it is not required at all. I kind of would like to get the sketch before I pay, because I have been ripped off a hand full of time by various artists. (Artists who are of high name in some circles.) Though I generally like to pay up front if I know the artist will pull through for me.