If you're an artist:
- Please don't accept work if you already know you will strongly have no desire to complete it, especially if it's just for the sake of making more money. You probably won't love working on every commission you get, but if you're already dreading one based solely on the description, maybe it would be better for you to politely tell your prospective client that it seems out of your comfort zone. Whether it's because the content makes you uncomfortable, the end product seems out of your talent range, or you just don't like the idea you're given, you have a right to decline any commission you don't want to take.
- On a similar note, be polite when declining a commission. There is no need to shame a potential client because their interests are unappealing to you. All you have to say is that you're not comfortable with their request; there's no need to point out why they're "wrong" for liking certain things.
- Keep your client updated. If they asked for their commission to be done by a set time and you agreed, try your best to have it done by that time, if not earlier. If delays happen, keep your client(s) in the loop. No one will blame you if something comes up as long as you're informative and communicative. Waiting for your clients to message you asking what's going on is not a great idea - take the initiative!
- If it's possible, try to avoid spending the money you make from commissions until after they're completed. I know this isn't always doable, but it is a wise practice. You never know when a client may ask for a refund, and if you haven't begun working then you are obligated to give the money back. And unfortunately, some people may file chargebacks after receiving the art anyway, so it's always wise to be wary and to make sure you can back up your work in case the client claims they never got what they paid for.
- Send progress pictures when you can. Your client can catch small details and mistakes before you've spent too much time on the drawing. I personally usually send a very rough sketch for pose, a clean sketch when detailed, line work, color, and finally shading. That way, I won't be halfway done with shading when I realize I've messed something up.
- Be accommodating, answer questions your client may have, communicate with them! If you don't want to be friends that's fine, but there's no reason not to be friendly.
- If your client is very rude to you, or just makes you uncomfortable, you have a right to refund their money and refuse to work with them any further.
- You do not have a right to keep the money they gave you if you're not going to complete their commission. If you have a "policy" about not refunding under any circumstances, you should really reconsider how you're running your business. For example: if a client has approved of all your progress, gets the final picture, and decides they want a refund, it's fine to say no. You put in the work, they saw the progress and deemed it acceptable. There is no reason they should get a refund unless there is something seriously off in the final picture. Even then, they should have to pay for everything they approved. Not catching mistakes is not the artist's fault. But if you haven't even begun on their commission and they request a refund, you should have no reason to say no to their request.
- If you have a problem with a client, discuss it with them or your very close friends in a private setting. Mudslinging and public shaming when you haven't even tried to talk things out will just make everything worse for everyone.
If you're a client:
- If an artist refuses to take your commission, don't take it personally. Everyone has their own set of comfort limits and interests. Just because this artist wasn't okay with drawing one of your interests doesn't make them a bad person. Nor does it make your interest inherently bad.
- Don't haggle or try to negotiate the price of your commission. If you can't afford the price that's quoted to you, either see about downgrading what you want for a lower price or look elsewhere. Artists are already generally underpaid, and if you can't afford one person's work, there will surely be others that are in your price range.
- Be polite. You're talking to another human being, not an art machine. You're hiring this person to work for you, but that doesn't give you the right to be demanding, rude, or pushy. Being courteous and unassuming will get you much further than rudeness and entitlement will.
- Understand that delays can happen and that this human on the other end of your deal probably has a lot of other things going on in their lives. As long as the artist is keeping you in the loop about how things are progressing, try your best to be patient and understanding. Look deeply into their policies and read about any potential delays that may occur. Don't commission someone expecting your work to be done in a week unless they've said that would be the case. Art takes time, and finding several hours to draw amidst their daily lives may take a while. Feel free to ask for updates if time has passed with no word.
- Ask for progress pictures so that you can approve of each stage. And if you DO approve of each stage, you have no right to demand things be changed later on (for free, at least).
- Scams happen. Don't let one scummy person ruin the art industry as a whole for you. Most well-known artists are good, hard-working people.
- If you have a problem with an artist, discuss it with them or your very close friends in a private setting. Mudslinging and public shaming when you haven't even tried to talk things out will just make everything worse for everyone.
In general, just try to be kind and patient with one another, and end the transaction as cleanly as possible if a peaceful resolution is not doable. Things don't need to escalate the way they often do.