by C.René Seah
Art . Freelance . Commissions. Shop
Tips for Commissioning Artists
Oh, hey! Is this your first time commissioning someone?
Or do you just want to get an idea of what artists like seeing detail-wise?
This may be just your page!
Do take note that these tips are subjective and every artist has his/her own preferences!
Many of these are, however, commonly found to be appreciated among most artists.
[Recommended to be viewed on desktop as mobile has issues with the Glossary points resulting in a lot of scrolling. ): ]
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1. Don't be too formal. Get to the point.
We understand that sometimes you want to really show that you respect our process or that you just really want to be clear at every single step. However, the process gets so drawn out that not only does the communication take longer than it needs to be, it's harder to view the whole commission in a single area/window.
Do not forget that usually the conversations aren't instantly replied to due to time zones and the artist/commissioner's day to day schedule. Not getting to the point could drag over multiple days in some of the worst cases.
Please try to avoid doing this.
1st message: Are your commissions really open?
Artist says yes.
2nd message: They know what they want, roughly. But don't give any solid details.
Artist has to ask about it.
3rd message: Idea is put forward.
Artist gives response with questions or understanding about the idea and asks for references.
4th message: Character References are sent.
Artist then asks for payment before beginning.
5th and 6th message: Usually that they've sent the payment and once the artist replies it's been received they may or may not follow up with a finishing salutation.
Back and forth, that would be 10-12 total messages between the artist and commissioner. Yikes.
Instead, try this.
1st message [OPTIONAL]: (If you really feel like you have to check to be sure, that's fine. But commission status should always be correct unless there are conflicting statuses put up by the artist.)
Just would like to check if your commissions are really open, to be sure.
Artist replies yes or no. If yes, continue.
2nd message: State all of your commission's details- What you want it to look like as much as you know possible for the composition and any character specifications. (See Point 3.). If you want artist input then state it at the end of this message "Not sure what I want the background to be, you can decide etc." Also, attach your character references at this stage.
Artist replies if it's doable, then asks any lingering questions they might have to clarify and also summarizes how much it would cost. Usually they also ask for payment at this stage to confirm the commission.
3rd message: If there are questions, you just need to clarify and tell the artist you've paid if you're set with the price. In this same message you would tell the artist "Okay payment sent!" or "Noted! I'll be sending the payment now."
This lets the artist know to look out for incoming payment in their Paypal, and get back to you once it's received. Lastly, a thank you for your support and a confirmation regarding the details of those lingering questions, that they've understood.
Back and forth, that would be 4-6 total messages between the artist and commissioner. Manageable!
2. Have your Character References ready.
Unless you're commissioning a character design from scratch, most commissions usually require having 1 or 2 images of your character already drawn. A well formatted character reference sheet isn't always necessary, but would be fantastic! The clearer your visual reference, the more accurate the artist's rendition of the character will be.
3. Avoid lengthy and wordy descriptions.
Majority of artists tend to be very visual people, and reading long paragraphs tend to be very, VERY draining. This is especially in regards to your character designs. This is why Character References are very important. Try to summarize your details in a single paragraph, in one that isn't a huge block of text. A good gage would be to see if your whole commission message can be read under 20-30 seconds at first read.
An example of good and concise commission instructions:
"Can I get a cel shaded, waist up of my character sitting at a table? ______ is a very quiet character. He doesn't smile much or interact much with others. I'd like him sitting alone in a cafe drinking a cup of tea. Please have him in a brownish trench coat. If possible I'd like the setting to feel warm despite his solidarity."
Commission Type ☑ Body cut-off ☑ Brief description of character personality ☑ Composition/Mood idea ☑
As artists we understand the importance of your character to you, as our own OCs are to us. However, we do not need to know things that are outside the scope of the commission you want. Eg. All of their hobbies, relationships, their whole life story (UNLESS it pertains to the commission.) Please focus on the things that are most important for the art piece you want done.
4. Read their Terms & Conditions.
But don't be afraid to ask questions.
Try to avoid re-asking questions that have already been publicly answered. Most artists already have a page or post that summarizes their Commission's Terms & Conditions. It differs from artist to artist but they do usually hold important information you may find useful.
Some of these could be the Duration of your wait time or even the Refund policies etc. Professional artists also usually have a distinct price difference for hobbyist pricing and commercial work pricing. (Very important!)
They also usually tell you what they do and don't draw.
If you've read all their Terms & Conditions but have a question that hasn't been answered, then don't be afraid to approach them with a query. At the end of the day we want you, as a customer, to feel at home and happy with the whole commission process.
5. Artistic Freedom. Is it for you?
Artistic Freedom is the option to give the artist the freedom to direct the commission choices/ composition in their own way.
Some artists really love having artistic freedom as it gives them the chance to really explore what feels best, rather than to conform to any set of instructions. Usually this is in regards of the overall tone of the composition and what's going on in the scene. Your character's design won't be affected.
This is personally something I very much enjoy myself <3
If you're ever unsure of what you want, this might be a fun option to give your artist. If you're someone who like things a certain way only/ is inflexible or already have something in mind, then I would recommend against it.
6. Rushing a Commission/ Checking up on us.
Some artists are able to meet your personal deadlines- be it for your friend's birthday or if the art piece is a gift for a specific date. If you've discussed this with the artist beforehand and they say "okay" then they should deliver on time. If they're a responsible artist and they exceed the time frame, they should have given/be giving you a fair explanation and reason for it. Sometimes life happens, a family issue/ hardware failing etc. it happens. Please try to understand. Irresponsible artists are a whole other issue that won't be covered in this point.
PLEASE DO NOT:
For any other commissions done on a regular timeline, please do not "check up" on our progress unless you've previously agreed to a sketch or if there are agreed interim checks along the way (usually for character design or huge projects). There's a reason for the commission completion duration usually placed in the artist's Terms & Conditions. (I even put this on my waitlist.) This also includes asking for your own project's specific timeline. Yes, for example- we absolutely can finish your piece in under 3 days. This doesn't mean it'll be done in the immediate next 3 days. This means that within the overall timeline, your project's estimated completion will be about that accumulated rough duration, give or take. And if the artist needs to postpone it for reasons, your piece may take a back seat for a bit. It will, however, still be ready and punctually completed before the end of that 1.5 months(example).
Why otherwise would there be a front and forward given timeline? Why put a wait time of __ months if you're going to ask us to give you a separate timeline for your piece, and then expect it to be completed with that singled out answer? You'll only be giving yourself a false sense of expectation of an early finish and let yourself down.
Why is this so:
Doing any of those^ pressures us psychologically and stresses us out, as harmless as it may be. It's a little hard to explain, but just imagine your parent or boss constantly peeking in to see if you've progressed, when you know you've got your priorities and work planned properly, yet they still feel the need to prod you. It's a strange and frustrating sensation. Also, it does make the commissioner(you) come off really impatient and inconsiderate towards the other commissioners on the list, as well as to the artist's scheduling.
Personally, I'd be reluctant to take on a client after the first job if they did this. I can also speak confidently for my artist friends.
I've seen artists rant and lose the moxie to do the commission properly well right after. Let's all try to give each other the space to work at our best.
Checking up on an artist is fine if they've exceeded the duration stated on the given timeline.
7. Paying in Full/Partial etc. and Tipping
You may be given the option to pay for your commission in parts if you can't pay upfront immediately. For Renciel, I've only ever taken payment in full and will be continuing to do so unless the commission exceeds 300usd.
Payment in Full is the best way for artists to avoid getting cheated and most choose this method. If you're an artist reading this, then I highly recommend you avoid partial payment. I've seen friends get ghosted out of payment which isn't fair to the time spent on your work.
Partial Payment is sometimes offered for larger amounts, but be prepared to pay your second/final payment soon. From what I've noticed, artists don't usually wait too long in between payments, unless you've agreed on a progress-payment (Eg. 2nd Payment only after seeing the sketch etc.) Otherwise, most craftsmen and artists give you a few days to a week to get your final payments in.
Tipping isn't necessary but most artists appreciate that little extra <3
Ren: "I hope this has helped you as much as it helps artists get more precise commission requests!