A Commissioner's Perspective on How To Get Commissioned

Discussion in 'Art Sales and Auctions' started by BRN, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. BRN

    BRN WTB Forum Mod Powers

    Hi guys;
    First things first, yes this thread is an act of procrastination. All the same, I hope it helps.

    So I'm going to try here to:

    a) Dispel myths about commissioners (Things to be aware of to help you generate opportunities)
    b) Explain what we look for (How to get the opportunities you generate for yourself)


    We don't exist.

    I think many people have a misconception about artists - that they are a different subsect of people who are capable of creating, and just do so. But anybody who's worked on a creative endeavour knows just how much effort has to go into creating, and that art doesn't spontaneously appear in an artist's pocket. Similarly, commissioners, as many people believe them to exist, just simply don't - at no point in time is there a roving band of furries that you're trying to grab the attention of.

    Commissioners are individual people who have an interest in art of/or their character, and have money spare, and know that these two interests are capable of aligning. What this means is that you're unlikely to catch a commissioner by putting out a net - this is really an important truth.

    The more watchers I have, the more likely I am to gain commissioners

    I know this <looks> to be true. I mean, it seems intuitive - the more people who know you, the more exposure you get, and the more likely you are to get commissioned as a result, right?

    This isn't so true. If you focus on gathering as many people as possible under your banner, what you may be sacrificing is your watcher's relationship with you. Free raffles for art, for example, can generate huge numbers of watchers - but many of these watchers will not be interested in you, or your art; just "art" and "free". I'd like to seperate these people from actual commissioners - it's extremely unlikely that 'treasure hunters' like these will ever be interested in purchasing your skills, because...

    If I lower my prices, maybe I'll get more sales.

    Maybe there's some data floating around out there that might corroborate this claim, but this is my commissioner's perspective. Sorry guys - reducing your prices to be more competitive or to match the going rate is, at best, unproductive; at worst, it can be counterproductive.

    I know that seems unintuitive, but within a general band, your art is as valuable as you sell it to be. This is why, if you often produce free art, you're unlikely to get commissioners as often as you otherwise could - the going perception will be, and the vast majority of your watchers will see, that your art can go for free. But something to keep in mind...


    Commissioners don't want to decide what they'll pay.

    Guys, many commissioners have a budget and, remedially, are capable of valuing the quality of your work against the prices that other, similar artists will sell for. This is what I meant when I mentioned the "general band", earlier - if a commissioner is interested but your prices are different to that band, you're likely to surprise them. For some artists, this can be an intimidating idea - which has lead to a slow rise in artists offering "Pay what you want" commissions and Auctions.

    "Pay what you want" commissions are massively intimidating to commissioners and, from my perspective, are something you should definitely avoid. This is because it shifts the onus onto the commissioner to dictate your work's worth - a sensible person will know that too little will seem like a snub to the artist. As a result, this can lead to exploitation by commissioners who aren't so empathetic, or intimidated and confused commissioners who aren't sure if either side were happy with how much they paid.

    Auctions can be a good idea, but they work best for established artists. These are the type of things where a large number of watchers will be useful, as you only need a few interested parties out of your pool.

    However, if you're not an established artist, it's best to remember that if a commissioner is interested in you, there's a wide band of prices they're likely to be willing to pay, and it's really okay to take the initiative to charge prices you're comfortable with - which might be $5 or $10 more than you see similar artists charge. Your art is as valuable as you sell it to be; yet, some commissioners will have limited budgets, and some will be more flexible. As a result...

    Be willing to haggle. Just a little.

    If you have an interested customer, make them feel very welcome. Stay in contact and don't pressure them, but be available and approachable.

    Shifting a couple of numbers off what you wanted to charge can make a commissioner very happy if they were a little unsure of your price. It's worth doing this the first time you deal with someone just to gather some good-will. You're likely to see them come back, but even if they don't -

    Be Iago, not Cassio.

    "Reputation, reputation, reputation. Oh!"

    There are two parts to this. Firstly, good-will is important. If you're going to take a few days to do something, stay in contact with people while you work with them - commissioners love to know how things are going on. Producing art extremely quickly isn't neccessary - but work at a comfortable pace. If you have multiple people interested in you, take breaks from commissions from time to time, to let yourself recover and get back to your own interests for a while - you don't want to be sick of other people's requests if you're trying to take them.

    Secondly, be confident. Put up a good impression - imagine that working with commissioners is like going to a job interview. Don't be short, but be competent and willing to take the initiative to offer up information, and work with their personality to get along with them. Most importantly, don't be evasive if they ask questions. Be unapologetic and confident, but honest. That means talking candidly about how comfortable you are with some suggestions.

    Top Secret Tips.

    - Consistently highly-polished work gets much more interest than lots of less-polished work, even if there's a significant delay between your uploads.
    - The less often you try and actively get commissions, the more likely you are to get them when you open.
    - The less commission slots you offer during open times, the more valuable your commission slots can become.
    - The more established you are before you start doing your first commissions, the more commissioners you're likely to see.
    - 'Sales', Emergency Commissions, and Journals to advertise your commissions quickly become ineffective, and then quickly become counterproductive. This is what can appear to be "flaky" - keep your cool.

    - You're unlikely to be able to get an accurate gauge on your own reputation until you see your art posted on a third-party site which allows comments by someone who is not you. Don't get disheartened - it's difficult to tell if you're "commissionable".
    - It's true that commissioners will pay more for the reputation of the artist. This does mean that "popufurs can charge more", but you too can take advantage of that - have an identifiable signature, polish your work, and take care of your reputation.
    - If you aren't comfortable with mature and adult work, maybe you should try venturing into that avenue sometime privately to experiment. However, avoid taking mature commissions just because 'it's a commission'. Stick to your guns and work within your interests.
    - Specialise in your interests. Quality does stand out among the crowd, but it's more important to be known for something; specific characters, specific species. When people think of concepts such as "dragons", "huskies" or "cute", specific names come up. That's the power of specialisation.
    - People with popular characters can be great sources for networking. Briefly research people who are interested in you - if they're networked well, they can provide you with more than just a commission fee. Likewise, if you are a fan of someone's popular character within the fandom, it's no shame to contact them and, if you're willing, offer them a free work. It's similar to an amateur seamstress sending Elle Magazine a dress.
    - I've said it multiple times, but your art is as valuable as you decide it to be. Don't undersell thinking that you can "start charging more later"; it won't work, and you're really likely to attract the wrong crowd of followers.

    Lastly, if you can't find a commissioner, just keep working and progressing. There's a lot of money flowing around, sure, but remember - you can't put out a net to catch it.
    Put honey out and watch and wait.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
  2. Ansitru

    Ansitru Guest

    This is a surprisingly good read and in my humble opinion this would do great as a sticky-thread in the Black Market.
    Thank you for typing this all out.
    KrissySempaiArt likes this.
  3. badlands

    badlands drunken pirate

    very well written and correct
  4. Kalmor

    Kalmor Banned

    Arshes can we get this stickied in the black market please? This has lots of very useful and correct information and would be a great resource to be available down there.
  5. BRN

    BRN WTB Forum Mod Powers

    Oh snap :3

    Glad it helps, guys.
  6. Arshes Nei

    Arshes Nei Masticates in Public

    Already done. Thanks for the post.

    As a person that willingly spends hundreds on commissions, it's quality first. I generally don't like paying for cheap commissions because 9 times out of 10 the artist is burned out. I often will pay more than the offered price because I don't like seeing artists underpaid.

    Over advertising can turn commissioners off. One thing I noticed in the Black Market are people who reply to almost every commission offer, often not very personable. It's like looking at a popup when looking at web pages. Find out what the person wants and don't just link trying to get a sale. Spend more time practicing than advertising, or producing work.

    Sometimes I will find someone I want to commission when they do respond on another request but usually those people don't over advertise, and read the following:

    If I'm seeing your posts in 3 or more commission requests a week and you don't exactly fit the commissioner's requests - the less I want to hire you for my personal project. It shows you don't listen or read what someone is asking for.

    While I'm not going to disagree about specialization, what other determining factor is seeing your studies. You may not have drawn or posted a subject previously but have works I like. To see if you are able to take on the subject I actually look at people's studies if they have a blog etc...this is actually no different than when employers hire artists. They want to see if they got foundations behind their work and not get stuck with symbols.

    Porn is still very intimate to many. The thing people don't get when advertising Orgy or YCH auctions with a lot of characters, despite the fact that there is the porn aspect in the fandom, who wants to has sex with what character is still scrutinized. A person who may have bid who likes your work, may not do so because another person got a spot and they don't like that person.

    As an artist who is also a commissioner. Some things I'm wary of. People with "same day turn arounds" You may think this is good because it means they are fast, but there are people I won't commission anymore because they do rush their commissions. Artists should have a cool off time where they step away from a commission and analyze it for mistakes. I'm not referring to "a spot in the wrong place" but I mean anatomical errors that are obvious I'm not expecting perfection, but I am expecting attention to your craft. 3am rushed work, can produce backwards hands. Most artists have to juggle their time, with other work, school etc... I don't expect many to do it in one sitting unless it's a sketch. Even then, I know sketches average 1-3 hours. I'm not talking about doodles or gestures. I'm talking about sketching it where someone feels comfortable posting it or giving it to the person they did the work for. While I have seen 30 minute sketches, it's very rare for it to be something that was recognizable and presentable good artists tend to check and take a break in between. So if it's something with color I don't mind the artist getting back to me once a week with updates (as in showing the work) depending on complexity.

    If I get work that needs to be completed by a certain time I actually plan ahead, like a month or 2 for a birthday present, and not 1-2 days because I want the gift worked on and attended to.
    ChainedAlice and Tate Coyote like this.
  7. Taralack

    Taralack Hit 'em right between the eyes

    I think a lot of artists who simply spam the forums with copy-pasta responses to any and all threads with the "hiring" label would probably be better off actually paying attention to what the OP wants and tailoring their response to it.

    And if they're of the mindset "but that takes too much time" then that should speak a lot about their attitude towards work. Regardless of it being within a fandom or not, commission artwork is still a job, and the more professionally you carry yourself, the better you will appeal to customers.
  8. Arshes Nei

    Arshes Nei Masticates in Public

    You have to think not just dollar signs but good reasons why you are a good fit for the person hiring. If your response is similar to 3 other people asking for reference sheets for example it can be a turnoff. Remember commissioners want their commission to feel special or worthwhile and not just another part of the production line.
  9. Ansitru

    Ansitru Guest

    The funny thing is that in most of the Black Market-threads people will just try to "out-cheap" one another.
    "Someone can do a ref for $20? Well I can do it for $18!"

    And they usually end up getting picked for being cheap by certain types of commissioners. It's baffling, but fascinating at the same time, like watching a train-wreck.
  10. Willow

    Willow *honks la cucaracha horn*

    I can say I'm guilty of maybe over advertising if only slightly, but my general rule of thumb is to post in a few threads at a time until either it looks like the OP has abandoned the thread or they've possibly chosen someone.

    This was helpful though and I wish I could have been given some of this advice forever ago. Would have saved me a lot of trouble.
    A lot of businesses are like that though. Store A sells a product for X amount of dollars so Store B lowers the price a tiny bit but the quality remains the same. But choosing an artist solely based on price and not quality is pretty baffling.
  11. Arshes Nei

    Arshes Nei Masticates in Public

    Yeah but the product is the same or similar, and they got it from the same manufacturer. People's quality here can vary a lot. I haven't seen too many artists here that just look the same or hit the lines of "equal quality for paying"

    I think one thing that needs stressing. Your customer is unique.

    Customers will seek out commissions from styles they like, but also who will cater to their needs. It seems that people keep posting the same stuff and not particularly addressing the customer's need. Let's think of it this way. Your artwork, is like the store window that will show customers what styles you do carry that will attract them in to shop.

    Your posts/replies are like being a sales rep at a store. If you hold up the same outfit to any person who walks in the store and asks if they'd like to try it on, I'm pretty sure you'll turn a customer off. A good person recognizes that people may have unique needs, and you show them the appropriate outfit, and not just the best selling one. Chances are they've seen your work if you're posting in other threads.

    Vary it up and engage the customer. If you don't have a lot of samples to post then slow down... if you're posting in more threads. Take that time to create more examples or body of work.
  12. Arshes Nei

    Arshes Nei Masticates in Public

    Bumping this for something else that turns people off. People mentioning they need money. Regardless of how you put it, it's a big turnoff to see. I would assume an artist is selling because they need money, so it's redundant. While you think it's minor, put this into every day situations. Imagine going to a store where you might be interested in buying a product, and the sales rep tells you how they're strapped for cash this month. You think that's something your potential buyer needs to hear?

    Focus on your product, not your financial situation. That's what you're supposed to be selling.
    ChainedAlice likes this.
  13. YakAttak

    YakAttak Member

    I know this is probably an older sticky, but I want to thank the OP and thread contributors. I just realized how many of these things I've been doing wrong, even though I just started!
  14. MattsyKuntheKitsune

    MattsyKuntheKitsune Celestial Kitsune

    I just couldn't just click on the This button. This drives me INSANE. Sure, I'm a starving artist, but that doesn't mean I'm whoring myself out with copy-pasta posts. Most of the time people don't even read what the commissioner wants, and they just post the message in hopes of getting money.
  15. wsp

    wsp Panty snatcher!

  16. wolfymewmew

    wolfymewmew Available For Commissions

    You're brilliant, insightful, and amazing for posting this. I loves you forever!
  17. cyndybell

    cyndybell Member

    This is so good information! Thank you. I learned many things! o . o
  18. Tymber

    Tymber New Member

    THIS. Lately I have had people being so rude and rushing me for work. I have had a few people commission me and then ask for a refund a few hours later because they wanted their image completed in a day! Like most people I use commissions to help pay my bills and buy what my children need like diapers and clothes. I pride myself in making quality art in my style whether it is a sketch or a full colored piece. I have two children 3 months and the other is almost 5 so I set up hours to devote to my commissions after they are down for a nap, when the husband gets home and after they are asleep. A head shot sketch will take me a few hours, a full body sketch about the same. A full body colored piece maybe a few days and a full blows piece with a background could possibly take two weeks! It all depends. I also almost always have a Queue and I do let them know when they commission me that I have a commissions ahead of them. I always note them when I have begun their commission and send work in progress previews and when I feel like I have taken too long on a commission I tend to do a little extra to make up for it.

    I just want to put out their that if you want your art finished quick/fast/same day you probably are not going to get quality art.
    Also, please be patient with the artist because when they feel rushed they may make mistakes!
  19. Myshuchibi

    Myshuchibi New Member

    : D aww read his entire article. I loved it. really good truth. He gave me encouragement and hope to continue growing in my art. in what I do :)
  20. Jiasnga

    Jiasnga New Member

    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  21. TheDartKid

    TheDartKid New Member

    Goodness gracious. You have no idea how glad I am to have found your post. I have tried for the past 6 months to get commissions and have gone through periods of intense anxiety and self doubt, but I always tried to tell myself that continuing to post art will pay off at some point and that it was better to keep my cool than to beg for commissions and writing a sob story. This post here, confirmed my mind was in the right place. Thank you.
  22. TheKC

    TheKC O w O,

    This post was a good read, not only the main post but the comments on this post. Thanks!

    I have to say, Specialization my not work well for some. I can see how it can work. I don't feel I have a specialization or draw specific species, and becomes known for that. I've had other commissioners suggest to others to me based on that. But may I specialize in my own style. IDK.

    I am one that started out with low prices and worked my way up. It seemed to work for me.

    I'll have to try drawing free art to popular furs that I like. It would be fun.

    I sometimes envy you commissioners. I hope one day to have extra money to buy arts of my fersona or character. = w =
  23. Ryuu Girl

    Ryuu Girl Less Friends, Less Bullshit.

  24. AvaWOLF13

    AvaWOLF13 Artist

    Thank you so much for this!
  25. Volp3

    Volp3 New Member

    I will remember

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