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[Commission Question] Paying Upfront or Paying After Service?


Dumpster Dweller
Notice: If this thread doesn't belong here, please move it appropriately. This is just a question toward those that had experience with commissions or commissioners.

I've been thinking about this today. I notice that a lot of the time an artist would take the money upfront before making a requested commission. This is really not a bad way of service.
I've also noticed/experienced that a buyer will request a commission and pay after it has been completed. That is also not a bad way of service.

However, in both, there have been times when either party gets scammed and it's pretty devastating in both. I've seen cases where the artist doesn't get paid the correct amount or even the amount at all and spent all the effort in creating a piece of art only to essentially be robbed. I've also seen cases where the buyer sends in the money and doesn't receive the commission in a presumed timely manner. I understand in the latter if the artist refuses service, but they should have at least given them a refund or at least not accept the money at all.

Which way do you as an artist prefer? What ensures that the transaction will be rewarding as well as relatively enjoyable for both parties?


Well-Known Member
As an artist, I prefer getting the payment up front. If it is a large amount though, I don't mind doing 50% before I start and 50% before I color. For long running projects where I know I can trust the buyer (such as for the Tina webcomic I produce) I am okay with payment after.


Banana Party
If I accepted commissions - it would be payment upfront only.

I wouldn't be accepting the commission in the first place if I felt I wasn't going to be able to fulfill what the person wanted, or if I might not have the time. And I know I'm not going to screw someone over.


I ask for payment upfront AFTER I show a rough sketch of the picture on my regular commissions. The customer has the option to request different sketches/variations as long as the sketch doesnt show character details. This way I show the customer work previous to payment and they can decide if continuing to work with me or no before sending any money.
I also accept split payment with a first deposit of $45 which cover the sketch. This is for all options and prices. I do not work any steps further the sketch stage without the other part of payment.
The customer has the option cancel without sending more money. Or continue once they can send the rest.

However I'm don't feel comfortable receiving a part at the beginning and the rest after finishing. At least not with new customers. And regular customers pay upfront, they know (as well as I do) that I won't screw them.

As a customer (the few times I've bought art) I prefer to send payment upfront. I do my homework and look for their TOS if any, look at their queue and check if there's anything shady (mainly checking artist_beware) before though.
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Well-Known Member
Ideally how I feel most comfortable is doing a rough layout and being paid 50% when the customer is happy with that and the rest when the piece is finished. It rarely seems to work out this way however and it is dependent on how complicated the picture is. Unless there are a lot of specific details this would just slow things up too much on a simple one character piece. Some people like to just pay up front and have it over with anyway.
While it is nice having the money now having half waiting out there sometimes gives me incentive not to procrastinate in getting it done.
In the past with regular customers I would sometimes go ahead a finish work before getting paid. No more however. One person who had gotten several pictures from me asked for a set commissions (well over $300 worth), approved the layout and then gave me the silent treatment and never paid. It took over two years for him to tell me, indirectly, that he didn't like how they came out.


Dumpster Dweller

Neon Rain

Super Tuff Internet Baddie
I prefer payment upfront while showing progress as you work on the commission ie a sketch


Dumpster Dweller
Wow that must've sucked. :c I always hated customers that don't say outright what they did or didn't like. I guess it's out of courtesy? But you need to have at least some communication with who you're buying from, especially if it's from art dealers or someone who is making a craft specifically for you.


As a customer I prefer to pay up front, as I don't like IOUs lasting potentially months and suddenly having to give payment unexpectedly on day. It's about knowing it's paid for and you only have to wait for the piece to be completed.

However I have been burned by this, as once full payment is given there is the issue with some artists of doing it when they feel like it. As there is no financial incentive to complete it in a timely manner, you have all the money already. I'm waiting on a commission from September last year which I owe to this, as well as a bunch from January. Some of the artists do a lot of their own projects despite having a long overdue commission queue, doing commissions when they can be bothered in between them, which is rather irritating.


If it's a drawing I can punch out in quick time, or one that won't require a lot of progress shots, I'll ask for money up front. If there's going to be progress, like say with an icon, I'll only ask for money after the lineart has been approved.

That way if 1. they're a scammer, I didn't lose out on doing a full image 2. either of us suddenly has internet trouble, they at least got partial art and I got paid for work I did, etc.

That's my personal reasoning behind it and i've seen other artists who won't charge until after sketching or later is done for similar reasons. It also gives time for the commissioner to back out if they decide they aren't liking the sketch without having to go through refunding (Hasn't happened to me before but since my work is cheap I'd rather not have to deal with transferring back that $5).

I used to follow artists beware on livejournal and i'd see equal amounts of "should've got the money up front" and "Why did you pay up front" so I think either the half and half method or paying in the middle is safest bet for both parties.

However, if someone insists on paying up front I'll allow it. If they insist paying after, then I won't give them any high res shots until I'm paid to be safe.


Well-Known Member
I'd prefer to be paid upfront, just so I don't have the thought of "what if he doesn't pay me and I'm just wasting my time" lingering in my head the whole time.