• Fur Affinity Forums are governed by Fur Affinity's Rules and Policies. Links and additional information can be accessed in the Site Information Forum.

Is Selling Commissions Worth It If It Doesn't Sell?

Jaredthefox92

Banned
Banned
Which is an issue because it can be discouraging for smaller artists that can't get a single commission no matter how hard they try. It can really feel like people are deliberately choosing who gets to make a living off of their art and who doesn't.

I found that I would settle for less to make art, you may not have the most lovely art, but if it's cheaper people will buy it. However, the problem is that there's so many artists out there that art isn't something like a commodity or rarity. Thus, you are going to find people who are looking elsewhere all the time.
 
Even if I lowered my prices, I still wouldn't get any sales. One of the commenters on this thread have said that it's more of a marketing, advertising, promotion, and networking issue.

Just because one person said something about advertising doesn’t mean you should disregard what I said or anybody else’s advice. I think my comment is equally as important as marketing and advertising with a case like yours. Please take in what I said and I hope I didn’t offended you. I say this because I was once a small artist that went through what you went through. Take it all in.
 

lapinou

Member
Hiya, please don't take this in the wrong way, but I think it would be in your best interest to improve your work first before you try and get commissions.
I say this because your current skill level is what limits you from getting clients. Also, what you can draw may also be limited (e.g. backgrounds), so that limits your client base. Yes, marketing and networking factor into getting clients but honestly that will probably take you more time than just straight up improving. "Less skilled" artists with super high follower counts likely have a niche (drawing only fanart or doing funny comics) or a very appealing style (well-rendered anime chibis, for example). Unless you go for a niche, you probably won't grow that big without improving your art.
Those comments on your works, don't let them get to you, they're probably people who redirect their anger about their problems at others, that is not good or helpful criticism.
If you post art, good quality art, daily I assure you you will grow over time. Heck if you get good enough you can charge into the hundreds and still have clients!
Heres how it works:
Great art, people likely to share with others even if the subject doesn't interest them, more commissioners will see.
Good but not great art, people may share if the subject interests them (e.g. fanart) but less likely, less commissioners will see.

I hope you don't mind a bit of critique. A lot of your work comes across as flat and a bit lifeless because you do not yet understand perspective, gesture, or form, essential fundamentals to learn, and the anatomy seems off because occasionally limbs bend in strange ways they are not supposed to, or would naturally or comfortably. As an example, try doing the pose of this character as accurately as you can in a mirror: DeviantArt
I tried it myself, it's not a very comfortable or natural way to stand, and very stiff.
Compare it to this work, which I think is your best by the way: www.deviantart.com: Raffle Prize: honggseok
Easily do it in the mirror, and a very believable/natural pose. If you pushed the gesture more by having her lean towards the viewer, tilting her head to relax it, and really having her hip push into her hand it'd look even more lively.
Study proportion, perspective, form, and gesture. Dedicate some time each week studying a different one. Read some books by Loomis. They are a great place to start. There are pdfs online. www.alexhays.com: Save Loomis!

Improve your work. It will pay for itself, I promise you. If you did six months of active regular study you will see significant improvement in your work, and be much happier. One day you may get so many comms you'll have to start refusing commissions and make a Patreon! Work smart, and hard. :)
 

MikeTheBrownFox

Starving Artist
Hiya, please don't take this in the wrong way, but I think it would be in your best interest to improve your work first before you try and get commissions.
I say this because your current skill level is what limits you from getting clients. Also, what you can draw may also be limited (e.g. backgrounds), so that limits your client base. Yes, marketing and networking factor into getting clients but honestly that will probably take you more time than just straight up improving. "Less skilled" artists with super high follower counts likely have a niche (drawing only fanart or doing funny comics) or a very appealing style (well-rendered anime chibis, for example). Unless you go for a niche, you probably won't grow that big without improving your art.
Those comments on your works, don't let them get to you, they're probably people who redirect their anger about their problems at others, that is not good or helpful criticism.
If you post art, good quality art, daily I assure you you will grow over time. Heck if you get good enough you can charge into the hundreds and still have clients!
Heres how it works:
Great art, people likely to share with others even if the subject doesn't interest them, more commissioners will see.
Good but not great art, people may share if the subject interests them (e.g. fanart) but less likely, less commissioners will see.

I hope you don't mind a bit of critique. A lot of your work comes across as flat and a bit lifeless because you do not yet understand perspective, gesture, or form, essential fundamentals to learn, and the anatomy seems off because occasionally limbs bend in strange ways they are not supposed to, or would naturally or comfortably. As an example, try doing the pose of this character as accurately as you can in a mirror: DeviantArt
I tried it myself, it's not a very comfortable or natural way to stand, and very stiff.
Compare it to this work, which I think is your best by the way: www.deviantart.com: Raffle Prize: honggseok
Easily do it in the mirror, and a very believable/natural pose. If you pushed the gesture more by having her lean towards the viewer, tilting her head to relax it, and really having her hip push into her hand it'd look even more lively.
Study proportion, perspective, form, and gesture. Dedicate some time each week studying a different one. Read some books by Loomis. They are a great place to start. There are pdfs online. www.alexhays.com: Save Loomis!

Improve your work. It will pay for itself, I promise you. If you did six months of active regular study you will see significant improvement in your work, and be much happier. One day you may get so many comms you'll have to start refusing commissions and make a Patreon! Work smart, and hard. :)
I have thought that my art right now was at least passable. I have been using posing apps and looking up references, I started getting happy with how my art has been looking so far. I'm very saddened that I still haven't gotten any commissions after significantly improving my art skills as well as dropping a drawing app on a gaming handheld in favor for an actual art program on a desktop computer.

I don't plan having a Patreon since the controversy regarding recent changes and I don't like the idea of paywalling my art.
 

lapinou

Member
I have thought that my art right now was at least passable. I have been using posing apps and looking up references, I started getting happy with how my art has been looking so far. I'm very saddened that I still haven't gotten any commissions after significantly improving my art skills as well as dropping a drawing app on a gaming handheld in favor for an actual art program on a desktop computer.

I don't plan having a Patreon since the controversy regarding recent changes and I don't like the idea of paywalling my art.

Don't aim for passable to start doing commissions! "Passable" doesn't sound like you're confident in your work, and if you're not confident in your artwork, how are clients supposed to be confident in you?
Aim for the best you can be. If you think this is the best you can do, then you will never improve, you will only repeat mistakes and your art will regress in progress.

I'm happy you've made progress, but if you want my opinion I still think you have a lot of room for improvement. As does everyone, by the way, me included. I know it is frustrating to hear, but you're likely not going to see a dramatic increase in more commissioners until you improve a lot more. Give it a go, you'll make mistakes but when you do it means you're making progress! And by the way, if you don't like books, Proko on Youtube has video lessons that are easy to digest for people of all skill levels.

Also reference is good but you shouldn't need to rely on it for all of your pieces. It makes the process much more time consuming and limits you and your creativity if you restrict yourself to references.
What you should do is take a moment to visualize a pose in your head, draw the a gesture and construct the pose the best you can from imagination, THEN use reference for details that your brain missed. Heres an awesome guide that goes more in depth: www.deviantart.com: The BASICS : Using References
Heres another that teaches you how to draw stuff from imagination with the help of reference: www.deviantart.com: Tutorial: How to draw anything
References are there to guide you, but not to carry your piece. The books I linked will give you tools to improvement. No rules, just tools, as awesome drawing instructor Glen Vlippu once said. Use the tools to your advantage.
If you really cant draw from imagination, grind 30 second gestures so you can recognize patterns in how the human body moves and works. Build a visual library of poses by drawing several quick sketches over and over. Like try to do 20 a day, sounds like a lot but if they're only 30 seconds each it'll only take ten minutes out of your day.
The goal is to make more mistakes through these simple quick gestures so you can notice and avoid them when you do finished works.

If you choose to stay where you're at, then I must respect your decision. But unless you have awesome marketing, connections, and business skills, I am telling you now you gotta start focusing on your work and not the numbers.

Oh, and about Patreon --- it's not required to use as a paywall. I've seen it used as just a tip jar or for people to see works a day earlier than someone would normally post them, and also to see high res works and behind the scenes stuff. I understand the policies part though :p
 
Last edited:

MikeTheBrownFox

Starving Artist
I have seen prolific artists selling commissions for less than $30 so you'll be in competition with these people as well. A big part of getting the work is promotion and networking too. You often have to spend as much time advertising and exposure as you do working in the beginning, especially if you are not a fully skilled artist yet.

When I first started out as an artist, I took a brutally honest look at my work and asked myself if I'd buy it, and the answer at first was no. I knew the only way I'd ever make a living doing it was to improve dramatically.

But at the end of the day art is "worth" whatever someone is willing to pay for it. I know several artists of different skill levels that get regular work because of their networking. So it's difficult to advise for any particular situation... other than to say always work on becoming better, because that can never hurt. But here's something someone said to me that encouraged me back in the day. A good artist is just a bad artist who never gave up. It's true. Keep working on your skills and your networking and it will happen for you. :)
It can be really difficult advertising my commissions. There are times where I promote my commissions constantly and nobody bats an eye. What would you say are the most effective ways of advertising?
 

Anthrasmagoria

Space Cadet
It can be really difficult advertising my commissions. There are times where I promote my commissions constantly and nobody bats an eye. What would you say are the most effective ways of advertising?
Twitter/tumbr/reddit/instagram probably. Post works on there and build up a following by following people and commenting on their work too. There's no real substitute for making friends and when those friends feel inclined to buy commissions they will often come back for more. The main reason nobody bats an eye is because they aren't "connected" through personal interaction to your work. The other reason might be that you aren't finding the best places where people are asking for artists to commission and mentioning yourself there. The "best places" though can depend very much on your art style and subject matter. But word of mouth and personal interaction is the absolute winner I find when it comes to selling my art. I could plug it on every site I could find but the returns would be 1% or less success to failure rate for the time put in if was just hoping a random stranger would come along and decide to buy.
 

XPI Sigma

Member
Criticism is something to take to heart for sure. But if something isn't selling, make it a bit cheaper. When people tell you "you're too cheap!" that is when you should go up.

Source: I make a living doing commissions. PM me for any further questions!
 

MikeTheBrownFox

Starving Artist
Criticism is something to take to heart for sure. But if something isn't selling, make it a bit cheaper. When people tell you "you're too cheap!" that is when you should go up.

Source: I make a living doing commissions. PM me for any further questions!
You don't understand. Even if I do lower my commission prices, they still won't sell. This is more of a marketing issue.
 

PercyD

Lover of Beasty Baes
Well, first of all-

If you have to use several screencaps of social media to explain your case, the opposite conclusion is true.
Don't deal with people who don't like your art. Don't deal with people who don't want to pay for your art.

It is going to take several weeks to get started getting commissions again. Myself, I only get commissions from people who I already have a relationship with. Theres a lot of relationship building that has to happen for commissions.
 

PercyD

Lover of Beasty Baes
Also, your style is more reminiscent of old animation, which isn't bad.
I'd explore more with a cartoony style and being expressive. Theres so much you can do with this sort of style, including animation.
 
It can be really difficult advertising my commissions. There are times where I promote my commissions constantly and nobody bats an eye. What would you say are the most effective ways of advertising?

I've noticed Twitter raffles for a free piece seems to be very effective.
When you announce the raffle include some samples of your work, the right hashtags, and the requirement to follow and retweet. You can tweet a few more samples while waiting for the deadline and then when you announce the winner, mention you're open for commissions.

You can also pin a tweet in your feed with information about commissions so anyone who looks at your profile will know you're open.

I've seen people with 50 followers jump to 1500 in a few hours as their name and artwork propagated.
 

Fallowfox

Are we moomin, or are we dancer?
I've noticed Twitter raffles for a free piece seems to be very effective.
When you announce the raffle include some samples of your work, the right hashtags, and the requirement to follow and retweet. You can tweet a few more samples while waiting for the deadline and then when you announce the winner, mention you're open for commissions.

You can also pin a tweet in your feed with information about commissions so anyone who looks at your profile will know you're open.

I've seen people with 50 followers jump to 1500 in a few hours as their name and artwork propagated.

Should artists do this? When we do it we undercut other artists, because prospective commissioners can trawl the internet for artists prepared to work for free.
 
Should artists do this? When we do it we undercut other artists, because prospective commissioners can trawl the internet for artists prepared to work for free.

I think exposure is still pretty limited when new artists do it, so I don't expect it will have any significant impact on open artists. I doubt established artists have the incentive to do raffles and their pool would be too large to expect to win, anyway.

If someone is serious about commissioning a piece, I doubt s/he will have the patience to wait for a win since a raffle could be open for weeks at a time. I never expect to win when I enter them, and I limit how many I do because I don't want to spam my follower's timelines. I've actually won twice but it hasn't stopped me from commissioning other people.

If your goal is to sell, you have to compete.

Alternatively, you could do some free art of a popular furry and tweet it to them. If they like it, maybe a few hundred of the followers will see you and what you got.
 

MikeTheBrownFox

Starving Artist
I've noticed Twitter raffles for a free piece seems to be very effective.
When you announce the raffle include some samples of your work, the right hashtags, and the requirement to follow and retweet. You can tweet a few more samples while waiting for the deadline and then when you announce the winner, mention you're open for commissions.

You can also pin a tweet in your feed with information about commissions so anyone who looks at your profile will know you're open.

I've seen people with 50 followers jump to 1500 in a few hours as their name and artwork propagated.
Yeah, I've done Twitter art raffles a couple of times now. Sadly I don't get as many new followers from them, perhaps it has something to do with my art. I'm still trying to figure out what it is.
 

Fallowfox

Are we moomin, or are we dancer?
I think exposure is still pretty limited when new artists do it, so I don't expect it will have any significant impact on open artists. I doubt established artists have the incentive to do raffles and their pool would be too large to expect to win, anyway.

If someone is serious about commissioning a piece, I doubt s/he will have the patience to wait for a win since a raffle could be open for weeks at a time. I never expect to win when I enter them, and I limit how many I do because I don't want to spam my follower's timelines. I've actually won twice but it hasn't stopped me from commissioning other people.

If your goal is to sell, you have to compete.

Alternatively, you could do some free art of a popular furry and tweet it to them. If they like it, maybe a few hundred of the followers will see you and what you got.

The idea of doing this makes me feel so pathetic that I wonder whether making art is even something I want to do.
 

Bullslayer

Member
Customers always try to get the best for the lowest price, i spent 12 years learning how to model my wolf characters in blender 3d modeling and even still i run into issues with people stating that the quality isnt enough to validate a price. I don't do commissions, my stuff is usually game related but i've been hit with the "your shits not good enough for <insert price>" hate speech as well. It's tough but when others sell high quality for cheap thats what happens to the market sadly.
 

Kopatropa

Drawing seriously since 2013
It's so easy and it happens so fast.
Excuse me, what???

Anatomy is a stupidly hard and emotionally taxing thing to master, a subset among other stupidly hard and emotionally taxing requirements. Learning the rules before breaking them is really damn difficult and takes way too long for most of us, not to mention painfully boring considering you're not allowed to draw what you want when doing so.

Not everyone is an optimist or has the willpower to spend years figuratively killing themselves just to improve at art before deciding it' not worth their time and quitting. Please don't underestimate art.

!!! So important!!!
Dude that was such a hard lesson to learn. You gotta learn the rules before you break them!
I wanna know, how long did it take you to learn these rules? Did you ever feel like giving up because of how tedious this process is? I got uber-depressed multiple times throughout the years before reaching my current level, so I'll be stunned if you didn't feel the same way.
 

Scary

Your local emo
Excuse me, what???

Anatomy is a stupidly hard and emotionally taxing thing to master, a subset among other stupidly hard and emotionally taxing requirements. Learning the rules before breaking them is really damn difficult and takes way too long for most of us, not to mention painfully boring considering you're not allowed to draw what you want when doing so.

Not everyone is an optimist or has the willpower to spend years figuratively killing themselves just to improve at art before deciding it' not worth their time and quitting. Please don't underestimate art.


I wanna know, how long did it take you to learn these rules? Did you ever feel like giving up because of how tedious this process is? I got uber-depressed multiple times throughout the years before reaching my current level, so I'll be stunned if you didn't feel the same way.


It was eyeballing anatomy and poses for YEARS, and it got me nowhere. But when I got to school I had life drawing once a week for three hours, and 3 hour walk in sessions after class hours which I went to a lot. So i had well over 90+ hours of practice over the course of eight months. I also had professors pointing out issues that I would have to consciously fix in my work until it became an unconscious action soon enough. an important note is you can't stop doing it, your skills regress when you're not drawing.

I had a crappy year for mental health that year, so sometimes i would leave class for twenty minutes at a time bc you dont always have good days and you can get very discouraged and overwhelmed. Despite this my own personality of always finishing what I started kept me attending classes, and getting good friends that encourage you to get better REALLY helped when second semester came around.

I'm coming from a place of privilege here bc I gained my skills through my education but honestly I wouldn't have learned without it, back then I didn't have the motivation to learn outside of school. Now it's a different story, every now and then I go to pintrest and practice poses from the website to keep my skills up. Now I'm on my second year of life drawing on the regular and my anatomy is soooo much better. if you ever want some tips of examples anyone feel free to hit me up!! <3
 

Willow

FAF's #1 Terrorist
There's a pinned thread I think in the Art and Auctions subforum that has some helpful tips on how to get people interested in your art. Though if I'm being honest, I'd stop focusing on improving your art for the sake of selling it and improve your art because you enjoy doing it. If I'm being blunt I'm not entirely sure if your art is exactly at a level that I as a potential client would feel confident in spending $30 on. It's not bad, but it's pretty average and has a lot of anatomy mistakes that would also turn off clients who would otherwise really enjoy your art. And again, if you're only trying to get your art to a point where you can sell it, you're doing illustration and art for the wrong reasons. So spend more time improving and reevaluate why you're even doing art in the first place and maybe reconsider your path if your only goal is making money, because you'll burn yourself out a lot quicker when you don't get the kind of profit you want from your art. Same with doing raffles and fan art of other artists. Neither of these things are gateways to getting people to buy your art because people, especially people in the fandom, can tell when you're only doing fanart for others to get ahead and they'll be more likely to avoid you.

It also helps talking to people. Ask them what they enjoy about your art and what you could improve on. Having critics and trolls can suck, but critics can offer valuable insight into why you're maybe not improving or progressing like you want to.
Customers always try to get the best for the lowest price
Not really. People who want cheap, good art will always try to get the best for the lowest price, but people who want good art will be willing to pay a fair price for good work. I see a lot of artists who get pretty consistent work and still sell art for $150+.
 

lapinou

Member
Excuse me, what???

Anatomy is a stupidly hard and emotionally taxing thing to master, a subset among other stupidly hard and emotionally taxing requirements. Learning the rules before breaking them is really damn difficult and takes way too long for most of us, not to mention painfully boring considering you're not allowed to draw what you want when doing so.

Not everyone is an optimist or has the willpower to spend years figuratively killing themselves just to improve at art before deciding it' not worth their time and quitting. Please don't underestimate art.


I wanna know, how long did it take you to learn these rules? Did you ever feel like giving up because of how tedious this process is? I got uber-depressed multiple times throughout the years before reaching my current level, so I'll be stunned if you didn't feel the same way.

Art is a hobby and, for some, career that requires much self discipline. It is different from something like watching TV where there is little to no emotional consequence to doing it. But not many successful people come from just watching TV everyday. Improving your work is emotionally taxing, yes, but oh my gosh when you start seeing results it is so worth it.

This was my work while I knew the bare minimum fundamentals. I kinda understood anatomy, I kinda understood perspective, but... not much more than the average beginner.
Here is my work seven months later. I started studying five months ago, on average every other day for about 3 hours, doing creative art everyday for another 3 hours. And I studied with resources you can readily find for free.
Still not perfect, but hey, I'm not aiming for perfect. Just the best I can be. Btw, before I focused on actually studying, I stayed at more or less the same level since I started drawing at eleven years old. How much time passes doesn't matter, it's what you do with that time.

Also when you're studying, it is extremely important to draw from imagination in-between studies. Otherwise you never learn how to draw something thats not in front of you! And of course you burn out very easily. Study every day, but draw creatively every day too. And when you feel yourself burning out from studying, it is so important to sometimes just step away and do only creative work for a while until you're ready to start learning again.

One thing is about art, there is no rules!!! Literally zero. Nobody is forcing you to learn perspective, anatomy, values, absolutely nobody and you are free to draw your entire life not knowing a thing about those fundamentals if thats what makes you happy. Learning anatomy is a TOOL to use to your advantage, to make your work more appealing and believable. It's also a TOOL for you to twist and use as you like, thats why theres a lot of art that exaggerates anatomy and some art that abandons it all together!

The reason why it is encouraged to learn the fundamentals, is because they will be there to assist you in making art better. You don't even need to have a perfect understanding of them, and nobody should expect you to, but what I am saying is that if you truly wish to improve your work, you should at least have a basic understanding. Thats it! You don't *need* to know every muscle and detail, or how to do five point perspective, just the basics.
Like drawing a box in perspective without the need of a grid, or understanding the construction of a human body and gesture drawing without reference. You don't have to do these things perfectly, just well enough to know what you're doing.
And if you decide to study further on from the basics? You'll only get better.
 

MikeTheBrownFox

Starving Artist
By the way, I want to point out that I was able to sell some commissions in the past with my less-experienced artwork back in 2016, compared to how my artworks are right now.

Below is a Sta.sh link containing some of my older works in 2017 and 2016. This was before I started taking art seriously and wanted to improve on my anatomy, colors, poses, etc., and this was before having a much more proper art program.
sta.sh: Old Artwork

I was hoping the art skills I have now are commission-worthy to people, but I still have a long way to go I guess. How I'm not able to sell any commissions with my current art skills right now compared to the art skills I had back then baffles me.
 

Kite512

Bundle of fluff
I'd recommend leaving the commission slots open and try not to think about the income too much. I know that's easier said than done, but at a stage as early as yours it's not likely you'll immediately blow up and earn enough to live off of it. Draw and post regularly, show you're improving. Network and advertise, there's groups on Telegram that are popular for artists to post their listings for instance. It's not an easy road and two weeks is a very short window. If you get discouraged this early on about it, then you're only going to affect yourself negatively.
 

Anthrasmagoria

Space Cadet
Maybe respond to ads that people put up wanting work doing and always have a select gallery to go with it, with work in it that shows skill and similarity to the poster's needs. You might have to do this for every job you want but that's how you get the jobs (in my experience). If the work doesn't come to you, you have to go after the work proactively. It's almost the same as my process for applying for a job IRL, always tailor the resume or tweak it so that unnecessary stuff is cut from it and good stuff is emphasized, same with a commission response and portfolio. Whatever you're doing at the moment, something needs changing in your approach, so try different things and see if you can't figure out what's missing.
 
Last edited:
Top