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

Why I'll never do free art requests every again

Liseran Thistle

They/Them
I'm gonna be blunt and say I hate having to try and market myself to furries here because no one here wants to actually buy my artwork.

It feels like if I open for free requests I get tons of people asking me for free artwork, but do those same people ever think about getting a commission done? No, they don't. Those same people are so quick to go "Oh yes, I would definitely like it if you drew this character for me for free"

But they never come back and ask for a commission, and I don't know how long I have to wait for someone whose NOT into weird kink shit to come and commission me. I've opened for commissions multiple times, and I've done free art requests for people multiple times, and it's gotten me nowhere. I've had more success with Non-furries than I did with actual furries, and I don't want to become a porn artist just so I can get a shred of attention from people.

I'm not doing free art requests ever again because it tells me that the people who come to those threads over and over again are disingenuous when they say my art is good. I just don't believe them. If my artwork is good, could you maybe pay me to do it then?

And I'm also sick of people lecturing me about how maybe the reason furries don't want my art is because I'm not popular enough because I don't want to have to wait till I have thousands of twitter followers just so I can make a decent amount of money off the thing I like. Call me greedy or whatever the fuck you want, but at the end of the day I don't draw for other people just cause I like it, I do it because I want them to pay me for it in some way. I do it because I would like for them to compensate me fairly for it. Not everyone is doing this art bullshit cause they like sitting at home and drawing the same animals over and over again.

And that may not fit with the "UwU Cute Furry" aesthetic that everyone in this community likes to try and peddle, but it's just the truth of the matter. This is an awful place to try and advertise for commissions in my opinion because it really does feel like my art has no real value if it isn't some big buff wolf dude.
 

ConorHyena

road warrior
I think free art is going to hurt your marketing down the line because it breeds the wrong type of audience (those that want freebies)

Other than that, without looking at your numbers and your social media presence, I suspect this has something to do with an imperfect marketing strategy. You could try building a community, or joining one, and advertising your art more and effectively
 

Tendo64

Cat With A Guitar
To be honest, I don't know what you were expecting. Why did you think opening free art threads would make people want to commission you? If you spoil people and get them used to getting art from you for free, they're gonna think suddenly having to pay is "unfair."

Which is why nobody should ever do free art unless they genuinely enjoy drawing for free and are content with not having people pay for it. The people who come for free art are not the same as the ones who come for commissions, which is why I stopped doing free art.
 

Vinfang

Indie Game Artist / Telegram: vinfang
I only give out freebies on my terms. and generally don't draw the same character twice, unless I like the designs/personalities.

I agree there are always the same group of people asking for free art on FA forums, but I still think FA mainsite & forum has more marketability than most other sites.

To me, I felt the amino app is more hostile for business. and platforms, like YT, FB, IG, Twitter, Patreon, etc. takes too much time to maintain.
 

Miles Marsalis

The Last DJ.
I'm sorry that has been happening, @Liseran Thistle . It sucks when people take advantage of requests and don't bring business your way, especially when they liked the work you did. However, I'd say that this is I tell writers and artists not to do free work unless you're ready to let some business go and you can manage the swarms of people looking for free art. I try to only do requests to sharpen my skills and only for close friends or people who can't afford commissions, like kids or people I know who are in hard times.

But getting back on track, you shouldn't feel pressured to do NSFW art to drum up business and I think it is admirable that you aren't. I also think that you try looking for business on both Fur Affinity and other less furry-oriented sites like DeviantArt, Twitter, and Tumblr. Also, you might what to set up shop on newer art sites like Pillowfort and Waterfall to take advantage of the smaller pools of competition and greater demand for commissions. There is also of course FAF for quickly getting business in the door and taking specialized commissions. Once you have a steady client base, set up a reasonably priced Patreon to retain their business and set up a steady revenue.

That's my two cents.

Also, do you have a gallery? I guessing you did your icon, which looks cool.
 
Last edited:

Liseran Thistle

They/Them
I'm sorry that has been happening, @Liseran Thistle . It sucks when people take advantage of requests and don't bring business your way, especially when they liked the work you did. However, I'd say that this is I tell writers and artists not to free work unless you're ready to let some business go and you can manage the swarms of people looking for free art. I try to only do requests to sharpen my skills and only for close friends or people who can't afford commissions, like kids or people I know who are in hard times.

But getting back on track, you shouldn't feel pressured to do NSFW art to drum up business and I think it is admirable that you aren't. I also think that you try looking for business on both Fur Affinity and other less furry-oriented sites like DeviantArt, Twitter, and Tumblr. Also, you might what to set up shop on newer art sites like Pillowfort and Waterfall to take advantage of the smaller pools of competition and greater demand for commissions. There is also of course FAF for quickly getting business in the door and taking specialized commissions. Once you have a steady client base, set up a reasonably priced Patreon to retain their business and set up a steady revenue.

That's my two cents.

Also, do you have a gallery? I guessing you did your icon, which looks cool.

Yes, I do have a gallery. I have my artwork up on both Deviantart and Furaffinity, two places that I haven't had any luck in finding any business at. Some people seemingly have no idea what a Deviantart even is, and I already gave my two cents about furaffinity.

Userpage of LiseranThistle -- Fur Affinity [dot] net

LiseranThistle - Hobbyist, Digital Artist | DeviantArt
 

Liseran Thistle

They/Them
I think free art is going to hurt your marketing down the line because it breeds the wrong type of audience (those that want freebies)

Other than that, without looking at your numbers and your social media presence, I suspect this has something to do with an imperfect marketing strategy. You could try building a community, or joining one, and advertising your art more and effectively


Listen, Idk how to explain to people that "Building an audience" is the hardest fucking thing ever. I wish people would stop telling me "Just try and market yourself" or "Just try and put yourself out there" as if I haven't been doing that.

There is no trick to gaining an audience its pure fucking luck. I'm not gonna crack the code one day and suddenly become famous because I put the right amount of hashtags or because I posted on the right website. Building an audience isn't easy, and there is no perfect way of doing it. Not even me working myself to the grave and making artwork every day will guarantee me an audience. I've been posting my art on the internet for a long ass time, and I've only got a handful of comments underneath all those posts to show for it.

"You're just not trying hard enough."

No, I'm putting my name in a lottery and hoping I'll make it big one day.
 

Miles Marsalis

The Last DJ.
Yes, I do have a gallery. I have my artwork up on both Deviantart and Furaffinity, two places that I haven't had any luck in finding any business at. Some people seemingly have no idea what a Deviantart even is, and I already gave my two cents about furaffinity.

Userpage of LiseranThistle -- Fur Affinity [dot] net

LiseranThistle - Hobbyist, Digital Artist | DeviantArt
Thanks for the links. But people on Fur Affinity have no idea what DeviantArt is?

Like, the vast-majority of my non-furry friends have heard of DeviantArt at least and quite a few commission from there. I do too occasionally, honestly.
 

Liseran Thistle

They/Them
Thanks for the links. But people on Fur Affinity have no idea what DeviantArt is?

Like, the vast-majority of my non-furry friends have heard of DeviantArt at least and quite a few commission from there. I do too occasionally, honestly.

I branch out to other places besides furaffinity, and people who aren't on furaffinity have very little knowledge about what deviantart is.
 

Vinfang

Indie Game Artist / Telegram: vinfang
Listen, Idk how to explain to people that "Building an audience" is the hardest fucking thing ever. I wish people would stop telling me "Just try and market yourself" or "Just try and put yourself out there" as if I haven't been doing that.

There is no trick to gaining an audience its pure fucking luck. I'm not gonna crack the code one day and suddenly become famous because I put the right amount of hashtags or because I posted on the right website. Building an audience isn't easy, and there is no perfect way of doing it. Not even me working myself to the grave and making artwork every day will guarantee me an audience. I've been posting my art on the internet for a long ass time, and I've only got a handful of comments underneath all those posts to show for it.

"You're just not trying hard enough."

No, I'm putting my name in a lottery and hoping I'll make it big one day.

I totally agreed. It is hard to sell art online, but it is even harder to get people to commission a physical art piece.

The many ways to grow audiences are to...

attend physical events, chat with people and give out links / business cards?
pay for commercials?
leaving comments / shouts on groups / pages?

It doesn't work all the time, but might be the slow and steady route to take before one can finally transforms over years into an A-lister.

I would say the main goal is to try enjoy the process of both making art and marketing, but making improvements and mastering your artistry are the key to an artist 's financial success.
 

Miles Marsalis

The Last DJ.
Listen, Idk how to explain to people that "Building an audience" is the hardest fucking thing ever. I wish people would stop telling me "Just try and market yourself" or "Just try and put yourself out there" as if I haven't been doing that.

There is no trick to gaining an audience its pure fucking luck. I'm not gonna crack the code one day and suddenly become famous because I put the right amount of hashtags or because I posted on the right website. Building an audience isn't easy, and there is no perfect way of doing it. Not even me working myself to the grave and making artwork every day will guarantee me an audience. I've been posting my art on the internet for a long ass time, and I've only got a handful of comments underneath all those posts to show for it.

"You're just not trying hard enough."

No, I'm putting my name in a lottery and hoping I'll make it big one day.
There are ways to work the system, so to speak.

1. You can take out an advertisement on the main site and besides building that viewer base from all the people who randomly click to ad to see your work, you'll get an influx of customers. I know people who have taken out ads for various endeavors and it increased their traffic as well business. The prices are reasonable for banner ads too, this can be cost effective. I'm probably going to do it myself to promote a book I'm going to try to self-publish.

2. Like I said, try Pillowfort and Waterfall along with other newer art sites in conjunction with platforms you are already on. These sites are smaller with users looking for commissions from fewer artists. If join the official Discord servers for these sites and advertise in them, you'll be particular set. The site staff may even actively give you helpful suggestions for running your business on there.

3. In the meantime, keep of the people who have commissioned you, especially if they have done so regularly. Those are the seeds of your client base. Check in with them to see if they need work done or are interested in offers you are making. Send thank you notes for people who did business with you. I know someone on here who did exactly that and she is doing booming business because repeat business is your base.

4. Lastly, in submissions, make offer images that will appear in Recent Submissions on the main site, preferably with the tag line cheap commissions. A lot of people search for cheap commissions that way, so you can lasso on to that business if you do it frequently, within site guidelines, naturally.
 

Vinfang

Indie Game Artist / Telegram: vinfang
Okay but I don't feel like I should have to be an "A-lister" just to make money.

In my opinion, being quirky, skilled, approachable and professional help sell one's brand.

FA mainsite have plenty of amazing artists from Russia / Thailand / Korea / Taiwan.

Why would a client pick you specifically, when there are others who offer quality artwork at a similar or lower price?

There's a good reason why I don't show up more on Artstation (not enough clientele / had to compete in a tank full of S-tier sharks) and Amino (too bothersome to haggle with cheapskates / compete with $1~5 commission offers)
 
Last edited:

Vinfang

Indie Game Artist / Telegram: vinfang
There are ways to work the system, so to speak.

1. You can take out an advertisement on the main site and besides building that viewer base from all the people who randomly click to ad to see your work, you'll get an influx of customers. I know people who have taken out ads for various endeavors and it increased their traffic as well business. The prices are reasonable for banner ads too, this can be cost effective. I'm probably going to do it myself to promote a book I'm going to try to self-publish.

2. Like I said, try Pillowfort and Waterfall along with other newer art sites in conjunction with platforms you are already on. These sites are smaller with users looking for commissions from fewer artists. If join the official Discord servers for these sites and advertise in them, you'll be particular set. The site staff may even actively give you helpful suggestions for running your business on there.

3. In the meantime, keep of the people who have commissioned you, especially if they have done so regularly. Those are the seeds of your client base. Check in with them to see if they need work done or are interested in offers you are making. Send thank you notes for people who did business with you. I know someone on here who did exactly that and she is doing booming business because repeat business is your base.

4. Lastly, in submissions, make offer images that will appear in Recent Submissions on the main site, preferably with the tag line cheap commissions. A lot of people search for cheap commissions that way, so you can lasso on to that business if you do it frequently, within site guidelines, naturally.

Yes, keeping returning clients happy goes a long way. They would recommend you to their friends, if you did them a good job.
 

Liseran Thistle

They/Them
I don't have many "repeat" customers, by which I mean they're nonexistent. And many art websites where I could sell art don't do commission type artwork. I'm not selling pieces I'm trying to sell commissions, and by packing up and moving to yet ANOTHER website I'm back at square one with no one wanting to buy my artwork. I don't have the money to spend on adspace, I don't have the money for business cards, all these "tips" are just people telling me to spend more money!

This is very frustrating! I just came here to vent, not to hear the same lectures that everyone else in my life keeps giving me!

I have tried everything, there is nothing I could do that could help me possibly make money off of my artwork and it sucks, okay! I don't want to have to beg people to commission me or make people do it out of pity, and I know for a fact going Inbox to Inbox won't work because how many people do you turn away who come to YOUR doorstep asking you to buy something from them? Literally almost all of them! Door to Door salesmen are dead for a reason, its because it doesn't work!

I don't have an audience, it's damn near impossible to get one without having to spend exorbitant amounts of money in order to gain one, and the only people even interested in my artwork are people who want me to draw gross porn and fucking moochers!
 

KD142000

Leather-clad Lobo
I suppose I could help a little by creating a journal so my watchers can see? That's about the best I can do outside of commissioning you myself (which I am very tempted to and may just do that now). I liked the request you did for me.

As for other advice...I'm afraid I can't give that.
 

Miles Marsalis

The Last DJ.
I don't have many "repeat" customers, by which I mean they're nonexistent. And many art websites where I could sell art don't do commission type artwork. I'm not selling pieces I'm trying to sell commissions, and by packing up and moving to yet ANOTHER website I'm back at square one with no one wanting to buy my artwork. I don't have the money to spend on adspace, I don't have the money for business cards, all these "tips" are just people telling me to spend more money!

This is very frustrating! I just came here to vent, not to hear the same lectures that everyone else in my life keeps giving me!

I have tried everything, there is nothing I could do that could help me possibly make money off of my artwork and it sucks, okay! I don't want to have to beg people to commission me or make people do it out of pity, and I know for a fact going Inbox to Inbox won't work because how many people do you turn away who come to YOUR doorstep asking you to buy something from them? Literally almost all of them! Door to Door salesmen are dead for a reason, its because it doesn't work!

I don't have an audience, it's damn near impossible to get one without having to spend exorbitant amounts of money in order to gain one, and the only people even interested in my artwork are people who want me to draw gross porn and fucking moochers!
A minor point of clarification, I meant you would probably be better served maintaining commission services on the big AND small sites to increase your exposure. I also recommended those sites because I know there is demand for commissions there.

However, have you considered maybe look for a project to join where someone needs an artist potentially?
 
I know nothing about business, so there's nothing I can provide you as advice in that field. And, as far as I see, you aren't interested in hearing it anyway
This is very frustrating! I just came here to vent, not to hear the same lectures that everyone else in my life keeps giving me!
Which is valid! Everyone needs to rant a bit every now and then. But I think you should keep two things in mind:

First off, competence is atrocious. Who wouldn't want to live off commissions? Who wouldn't at least earn enough to indulge in some mindless spending with the extra income commissions could give? Plenty of people here, on Deviantart, and in almost any artistic field thinks that way. So be prepared, it won't be easy and only those who keep going no matter what, for as long as needed, end up finding success. So, keep going! It's not the moment to stop. Also, you need to think, as someone pointed above, what can you offer that makes you different from the miriad of other starting artists? What can you offer that would make someone think twice if they should commission this more or less known artist who they can trust or you, who are just starting? It may be something special in your art, or it could be the next point.

Have you heard the infamous quote "Caesar's wife must not just be honourable, but must appear to be so?". Offer professionalism. Offer open communication and willingness to communicate, to listen and to speak your mind in a proper way. Offer them the chance to trust you, to know you. And to do so, I think you could improve a little bit your FA profile by adding some info. Add something about you, participate more and share what you think. And, and I don't want to sound like an asshole, but try to avoid this kind of outbursts, because I think commissioners want to feel secure, they want to know that the person they are investing their money in is reliable and strong. Some people might find that you aren't tough enough, that you can't work under pressure and that you aren't too patient, a few things that, they think, could affect the resulting piece. Rant with your friends, or with some people you have trust (and if you feel like you don't have anyone, my notes are open for you if you need to vent, I'll be there to listen and even try to make you laugh), but avoid ranting in the places that people might be visiting in order to find someone, even someone new, to commission.

And, overall, try to have fun with what you do. As with love, "desperation" drives people away. Do art for fun, for you, for those you care about and share it. And of course, let it be known that you offer commissions too, but don't set that as a main goal. And if you do, then try to set yourself attainable goals so once you hit them (because trust me, if you keep trying, you will) you feel happy enough to face though times again until you hit the next.

With this said, I hope you finally get some commissions. And keep up the good work!
 
Last edited:

Vinfang

Indie Game Artist / Telegram: vinfang
I know nothing about business, so there's nothing I can provide you as advice in that field. And, as far as I see, you aren't interested in hearing it anyway

Which is valid! Everyone needs to rant a bit every now and then. But I think you should keep two things in mind:

First off, competence is atrocious. Who wouldn't want to live off commissions? Who wouldn't at least earn enough to indulge in some mindless spending with the extra income commissions could give? Plenty of people here, on Deviantart, and in almost any artistic field thinks that way. So be prepared, it won't be easy and only those who keep going no matter hat, for as long as needed, end up finding success. So, keep going! It's not the moment to stop. Also, you need to think, as someone pointed above, what can you offer that makes you different from the miriad of other starting artists? What can you offer that would make someone think twice if they should commission this more or less known artist who they can trust or you, who are just starting? It may be something special in your art, or it could be the next point.

Have you heard the infamous quote "Caesar's wife must not just be honourable, but must appear to be so?". Offer professionalism. Offer open communication and willingness to communicate, to listen and to speak your mind in a proper way. Offer them the chance to trust you, to know you. And to do so, I think you could improve a little bit your FA profile by adding some info. Add something about you, participate more and share what you think. And, and I don't want to sound like an asshole, but try to avoid this kind of outbursts, because I think commissioners want to feel secure, they want to know that the person they are investing their money in is reliable and strong. Some people might find that you aren't tough enough, that you can't work under pressure and that you aren't too patient, a few things that, they think, could affect the resulting piece. Rant with your friends, or with some people you have trust (and if you feel like you don't have anyone, my notes are open for you if you need to vent, I'll be there to listen and even try to make you laugh), but avoid ranting in the places that people might be visiting in order to find someone, even someone new, to commission.

And, overall, try to have fun with what you do. As with love, "desperation" drives people away. Do art for fun, for you, for those you care about and share it. And of course, let it be known that you offer commissions too, but don't set that as a main goal. And if you do, then try to set yourself attainable goals so once you hit them (because trust me, if you keep trying, you will) you feel happy enough to face though times again until you hit the next.

With this said, I hope you finally get some commissions. And keep up the good work!

I totally agree, looking back 5 yrs and you will notice your efforts and hard work paid off.
 

JustAlex1997

Well-Known Member
Especially during a pandemic where jobs have been lost, free things are very tempting. Even without a pandemic, people accept gifts they normally wouldn't view as worth their money. If you drew your profile photo, you seem to be a competent artist. However, competent art doesn't automatically make people want to spend their money.

You made an offer and people accepted it. It may have been nice for those people to have thrown a few bucks your way, but that's their choice to make. You would've only been entitled to their money had you put a price tag on the art you made for them.
 

oappo

Well-Known Member
I think free art is going to hurt your marketing down the line because it breeds the wrong type of audience (those that want freebies)
This. In my experience the quality of customer is dictated by the price of art. At least to a moderate degree. If you offer free art, you'll only get people with no money to spend. You'll get the "wtf why do I have to pay you" types.
Twitter is huge for art, so that might be something worth considering. Perhaps tumblr.


'm not doing free art requests ever again because it tells me that the people who come to those threads over and over again are disingenuous when they say my art is good.
They probably are. Not saying that your art is bad(it's perfectly fine), but as I said above,some of the people who get for free art tend to compliment the artist in hopes of getting them more amenable to a request. It's a common tactic of art beggers. Quality of the art is irrelevant.
 

Liseran Thistle

They/Them
This. In my experience the quality of customer is dictated by the price of art. At least to a moderate degree. If you offer free art, you'll only get people with no money to spend. You'll get the "wtf why do I have to pay you" types.
Twitter is huge for art, so that might be something worth considering. Perhaps tumblr.



They probably are. Not saying that your art is bad(it's perfectly fine), but as I said above,some of the people who get for free art tend to compliment the artist in hopes of getting them more amenable to a request. It's a common tactic of art beggers. Quality of the art is irrelevant.

that doesn't make me really feel any better, sounds like they're just lying to me about how good they think my artwork is in order to get free shit from me.
 

PercyD

Lover of Beasty Baes
I feel you here, bab~.

But I will say that there are furries who will pay for art. You will just never get to them through offering free art. Free art is good for (1) building your portfolio and (2) practicing some techniques-- thats it.
It's not a marketing tool.

I also do not draw cutesy "uwu" furry art. Everyone is hairy, different shapes and sizes, and my lineart is rough. But I have plenty of people who appreciate my art for it's uniqueness. c:
Just build a proper portfolio.
 
D

Deleted member 82554

Guest
I will never do a lot of things every again every time too. But I have mixed feeling aboot it.
 

TyraWadman

The Brutally Honest Man-Child
1. Stop doing freebies for the love of god, it's not the way to go. XD
2. Be patient. Be active. And instead of uploading screenshots of your prices, upload actual images!

You don't have to be an A-lister to make money, I have seen people bragging about how they spent $100 on a kids MS paint art of a cat, and the guy still somehow made a lot of money, but he also catered to a particular audience. To us, it might seem foolish or fetish-based, but he clearly enjoyed it, or had the willpower to rake in the cash. That being said, I feel like you just need to focus on uploading more, whether it be traditional, digital, or both. Create for yourself and perhaps your audience will flock because of your original content?

Since no one is commissioning you, use this free time to study and develop your style. Some people don't want to buy from someone that doesn't put out consistent work. And also, years ago, I was jumping from software's and someone actually thought I was commissioning artwork of my OC's when it was just me exploring techniques and styles.

You only know how to draw hands in 2-3 poses and in some pictures they're completely hidden. You have works that have smooth lines and others where they are rough and sketch-like with stray pixels all around. Sometimes there is colour in the lines, sometimes it is out. It's too easy to tell when you're referencing things- like FNAF or (I wanna safely assume) Steven Universe. It's also too easy to tell when you're not, which is a bit of a red flag for people that happen to notice.
 
Top