A few months ago, I was approached by someone who said that they loved my work and wondered if I would be willing to do some of that work for a family member of theirs? Something we in the industry call a “commissioned piece.” Now, when someone asks me for something like this, there are a series of questions that follow that are most always never thought of originally but, because of experience, are a natural progression to the work; what size, specific wording, the ever important price and, the final question I ask, when would you like this done by? To which most of the answers I hear in return are always along the lines of, “Oh, whenever you get a free minute, just whip something up.”
Now, to be clear here, I need to point out that at this moment, TWO different conversations are happening inside the respective heads of Artist and Client. The Client might be thinking, “I don’t want to interrupt you” or “I believe that you can do this commission for me rather quickly” or even, “I am not sure what your schedule is?” But that is not what the Artist hears with those words. What the Artist is hearing is, “I’m not really sure if this is how I want the idea to take form” or “does the Client understand the commission?” Or in some cases, “does the Client really even want the work done or is it still just a thought?”
While a potential Client might not want to seem imposing, they must understand that this art form is pretty much a deadline driven industry and while they may not want to seem forceful, they need to remember to clearly communicate to the Artist which mental ‘Deadline Pile’ this request needs to be put in. Should this be done by Christmas? … List A. Should this be done by next month? … List B. Should this be done by next week? … List C, and so on and so on.
Cartoonists and comic book Artists are trained to think in deadlines and that is how they gauge their workload. Deadline by deadline.
The point is this, clear communication with the Artist is not an ‘infringement of their time or rights’ … it’s good business practice. You wouldn’t buy a house or a car without knowing your side of the deal and purchasing art, while on a less grander scale, is no different. Any seasoned Artist who doesn’t ask these questions, I would consider inexperienced or undisciplined; either way, know your rights, know their rights and communicate expectations that way everyone knows where they stand. It will make for an easier transaction and save some frustration down the road.
Have a thought about or agree with this article? Comment below and let me know what you think?