Commissions and Illustration jobs.

  • A year ago I was asked to do a commission for a friend. Excitedly I said yes. I started the project and gave myself a set time limit. As the deadline got closer to the date i had 4 to 5 finished pieces but still didn’t feel comfortable giving any one of them. In the end i told the my friend i couldn’t do it.
    A couple of months later a family member asked for another commission. I set a time limit did several art pieces. Still wasn’t satisfied with the art work but I gave it to my family member anyway.
    I have people ask me to do commission and my answer is always no.
    For those that do commission, was it easy for you to do commission early on in your art career?
    For those that don’t feel comfortable doing commissions, do you feel comfortable doing illustrations for a company? And why?

  • @robbery i dont get it. If someone sees your work and likes it enough to request a comission, thats great! Thats the aim of the game! Rather than just produce a finished piece from scratch and hope they like it, maybe you should give them a couple of decent sketches to choose from first, so that way you remove yourself from the decision making process, put the onus back on the client to select a composition that suits them, which will be rendered in your particular style, which we can only assume they like, as they approached you for the commision in the first place.

  • Pro

    @robbery I have to agree with @gavpartridge . With professional work, be it a commission or an illustration for a company, you're not just creating work for yourself but for someone else, a client. Of course it's ideal if you're satisfied with the work too, but the main aim is that they are happy with the art they purchased. Creating 5 finished pieces and not liking any of them enough to give it to the client seems wasteful, inefficient, and you're not giving the client the opportunity to decide for themselves if they like it. Like Gav said, create some sketches and then let the client decide if they like any of them, and if it suits them. It's not only a good practice to let them know what you're doing and give them a chance to give their input, but also if they like where you're going with it, it would give you confidence to continue. As long as the client is satisfied with the art, part with it happily and move on to the next. You're constantly going to improve your art hopefully for the rest of your life, so if you're waiting until you're 100% happy with it until you can take commissions, that time may never happen. But with commissions and client work, it's not all about just your own satisfaction with the art anymore. And that can be a good thing if you tend to be all up in your head.

  • I agree, let the client decide, you already put the work in so you really didn't have anything to lose. I agree that if people are seeking you out to do work then they already like your work. I had a bad experience when I first took a commission for a friend of a friend but it was one time. I did a bunch of work he never paid me for and decided he didn't want my art. But that was one time and every other commission I'v done since then has gone very smoothly and been a great experience and built up my confidence. You won't build your self confidence if you are so critical of yourself that you can't move forward. Give them a chance. You will be surprised.

  • @robbery I have had similar problems but started taking more commissions because I want to earn money and develop more professional habits.

    Something that is helping me make the transition from only doing personal work to doing commissions is giving friends/family a discount if I have complete creative liberty over the subject so I can focus on making a good piece without worrying. This works well for people who are close to me. I also started a Threadless shop that sells my art on prints and shirts and I found that helped a lot -- most friends/family are honestly just hiring me to be friendly and show support! They would rather pay a smaller price for a cute item than go through the process of a full commission.

    If they want something more specific, then it has helped to check in with them throughout the process to get feedback and make sure I'm not wasting time making something they don't like. Before starting the drawing I make sure I know which of my art pieces they like the most and I brainstorm a little with them. And then I trust that they hired me because they like my style and judgment, so I try not to listen to the self doubt. I focus on making a piece that makes me happy while matching their criteria.

    Even though it's not efficient, I try not to give people work that I don't feel a "spark" with. It feels bad, and then it can end up being a worse and worse problem if other people see that piece and want something similar, because I will be trapped in making things that I don't like. On bad weeks I end up spending twice as long or three times as long as I am being paid, but I am thinking of it as training and having the mindset of always wanting to work faster and communicate better to get ready for higher stakes. I would rather make something good and then learn how to do it faster than make something disappointing because I want to be speedy.

    I am still learning so I will look forward to reading everyone's posts on this topic!

  • Thanks everyone for the reply. I do like the idea of letting the client decide the sketch they like and going on from there. This was all good advice thanks again.

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