No More Commissions

Commissions don’t work for me; they never have and they never will. In the end, commissions are about illustrating someone else’s vision and something that never ever favors the artist. This is why I am choosing to make it known that I am not interested in any sort of commission whatsoever. I had decided this some time ago, but had not officially announced it. That time has come, so let me be clear: I am not interested in being commissioned by anyone. I, however, will continue to independently produce work based on my ideas that can be purchased via this website. 

When I was in my senior year of art school, I took a commission from a Bay Area couple that wanted me to paint a family portrait for their parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. They seemed like nice people, so I didn’t think that I had anything to be concerned about. I remember meeting with them on a couple of occasions to discuss the project: we went over size, medium, deadline, etc. At the time, I quoted them a price of $700.00 dollars; the painting was going to be something like 18″x24″ in size and would involve multiple figures. Easily a 70 to 100 hour job. At the time, $700.00 dollars was the most I’d ever charged anyone for a piece of work. When you’re young, seven hundred dollars is a king’s ransom and you’re willing to kill yourself for that because you need the cash. After our second meeting, I began working on the pencil preliminary for the painting. That means working out a composition starting with thumbnail sketches and then working and refining those thumbnails up until arriving at the finished product. Getting to that point involves lots of redrawing via multiple sheets of tracing paper. Oh, and let’s not forget hours and hours of work. In this case, it would have been close to a hundred hours. In the end, after our third meeting where I showed them all the preliminary work I had done, I received a letter from informing me that they were no longer interested and that they were sending me a measly $100.00 for my troubles. Ah, the general public — they love art, but they’re not willing to pay for it. When you see a piece of work by me that’s taken 40 hours to complete, you should understand that it’s 40 hours plus 46 years of drawing that came before that in order for that piece of work to exist. 

Ever since that incident, I have encountered this problem to one degree or another on more occasions then I care to admit. The term “starving artist,” is popular with the public; the truth is, no artist enjoys starving and if they are starving, it’s because people are cheapskates. You want to buy well crafted art by a professional? Then pay the price. After all these years, I’ve learned that the best thing that an artist can do is to not accept commissions from anyone. The hassle involved isn’t worth it. People see your work, commission you, and then: art direct you to the point that you might as well give them the pencil and let them do the drawing, or they haggle with you, or even worse, they ask for a “special” discount. I often wonder if these people resort to these types of tactics with their doctor? The majority of these people couldn’t draw a stick figure to save their lives, but damn, they’re brimming with ideas on how things should be done. I’ve seen drawings with lots of potential go to compete crap because of being over art directed. 

After all this time, I’ve learned that It’s not worth my time and energy to deal with commissions. At this point in time, my work has achieved a certain level of refinement and I expect to be paid what I’m worth. My patience for people who want to wheel and deal, haggle, or use other assorted methods of getting a “cheaper” price is non existent at this point. Years of “will you do a free drawing for me,” and, “can I get a “special” discount?” have tarnished my belief that people have good intentions. The only thing that rings true about good intentions is that they pave the way to hell. In the end, commissions serve no purpose other than to frustrate you. Most of the time you take them because you need the cash, so you end up drawing things that you’re not interested in under terms that never ever favor the artist. Life is too short for this nonsense. This is why I will never take another commission. 

 

 

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