I'm no stranger to creating artwork for hire. Even as early as third grade I was hanging my little shingle to make doodles for money or snacks, finding myself able to doodle popular cartoon characters with a modicum of skill. Naturally, school authorities were quick to chastise and forbid me from doing it. At home the environment was no friendlier to my artistic dabblings, often being laughed at or informed that art is a starving fool's errand.
It took a long time, almost at the end of junior high that my interest for drawing cartoons was rekindled thanks to a new exposure to the American comics industry through comic book shops that opened in Mexico, specifically the vast amounts of independent, self-published comics, as I mentioned before. And only a couple years later, the Internet happened to me, making it possible to measure my skills and concepts with those of other amateurish content creators. I sucked at art (yes, even more), but the positive feedback I got gave me the drive to continue. And one of those incentives was being asked to make art for others, for a fee.
In the art world, a 'Commission' is artwork produced for some form of payment at the request of someone. It is a type of work-for-hire, and thus it is imperative for the artist and commissioner to be clear as to what is being paid for, like with any contract work. Sadly, due to their often informal nature, commissions can be an ordeal for an artist who doesn't think ahead a little. Some salient areas that require attention are:
- Pricing of your work-time
- Design work
- Ownership and distribution rights of designs, concepts and ideas
- Amount of reasonable revisions and changes to proposed concepts
- Timeline for delivery
- Technique, finish and intricacy of detail
I'll write a little about each of these areas in future posts. In the meantime, here's one of my recent commissions. I hear from golfers that having your ball land right next to a tree is quite infuriating...