Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Primer to Commission Work - Timeline for Delivery and Finish

It sure has been a while. Life gets interesting when you move to a different country. You leave behind friends, relatives, and a sense of security only to start over in many ways. I've been a permanent resident of Canada since late 2010, but I still don't feel like I am fully settled, in no small part thanks to the amount of times I've had to move since then. Packing and unpacking your life every 3-6 months has made me reconsider what is truly necessary in my life, at least when it comes to material possessions. I trust that eventually I'll manage to find friends and family as well.

This, of course, means that it's been almost two months since the last post I made regarding commissions in this here site. It is also ironic that I'm late discussing the topic I had remaining: timeliness and finish.

As a professional artist, one of the key skills expected of you is time management. You must know how long it will take you to finish a piece of average complexity, or at the very least you should be able to come up with a reasonable estimate. Yes, sometimes life gets in the way, but your customers don't care. When you ask for another professional's services (say, a doctor, mechanic or plumber) and they give you an estimate of completion (and cost), you don't care whether they had a sleepless night, if their kid has the flu, if their car broke down or if they are having an emo day when you expect the work completed. It is no different with creating art for money. Being accurate in estimations and punctual in delivery will improve your reputation and bring you business in the form of repeat customers or word of mouth. I cannot stress this enough: It is NOT acceptable to take somebody's money without giving them an estimate for completion and then taking six months without even communicating with them. 

Let's say you're actually goot at estimating your delivery times, and you finish the work ahead of time. Are you done?

There is something to be said about excellent people: They usually do MORE than is expected of them, and this applies to the art-for-hire world much more than to others. Perhaps you were paid an extra $10 for a background: It would be a good idea to take some extra time and research a room style, or a landscape to use and necessary props, as opposed to simply slapping something together and calling it done. Maybe you're not being paid for the research time, but this will also improve your skills and you can be sure that the customer will more than appreciate a little freebie. I do this on occasion when I'm having fun with a piece. The same applies with the level of detail you want to put on a drawing. The definition of 'sketch', 'inks' and 'coloured' vary wildly depending on the artist and their mood. Is a sketch just construction lines? Is a sketch a pencil drawing that is shaded and ready to be inked? Is a coloured drawingjust flat colour? Just cel-shading or gradient shading? Shading and highlights? How many passes of shading? Just black and one colour?

In the end it will defnintely pay off to go the extra mile with your customers when they're reasonable and they fulfill their end of the deal: They pay promptly, communicate well and make reasonable requests

These are thoughts I've come up with while taking commissioned work. I will continue, since it is good money and practice, naturally.

In other news, I'm back in school! Check out this little something from Story class.









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