My commission horror stories.


Up until a few years ago, Iíd commissioned exactly one person to ever do anything (after 10+ years in the fandom). I always took the tack that if I wanted to see something in art, I could just do it myself. Most of the furry artists I really liked were too busy or never did commissions.

However, a while ago I got some crazy idea to do a special illustrated edition of a story I wrote. In Ď96-í97 I wrote a novella called Unforgiven, which chronicled the life of my character Jack Salem from birth up to the time of the first comic I did of him (.357). The story had already been serialized in Yarf, and published separately with a lot of illustrations by myself and a few by my friend Pete Stoller.

So for some reason I suddenly decided it would be a really neat idea to get a bunch of artists I liked to do illustrations for the story, and put out a separate edition with these pictures.

Little did I know what I was letting myself in for.

I guess I was naive (and by my age I shouldnít be). Maybe I thought Iíd get a little bit better treatment since I was a fellow artist, rather than some anonymous fanboy trying to get a whack-off picture. Boy was I wrong.

The basic idea was this: I would offer the artist their standard fee for one or two illustrations, sometimes in color or in B&W, depending on where I thought the artistís strengths lay. After agreeing on a price and media, I would send the artist a copy of the story, sometimes with full payment. They would then read through it and decide to do whatever scenes caught their fancy. If they didnít want to actually read the thing, I could pick out something.

So this is what happened, in chronological order, after over 5 years of trying:

(I am deliberately leaving gender out of the accounts. It is not my intent to slander the artists or give them bad reps. Some of them are on Yerf, some are not. And yes, a couple of them have recently offered commissions on either Ebay or Furbid.)

This summary current as of 12-06-2004

Artists in red are the ones who actually delivered something

Artists in blue are commissions Iíve given up on, and are almost certainly dead.

Artist 1. Posted on a newsgroup or Yerf (I forget which) asking for commissions to help with school expenses. Sent the materials and full payment in June or July of (Ď99). Said they were working on it, and it was complete except for coloring. Since then any emails asking about it have gone unanswered for months at a time. Occational email contact more recently (Aug í01). A friend told me theyíre done with the art, but itís not been delivered yet. Update: Artwork delivered and in hand.

Artist 2. Very good with email negotiations. I sent the materials and full payment. Emailed me back shortly thereafter to say he found the material so distasteful he didnít want anything to do with it. Sent everything back with full refund. This whole incident left me profoundly puzzled, since this artist has XXX material on their Velan site and website. Iíd also given them the option to do any scene from the story, including two people standing there talking. But since Iím not trying to force people to do stuff they donít want to, I let it go at that. Artist #2 gets kudos for sending back my money and generally acting professional.

Artist 3. . Negotiations went well, and the pictures were delivered close to when they said they would be. This artist was the most expensive, but it was worth it.

Artist 4. I approached them a while ago but was told they were too busy. They contacted me a some months ago and told me to send the materials, which I did. A couple of brief email contacts, but thatís been it. No word if theyíre working on it, or anything. Iíd been told by a couple of people not to give this particular artist any money up front, because they donít deliver and donít respond to email. I sent an email months ago asking if they still wanted to do it. If they didnít I could then free up the money alotted for that picture for something else. No reply to my mail, or any contact for many months. When I noticed this artist was offering to do picture trades, I wrote again asking about the comission. No response. Email communication (hopefully) re-established the week ofSept. 17th.    Nothing since then, up to the present date.  This is one of the artists I've heard the worse stories about in terms of never getting work done and running off with money.

Artist 5. This artist is an actual working professional illustrator. Good with email negotiations. Money and materials were sent. So far I donít have the picture. Numerous delays and excuses, including moving, other projects coming in that take priority, the holiday, family criseses ect. I sent full payment and materials back in August, and still nothing. At least this artist used to email me regularly to let me know whatís going on, but Iíve not heard anything since Christmas time. An email from me back in March/April was responded to, and they say theyíre working on it again.Emailed them in November of í01.Says theyíre working on it.Another email sent the week of 01-14.Still says theyíre working on it. An email sent the week of 2-10-02 unanswered, probably because it was too brusque.After I sent another email a few weeks ago, and they finally admitted they were never going to do it, and said my money would be refunded.† The money was eventually refunded several years after the commission was requested.

Artist 6. This artist posted on a newsgroup begging for commissions due to being out of work. Email negotiations went well. However, I was warned not to send this artist any money up front by people who knew them, so I sent the materials and an email asking how they would like to handle payment. Since then Iíve had virtually no contact from this artist. I got one brief email many months ago saying they were delayed due to health problems, but since then none of my emails have been answered. S/He recently told a mutual friend via ICQ that s/he doesnít want to do the picture, and that I was Ďpesteringí them (I sent all of two short emails in the space of more a month) Eventually the artist paid me for the book (said it was Ďlost.í) but I never got the commission.Heard recently this person was doing hard-core pornography commissions, since getting laid off again.  More updated news says that this artist has quit the art field altogether, and is working in the service industry.

Artist 7. An art trade, which was successfully completed.

Artist 8. Sent them the materials back in Oct/November of Ď00. No communication until the end of the year 2001, when the artist re-contacted me.Says theyíre ready to begin working on it.Good communication since then.Several sketches were shown via email several months ago.Looks good.  The pictures were eventually completed and delivered (and look very nice, BTW).

Artist 9. Another professional working illustrator. Sent the material back in May of 2001, no word since. An email asking if they were still interested has gone unanswered.Wondering if itís worth the trouble to email again.  Ultimately, I never bothered to re-contact this artist.

Artist 10: Yet another artist whoís supposedly a working pro. They were trying to auction off a commission on FurBid, and I asked about private commission instead. We went through a lot of negotiations, and I eventually ended up writing (at the artistís insistence) detailed descriptions of the scenes I wanted, scanning a bunch of reference pictures, and even doing a couple of rough layouts to show the action. I heard nothing from this person for a couple of months, and when I finally emailed to ask what the status was, they said that they Ďunfortunatelyí were unable to do it. I got pissed off over all the hoops I had to jump through to get the reference material to them, and wrote a nasty email back. They never replied.  I'm still keeping an eye open for this person ever posting soliciting commissions again.

Artist 11:Auction won on Furbid back in May/June of this year.Took a while, but picture finally deliver week of Sept. 17th. Unfortunately the picture sucked.It sucks so bad, I canít use it, and wonít show it to anyone, because Iíll get goofed on for thinking this person might actually produce anything good.Mea culpa.Did I mention the picture blows chunks, too?

Artist 12: Someone else who was auctioning work on Furbid, that I contacted for a private commission.Very good communication.Pictures a little later than I thought, but compared to the other people, the lateness was nothing.One of the few people on this list I would recommend. 

Artist 13: Another Furbid auction.Description and reference materials sent.No recent emails, or an estimated completion date, or any communication whatsoever.†† Well, at least they didnít ask for money up front.Last email still unanswered, no communication whatsoever since the first week of December.I finally got fed up and send them an ultimatum email saying that if they didnít recontact me, Iíd consider the auction forfeit.No response.  I'm particularly peeved about this one, and if this person ever tries posting another auction I will not hesitate to write a long warning to potential bidders exactly detailing their behavior.

Artist 14.Yet another Furbid auction.This one I did pay up front, mainly because various RL problems (job and the holidays) were keeping me from getting the description and reference material emailed off in a timely fashion, and I didnít want this person to think I was planning to flake out. Email communication the first week of Febuary, and a rough sketch seen.Picture finished in April/May, and finally delivered a couple weeks ago.

Not included in this summary:  A couple of artists who've done pictures on their own volition or as part of art trades.  And, another artist who volunteered to do some work, then vanished without a trace without returning the reference material I sent.  The artist summaries end at 14 instead of 18 (as indicated on the previous page) because I have forgotten many of the details of later commissions attempts.

Ignoring the fact of why Iím bothering to even bid on these stupid auctions, Iím wondering why artists put commission auctions up when they seem to have so little enthusiasm for doing them.†† Is it just an ego thing, to see how much money theyíre worth?And then theyíre left with the inconvenience of actually having to DO something afterwards? The horror!Sheesh!. Iíve seen artists that I know have outstanding prepaid commissions (not necessarily to me, but to other people as well.) offering additional commission auctions, or posting doodles and saying on the post that theyíre Ďbored,í offering to do free art or art trades, or doing unrelated personal art and completely ignoring commission obligations.