(I updated some things after an enjoyable talk with eyenoom)
• As French dictionary says, "a pro lives from their activity". That's how "pro" must be read here (and not as "being good", which is a totally different thing)
• dA is not a pro-place: only few people here are pro.
• Why do you buy/why do you open commissions? For side kicks? To live from your art?
• Professional is a bundle of (ToS + price + duties); your personal life won't matter
• Are your buyers pros? Or hobbyists?
• Art is not worth your work: it's worth the price buyer & seller agree on
• Spend time to reach buyers instead of waiting for them/lowering your price
*FIRST*, you should give a look to
journal about commissions tips and tricks, from an artist point of view: fav.me/daykj5o
Then, I want to give my buyer's point of view. Not to make a war, but to have both points of view. These aren't rules, these are only observations
. Plus, they're black&white, meaning they are meant to be interepreted. Keep in mind that, to me, things *are* black&white (or binary, as you wish). The "grey" only comes from your (my) interpretation of things, picking mainly-blackfacts decisions here, and mainly-whitefacts ones here. And from knowing that colors can be inverted: call black "white" and white "black", and you'll switch the world while it remains the same.
I'm only a commission buyer since few weeks (like ~2 months), to illustrate my non-profit (hobby) project Dracca
. My pro job is computer engineering at General Electric. I'm also a hobby-maker in a french web game community
(we meet the troubles here when it comes to make money from what we like to do). So now, you know more about me so you may understand the followings easily.
Pro means living from it
First, being a "pro", in whatever fields, mean you are living from your activity (or at least, you planned on that). It slightly moved toward another definition (close to "being pro means you're just good at"), but that's wrong according to our disctionary (French): a pro in gnagna is someone who lives from gnagna-ing. This implies a lot: it's stressfull (you have troubles with your pro activity means you'll have trouble with the way you live), and it's serious (because of these consequences). But it's also subjective. Eh, if you have troubles at your job, will your life end all of a sudden? In fact, no. But it will have a great impact on the way you live (meaning you still live, but differently).
So that stress (and the amount of work and time it implies) must not be underestimated if you don't wanna fail (like I did when I try to be an indi... did I die? nope, I'm still alive, I've 'just' changed the way I live and took a salary job; I cannot do what I fully love and I have to comply with other obligations [see below about accepting to be pro], but that's part of the concessions a pro job usually require). *Don't run away by reading this*. Just be warned before jumping in. And jump in! I regret nothing about my own fail.
dA is not a pro-place
dA is not a bad place to buy, it only depends on the matching between the buyer and the artist: are they both pro (rare here), or both hobbyist? Or is one pro, and the other hobbyist? Age influence this a lot. These (Pro/Hobbyist) should match to get fair trade: a pro buys from a pro, a hobbyist buys from a hobbyist. Since a lot of people here are young (so are artists), then a lot of buyers are hobbyist.
Know why you buy
This is actually THE most important thing to me. You MUST know why you buy commissions: will you use it in your job? Or in a free time project?
As for the artist, are you a pro or a hobbyist? Why do you open commissions? Is it for being a pro and live from it, or is it a hobby you do and just use this opportunity to make few bits?
Both implies very *very* different ways of commissioning and trading. Do not forget that it's very rare and unusual to make a "company" alone (= to get pro as a fully independent artist). Often, companies and professional structures are made from several people working together on a project. You may have sellers, drawers, engineers, lawyers, accountants, banks, etc.
If you're a pro, accept it
I'm not a professional buyer, and they probably are rare on dA, but a professional buyer will fit a professional artist (buyer would "hire" the artist). If you want to make your commissions a professional thing, then you must accept everything that goes with being a pro (these are adapted from situation I met at General Electric rather than here on dA). Pro buyer expects "pro behavior" from the artist
• Your personal life doesn't matter
: even if you have personal troubles, then you have a job to do (as the artist) and pro obligations (as a buyer). Buyer must be able to rely on the artist for doing the job no matter what happens in their life, and the artist must be able to rely on the buyer for paying the bill. Obviously, negotiation can occur: if artist has trouble, they must warn the buyer, suggest a way out, and *let the buyer decide*. Same works on the other side (if the buyer has trouble finding money they promised: *artist will decide*).
Terms of Service no, Agreement
: In a pro relation, artist and buyer can have term of service. But they must both match each other. It often means that you can end up in a negotiation, and have to accept changing some things to seal the deal.
• You do what the buyer wants
: if they want something specific, you'll do it. Even if it sounds stupid. If so, you should state it's not the way to go, but *the buyer decides*. They may accept your suggestion (and will often valuates it and like to work again with you), but they also may refuse it.
Who are you selling to?
Depending on whether you sell to a hobbyist or pro buyer, things will change a lot. You cannot expect the same from a hobbyist buyer than from a pro buyer. I'm a hobby buyer, and so, these tips are directly from my dA experience, and what I saw on JeuWeb (the french web game makers community I told you about):
• Low prices
: The buyers don't buy for making tons of money. They buy things as a hobby, or maybe for decorating their room, or to reward the artist they like or so. Hence, artist usually cannot charge a lot (they can still try). It's way easier to pay $200 when you're a pro and will make $300 from it, but it's way more painful if you're a hobbyist buyer that will only print the commission and pin it on the wall.
Selling to hobbyist means you're a hobbyist artist (who won't live from it)
: I'm gonna strike this, but I'll let it there because knowing that price thing, it's hard to live from your art if you only sell to hobbyists, except if you sell to a lot of them. But sur-mesure things to a lot of different people is a pain and stressfull thing. Plus, will it last in time? Like next week? Month? Year?
• Fair ToS
: take care of your ToS, even as a hobbyist. Avoid huge text walls. Give usage rights to your buyer. I already wanted to commission some artist there and never actually do so, and never message them, just because their ToS sounds like "you pay me (a fair price btw), and I draw as I want, I keep all rights, and you won't repost/reuse it". Some other buyers may accept it, but if you get too few commissions and want more, then consider changing these.
Your art is worth the price you agree on
I know. It's hard to read and accept. It actually hit me too, meaning that all the websites I made (see reinom.com
) are worth somehow nothing. But that's true: just because you spent a week on an art piece doesn't mean it's worth $500
. And just because you spent 10 minutes on it doesn't mean it's worth $2. It's worth what both buyer and seller agrees on
. That's why it's hard to put a price on your commissions. Put it a too high one, and no one will commission you. Put a too low price and you'll demotivate yourself facing a huge amount of work to do for almost nothing.
Reach your buyers by yourself
A lot of artists are just opening commissions, and wait for buyers to come. It may work, if you already have a large amount of watchers *who are interested in commissioning you and interested in your prices*. These are two big conditions! If you opened commissions and get no feedback, and if you actually want to be commissioned, then *don't rush for lowering your prices*. First, spend some time looking for buyers (on dA, on any other website). Maybe some buyers (ie: I do) are actually not browsing dA a lot, and just end up randomly on people's commissions. By doing so, buyers will mainly see the most well known artists, and will not see that you do art that fits what they are looking for. Doing so, you should be able to sell your commissions at the same price, instead of keeping lowering them down.
Thanks for reading
. Please react in the comments; maybe some things here are a bit bad worded/not what I exactly have in mind (and so comments will make it more clear for everyone).
Thanks to Eyenoom
to, for that interesting talk we had