I have a list here of at least a dozen different things I want to teach all of you, (and I'm sure that list is going to grow.) But I thought today we'll ease into it with some of the dos and don'ts when getting a private commission from your favorite artist.
Now I should start off by saying that these are based off my own experiences. Every artist is different and they have policies, preferences, and procedures they prefer. So be sure to ask them how they do things so that everything goes smoothly. In my experience though, following these guidelines will significantly increase the chances that the artwork you commission will come out amazing. So here we go!
DO: Tell the artist what you want.
This is simple but the most important. Tell the artist the character you want them to draw. If it's a superhero or character that has multiple costumes or a history of costumes let him or her know which costume or era you'd like the character to be clothed in. Next let the artist know the kind of mood you're looking for. Do you want the art happy, sad, goofy, funny, action, sexy. Most artists enjoy creative freedom, but they appreciate you pointing them in a direction.
Example: "I'd like you to draw Tony Stark as if he was a goofy steam punk scientist"
DO NOT: Tell the artist every tiny detail you want.
Artists are creative people, don't hinder them and restrict their creativity by telling them every little detail you want in your commission. If you leave it up to them and trust the creativity that made you a fan, you'll be happy with the results.
Example: "Draw batman after a fight with his left ear broken and three scars across his chest and two on his right shoulder. Give him two baterangs between his fingers on his left hand and one big one in his right hand that he's holding over his head... etc etc"
DO: Provide your artist with visual reference.
Most artists, even the very best of them, do not know how to draw everything from memory. So it's ideal to provide them with a picture of the character you wish them to draw. You're pretty safe if its an iconic character like Superman or Batman, but if its an obscure or original character provide them with visual reference so that the artist knows what it looks like.
Example: "Thanks for agreeing to drawing my OC. Here's a couple picture of what she looks like."
DO NOT: Provide volumes of text to describe the character.
When you've spent a long time creating a character you want the artist to stay faithful to the source material. So you might have an urge to send them additional bios, descriptions, and maybe even the first couple chapters of the story they're in. Don't. I promise you the artist isn't going to read it. They have other work they need to do so they can't spend their time on all that bonus material. Knowing the characters backstory will not help the illustration so just stick to photos. We're visual artists, if you want to make sure we draw it right, give us a good visual reference.
Example: "Here's the first 100 page story I wrote on my character and his two page bio. I hope that gives you a good idea of what he's like."
DO: Share the commission with friends.
Artists, or at least most artists, want to share their art with the world, Otherwise what's the point of making it? So show your friends and family the commission you got. Recommend that they get a commission too! If you post it on facebook give credit to the artist and link to their website. Nothing helps an artist out more than word of mouth. So if you're happy with the commission let the world know and give that artist some more business!
DO NOT: Use the commission for your own project.
This happens more than I wish. Many people think that if they get a commission of their OC, they can use that artwork for the cover of their comic, or book, or whatever they want. But unless there was an agreement between you and the artist you cannot use the artwork for whatever you desire. Most artists offer private commissions to their fans at a siginficant discount compared to commercial cost of the artwork. For example you might pay $100 for a private commission. It seems like a lot, but if a publisher wanted to use that same art commercially for a book cover they would have to pay $3,000 for it it. Just because you own the physical copy of the artwork does not mean you own the copyright of the artwork. So protect yourself from being a jerk and from copyright lawsuits and don't use private commissions for your commercial projects.
Speaking of commercial projects next week I'm going to do a tutorial for all you artists out there on how to price your artwork. I'm finding that most clients AND artists have no idea what artwork is worth and what they should be charging/paying for it. So I'm going to tackle that next week.
In the mean time follow me around the web
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And remember: Make comics not excuses!