I've been taken advantage of as a freelance furry cartoonist, you may know the type who ask for a drawing and expect it to be free despite my saying it's a paid commission all over the place and then giving me a sob story (birthday, sick, thought it was free) to just not pay for a drawing. What do you think I could do to prevent such a thing on FurAffinity, Anthrocon, and other furry social settings?
Pushover When It Comes to Commissions
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A hard row to hoe is the life of a freelance artist, whether you draw, write, or compose music. Artists are grossly underappreciated in American culture (even the famous ones get screwed out of money), and it’s gotten worse since the advent of the Internet, where people seem to believe that artists don’t have bills and obtain their sustenance through photosynthesis. “The Internet should be free! All art on the Internet should be free! Online radio should be without commercials!” Sometimes I think these people believe artists to be magical fairies who don’t buy food or rent apartments; they clearly sew their garb from spider webs and mushroom gills and frolic about in the magical land of Narnia, where Aslan takes care of all their every need. Then, as a hobby on the side, they post art on the Internet (even though getting an AC adapter in Narnia can be a challenge—but at least Aslan ate all the people at Time Warner cable to provide his people with free Web access).
Sorry, pet peeve of mine. I’ll stop with the sarcasm.
Yes, there are artists who post for free online ... a lot of them, and furries love them for it. But I also know artists who actually need the money from commissions to get by in life because they've lost their "real" jobs or are underemployed.
I’ve always been impressed by the talents of the many artists in the fandom. Their work deserves compensation, and if you are one of those people who commissions a work of art from a fellow furry and then reneges on the deal after the artist provides you with said art—then shame on you! You knew there was a fee for the work, and now you try to wheedle out of your side of the deal? To quote John Cleese, “I fart in your general direction.” You are a malignant leech.
But getting paid for your work is not only a challenge in the furry fandom. Artists all over face this problem, especially commercial artists. As you’ll find in this informative article, https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/artists/advice/180/exhibiting-and-working-on-commission/working-on-commission/freelancing-for-beginners, businesspeople have become expert when it comes to excuses not to pay for the artist’s work.
Papabear’s come across this issue before in this column, and the only really solid solution I can come up with is this: Create a simple written contract between you and your client explaining what the commission is and the terms of payment. I would recommend getting payment up front. If a commissioner has a problem with that, you probably don’t want him or her as a client. If you prefer, you might also try the half now, half later payment method, where you at least get part of the money up front. Offer a refund if the commissioner doesn’t like the work, but if you go that route, what you should do initially is send them a very low-res version of the file so that they can’t use it, and/or watermark your art thumbnail.
To succeed as an artist in this world, you also need to think like a businessperson. Unless you are giving your art out as a gift to friends and family, trade in art is a business. Treat it as such and you will decrease the number of times you get screwed by dishonorable commissioners.
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