Okay so, what is a Commission?

A commission is when you request an artist to make a piece. These artists come with with their own pricing since it’s their own art and services. 

Commissions are a great way to work with different clients and draw different subject matters. It feels great to make someone happy with what they receive! Plus, it makes a great addition to your commission portion of your portfolio.

Tip: Think of commissions as a getting a tattoo. You have an idea of what you want, but you can’t draw it. So you research an artist, and ask them if they can make it for you. Every tattoo artist is different; they charge by the hour, by size, or by subject matter. Same thing for commissions!

PORTFOLIO

Your portfolio is the most important part of your commissions adventure. People will be willing to pay for if they like what they see. Put a lot of time and love into your portfolio. Show the best work, most importantly, finished work. Also, your portfolio should be a piece of art as well, have fun with it, make it accessible, make it beautiful! Jump to the separate portfolio page to learn more about building your portfolio. 

Tip: I suggest showing in-progress work on your social media and connect with your followers! Remember, your portfolio is your professional website, finished work should be here. If you are applying for a studio job, they want to see finished work. Showing previews on social media will make your followers hype to see the finished product!

FOCUS

Know what you want to commission. Are you mainly going to draw emotes? Character drawings? 3D models? Portraits? Animated gifs? Merch? What’s your focus? Pick something you are comfortable with and have fun doing!

PRICING

One difficult part of commissions. How much are you worth? How much is your art worth? It’s your art, you can change it however you like. But don’t charge too low and don’t charge too high. Have a method to pricing your work. State your pricing in your portfolio and in your social media with a pretty looking list, and add some samples! Be fair. I’ll share two methods and things to keep in mind for your commissions.

Menu Method

Think of commissions as a hair salon menu; how much is coloring? A wash? A trim? In this case, how much for a sketch, color, full shade? I see a lot of character commission artists break up their character into parts and price them (sounds scary!) For example, a full body character can be $30, but charge $15 for just head to shoulders. You can even charge for extras, such as small creatures and props. 

Time Method

Charging by time can be ideal for big complex paintings and projects. Also, is the client requesting this commission to be done sooner? Maybe a rush-fee would be a good idea since you may have other jobs.

I posted some great examples of commission artists organizing their pricing of their services in an illustration. They break their pricing down in different ways such as parts of the character and types of drawing (sketch, lineart, color, etc), but it gets the point across to the client. The bottom one in particular can make a great flyer to hand out personally because it has her contact information!

Skill Level

Compare your work with other artists and their prices who have a similar skill level as you. You don’t want to undercharge or overcharge.

Minimum Wage

Yep, whats your minimum wage where you live? You don’t want to make under that!

Material Costs and Fees

Are you printing for someone? Painting? Shipping? Keep track on these expenses and apply that to your pricing.

Supply and Demand

If your thinking about changing your prices, think about the demand of your services; are a lot of people ordering from you? You could be making more if your prices were a wee bit higher.

HOW TO ORDER 

It’s good to have an order form to keep the process organized for you and your clients. You can create one by using Google Forms, where your potential clients can fill out each section and your form will be delivered to you via email. But overall, have an email address to receive orders. You can also recieve orders via social media private messengers. 

Things to list on an order form:

Client Name (Real or Social Media)
Client Email
Client URL (if they have)
The request
Checkboxes on what services you offer
Deadline: Yes/No?

Or a simple little message like:
HOW TO ORDER
Send an order and PayPal payment to email@gmail.com.
Please add Commission to the subject!

Tip: Make a separate email address for your commissions. Being organized is key! Many artists should have a personal email, and then their super awesome creative superhero email that they use for art and games!

TERMS OF SERVICE  

Yeah I know no one really reads terms of services for a lot of things, but I really encourage you to set one up for your commissions! When something is in writing, its official. You have the rights to your artwork, protect yourself from sneaky people!

Things to clarify in your TOS:

Payment: Do you take USD? Euros? PayPal?  

Work Flow: What is the process? Do you come up with a sketch and have the client verify before going forward with the concept?  

What I can draw: Clarify what you would like to draw for your clients. 

What I CANNOT draw: There might be things you may not be comfortable drawing. 

Extra fees: Rush fees? Unexpected add-ons? Complications? NSFW? 

Watermark: ALWAYS watermark your previews so your client can’t take the artwork before paying for it. Clarify here if you are willing to share any previews. 

What will you get: List what will your client get, a PNG image, the file itself, mailed, etc 

Credit the Artist: They love your art, why wouldn’t they share it? Clarify to them to always credit you so other potential clients can find you!  

Disclaimers: Protect yourself! Specify your rights to your clients.

Examples of Disclaimers:
  • I will NOT deliver PNG/PSD file until full payment is received
  • I reserve the rights over the final artwork (meaning: I can post them online to my galleries and use for publicity)
  • I reserve the right to decline any commission request without justification
  • I may ask for your permission to sell prints – you have the right to decline in any case
  • You have the right to use the final digital image for personal use (i.e. print it for yourself, etc.)
  • You MAY NOT resell the image to third parties (i.e. make prints or merchandise from my artwork for sale, or resell the original digital image for money)

HOW TO GET RECOGNIZED 

Okay so how do you get your clients to notice you do some cool art? Think about this, there will always be someone out there who will like what you do. You just have to let them find you, but how?

SOCIAL MEDIA

We are living in a digital age, so make a bunch of social media pages! People scroll through feeds everyday, liking content that interests them, and that content could be one of yours. Make an Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Twitch, Youtube, Artstation, as many as you can. Post frequently! Connect with your followers, reply to them, follow them back! Even some in progress projects people would love to see. You will build up followers when you post and interact more, and these followers will be excited to see what you will bring to your page next.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Yes its possible to advertise without technology, I mean, that’s how the artists before did it! Let your friends and family know what your doing, that way they will let people they know about your services. Like high-school gossip, the word about you will spread out! 

GIVING FREE STUFF

We all love free stuff! Think about giving free samples of your work to people. Stickers, prints, buttons, show them what you can do. Make some flyers too with your contact information. Go to a mall, your local coffee shop, park, ice cream shop, comic book shop, anywhere you can get potential clients that might like your work and engage them! 

Tip: Be your own client! If you have your own Twitch or Youtube channel, create your own specs. Create your own characterature. People will see what you can potentially do for them and hire you!

Twitch helped me to get A LOT of recognition. It’s very cool to watch someone live and ask them questions… and they answer you back! It’s almost like talking to a celebrity since you love their content. I connected with a lot of fellow digital artists, some who stream and some who do not, and we recommend our followers on who to check out. Making connections really helps in the art world because you are familiar with these people’s skills and personalities and they could be potential project partners! 

I also made speed paints and animations for YouTube when I was a kid where I also was a part of a little fanime (fan-anime) community. Sometimes I wonder where these other artists have gone to, did they continue art and design or another career? Who knows! 

WAITLIST

Getting busy I see. Good! Commission artists can be bombarded with so much work, so they take a limited amount of orders for a certain amount of time. State in your website and social media whether you are open for commissions, closed, or on a waitlist. Your followers will look forward to next time you will be available so they can order some super cool artwork from you.

So what are the differences between open, closed, and a waitlist?

Open: You’re open for business! You are ready to take on new orders! Get that money!

Closed: You’re closed for buisness. Holiday? Sick? Finals? Personal? Either or, your not ready to take any new orders at the moment.

Waitlist: You’re slammed dude! Focus on the orders you currently have, but don’t take anymore!

GET ORGANIZED

Even if you are just starting, organize all of your orders! Excel sheets are very helpful! KEEP THIS SHEET PRIVATE!
So what should you organize and why?

Order Date:
When did they order? Compare that to what date it is now to keep track on any delays.

Client Name:
Who are you working for? Maybe make a link to their social media or contact.

Work Requested:
What does your client want?

Price:
How much are you charging?

Price Reasoning:
Be reasonable for your pricing, it helps to understand why you charge that amount!

Delivery Date:
When was the work delivered to the client?

Status:
Is it received, being worked on now or already completed?

Payment:
Is it pending or received? Any tips received too?

Notes:
Referrals? Personal notes?

Preview:
A private link to what the completed project looks like.

Also, sum up what you have made for each month and how many funds you transfered to your bank! 

Tip: Color code that sheet! Yellow could mean Pending, and Green could mean Completed!
I also color coded where my clients came from – Red for YouTube, Purple for Twitch, Blue for Twitter, Pink for Personal, etc! Color coding really helps you not read all that blah blah you wrote, plus you would want to see a lot of Green!!!

Story time! I attempted to do commissions when I had my DeviantArt account around 11-12 years old. I started with FREE REQUESTS and I got A LOT of messages. I enjoyed drawing these! After a couple of months I decided to price my art, but I never gotten anything. Maybe my style of artwork wasn’t money-worthy at that time. I still learned the process though when doing free drawing requests.

My legit commissions journey started in May 2020 and everything I listed here I have done and it helped out a lot, especially organizing my orders. Commissions are a great way to work with different kinds of people because they ask for different things, and its like running your own little business and creating a name for yourself!

Great videos to watch!

I tried my best to list everything helpful that I know about commissions, but of course, there are more tips out there. Here are some videos that personally helped me out a lot, and they are really fun to watch!