Hello! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. I set this up to make the whole commissioning and art-creating process as easy and lovely as possible for you, the commissioner, and me, the artist. I have a few health issues that make work all kinds of challenging, so here are the accommodations and workarounds I’ve come up with — I’m constantly pushing my process to make it better!
If you have any questions, or would like to discuss any possible adaptations of these guidelines/process-points based on your circumstances and the commission you’d like, please just let me know!
All my work comes with preliminary sketches I’ll show you, to check that it’s okay with you, and see whether you want to make any changes. I do this because working in traditional media makes correcting things a lot harder than when you have Undo and multiple Layers handy! If you have anything you’d like me to change, please let me know when you get the sketch! Otherwise, I’ll continue with it, and once things are inked and painted, there’s not a lot of room for changes. I will always try and work to make the art the best possible piece it can be, and as close as it can hew to your vision of characters/setting/etc! — but I am also limited by my medium, and ink and watercolor are not terribly forgiving. So as much as possible, please let me know of important visual cues or changes you need early on.
On works in progress
It’s been useful for me to post photos of work-in-progress on social media, because it helps me with momentum and I like signal-boosting the books/stories/venues for which I’m doing art. So I will ask you if you’re okay with me posting these photos, and if you’d like to be tagged/mentioned in them; I definitely appreciate everyone who agrees to this, because it’s very helpful to me! But, if you wouldn’t want that to happen, no worries at all! If you’ve agreed for me to post WIP shots on social media, I’ll take this as me updating you on the progress of the piece — it is one way to conserve energy! — and if you’ve asked me not to post WIP shots, I’ll create a Google Drive folder and share it with you, where I’ll upload WIP shots as I have them. Because of limited energy, I can’t do email updates with WIP shots, unless we’ve discussed it beforehand.
On artistic… freedomthings
Some people have kindly asked whether I’d prefer very specific guidelines with my work, or would like free rein. Thank you for asking! I generally find that the more freedom I’m allowed to do my thing, the easier the work comes to me… but it’s really important to me that you’re happy with the piece, too! So I want to have at least some idea of what you’d like. It’s a tricky balance sometimes! Things I find useful to know: any color scheme preferences, what mood you want to evoke, an aesthetic/feel you’re aiming for, if there’s a character/object/setting that simply must be there, if any of my previous pieces spoke to you and you went, “yes, I want something like that” (I won’t duplicate it, of course, but it’s very helpful when I’m making stylistic choices!). Unless it’s for cover art, I find strict requirements for placement of elements difficult, but I will always do my best to work with you and create something that will suit your needs and delight you!
There are a few things I won’t do for art featuring characters. I won’t whitewash characters (e.g. turn a character’s brown skin white). I won’t make characters thin if they’re fat, remove characters’ wheelchairs or mobility aids (I can, for instance, steampunkify them! but no disappearing them), put characters in culturally appropriative clothing/gear, or make other changes of that nature. I feel pretty strongly about this, so while I’m happy to adapt most other aspects of my work to your needs and welcome most other questions, please don’t ask me to do this!
When I’m unwell — and this is sadly an unpredictable thing — I need to minimize work, because pushing myself to do art while I’m sick can get very bad very quickly. To deal with this, I do a lot of planning well in advance, and leave very generous time allowances for any contingencies that crop up. Please let me know what your deadlines are as soon as you can! The more I know about the timeline you’re working with, the better. One thing I appreciate is when people give me both a “soft” deadline (I’d like to have this piece by this time, but will not explode if it isn’t done by then) and a “hard” deadline (things will start exploding if I don’t receive the piece by this date). That way, I can aim for several weeks ahead of the soft deadline (generous allowances! very generous!) and still have some wiggle room. If you tell me to take my time, I will interpret this as “no deadline”: this won’t mean I’ll treat your art as less important (all my commissions are important!), but it will mean that I’m free to move the piece around on my schedule in relation to other deadlines. So if you’re willing to wait only a certain amount of time, please tell me, and if you are willing to wait for a longer while (and I will continue working on your piece, and give you updates as I can), please feel free to tell me also. (And thank you!)
I do my very best to keep up with email and to reply within three business days. Unfortunately, when my health issues crop up, there are times when it’s a huge stretch for me to write email, and at those times it’s more efficient for me to use my energy for art instead. Please know this isn’t me ignoring you, it is me balancing care of my art, my obligations to you, and myself (since, I can’t art if I’m sick!). I will email you as soon as I can, and if you’d like to send follow-up emails, please do feel free! I am working on getting better with my reply patterns and I’m hoping that you won’t have to go without replies for longer than three business days, and as part of that work I may send short answers if your email was a question. Please pardon the brevity, in that case; I value you and am glad to work on art for you, and I’m doing my best on your piece!
On rights and usage
These vary a lot based on the kind of commission. Generally, for personal commissions I don’t use the art for prints or other merchandise, though I use it in my portfolio, galleries, and other sites, and may include it in art books in the future; if you’ve commissioned, say, a painting from me, you’re welcome to take pictures of it and scan it to show to friends or use as personal wallpaper, but please don’t reproduce the art (this includes making prints of it, putting it on mugs or other decor, etc!) or claim it as your own. Rights for illustrations and cover art depend on the project and the contract terms. Most of the time, when I do an illustration for a book or story, I’m happy for the commissioner to use it for limited-run not-for-sale items to promote the work, like flyers and bookmarks, as long as I’m credited — please just ask! I retain all copyright unless otherwise expressly stated.
That’s it for now! Again, thank you very much for reading. If you have any questions or specific requests, please just let me know! I would like to work together with you to make your commission the best it can possibly be!