Business is Business

I’ve done commissions for a total of three times in my life up ‘till now. The first two were just plain sad and atrocious, but the present one is a bit more realistic and compromising for both my pessimistic and ethical mindsets. However, what’s also different about the previous two and the present was the number of rules attached to them.

The first commission journal that listed all the information, such as art samples and prices, only had one or two disclaimers: do not trace, copy, nor steal my artwork and a list of things I cannot draw. So for instance, back then that would have been robots or mecha, animals, furries, elderly, chubby folks, and porn (because frankly, my anatomy was crap anyway).

But in my present commission journal, I had a friend of mines that was very familiar with commissions and she showed me a bunch of journals for reference on how much I should price — and unlike back in the day, I actually took the time to carefully read through all of them.

I cannot tell you how baffled I was when I saw the amount of disclaimers I had to read. Mind you, all artists (and by ‘all’ I mean those who have been in the game for a while now to know better) always warn their customers “Please read the Terms of Use before commissioning me.” Of course, these “Terms of Use” documents aren’t as long and as thick as the usual “Terms and Conditions” that we always just scroll past or just click the checkbox to get pass by. I mean, I was able to read them, so they shouldn’t be that long. But rather than their length, the amount of things the artist has to declare was surprisingly a lot — it had things that I didn’t know you even had to remind people not to do.

Like you know, don’t trace their artwork. Jesus Christ.

So of course, I modeled my “Terms of Use” after theirs, because, really, everyone’s “Terms of Use” was almost exactly the same and it’s just a list of things saying what an artist has the right to do and what the commissioner can and can’t do with the artwork.

In my commission information and theirs as well, they have the payment method, they have what you should do when giving the information of what to draw, an order form for god’s sake, and a list of information concerning crediting the artist, plagiarism, and the commissioner’s responsibilities.

I mean much of these things, like the order form, is strictly for organization and better management of their business, but it was still surprising to read the word “order form” in a site that I considered very casual and not so business-like.

I thought it was just a simple trade, but it’s riddled with a bunch of rules to adhere by. I’m not complaining about the rules, I was just surprised to see how in-depth they were. Here’s a list of rules in one section:

1. Do not use my artwork for commercial purposes.
2. You cannot claim that you created the piece; you MUST give credit.
3. You can use my art as your profile/display picture; cropping it to zoom in on the face is fine, but otherwise, do not edit the artwork and do not claim as if you’ve made it.
4. Do not edit, trace, or copy my art.
5. I reserve the right to post my art in any of my personal accounts. I will provide credit to whom the characters belong to. 
6. You are allowed to repost the art to your personal websites. Credit is mandatory.
7. You are responsible for saving any art given to you; if it is deleted from the website and I do not have the original copy, you are responsible for having already downloaded the work you purchased.

I never thought I would ever have to use the phrase “commercial purposes” or “I reserve the right” for anything. I never imagined myself selling stuff, much less have to tell people things they should already know. Like don’t edit, trace, or copy someone else’s art for instance.

Although I do admit, it is reassuring to have this document in hand. That way, no customer can claim that they simply “didn’t know” you weren’t supposed to do this and that. Well, maybe if you read through the rules like you were supposed to — like the artist explicitly said you should be doing before commissioning them — then there wouldn’t be a problem now, would there?

And although I have never commissioned someone before, I would definitely read their “Terms and Conditions” or “Terms of Use” documents before ordering anything. I don’t want to stir up drama or be hated by the artist I admire. Plus, it also reassures me that I’m doing the process correctly and not making it harder for the artist.

So yes, be smart and considerate and read their rules first. Honestly, if I can read it then you can.

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