5 Ways to Protect yourself when Commissioning Art

In our last blog post, we covered how artists can avoid getting scammed when selling commissions online. As someone who wants to get an art commission, though, you may have concerns about artists being flaky or being scammed by someone who only claims to be able to draw.

How can you tell which artists are serious and will complete your commission on time?

Art by Halcyon

1. Look for a Terms of Service

If you’ve not commissioned art before, it might seem that commissioning art would be as easy as paying someone, telling them what you want, and then getting the art back a week later. Makes sense, right?

Not quite. In reality, there are many elements to consider. Here are just a few:

  1. How many revisions will the artist deliver to you for your feedback?
  2. When can you expect the piece to be finished?
  3. What is their refund policy?
  4. What intellectual property assignments will be made?

Without a proper terms of service, expectations you have for the art you’re commissioning may not line up with the artist’s. This ambiguity can cause problems down the line.

Art by Halcyon

Experienced artists know this, and will provide terms of service for you to review before commissioning them. Artists who do not have terms of service may be new to selling art professionally and don’t have their business elements together, or they may be illegitimate.

Did you know…

Sales protected by Artconomy Shield come with Artconomy’s Terms of Service, Commission Agreement, and Refund Policy built in!

2. Get a Turnaround Time

Art is hand-made– it can take some time. Depending on the art and the artist’s workload, it could be days, weeks, or even months! You’ll want to know how long to expect.

Experienced and legitimate artists are able to give a timeframe within which they will deliver your piece. When emergencies happen that can impact the delivery of your commission, they will reach out and give you an update.

In case you didn’t know, Artconomy Shield allows you to file a dispute if the artist is taking much longer than their advertised turnaround time!

If an artist is going an extended period without completing the work, you’ll want to make sure you can get a refund. After all, you may want to spend that money to get a commission from an artist who isn’t overloaded instead. Speaking of getting a refund…

3. Do not pay for a Commission Through a Tipping System

Tipping systems, such as Ko-Fi, have become very popular with Artists, and are a great way to show your appreciation for their work!

Coins Inside Jar
Courtesy Pexels via Miguel Á. Padriñán

However some artists will attempt to sell you a commission by asking you to send them an amount of money through their online tip jar. Don’t do it!

Tip jars are counted as donations, and do not count as a purchase under the systems used. Artists get a bigger cut of the money from the payment processor because the processor isn’t factoring in the cost of potentially refunding the transaction– you don’t have to refund donations, after all!

Using a donation system for paying for art carries with it the risk that the artist will not complete the work and you will be left empty-handed, and can endanger their own account standing depending on the tip jar’s terms of service.

Did you know…

Purchases protected by Artconomy Shield can be refunded? We factor in the price of handling disputes and refunding your transaction if things go wrong!

4. Be Clear About your Expectations

Even if an artist is legitimate and experienced, not communicating effectively can leave you in a position where you feel scammed, even after everything in the written agreement has been followed.

No artist wants their customers to feel like they’ve been mistreated. If you’re having trouble with explaining what you want to an artist (or if you just want to get better at it), we’ve written a guide to help make things easier!

Smiling Person Holding Gray Stainless Steel Can
Courtesy Pexels via Gratisography

Misunderstandings can be frustrating. Don’t miss out on a great commissioning experience because of uncommunicated desires!

5. Verify the Reputation of your Artist

You can save yourself a lot of headaches by searching the internet for the username of your artist and looking up comment threads between them and their commissioners, or reviews others have written about them.

New artists may not have much of a reputation– this can make evaluating them difficult. If you see an especially skilled artist who you can’t find any information on, that may mean that they aren’t the artist they claim to be.

Type “reverse image search” into your favorite search engine to see how you can look up where a piece has come from. You might discover that the artist you want to commission is someone else entirely!

Worried about whether your artist is legitimate?

Ask your artist to sign up on Artconomy.com and use Shield Protection. That way you know that if they attempt to scam you, you know you’ll get a refund.

Artconomy also has a reputation system so you can see the ratings other users have given to artists!

Art by Halcyon

Happy Commissioning!

Now that you’ve got a better sense of how to commission safely, go have fun getting that piece you’ve been wanting!

5 Ways to Protect Yourself When Selling Art Commissions

When you’re freelancing art, you don’t have a lot of the same protections as a normal job has. You’re your own marketing, sales, and production team. That can make creating a piece where you don’t get paid especially devastating– not only do you not get the money, but the time you spent making a piece could have gone toward someone who would actually pay!

Piggy Bank With Coins
Image courtesy Pexels via Skitterphoto

What are some things you can do to prevent getting scammed? We have a few tips to help you out!

1. Never Work Before You Are Paid

If you don’t read any further, never forget this: If a commissioner is unwilling to send you money ahead of commission delivery, don’t work with them.

Once your art has been delivered to a client without payment, you have little recourse to recuperate that money. You may be able to get it back in court, but it won’t be worth the effort unless the amount of money involved is significant and you’ve got a written agreement (more on that later!)

If you’re just starting to take commissions, this can leave you with a puzzle: How do you convince commissioners you won’t scam them? Without an established reputation, people will not know if they can trust you.

One way you might do so is by having them pay in installments– charge for an initial sketch, and then more to refine it, and more to finish it up or edit it. Make sure that you don’t do more work than they’ve paid for at any given time. The downside is the amount of back and forth can be time consuming, and it means you’re keeping track of multiple payments for each submission instead of one.

Artconomy Shield is Your Defense Against Uncertainty when taking Payments.
Art by Betsy the Beaver

Did you know…

We have our own solution to this problem– Artconomy Shield! Artconomy Shield is our art payment service. When someone wants to commission you, they pay through our site, with a guarantee they’ll get their money back if you don’t complete the work. This allows you to provide your client with peace of mind– and gives you the assurance that the money will arrive.

2. Avoid Doing work ‘For the Exposure’

A common argument clients may use is that you should perform work for them for free in order to get exposure. Be wary of anyone claiming this.

https://images.pexels.com/photos/2262403/pexels-photo-2262403.jpeg?auto=compress&cs=tinysrgb&dpr=2&h=750&w=1260
No, no. Different kind of exposure.
Courtesy Pexels via Viktoria Alipatova

Anyone who has an audience large enough for exposure to be a form of payment has a budget which can accommodate you. It is in their interest to cut costs so they can spend money elsewhere. Putting the squeeze on an artist to reduce costs is a common strategy– because it often works. Know your worth and don’t go without payment.

There are some exceptions, of course– if you’re volunteering at a charity, and the money that would pay you would otherwise go to a cause you care about, that’s perfectly fine!

There are successful artists who have done some free work to get their name out there, but it only works through a deliberate, intentional marketing strategy where they took the initiative, with specific parameters and boundaries around it– i.e, a retweet raffle. If a client is the one trying to convince you that you should work for free, don’t.

3. Have a Written Agreement

Signature Line on Printer Paper
Courtesy Pexels via Pixabay

The biggest source of issues between artists and commissioners is mismanaged expectations. You are not a vending machine someone inserts money into and from which art comes out. There are many peripheral concerns going into a commission that need to be answered ahead of time. For example:

  1. How many revisions will you include?
  2. What type of commission are they asking for? Sketch? Inks? Full color?
  3. How long can they expect you to take to complete the piece?
  4. What information do you require to get started? (References, descriptions, etc)
  5. How do you take payment, and on what schedule do you expect to receive it?
  6. What are you unwilling or unable to draw?
  7. What legal expectations should be set around the finished piece? Who will own the rights to the piece?

Writing up a solid terms of service and making sure to send it to all commissioners is essential to managing expectations. Post it anywhere you list commissions for sale.

Did you know…

Artconomy.com has a premade commissioner agreement attached to each sale, a refund policy, and allows you to specify your own additional terms in your account settings? When listing products on Artconomy, you can detail out what you’re offering, and how long you expect it to take, so there’s no confusion about what you’re offering clients. You can even adjust the price and turnaround time per commission if the circumstances require.

Once you have a written agreement that you share with commissioners, you’ll have more confidence to speak up when commissioners break the rules, and more authority– after all, they agreed to your terms when they commissioned you!

Also, if you ever end up in a legal dispute with your commissioner, having a written agreement can be incredibly helpful, even if it’s only a basic one you wrote up yourself, and not drafted by a lawyer.*

Brown Wooden Gavel With White Background
If this were legal advice, it would be followed by a bill.
Courtesy Pexels via Pixabay

*Note: Artconomy is not a legal service provider and this is not legal advice. There are some circumstances where a written agreement may be invalid, and only a lawyer can give you actionable advice on this.

4. Beware Promises of Royalties

A common way people get an artist to work for little to nothing is to ask them to collaborate on a large project with a promise that they’ll make money on the royalties afterward. Far too often, these projects end up being massive wastes of time, never completing, and never paying out.

Making money off of your art is difficult. So difficult, we made Artconomy.com to make it easier, but it still takes work. Anyone who promises you that you will get paid off the royalties for your art later is saying not only will they be able to make enough money to pay themselves off of the larger project, but to pay you as well. That’s a big claim.

Grayscale Photo of Man Holding Milkfish
Game Designer showing how big the royalty checks are going to be.
Image courtesy Pexels via Rawpixel

Not all of these opportunities are bunk, but the trick is in determining which are worth rolling the dice for. Here are some key things to ask yourself about the next game or book someone tries to get you to draw for:

  1. Does the project manager/author have a history of completing and making money on projects like these?
  2. If it’s an author, do they already have an editor and/or publisher?
  3. How much can they pay up front? Any royalties they’re offering could end up being zero if they fail to complete and market their product. They should be able to pay some amount now.
  4. Remembering the previous section– are they offering a written agreement?
  5. Does the written agreement include a clearly defined scope of work– including what assets need to be created, in what format, and under what conditions your contribution will be considered ‘done’?
  6. Knowing what you know about these people, are you willing to bet on their success?

If after reviewing these questions, you don’t feel comfortable, turn down the work and look for something more sure.

5. Don’t Look Like an Easy Target

Man Wearing Gray and Red Armour Standing on the Streets
A little much, but you get the idea.
Courtesy Pexels via PhotoMIX Ltd.

You are a professional– and you need to look like one. If you look like you have yourself put together, potential scammers are less likely to target you– they’d much rather go for softer targets.

Do you have corporate clients you visit in person? Wear (at least) business casual when going to meet them.

When meeting with clients, stand up straight, speak clearly and politely, and look them in the eyes. Don’t slouch, mumble, or avert your gaze. That will give them the impression you can be pushed around.

Even if your clients are all online, try sitting up straight when sending messages to them. You’ll feel more confident. A study from Harvard and Columbia University showed that adopting a more confident posture can make you feel more powerful and in control.

While listing products on Artconomy can give you a professional storefront you can share, what you write in your biography and descriptions greatly affects how you’re perceived. Do you…

  1. Make spelling and grammar mistakes?
  2. Write a lot of self-deprecating comments?
  3. Write from a place of anger or irritation?
Scrabble Board Game on Shallow Focus Lens
Courtesy Pexels via Suzy Hazelwood

Doing any of these on your professional-facing profile can impact your sales, and can signal to others you may not have your ducks in a row. This is not to say you have to be perfect– but you should always show your best face when interacting with clients.

Try this:
Make a trade with a writer friend! Ask them to look over the tone and content of your professional profiles on Artconomy and social media sites. Ask them what grammar mistakes you frequently make and how to fix them. Offer them a commission in return!

Work on your communication style to avoid these mistakes so that when you’re interacting with clients you keep the tone consistent.

In addition, make sure that if a customer is saying something that gets you riled up or frightened, take a break before responding to them. When you’re anxious, it’s hard to see when someone may be pushing on you to see if you’ll roll over. Give your best, be polite, and, armed with a good payment policy and terms of service, stay professional.

Go Forth!

Man in Black Backpack during Golden Hour
Courtesy Pexels via Kun Fotografi

Now that you have a better idea how to avoid getting scammed, push forward and do your best. Keep on creating!

The Transition Process: 7 Tips on Making Art your Side Hustle

Courtesy Pexels via Javier Gonzoles

If you’ve been drawing for a while, you might want to start selling commissions. But how do you get started? How do you make it work if you’re not ready to quit your day job, and what are some good tips for those starting out?

1. Pick a time and make it ‘Commission time’

At first, it can seem counter-intuitive to schedule creative work. Shouldn’t you wait until inspiration hits you? Many artists get started by sketching while bored in class– at a time when they’re scheduled to do something else!

However, when transitioning from a hobby to a profession, time management is key. Just like any other job, consistent hours are what allow you to complete work and deliver it. Pick an evening or two each week you can dedicate to nothing other than your craft, and stick to it.

Courtesy Pexels via RawPixel

A study from the journal of Thinking Skills and Creativity found a strong association between individuals that had planned schedules and their creative capacities. It turns out providing time for creativity helps generate it!

2. Begin with a ‘Starter Workload’ of One Commission and Make Your Way Up

When you’re beginning to take commissions, it can be tempting to say ‘yes’ to whoever is interested in buying from you. However, without an idea of how much time a commission actually takes, you can’t be certain when you’ll be able to deliver it.

Once you’ve scheduled art time, start on your first commission and start a stopwatch– most phones have this in their clock app! Turn the phone upside-down, since this isn’t a race, and you don’t want to get distracted by messages anyway. Then… draw!

When you’ve gotten the piece where you want it, stop the watch and make note of how much time it took. You may have to stop and start it a few times if you don’t get it completed in one day.

Once you’ve completed a few commissions and timed them, you’ll know how many pieces you can complete in a given amount of time.

Try this:

Once you can get a basic sketch done in an hour, offer one-hour sketch commissions. Take an egg timer or your phone app, and hit the start button. Sketch on your task, starting with the major lines and making more details as time progresses. Wherever you are by the end, deliver it.

Don’t worry if it isn’t your best work. The goal is to be able to create consistent work, and deliver it on time. As you continue to do this, you’ll get better as a side effect, and faster, too!

3. Don’t Neglect Time for Yourself

Cool. You’ve got your art time scheduled, and you still have money from your day job. You still have some time left over, so maybe you can add that into your art time as well!

Not so fast– you might want to expand your art time, but you need to consider what you’re giving up. You cannot add more time for one activity without removing it from another one.

Some of the activities you might drop can be essential to your work as an artist, even if they seem unrelated at first blush. Spending time with friends, reading, playing video games, watching a show, going for walks, working out– these are all things which might seem ‘less important’ than art time, but if you don’t do them, you’ll wear yourself out.

Courtesy Pexels via Helena Lopez

You’re not a machine, and treating yourself like one is a recipe for disaster. Making art take up all of your spare time will change it from an activity you enjoy and make money from into an activity you resent and which leaves you feeling empty. Finding the right balance of art time verses play time is all the more critical when you still have a day job, but it can be done.

4. Keep Promises to your Customers

The difference between an amateur and a professional is whether you get paid. The difference between getting paid once and getting paid repeatedly is dependability.

In order to keep your promises on art, you need to make sure not to overextend yourself. We covered some of this in the first two sections– making sure you have a consistent time to do art and knowing how long it takes you makes it easier to plan out your workload and deliver on time.

Courtesy Pexels via RawPixel

Big projects, ones that offer big money and expand your audience, come after reputation. When someone with a large wallet needs something done now, they won’t hand it to someone who is known for turning in work late or at low quality.

If you find yourself delivering work late, it means you are taking on too much work, or you aren’t spending enough time on art. If increasing your time on art will cause you to neglect time for yourself, then it’s time to start saying ‘no’ to new commissions.

Remember:

Saying ‘No’ to a commission when your workload is full is not a sign of weakness or inability. It’s a sign of your commitment of service to those who are in your queue. A commission makes you money once– a reputation creates more opportunities.

Need some help keeping your workload under control? Artconomy’s AWOO system closes out your commissions automatically when you’re full up!

Courtesy Pexels via Tim Mossholder

If you have an emergency and fall behind, the most important thing to do is communicate with your commissioners preemptively. It can be scary going to a customer and telling them you won’t be getting their piece done in time, but how you handle delays is as key to your reputation as delivering on time. A customer who is left in the dark may grumble behind your back, which can cause you more problems later.

Even if you’re not behind, you should be communicating with your commissioners consistently so that they know where their piece stands.

5. Find Your ‘Edge’

There are many artists out there who would like to draw commissions. Why should someone choose you over someone else?

Courtesy Pexels via Pixabay

This is a question you must find an answer to, as it’s core to finding your audience and getting consistent work. Delivering a piece of art is the basic requirement for being a professional artist, but it’s not enough on its own– it’s everything that surrounds it which makes sales. Here are some things you can do to stand out:

  1. Publish portfolios of subject matter you like to draw. Cultivate a reputation for doing work in your preferred genre.
  2. Find ways to engage your customers and make commissioning fun for them. Streaming is a great example– being able to see the work as it’s being made is exciting!
  3. Fill in the gaps in a commission’s requirements. Use what you know about the commissioner and subject matter to look up references relevant to the piece. Adding in a city skyline or getting the mechanics right on a character’s weapon shows an attention to detail that makes people come back for more!
  4. Be a great communicator. Ask questions, show previews, and let customers know when you’ll be working on your piece and when you expect to deliver it.

6. Learn how to Price Your Work

One of the most difficult questions an artist has to answer for themselves out of the gate is ‘how do I price my offerings’? Too high and people will go elsewhere. Too low and you won’t be able to make money.

Take a look at what other artists are offering. Locate ones with work quality similar to your own and see what they charge for it. If you have a hard time being objective about your own work, ask a third party– either a friend you know will tell you the truth or an acquaintance who won’t be afraid to hurt your feelings, to help you look over other artists and judge whether their quality is similar to yours.

A range of offerings by different artists on Artconomy

Once you’ve located artists of similar quality, look over their portfolios and any information you can find about their reputation with customers. If they’re charging low but never seem to make anything, it might indicate they aren’t organized. If they’re charging high but are churning out commissions at an incredible rate, you can expect their speed is factored into that price.

Pro Tip:

When you have gathered a small following, you can have your audience do the work of setting your price for you. Create a few ‘Your Character Here’ commissions, or a similar kind of template, and then auction off the pieces. The highest bids are the upper end of what you can charge. Set your prices slightly under them for more consistency.

Make sure the commission you auction off will require a similar amount of work to what you intend to sell normally or else this won’t work well.

If you’re following the advice of the previous sections, you should already be gathering data on how many hours your commissions are taking you. Check the prices you’re charging verses the number of hours you’re working to get your hourly rate. If you’re making less money per hour than you’d like, you may need to increase your prices or you may need to cut down on the time spent on each commission.

To get an even more accurate hourly rate, factor in how much time you spend on organizing and handling the business side of commissions, and see if you can use a tool like Artconomy to reduce the amount of time spent on overhead.

7. Get Organized

Artists aren’t known for their organizational skills, but professional ones learn how to organize themselves, or find the best tools to do it for them.

Keeping track of payments, contact information, work progress, commission details, and how many pieces you’ve committed to means having a system to organize it all. You can create one of these yourself, such as a text document with the details, or a binder with the information, or you can let Artconomy do it for you.

As much as possible, we recommend using technology to organize yourself. The more effort you have to put into maintaining your organizational system, the less time you’ll get to spend on art. You can’t avoid the business elements of art if you want to become a professional, but you can minimize their impact on your life so you can focus on creativity.

How to get the Most out of the Convention Commissioning Process

If you’ve ever gone to a convention where artists are available for commissioning, such as the upcoming Texas Furry Fiesta, you might be wondering how you can:

  1. Have the best chance of getting to all the artists you want to before their spaces run out.
  2. How to make sure your artist knows precisely what you want and has the right tools to keep in contact with you
  3. Help your artist get your commission done faster, and make their life easy
Man using stylus pen for touching the digital tablet screen
Courtesy Pexels

I’m going to share some tips on how you can do all of these things, and some tools to help you get organized.

Identify Your Artists Ahead of Time

Furry and similar cons have two main places where artists gather to sell their wares: The Dealer’s Den and the Artist’s Alley. The Dealer’s Den requires reserving and paying for a table and the placement of each artist is published online or in your convention handbook, so you can know who’s available.

Screenshot from Texas Furry Fiesta’s Dealer’s Den page.

The Artist’s alley is more variable– it can vary from day to day who is there to draw, and artists may move during the con or they may not win the table lottery on each day. You may not be able to know which people from the Alley are available ahead of time unless they declare their intent on social media.

If you know where artists are stationed in the Dealer’s Den, you can map out a plan of who to visit first, and where to go next, so that you’re sure to hit all of the artists you’re looking to commission.

Print out Descriptions and Reference Images

If you’ve not read our article on how to describe what you want to an artist, you should really check it out. Having a written out description and references of what you’d like to see drawn ahead of time allows you to make the interaction with your artist pleasant, quick, and fun.

Click here to download a generic order form template you can use to specify to an artist what you’d like!

Take the filled out order form and any reference images you have, and paperclip or staple them together. When you go to meet your artist, all you’ll have to do is hand them the packet and they’ll already have everything they need to get started! You’ll put a smile on their face and reduce the chance that there will be any confusion about your order.

Have Cash Ready

While ordering from Artconomy.com makes it very easy to pay with the safety and convenience of your credit card, not all artists at a convention have a card reader available and many will only accept cash. This means that in order to be sure you will be able to pay artists, you will need to have plenty of green set aside.

Rolled 20 U.s Dollar Bill
Courtesy Pexels

Do not wait until the convention begins to visit an ATM. ATMs at convention sites deplete quickly, as many people forget to bring adequate cash. It’s difficult to know what artists will charge ahead of time, as conventions may prompt special pricing and offers that exist only for the duration of the event, so bring more rather than less. If possible, try getting some smaller bills as well, like $5s and $10s, as most ATMs only give $20s and higher numbers, but many commissions don’t evenly divide into $20 increments. This can mean that you might spend extra time trying to make change.

Consider Springing for a Sponsorship Pass

A standard event pass to a convention will give you access to the artists available in the Dealer’s Den and Artist’s Alley, but if you want to be sure you’ll get a spot, you’ll need to pay for a Sponsorship or Super Sponsorship level pass. The exact names of these passes vary from convention to convention, but one of the key features they have is the ability to enter the Dealer’s Den a few minutes earlier than anyone else.

For popular artists, those few minutes can be the difference between getting a spot and having to find another artist to draw what you want.

Manage Your Expectations

If you’re familiar with an artist’s work, you may expect that the piece you receive will look like their gallery postings. They may, but more likely you will only be able to get a piece done at a convention which is a basic sketch, inks, or rough colors. Full blown digital art is rarely performed at cons. This is because commissioners expect to get their pieces turned around within a day or two while they are at the event. Many artists are amenable to ‘take-home’ commissions where they will complete an order and send it to you after the event online or through the mail, but this depends on the artists and their workload.

Person Sketching
Courtesy Pexel

The probability of getting a spot for an artist to draw your commission is directly tied to how well you prepare. Following this guide will give you the best chance at getting everything you want, but if you don’t end up quite as prepared as you’d hope, remember that there are many other artists at a convention that would be willing to draw what you want.

Cover Your Bases

Some congoers may find themselves unable to stay the entire duration, either because of an emergency or other reasons. Some people also like to bring their own sketchbook for an artist to draw in.

If for any reason you have to leave a con before an artist is finished with your sketchbook or piece, make arrangements for someone to be your point of contact to retrieve these items. Artists should not be expected to ship sketchbooks to you at their own expense.

Flat Lay Photography of Calendar
Courtesy Pexels

Make sure you have time on the last day (usually Sunday) to pick up any last remaining pieces from the artists you’ve commissioned. With everything else you have to do in order to pack up and head home, you wouldn’t want to leave your commissions behind in the process. Try to do some prepacking the night before and when planning your trip to the convention, strive to add in time margins for last-minute pickups.

Make Sure to Have Fun

Conventions are a great way to meet and spend time with other people who love what you love, and being open and ready to enjoy that special time with others who are passionate about your interests is something to be cherished.

It’s All About Trust

One of the most challenging parts of making one’s living as an artist is ensuring that payment will come through. In a world where chargebacks and other issues with customers are common, it can be difficult to know who to trust.

Image courtesy pexels via rawpixel

Artconomy works to provide a trusted service by delivering a stable, consistent service experience when working with financial transfers.

How Artconomy’s Escrow System is Designed

Artconomy is unique among sites for Artconomy Shield, our escrow system which ensures that there is a layer of separation between buyers and sellers to prevent issues such as commissioners performing chargebacks and artists not completing work.

Escrow systems must be designed to ensure that both parties are safe, but how does Artconomy do this?

Picking the Correct Processors

When customers purchase a piece of art from a Shield protected artist, it uses our credit card processor. Artconomy works with a card processor that specializes in expressive freedom. Most card processors, such as PayPal and Stripe, have restrictions on adult work. We have specifically selected a processor which permits it.

Likewise, we also have selected an ACH processor so that money is transferred right into your bank account. Like us and our card processor, they are proponents of freedom of expression.

Card transactions are reversible, so Artconomy is able to refund payments in the event that an artist does not complete the agreed-upon work. Artconomy uses industry standard AVS and CVV2 systems to combat credit fraud, and meets PCI compliance standards for encryption, cardholder data management, and server security. We also meet security requirements to authorize automatic transfers to your bank.

We do not store credit card numbers, but instead “tokenize” them so that in the extremely unlikely event that our database had been hacked, your card numbers would remain safe.

Image courtesy pexels via pixabay

Account Management

A common pitfall for escrow services (and one that has often caused them to fold) is the temptation to operate with reserves insufficient to make all customers whole in the event of a disaster.

Artconomy:

  • Never places escrow held funds in investment accounts
  • Never holds more in escrow than we have reserves to cover in the event of loss
  • Does not hold a ‘fractional’ amount of escrow reserves under the assumption that a large number of people will not want their money at the same time
  • Has more money in the escrow account than the total amount held in trust, and money in non-escrow accounts elsewhere to pull from in the event of an emergency
  • Has no debt, and is self-funded by its CEO
Image courtesy pexels via pixabay

Artconomy contracts the assistance of an outside accountant to advise and inform us of any issues. We also have breakers in place for transactions to ensure that we do not have a sudden change in account holdings, allowing us to retain the ability to reverse illicit transactions.

To ensure the integrity of the system, Artconomy fights chargebacks so that fraudsters do not get away with skipping payment.

Using Best Practices

Our technology is built with industry best practices. Artconomy’s software architect has years of experience building services that handle and protect sensitive data, and he has selected libraries, tools, and coding practices that minimize attack surface areas.

Our servers are automatically patched with the latest security updates and use the long term maintenance versions of their operating systems for maximum stability.

We also have security at the network level with a state-of-the-art firewall designed to repel real world attacks such as SQL injections and common DDoS techniques.

Artconomy does not store passwords directly, but uses multi-iterative and salted hash technology. We also offer two factor authentication to our customers and all of our staff is required to use it.

Image courtesy pexels via snapwiresnaps on Tumblr.

We Do Hard Work to Protect Your Hard Work

Artconomy promises to keep your data safe and to make you whole in the case of any error in our system or processes. We will continue to work on more ways to improve our systems and keep abreast of best practices so that you can rest safe and focus on art!

New Filetype Support!

Hey folks, just a quick update this time – but an important one! Ever the crafty coding canid, our Fox has been hard at work expanding the filetype support for Artconomy!

Here’s a list of most (but not all!) of the currently supported filetypes:

  • Image: GIF, JPEG, JPG, BMP, PNG, TIF, TIFF, SVG, WDP, AI, DGN, DWFX, DWG, DXF, PSD, EPS, FS, IND, LR
  • Audio: MIDI, MP3, OGG, WAV, WMA, OGA, ACC, DW, VTX, F4A
  • Video: AVI, MP4, MPEG, MPG, WEBM, MOV, WMV, M4V, OGV, MKV, SWF, AN, F4V, FLV
  • Document: DOC, DOCH, DOCM, DOCX, TXT, PDF, RTF, AE, PS, DOTH
  • Other: ZIP

Many of these even support in-browser previews/embedding:
MP4, WEBM, OGV, SVG, TXT, MP3, WAV, OGG, and SWF.

As it says in our FAQ…

We currently support most file formats used for artistic expression, with a few caveats:

• We do not do automated video conversion (though it’s planned!). You should upload in MP4, or else some viewers may not see your work.

• Not all file formats will have useful previews. JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG, and similar are supported by all browsers, but whatever you upload can be downloaded. You’re advised to set the preview icon of any piece that doesn’t have preview/embed support, such as .PSD files.

• The file size limit is currently 100MB. We intend to raise this in the future as we scale.

• .TXT files will be previewed with Markdown.

• If you’re using a file type that is not supported, please upload a .zip file. Do note that uploads to Artconomy are expected to be artistic expressions and renderings and they may be removed if they are found to be primarily data sets (such as database dumps), non-game programs, or other work not reasonably understood as art.


Interview With An Artist: Dinocanid

This is a part of an ongoing series of interviews done by Artconomy staff with various artists in the community. We’re hoping that through these interviews we can help the artist and commissioning communities at large.


What name do you go by?

Dinocanid/Dino, or Alex.  

What’s the URL for your Artconomy profile?

https://artconomy.com/profile/Dinocanid

What sort of art do you do? Any type/subject you enjoy the most?


I draw animal based digital art, including furries when I have time to practice.

How long have you been doing art? And how long have you been taking commissions?

I’ve been posting art online for about 6 years, but I’ve only been doing commissions for almost 2.

Do you have a particular piece you’re proud of and would like to share?

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the process?

My favorite part of the process is showing the customer my work and making adjustments to make sure they’re happy with it. My least favorite part would be sketching, since I struggle a bit with composition and it can be difficult to get things to look just right.

Before Artconomy, how did you handle commissions?

I would take commissions through DA and FA, and occasionally different forums.

What would you say is the hardest/most time consuming part of the process for you?

I think the hardest part for me would be workload management since I have struggled a lot in the past when I end up accepting too much work for my own good. Artconomy has helped with that due to its workload management system though!

Is there a piece of advice you wish you’d gotten when you were starting out? And/or any tips for other commission artists?

Make sure to keep practicing, nobody becomes an expert overnight! Work on developing your own style that you are comfortable with, and don’t feel pressured to copy the style of popular artists.

My art style is something I’ve struggled with for a long time, since I used to believe that unless it looked like [insert popular artist here] nobody would bother looking at it. Now I’ve learned that it’s not about that, but tuning and refining your own style so it improves even more.

Anything else you’d like to share with us/other artists/commissioners?

Don’t give up! I might not be a popular artist, nor am I where I want to be, but I’m going to keep striving for it!


Artist’s responses have been edited by Artconomy staff for grammar and spelling only.

Interview With An Artist: Silnat

This is a part of an ongoing series of interviews done by Artconomy staff with various artists in the community. We’re hoping that through these interviews we can help the artist and commissioning communities at large.

What name do you go by?

Silnat.

 

What’s the URL for your Artconomy profile?

What sort of art do you do? Any type/subject you enjoy the most?

Anthropomorphic cartoons and semi-realistic.

 

How long have you been doing art? And how long have you been taking commissions

I have been drawing online since 2004, and taking commissions since 2008.

 

Do you have a particular piece you’re proud of and would like to share?

 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the process?

The process of creating an illustration for a customer is challenging. I enjoy it, but when it’s time to show the sketch there’s always something inside me praying: ‘omg, please – I hope he/she likes it’.

 

Before Artconomy, how did you handle commissions?

Mostly in FA and some in DA. In DA was more fanart (vs. anthro), but I like doing those too – mostly MLP illustrations.

 

What would you say is the hardest/most time consuming part of the process for you?

I have to say flat colors is the most terrible part. It’s incredibly boring and time consuming, but it has to be done.

 

Is there a piece of advice you wish you’d gotten when you were starting out? And/or any tips for other commission artists?

Never give up, practice, be patient, and keep trying. We all start on the ground level, but we need to push forward; keep going and never stop practicing.

 

Anything else you’d like to share with us/other artists/commissioners?

It’s been a long journey, but I have a lot of experience with other artists and clients – most of whom with I’ve built strong bonds of trust. Thank you all so much for trusting in me all this way.

 


Artist’s responses have been edited by Artconomy staff for grammar and spelling only.

Interview With An Artist: Halcyon

This is the first in what will be an ongoing series of interviews done by Artconomy staff with various artists in the community. We’re hoping that through these interviews we can help the artist and commissioning communities at large.


What name do you go by?

Haley or Halcyon

 

What’s the URL for your Artconomy profile?

What sort of art do you do? Any type/subject you enjoy the most?

Digital illustration and painting mainly, but I am practicing other media lately. Some oil painting, some jewelry and craft projects. And soon, I’d like to try some screen printing.

 

I enjoy creating and designing interesting characters and depicting cute situations. I’m mainly known for illustrating transformations; human to anthropomorphic and gender transformations.

 

How long have you been doing art? And how long have you been taking commissions?

I’ve been doing art for most of my life. Eight-years-old is my earliest recollection. I remember drawing spaceships with rainbow lasers, Bugs Bunny, and Cheetara from the original Thundercats. Or, at least, trying to. So about 33 years now.

 

The earliest commissions I’ve taken was back in 2000. I scanned in the picture of a jackal girl I drew for them and emailed it. They sent me a 10 dollar bill in the mail. I didn’t take them regularly till I set up a PayPal account.

 

Do you have a particular piece you’re proud of and would like to share?

 

 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the process?

My favorite part of the process is trying new techniques I may have learned and having it come out well. A technique I see from an online video, a new brush I found or I made in Clip Stuido, or something I read in a book. It’s exciting for me.

 

My least favorite part is thinking I did well on something only to go back to look at something months later and seeing the imperfections. But I try not to dwell on an art piece and think only about moving forward and learning from a mistake. Remembering what to look for next time so I don’t make the same mistakes.

 

Before Artconomy, how did you handle commissions?

I have typically done my commissions by receiving an email from a client, telling me what they’d like done and I quote a price. If they agree to the price, I send an invoice. Correspondence through email helps me keep record with gmail’s system. Artconomy certainly streamlines the process and makes the client feel more secure with their purchase.

 

What would you say is the hardest/most time consuming part of the process for you?

Time management is the most difficult for me. I feel pressure to work on commissions till they’re done. Putting in 10-12 hour days. But that can easily burn anyone out. I’ve learned to take breaks, pace myself better, take time between commissions to do personal artwork.

 

Is there a piece of advice you wish you’d gotten when you were starting out? And/or any tips for other commission artists?

Be patient with your clients. Sometimes they have trouble putting what they’d like into words. Sometimes you have to explain why things might look better. Luckily, most clients trust an artist enough to leave things to them. And sometimes I have bowed to a design decision I know is wrong.

 

Anything else you’d like to share with us/other artists/commissioners?

Don’t do art if you’re not doing it for yourself or if you don’t have the dedication to stick with it. If you don’t enjoy making art, it may not be for you and it will become a chore. Personal projects that you’re proud of might get the least attention. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t compare yourself to other artists. There will always be someone that is better at it than you are. But they’re only better in different ways you may not have had an opportunity to try yet.


Learn from other artists, many other artists. Don’t try to emulate one artist you like. Find things from many artists and incorporate elements from all of them to make your own style. Always be learning. Try new things, new mediums as often as you’re able. This breaks monotony and can give you new ideas.


Your style SHOULD change gradually over time and some of your audience might not like how you evolve, but you’re more likely to attract more people who appreciate the effort you put in. If they really enjoy your art, they will be more likely to stick around to see how you evolve as an artist.

How to Describe What you Need to an Artist

Every so often you get an idea in your head that needs to be visualized– a character that yearns to leap from the page, or a logo to express what your organization is about. If you’ve never commissioned art before, or you’ve had trouble doing so in the past, you may be confused on how to give an artist what they need to bring out the best version of your idea they can.

If This is your First Time

Art is how we communicate ideas and emotions through media. If an idea is best expressed through a visual medium, for example, then this leaves you with a chicken and egg problem: how to show the artist what you want without already having the piece done!

If you’re having a character drawn for the first time, the best thing to have is a description.

Writing a Good Description

https://images.pexels.com/photos/210661/pexels-photo-210661.jpeg?auto=compress&cs=tinysrgb&dpr=2&h=750&w=1260

They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, however you can usually get away with far fewer. When writing a description for an artist to reference, you do not have to be the most eloquent prose writer– you just need to communicate the physical attributes of the subject and what you want them doing or wearing.

Method One: Roleplay Description

One character I’ve made is a fennec fox named ‘Zorro’. As part of my records about him, I keep a description for art or role play, which you can see here:

This less than towering creature, five foot four inches tall (if you
include the ears), has a markedly expressive face that makes him quite memorable. Tawny colored fur ruffles in the wind, and brown eyes scan about.

His twitching nose always seems to be finding some sort of scent, or perhaps his eyes are just wandering and surveying the beauty of life. He wears a nice sort of school uniform– though it seems quite worn, a thread here and there sproinging off like an unruly child rebelling from its mother textile.

His bare footpaws leave little dents in sandy soil, but are otherwise silent when he scurries around. His voice, however, seems surprisingly flexible, as do his expressions. Generally he seems quite happy, and he carries with him a bag that has a few fountain pens and several sheets of paper. Some of them are poking out, little scribblings shown on them.

The above description is enough for an artist to work with, though it has some limitations. The biggest limitation is that it’s hard to see, at a glance, all of the details. The reader must go through the entire paragraph and hope to catch everything. Below is the resulting sketch I got back from Michelle Light:

Take a look at the description and compare it with the result. As far as the character goes, I’d say this piece does an excellent job of portraying Zorro. However, there are a few things to note:

1. Details which weren’t mentioned were filled in – The description I gave does not go into detail on Zorro’s fur patterns, other than mentioning his general tawny color. Likewise, no real detail was provided about Zorro’s bag or school uniform style. This means Michelle had to come up with something and infer what might be best. Anything you do not describe is up to the artist to interpret.

2. The art style and medium meant some loss of detail – Zorro’s fur color is brown. As this is a sketch, he could be blue for all we know. Additionally, the description gives an account of the texture of his uniform, mentioning a lightly worn appearance. Michelle’s art style, which is a smooth, toony look, would have a harder time conveying this than a more realistic style.

3. Something was missed, but that’s OK – One of the details in the description mentions that Zorro has ‘fountain pens’. Zorro was written for a steampunk environment, and so this technology is what would have been prevalent. In the picture, we see a pencil and a capped modern pen (possibly a permanent marker). Small details like this may not stick as well when the artist is reading a description– they’re human like everyone else and make mistakes! However, when I got the piece back, I should have examined it more closely, given feedback and asked for her to adjust it. I did not do this, and I’m sure Michelle would have corrected it if I had brought it up.

Method 2: Bulleted List

An artist usually doesn’t need to know, in too much detail, about the character’s background to draw them–in fact, too much additional detail can be very distracting!

For example, take this excerpt from the role play description:

His voice, however, seems surprisingly flexible, as do his expressions.

An artist cannot easily draw how a voice sounds, so this information isn’t very helpful. A more succinct, less ambiguous way to describe your character is with a bulleted list. Here’s the same character, described in this manner:


Zorro…

  • is 5’4 (if you include the ears)
  • is a fennec
  • is male
  • has a very expressive face
  • has tawny colored fur
  • has brown eyes
  • has a small frame
  • wears a nice school uniform, though it’s a bit worn with the odd thread here and there
  • doesn’t wear shoes or anything on his feet.
  • carries a bag, specifically with fountain pens and papers with scribblings
  • lives in a steampunk world

Please draw Zorro looking over a piece of paper he’s written on.


This bulleted list is much easier for an artist to track, and makes it more likely that no important details will be missed. The last listed item, referring to the character’s environment and background, will help the artist with any judgement calls for things such as backgrounds. The final line, not in the list, describes what we want the character doing.

This method does not guarantee the artist won’t miss something, or that you won’t have notes for them, but it should make miscommunication less likely, and less severe.

Don’t Forget!

Here are some things you’ll want to include in a description for an artist:

  • Height
  • Build (petite, skinny, average, lean, swole, etc)
  • Species
  • Coloration, hair/fur/skin details and patterns
  • Sex
  • Demeanor, eyes and expression
  • Clothing, tattoos, or piercings as applicable
  • Any other unique attributes of their physiology (Extra long tail? Additional or fewer fingers? Scars?)
  • The pose you want the character in, or what you would like them doing.

Reference Images

If your character has a detailed feature, such as a tattoo or a sword or some other outfit, it can help to provide to the artist a reference to work from.

I once had a character with an oversized sword, and wanted that sword to look similar to (but distinct from) the sword wielded by the character Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII. To convey this, I found a reference image. Here’s one from the game’s concept art by Tetsuya Nomura:

Cloud Strife.png

Here was the resulting piece by Dark Natasha:

Having that reference made describing the proportions of the sword much easier. You’ll note the sword is not exactly the same, either, though it is reminiscent of the source.

Reference Sheets

If you’re planning to get many pieces done of a character, especially from more the one artist, you’ll want to get a reference sheet. A reference sheet is a standard method of showing off the physical appearance of your character (and sometimes includes tidbits about them on the side). It typically contains nude portrayals of the character as well as clothed versions.

Much like a character description, a reference sheet does not have to be the highest quality to serve its purpose. Its purpose is to make sure that you and the artist are on the same page about how the character looks. Some artists insist on having a reference sheet for characters to reduce the chance of miscommunication or hurt feelings.

I’m not ready to sell art of my own, but I am able to do enough drawing to make a basic reference sheet or ‘refsheet’. Here’s the one I made for Artconomy’s mascot, Vulpy the ArtFox.

Here’s some of the art that I commissioned using this refsheet:

https://artconomy.com/media/art/2018/11/10/art/2018/11/10/6F7E8378-E342-4DD3-8C2E-4D1760406BE2.png.1000x700_q85.png

By Betsy the Beaver

By Halcyon

Halcyon was able to find something I’d forgotten on my refsheet– pawpads! We had to discuss what color the pads would be and settled on pink.

Remember: Refsheets are there to help you get started. You can always commission a new one based on the previous one.

Putting it all Together

Artists like it when you’re prepared with everything they’ll need ahead of time. When possible, I keep copies of my character reference sheets, and typed out descriptions of what I’d like drawn when going to conventions. Then all I have to do is hand each artist a packet containing everything they need. They read it over, give me a price, and then get right to work.

If you have trouble getting all of your descriptions and references organized, or would just like a good place to catalog your characters, might I suggest checking out Artconomy? We make it easy for you to find artists and keep a virtual reference sheet and portfolio for your characters!