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?



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.

NOTE: This guide works great in conjunction with our other guide, 7 Tips for Getting the Most out of the Convention Commissioning Process. You should check it out if you’re going to a con!

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

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:


  • 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:

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’re going to a convention, here’s 7 tips for getting the most out of the convention commissioning process!

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!

When Things go Wrong: How to Handle Disputes

Art is a complex business. The time it takes for a piece to be completed can vary, details can be quite particular, and there are some artists and commissioners that are unable to meet expectations.

Traditionally, you might be out of luck when you come to an impasse. But with Artconomy Shield, you have access to a quality dispute resolution service that will help everyone get the most out of their commissioning experience.

How the Process Starts: Filing a Dispute

With Artconomy Shield, commissioners pay for the initial commission and Artconomy holds onto the money until the work is complete. However, if there’s something wrong with the commission, or if the artist has taken an extraordinary amount of time to complete the commission, the commissioner may file a dispute.

A dispute is not a guarantee that the commissioner will be refunded. It means that an Artconomy staff member will review the order to see what’s going on.

To file a dispute, click the File Dispute button.

The File Dispute button will be visible either under the final, or on the information panel on the order page next to the order’s current status.

Once the dispute is filed, a staff member will be contacted. They will comment on the order as needed. Staff members have a star next to their username:

Green stars are system administrators, while gold stars are normal staff members. The staffer who works your case might be either.

The Process: Making the Case

The staff member assigned to your case will read over the order and ask questions to both the artist and commissioner. They may elect to allow an artist more time to complete a work before making a final decision, especially if there is evidence that the work is in progress.

What Happens When a Case is Decided?

After a staff member reviews the dispute and has made a determination, they will either finalize the transaction, paying the artist the amount held in Escrow, or refund the commissioner. All refunds and payouts are always at 100%, minus the Shield fee.

Why no Partial Refunds or Payments?

Art is a very subjective endeavor, and relies on good communication between the artist and the commissioner.  Sometimes, the artist has put in a lot of work, but it’s not quite what the commissioner would have wanted. While we sympathize with the commissioner in this case, there is too much subjectivity involved in trying to decide what discounted rate should be provided, leading to significant costs attempting to make that judgement for all involved. We believe that if an artist has delivered at base what has been requested, then any further issues should be reflected when leaving a rating for the artist.

Likewise, if an artist has partially completed the work, but our staff determines that the reasonable time period for delivery has passed, we will return the money to the commissioner. We would prefer that artists focus on getting completed works to a smaller number of commissioners rather than several half-completed commissions to a larger group. Artconomy understands that sometimes commissions take longer then normal. We will always work with artists to give them a chance to complete the work if they get a bit behind.

How Does Artconomy Determine who to Decide in Favor of?

Artconomy’s staff will use a preponderance of evidence provided to make their decision. One or more of the following conditions will make an order eligible for a refund:

  • The artist has taken an extraordinary amount of time beyond estimate to complete the work (this will not be considered if the final is already delivered by the time the dispute is filed)
  • The artist has drawn something severely under their standard quality of work as depicted in their gallery.
  • The artist has drawn something completely different than what a reasonable reader would have expected the commission notes to require.
  • Sales involving original goods being shipped do not arrive or are damaged. The commissioner must provide proof of damage. Artists are expected to use trackable forms of shipment and buy insurance to cover damage so that they may claim the difference from their carrier.

What sort of things will not be refunded?

  • The artist’s time taken is moderately over estimate.
  • The final piece has flaws which were in previously posted revisions that were either commented on by the commissioner or which the commissioner had time for comment and no comment was made.
  • The piece is within reasonable variance of the artist’s history of quality, but it is not quite what the commissioner hoped for.
  • The final piece has minor differences from the description, or differences that could result from reasonable mistakes when reading the commission notes.

The above cases, while regrettable, will not be warranted against by Artconomy for the cost of the commission price. The commissioner is free to include any information about their commissioning experience when rating the artist.

The Last Word

Artconomy hopes that our commissioners and artists never need our dispute resolution services and will be able to come to agreements on their own. However, we recognize that things do not always go according to plan, which is why we made Artconomy Shield.

Remember: Products not covered by Shield will not be protected by our dispute resolution services. Look for the green shield icon!

Stay safe, and happy commissioning!

Referral Contest!

Hey everyone, it’s Eris again! We’ve got an exciting thing going on right now! Fox recently implemented the code for referrals, and to celebrate we’re holding a contest!  From now until November 5th 2018, whoever gets the most referrals gets a commission (up to $30) paid for by Artconomy!

A referral is anyone who buys or sells a Shield-protected commission after using one of those new referral links that are now in your profile.

In adddition to the contest,  any referrals will net you some free premium time!

  • Any time someone you refer buys their first Shield-protected commission, you get a free month of Portrait!
  • When a referral sells their first Shield-protected commission, that’s a free month of Landscape!

No go on out there and refer some friends! Good luck!

The Commissioning Process: How it Works

Artconomy’s primary goal is to make it as easy to commission online as it is in person. To do this, we have created a system that makes it easy for commissioners to order, easy for artists to communicate with their customers, and which fosters trust between the parties involved. Today we’ll be looking at how this system works!



Setting up your Characters

Before you begin ordering a commission, you will want to set up any characters you want to be portrayed on your profile. To do this, go to your profile page by clicking on your name/icon in the upper right corner of the screen and select the ‘Characters’ tab on your profile. You can then hit the green plus sign to begin.

You can set your character’s sex, species, and description here. You can also add tags for your character to make them easier for you or others to search for, and/or mark them private so only you can see them. Not only that, but you can set their colors, too, if you already know what their colors should be.

Placing the Order

Once you have your characters set up, it’s time to place the order. Find a product you’d like either by using the search bar, browsing recent products on the home page, or by checking the ‘Who’s Open?’ list.

If the product is covered by Artconomy Shield, you’ll see an indicater of that right below the product.

Click the order button and you’ll be brought to the order form. Add any characters you’d like, describe what’s needed, and click the Submit button in the top right!



Handling an Incoming Order

Once a commissioner places an order, you’ll receive a notification on site and by email.

Follow the link in the email or click the notification in your notifications center to visit the order page.

Here, you’ll have an opportunity to review the details of the order and make any adjustments necessary to price, workload, or timing expectations.

From here, you can decline the order or accept it. Once accepted, the commissioner will receive an email and notification letting them know the artist’s finalized price, and that it’s time to pay.

The Real Work Begins!

Now that the order is accepted, the artist can begin work as soon as they are ready. Artists, when beginning work, be sure to click the ‘Mark as In Progress’ button to notify commissioners when you’ve begun. You can even include a streaming link so that they (and your watchers) can see the work in progress!

As you complete revisions for the customer to review, they will be able to comment on the received work.

Once the work is completed, the artist can upload the final for review. From there they can either approve the final or dispute it through the Artconomy Shield system, bringing in a mediator from the Artconomy team. See our FAQ for how disputes regarding orders are judged.

Once the order is done, be sure to rate your buyer or seller!

Getting Paid!

Once the piece is approved, the money is available for withdrawal. If the artist doesn’t have Auto Withdraw turned on, they can then visit their settings page, and check their Payout Account under the Payment tab to initiate a withdrawal. The transfer should complete within 5 business days to their bank account.

If you’d like to see how you can make more on each commission, or how to know when your favorite artists are open, read our post about Artconomy Portrait and Landscape!

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Artconomy Portrait and Landscape — How to Make the Best of Artconomy for You!

Artconomy endeavors to be the best service possible for the most people to get custom art commissioned and sold. We expect most people coming to the site will commission occasionally or sell casually.

However, those who are especially passionate about art will want to get more out of Artconomy.

Enter Artconomy Portrait and Artconomy Landscape.


Artconomy Portrait

Most of our customers are going to commissioners looking to get pieces done of their characters. A select few will want to be notified and first in line to commission their favorite artists.

Artconomy Portrait allows you to be notified, in real time, when your favorite artists are available. When you sign up for Artconomy Portrait, you can choose to receive an email and/or a Telegram message the moment your favorite artists have an opening. This makes sure you have the best chance of getting that commission from that favorite artist who’s always full or rarely opens. No more manually checking blog posts to see if someone is taking commissions– you’ll know the moment we do!


Artconomy Landscape

If you’re a professional artist, your margins matter. Artconomy makes it easy for anyone to get started making money on their art, but for those who are more established, sale fees can add up quickly.

Subscribing to Artconomy Landscape significantly reduces Artconomy’s fees for each piece, allowing you to make more money on each commission completed. For prolific or high priced artists, this can immediately mean more profits.

Each sale you make will display how much more you would make, or how much more you did make, when using Artconomy Landscape.

For many artists, only two or three commissions a month is enough for Artconomy Landscape to pay for itself and then some! As a bonus, all Artconomy Landscape subscribers also get all Artconomy Portrait features!


How to Upgrade

To upgrade your account to Artconomy Portrait or Artconomy Landscape, all you have to do is click the Upgrade link in the menu and follow the instructions onscreen.


Find out news on Artconomy, status updates, opportunities for beta testing and more!

Reputation and Ratings for Artists and Buyers

On most art and gallery sites that are available today, it’s difficult to establish a reputation as either a commissioner or an artist. With Artconomy, this is no longer a concern. Every commission allows an opportunity for commissioners and artists to rate each other.

When you visit a user’s profile page, click the stars under their avatar to view their ratings. If they don’t yet have any stars, they’re new, and you could be the first to rate them!

To rate your artist (or your commissioner) look at the bottom of your order page under the final. There, you’ll find a form to set a number of stars and add any comments you have. With the power of feedback you can work together with your fellow artists and art lovers to improve each other and the community!

Preventing Abuse

One of the most frustrating parts of online market places are fake reviews. It’s very easy on many sites for sellers to hire out for dishonest feedback. On Artconomy, no ratings may be placed without a completed purchase, making it very expensive for anyone to inflate their rating.

Likewise, anyone who might submit a bad review has to have already finished and settled the transaction first, with the piece delivered, removing much of the motivation for demanding a refund or otherwise extorting based on a bad review.

If you suspect anyone is abusing the rating system, please contact support with more information. Artconomy takes review fraud seriously, and wants to keep purchasing and selling art safe for everyone on our platform!

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Adjustments: How to Handle the Chaos of Custom Orders

Until Artconomy, creating a storefront for custom art has been difficult. One of the biggest reasons why is that each piece that’s created comes with its own unique details, and some of these details require more work than others.

Imagine creating an online ‘product’ to represent ink sketches you’re willing to sell. You set the price for it and then wait for the orders to come in. Finally one arrives and you look at the details. To your horror, you discover…

Detailed Tattoos








…you realize that you’ll be spending at least double the time on this one piece while charging the same price for it. You could increase the prices of your commission offerings to offset when this happens,  but then your general price might be too much. What you need is a way to charge extra for only those commissions that require detail work.

Enter Artconomy’s Adjustments feature! Adjustments allow you to tack on extra charges (or discounts!) for each commission depending on what the customer has asked for. This makes sure that if you end up having to spend more time to make a piece the right way, the commissioner is paying for that extra time.

Not only can you specify how much more (or less) you will be charging for a piece, you can also specify how much more (or less) the task weight should be. Since Artconomy manages your workload for you, it can take into account commissions that are going to take longer and avoid keeping you open for commissions and over-committing, preventing customer service problems.

The next time you see a character with wings show up, don’t panic, just set an adjustment and get back to creating the art you love!

Want to keep up with Artconomy’s news and updates? Sign up for our mailing list! We promise we won’t spam you or give your information to anyone else.

Who’s Open? Seeing Artist Availability at a Glance

Navigating the world of art is messy. One of the fundamental challenges to getting a piece done of your favorite character is finding an available artist.

Not only do you have to find the right artist, you need to be able to find their pricing, and if they have any room. We think it would be nice if you could follow your favorite artists and know, at a glance, who’s available and what they’re offering.

Introducing the “Who’s Open?” feature. To use it, you first visit your favorite artist’s profile page and watch them:

Then, you go to the “Who’s Open?” link in the menu.

And voila! All of the artists you’re watching, with all of the products they’re offering, are at your fingertips!

Can I Get Instant Alerts?

You can! Instead of checking the list to see who is open, Artconomy Portrait Subscribers can be alerted via email and Telegram messenger.

When watching a user, you will be presented with a button offering to alert you:

Click this button to start the account upgrade process. Alternatively, you can visit the upgrade button on the sidebar. Once upgraded, emails will send the moment your favorite artists open, and you can visit the Portrait tab in your settings page to set up your Telegram alerts!

Now you can know the moment your favorite artists are open and get into their queue first!

How do I know the Artists are Really Open?

Artconomy manages the workload of artists, and allows them to quickly open and close commissions. This means that when artists’ queues are full, their products are automatically taken down, so you don’t have to worry about sifting through old availability announcements.

Artconomy will continue to find innovative ways to make the commissioning process as smooth as possible.

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