Old School here with some shots of a simple commission I completed for a client and some notes I have on commission painting. All of the models in the photo minus the one crisis suit without the white helmet were painted by me. Lately I have had a Tau bug and it doesn't seem to be going away. It's no mystery really, they were my first army and I really guess I never got over them. Let's take a look and take a little about commissions or at least my personal views on the basics of commission work.
Here is a shot of one of the prior commissions from a different artist (center), flanked by two of the models I painted. I was approached just before the holidays by the client via e-mail, who let me know he already had models painted by commission and he was not happy with them. Once he sent me a link to the "business" of the other painter, I could see why. Basically, the painter did not have a grasp of any form of the basics of painting, other than the idea that the paint goes on the model somehow.
I don't say that to be overly harsh, I am saying it because I find it offensive that somebody would take money from people in exchange for poor work. I don't believe that the client contacted them and said "I would really like a blue/grey scheme with plenty of brushstrokes in it please ... oh and can you use brown floor wax to dip my grey firewarriors into? I really dig brown shading on grey cloth."
The bottom line is that when you pay somebody to paint for you, there should be an understanding of the end result and what techniques will be used. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case and I have seen things like this before.
Now while that all sounds negative, there is a lot to like about commissioning work and about performing commission work. As a customer, the client asked me to paint some tau, so I asked exactly what he was looking for. I asked a series of questions so I could gain an understanding of the end result he desired and also the technical look he desired. He wanted a very basic and clean paint job, without a lot of fancy techniques. Essentially, he wanted them to be painted for the table and look clean! Once an idea is grasped, a price can be negotiated.
Neither the customer or the commissioner should talk price for a project until both understand what the client desires. If there is any doubt for the client as to whether or not the painter can handle the order, he should provide some prior work.
Once both parties are comfortable, the client should send the models (insured and signature verified always!) and a portion of the total commission (75% or more is my personal preference). This makes the painter happy because he isn't scared about payment and it gives the client a piece of mind that his work should be done on time or he can hold the remainder of the payment over the painter's head. Having a target date for completion ahead of the order helps out with getting your models back in a timely manner.
*A note on price* If you find yourself as one of those clients who thinks it costs too much, even at really reasonable rates, to get something painted, please consider the time it would take YOU to paint the models and then consider what that would look like in an hourly rate across what you are looking to get painted, then factor in paint and brushes, ect. You will find most times, that commission painters aren't asking a whole lot for basic work and if you still think it is too expensive - you can take it on yourself.*
Once work begins, the painter should provide updates, so the client can see what kind of work is being done and possibly stop any potential mistakes before a mistake is repeated over the entire project. I find that not only does this help both parties out, but it also eases some of the anxiety on the client's end and will allow some more leeway if deadlines have to stretch or if there needs to be changes. Basically, it just boosts every one's comfort level.
Finally, once the job is complete and everyone is happy, the client should pay any remaining payments and then the seller should ship it out (insured and signature verified once again).
A happy client should always provide some testimonials and a really nice client should show off some tabletop photos of the models being used (I love seeing models I painted on the field, as they kind of become my babies for a little while when I paint them). This will help the painter get more business and will make sure he is still in business the next time you need stuff painted!
One last tip I have is to shop around and really check people out. Avoid sketchy artists. On the internet, you could ask around in the forums or check out their previous work. In person, it is a little easier - make sure they don't live in a van behind the game store and that they actually have some examples that YOU would play with if they were yours!
You get what you pay for. If you want Golden Daemon work, be ready for those kind of prices, if you want basic work, still expect to pay a reasonable price. If something seems too good to be true - IT IS!
In any case, I really enjoyed painting these models and getting back to very basic painting can still teach you a thing or two as an artist. I really enjoy painting, but would certainly consider commission work and probably will if I get deployed soon, since It would be nice to return to a fully painted army.
That's it for now. If you are still reading and have some experience either buying commission work or performing it, I would love to hear your thoughts, advise or opinions.