I don't know Art, but I know what he looks like.
August 10, 2012 3:59 PM   Subscribe

When working with a paid character portrait artist, how much "editing" is allowed?

I decided to hire a professional artist group (These guys) and, after explaining what my character looked like and what I wanted done, was quoted $85; I sent $100, the extra as a 'tip' because I said I would probably need 'editing' done. (I have a very specific mental image of this character so I need to be able to say "No, his face is thinner than that" etc.)

They did a draft, I liked it but wanted the face more like an existing image. They did that, it looked great except for a little too thick in the chin, I asked for a slightly more pointed chin, they took a month and now have a near-final result and frankly I like the draft much better. Not quite back to square one, but it's not what I pictured.

I don't know if my request for a more pointy chin threw it off or what, but we've been at this since May and I'm worried I'm being too picky. I would like to ask either, "I'm sorry, go back to the way you had it and finalize from there" or "take the draft version face and stick it on the detailed body,"-- or just downloading GIMP and trying to do it myself rather than pester them any more.

Am I being too picky? Am I being annoying? Or, for the price I paid, do I 'deserve' to go back and forth with them until I am happy with the final result? I honestly don't know; I have tremendous respect for artists and don't want to be a dick about this, but if this sort of "no, thicker eyebrows... not that thick!" thing is all in a day's work, I want to get this right; it's important to me, I don't have a lot of money, and I'm not in a hurry.

Please don't attack me for not understanding artists or being cheap or something! I want both sides to be happy when this is done, I really do.

Anyone who wants to see the images before they give an answer can email/memail me.
posted by The otter lady to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
I regularly commission covers for my writing. I go back and forth until I am fully satisfied. You certainly shouldn't feel bad about asking for revision if it doesn't meet your expectations.

I mean, it's not like they have a sliding scale of pricing where $x gets you roughly what you want, $2X gets you closer but if you want it right you gotta pay $3X. You were quoted a price and you paid it, so now they should deliver.
posted by Sternmeyer at 4:20 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you've been unreasonable. I deal with customers at work who want revisions on t-shirt art and 3-5 iterations are quite normal. Even when it goes a few more rounds, the idea that the customer is engaged in some kind of dickery doesn't enter into it unless and until the artists start to feel that they're going in circles, or that the customer is wanting nearly imperceptible changes, over and over.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:37 PM on August 10, 2012

I'm not going to tell you that you're cheap, but you did buy a fairly cheap service that seems to rely on volume and quick turn-around to make their dimes. It's not unusual to go back and forth on commissions, certainly, but I don't think I would be terribly picky on something I paid $100 for. Ultimately, no artist will be able to get into your brain and make a perfect representation--for $85 plus a tip, I'd say close enough is good enough.

Many character and concept artists get paid an advance and then receive a final check upon satisfactory work completion--this doesn't seem to be their deal, so it seems that they would be less open to continual editing.

As for sticking the draft head on the completed body, that shouldn't be too difficult of a task for them, so I don't think it would hurt to ask.
posted by xyzzy at 7:27 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Am I being too picky? Am I being annoying?

For $100, yes. I can't see how they're making a profit off this comission.

You asked them to do x, then y, then z and then decided x really was the best. Of course that's annoying.

If you're not in hurry and want thus just so, then take the draft and go back to them when you have a bit more money to finish the job.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:46 PM on August 10, 2012

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