This is a beware that involves somebody that was once a friend of mine. For that reason, this is quite a tough one for me to write. I have tried to limit the amount of personal information to what is required for anyone to be able to follow this beware.
It all started over a year ago. The artist posted in a discord server that she had an unexpected bill for her new house. As a friend, I wanted to help her out, so I originally offered to let her borrow some of my money for free. She raised the idea of a commision instead. The screencap below is my response in PM to the post she made on the discord server.
After this reply we had some chit-chat about trading cards that I have not included here. Afterwards, I asked what she could do for 250 pounds. Besides a plushie that was currently not a good option, she could do at least two “standard colour pictures”. What I knew of this type of artwork is that they were of just the character's face.
She asked for screenshots of one of the characters, Truun, which I provided a while later. After that I asked her where I should send the money to. It was recommended to use paypal with friends and family. She also mentioned that normally she only asks people to send the money after the work is completed. However, given she had this emergency bill, I decided to pay right away. After mentioning the paypal that sent the money, she confirmed the payment.
At the end of all this, the strongest I would say that we agreed to here is 250 pounds for 2 and a half standard color images. These are the type where I knew they were just the face.
A few months went by without any progress. Besides the regular chatter, occasionally we would be in a group voice chat in a WoW guild discord with multiple people casually talking about all sorts of things. During those she would often on the side mention how she was sorry that she still had not started yet with the art and would start soon (which she then never would).
After one group voice chat I started having my doubts about the “2 and a half image” agreement when she would mention that she would start on my 'one' character soon. So I asked for clarity on that after the voice chat. She ‘confirmed’ that it was indeed just one character. I agreed to that, under the assumption that it would then not be a standard color image given those were 100 pounds each. If we look here at a learning moment, I should have pushed at that moment for more clarity. Though I found it difficult to do with her being a friend. However, I do also believe that the artist has to do their part in asking questions and being clear when there appears to be doubts.
Many months went by. During that time we still had our usual conversations and she would continue to occasionally mention how she felt bad that she had still not started yet.
At one point I sent her a message to ask her to double check with me before she gets started. This commission was for a roleplaying character and a lot of character development had taken place between the first transaction and then. This would affect the work. I did not get a response to this one.
Around two weeks after this message our friendship reached a breaking point. This was not due to the art commision itself, but a long buildup caused by painful interactions over time. I decided the best thing to do was to take distance from her and also leave the WoW guild discord she was part of. A lot can be written about how this friendship broke down, but I prefer to keep this private. Around three weeks later I decided to ask for a full refund for the commision. It had been over a year where no progress was shown. I decided to present the situation to two artists first before requesting the refund and they both mentioned that this would be fair. I hoped that after a whole year of having the money for free and having no progress, and me having done this to help her as a friend, she would understand and would have agreed to the full refund so that we could both leave this commision and everything attached to it behind us peacefully. At this point, I was not convinced this commission would ever still be finished and even if it would, I felt the work would only remind of the painful experiences that I tried to leave behind. I would not be able to seperate the art from how it came to be.
She was not willing to offer the full refund even though it had been over a year. The reasoning being that she had started working on the commission since the moment I took distance. However, between me notifying her that I was taking distance and requesting the refund, there had been no contact from her what so ever. Also from what you can see from a previous image, I asked her to double check with me before she would start.
I was not willing to accept this. I was also very skeptical whether she had actually already started at this point when she mentioned she could only show me progress the day after. After some pushing, and with a bit of time passing, she actually managed to show me the sketch that represented the progress she had made so far. I was skeptical about whether this sketch had not been done during the time I asked for the refund and when she posted it. She tried to convince me that was not the case and then went on to ask about details for the sketch itself. She also mentioned that I have had information along the way, but this has been mostly limited to the voice chats I mentioned earlier where she would apologize for it still not being done. There was never any progress shared or any questions asked regarding how the art should be.
So she showed me a sketch of just the face of the character. As this seemed to be heading towards being one of those standard images that I originally would get 2 and a half of, I asked if it would indeed be just the face.
I got the answer back that this was indeed the case. At this point out of good will she was willing to do a sketch of another one of my characters.
As you can see above, she mentions that I agreed on this single image in voice chat. Though I asked her after the voice chat for clarity about how many characters were going to be done, and I did agree to just one (see an earlier image) , I never agreed to it being just the face.
I offered besides the full refund that she could refund me 150 pounds and just finish the one image as a way to accomodate.
She refused both offers and pointed at what her regular commisions are, which are indeed only faces, but these are the "standard color images" that I would originally get 2 and a half for. In the same response she grudgingly offered to do a full body instead for the full amount.
At this point, I took some time to think about what to do next. At this point, I would not be able to separate the art from how it was produced and looking at it would mostly just give me painful memories to this exchange and all the things that ultimately made it better for me to take distance from her. A few days later I made the final offer. I would give her 50 pounds for the work she had already done (the sketch), without asking anything in return for it. She would be allowed to pay back the 200 pounds in installments of 50 pounds per month.
She also refused this offer and this is where I have left it at.
While this beware was pending, she came back to me to offer me 125 pounds without offering any art with the argument that it is 'common to do 50/50 with these large commissions'. However, this would still not be fair. We never agreed to this split up front and all the way at the start, she even mentioned that she commonly let people pay afterwards (see an earlier screen cap). So this is a pretty weak argument. A standard color image is 100 pounds, all the progress she has is the sketch of the same size. This would mean she is letting me pay 25 pounds more for less (or actually none as I won’t get any work for it).
Ideally, I would have preferred not to have had to make this beware. I had hoped that after all this time she would have agreed to the full refund and we could have both left this peacefully behind us. Even after she refused that offer, I tried to accomdate in multiple ways. I feel my offers have been more than fair. At this point, I will only still accept the 200 pounds refund.
This was the first art commission I ever tried and it has been the only one so far. It feels as if my friendship has been taken advantage of. Though this has been a rather painful experience that makes me somewhat hesistant to commission art in the future, I have learned two important things. One is that I should have pushed for a very strict written agreement even though we were friends. Another is to never do these types of transactions using “friends and family” for paypal.
I hope with now having written this all down I can start leaving this behind me and have been able to warn others and perhaps tell a cautionary tale.
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