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Advice Requested: Artist Continually Stalling, Missing Milestones & Opening New Commissions.


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Background:

I messaged an artist mid October, requesting 2 full color with background commissions of 2 characters from a movie.

The artist claimed they would be starting “Dec/Jan” with a turnaround time of 1-2 weeks, demanding payment upfront to ‘hold my place in their queue’, along with promises to post their queue list so I could see where I was in line (this was never posted). I sent my refs in October, and paid them near the end of October. Dec came and went; at the start of January, I followed up to ask how my commissions were coming along. The artist told me that due to some circumstances, they could not work on commissions in Dec, and would start in January, and would send me an update ASAP. No updates were shown for the rest of January.

I followed up again at the start of February to ask about my commission progress, and received some sketches a week later that seemed to be very hastily put together (formless, faceless sketches, with hardly any background drawn). I sent back the edits I’d like immediately. Shortly after, the artist asked me to “hold them accountable”, so they could finish their commissions on time. I agreed and set key milestone dates for when I’d like the lineart by, the base colors, and the final colors/detailing (aka completion) throughout the remainder of February, March, for a completion in April (when the commission would reach 6 months); the artist agreed to these milestones.

I discovered mid-March, that at a point where the linearts I approved should have reached base color, the artist had resketched both commissions, claiming they were not satisfied with how they looked. I tried to accommodate this wish to resketch by shifting the milestone dates 1-2 weeks each. However, after barely managing to hit 2 milestone dates (the redone lineart, and edits to the redone lineart), they have been missing each one thereafter, begging constantly for extensions, or seeming to stall by showing only piecemeal progress (e.g. only showing a bit of progress on 1 commission, or barely doing anything except shading a few skin tones, and calling it an “update”, when I’ve been very clear about what stage I expect both commissions to be at). In the meantime, I’ve seen them post massive amounts of personal art/fandom art on Twitter, while continually opening new batches of commissions, for an April intake, a May, and quite recently, a June intake—the most recent one due to their claim of Paypal putting their account into the negative, as it appears another client had filed a chargeback.

To date, I have only received low-res screenshots of both commissions with sloppy base colors, uncleaned lineart, and no details in the background (e.g. painted blobs to indicate where items should be). They most recently missed their April 1 and today’s (extended from April 1) milestone. I'm getting anxious now, as I approach the 180 day window from Paypal (Apr 26).

 

Next Steps?

I'm not sure what to do next. I feel awkward asking for a refund, bc a) I'd just like the completed art, rather than them giving me a partial refund (due to the work they’ve done so far) and leaving me with a half finished art I can't do anything with, and b) the final coloring and details is all that’s keeping these comms from completion. But trying to get any progress from the artist feels like pulling teeth, with them claiming to have some life crisis or another, begging repeatedly for extensions, or giving me piecemeal “updates” (e.g. adding incorrect lighting effects to 1 commission), and not meeting the commission milestones (e.g. at ‘final color’, they paint the skin of the characters, do nothing else, and call that an “update”).

I’m considering sending an ultimatum at this point, and stating that I’d like to see the final colors + fully detailed background (aka completion) for *both commissions* by April 8, and any edits from that finished by April 15, or I'll be going to Paypal. But I’m also antsy that they could try to pull a fast one on me by sending more piecemeal progress, or only hastily “finishing” 1 of the commissions, or something, to be like “See? I sent you something, now you can’t go to Paypal!”

 

Any advice on how to proceed with this situation would be really appreciated. Thank you!

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If this were me, these would be the options I'd consider:
- Let it go; consider it a donation to the artist
- Ask for the full res files of both the sketches and/or line arts (the original and the redone one- or whatever they still have on hand) and call the transaction completed
- Ask the artist to give you what they have now with no further updates and:
A. Consider the money for more than the current work a donation, or
B. A partial refund, and/or
C. A statement stating the artist allows another artist to complete the work, and/or
D. The working file (psd?)

Though, ultimately, whatever you want to do you should send the email well before the paypal window closes (at least 7 full days, in my opinion).

I think completing both sketches by the 8th is asking way too much. That's 2-3 days. Whatever you get in that window is probably going to be rushed.

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1 hour ago, Bornes said:

If this were me, these would be the options I'd consider:
- Let it go; consider it a donation to the artist
- Ask for the full res files of both the sketches and/or line arts (the original and the redone one- or whatever they still have on hand) and call the transaction completed
- Ask the artist to give you what they have now with no further updates and:
A. Consider the money for more than the current work a donation, or
B. A partial refund, and/or
C. A statement stating the artist allows another artist to complete the work, and/or
D. The working file (psd?)

Though, ultimately, whatever you want to do you should send the email well before the paypal window closes (at least 7 full days, in my opinion).

I think completing both sketches by the 8th is asking way too much. That's 2-3 days. Whatever you get in that window is probably going to be rushed.

Thanks for these insights! I will incorporate these thoughts into the decisions I make in going forward!

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