Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Commissioning Artists the Thrythlind Way


Step One: Inspiration

The first step to commissioning art the way I do it is to either start writing a story or else reading one.  Eventually you will come to one of the following decisions:

a) I so want to see a visual representation of this character

b) I so would want to see my character meet this other one

c) I would love to see this particular event here

At which point, the knee jerk reaction to check your bank account kicks in and the next thing you know you're trying to find room in your budget for the art.


Step Two: Budgeting

Now that you have an idea of something you want to see in visual format, you have to go looking for how to pay for it.  If your budget is tight then a rationalization...I mean reason might be useful as well.  I suggest the following:

a) The artist is offering lower priced promotions right now!

b) I can use this in connection with my original works which almost nobody knows about...so this is a business expense...really (make sure to pay for commercial rights)

c) I've always wanted to get a commission by this artist

d) I have plenty of food to last the next week

e) But I really want it!  Really and really truly want it!

Step Three: Choosing an artist

Maintain a list of commissionable artists who use art styles you like.  When you get one of these ideas, skim through that list and see who's open for commissions.  Make sure not to choose anybody who took your money and then failed to get art to you for a year running.

Choosing an artist who knows you and understands your foibles and peculiarities is probably a good idea, but sometimes you just want someone new.

Step Four: Wall o'Text (and, if possible, Sea o'References)

Okay, find story snippets, character descriptions, any past pieces of art, and photos related to objects you want in the work, pieces of art related to characters not-belonging to you that you want in the art, so on and so forth.

Send the note

Step Five: Wall o'Text: Part Two - The Realization

Remember some piece of information that might or might not be important to the whole and send that out in a new note.

Step Six: Wall o'Text: Part Three - The Return

Remember another piece of information that might or might not be important and send that in a new note.

Step Seven: Wall o'Text: Part Four - The Apology

Send an apology for the barrage of notes.

Step Eight: The Waiting...

Continuously and neurotically check your Sent Notes folder to see if your request have been read yet.  Pounce on return notes like a hungry lion in a meat factory.

Read the questions and clarifications that the artist has to you.

Step Nine: Wall o'Text: The Revenge

Prepare another encyclopedic note responding to the artist's questions.....

Step Ten: Repeat Steps Five through Nine

Step Eleven: Pay the Man/Woman/whatever...

Go to paypal and get your money sent.

Step Twelve: Anticipation

Read and re-read and re-re-read the notes you sent out and try to imagine what the finished product will look like.

Step Thirteen: Sketch Approval

See Step Ten

Step Fourteen: Eager Anticipation

As Step Twelve but also repeatedly look at the sketch you had to approve.  Gush to friends.

Step Fifteen: Acquire Art

Put it in your gallery with credit to artist...if this is an original work with no characters that don't belong to you, try for a print (make sure you paid for commercial rights)

If art is connected to a piece of original fiction, convince/hope the artist will post their own version: they probably have a larger fanbase than you do.

Step Sixteen: Sharing and Appreciation

Show off new art to friends and others.  "Look how awesome I am, I can pay for art!"  Monitor comments on the new art on both your posting and the artist's posting...respond to as many comments as you can.

With art connected to your own original novels, try to push the novel sales.

Step Seventeen:

See Step One

Note: The process of showing fans of other, more established fanbases and fictional settings and saying "look how cool my characters are" is pretty much standard operating procedure regardless of whether you are currently commissioning a work or not.

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