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A basic guide to setting up commissions

When it comes to commissioning, there is so much that needs to be decided, arranged and thought of that it can all appear a bit daunting at first.
However: when following a couple of basic guidelines, setting up commissions really is not as hard as you think!

If you find the article informative, please :+fav: it.


First things first

So you have decided you want to start doing commissions. That's great!
The first thing to do is to determine what you want to offer.

Do you want to offer drawings, or designs?
Will you be coding journal-skins for people, or will you be pixeling?

Take a look through your gallery and try to determine what you do best and what you like to do the most.
Because that will most likely be what you'll be offering.

  • TIP:
    Stick to what you're good at.
    Don't promise what you can't deliver when someone is paying you for it.

Now that you've most likely decided what you want to do, it's time for the next step.


Payment & payment methods

Time to start writing up a price-list! But how much can or will you charge for a piece of your work?

A good way of going about this is to ask yourself the following:
* How good are your drawings?
* How many hours do you spend on a single drawing?

Chances are that if you just started drawing, you can’t ask the same price as someone who’s been doing it for years and does a better job at it.  

Don’t over-price, but also don’t under-price yourself!

Ask a couple of people you know for an estimate and for some advice. That way, you’ll have a broader view and you’ll be able to write up a price-list with more information.

Now is also the time to decide whether you want to be paid in advance, paid after the work, or paid in segments.
This is pretty much up to personal opinion, though most artists prefer payment in advance.
That way, when a client suddenly cancels the commission, you still get some payment for the work you've already put into a drawing.

Something to also keep in mind is that if you can't do the work, or if the client is not satisfied with the commission, is that in some cases you may have to refund.
Try avoiding this by doing your very best with every single picture and don't spend what you were paid before completing the commission.

Also: no rushing and definitely no sloppy sketch-deliveries when you were asked for a painting!

Moving on to payment methods, you have the choice between the two most used methods on deviantART: points or Paypal.

* Points are deviantART’s on-site currency and may be purchased here. Once purchased, they can be donated or, in this case, used to pay for a commission.

* Paypal is an online service that allows you to safely pay and transfer money over the internet.
Information on how to set  up a Paypal-account:

Right about now you should be having a lot of information. Time to move on to the commission journal!


Setting up your commission-journal

To let everyone know you’re taking commissions, it’s a good idea to have a commission-journal.
There, you can notify people of what you can be commissioned for and for how much. It's also a good idea to keep a list in your commission-journal of who you are currently working for and how the commissions are progressing.

I’ll try to dissect the commission journal point by point and link to a couple of examples afterwards.

But first of all:

* Commissions: open/closed?
Are you taking commissions or not?
This is important since it lets people know whether or not they should contact you for information.

* Amount of commission slots available: ?
How many commissions will you be taking at a time?
How many slots have already been filled?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew and keep it reasonable.
When starting out, I suggest keeping 3 commission slots.
You can always add more later on when you're accustomed to being commissioned.

The next thing to do is specify what you can be commissioned for. Include samples for each type of art you are offering and make sure to show your best works. After all, you want to get people interested, no? It’s also usually in your best interest to include a list of what you can / will do and a list of what you can’t / won’t.

Keep your lay-out simple and orderly.
No one wants to dig through a wall of text in order to find what they’re looking for. The easier your journal is to navigate, the better!

You can always add a list of completed commissions at the end of the commission journal to show what you've already done.
A plus is that it also shows people you finish your commissions and that you are trustworthy.

A couple of examples of commission journals:
example ~ example ~ example ~ example


Getting your name out there.

On this part I will be brief, though it's also something important that most people forget. Let people know you're taking commissions!

* Put a link to your commission-journal in your signature.

* Put a link to your commission-journal in your most recent journal and keep it there for as long as you're taking commissions. Nothing is worse than to have to dig through loads of journals in order to find the commission journal.

* Advertise it in the projects-forum for commissions you do in your free time.

* Advertise it in the job services-forum if you are wanting to take your commissions seriously and treat them as you would a real job.

And if all goes well...


I am being commissioned; what now?

Ask for details about what the client wants of course!
Also set up a clear set of rules in Terms of Service (ToS).

* If the client is not satisfied, will you re-do the piece?
If yes: how many times?
If no: do you refund?

* When you finish the piece, how will you deliver it?
See below for various methods of delivering said piece to the client.

* Do you give progress-reports?
If yes: how often?

* Will the client be able to change his/her mind?
If yes: will there be extra cost?

There are a plethora of things that can be discussed to avoid complications later and I hardly listed them all. But I think you get the general idea, no?

When the commissioned piece is finished, you need to show the client, of course.
How you will do this all depends on what you have agreed upon with the client, but a couple of options are:

* Uploading it to deviantART and linking it to the client.

* Sending it by e-mail.
I recommend making a separate e-mail account for commissioning only.
Make sure people know about it and that they can contact you there

* Sending a copy / original in the mail
Keep the cost of sending things in mind and be sure to notify beforehand if the shipping will be included in the price or not.

This list is not exhaustive, of course.

Do not send out the full-res, unwatermarked copy of the commission if you haven't been paid yet.
In cases of payment-after-commission, send a low-res and watermarked proof of the commission being finished.
You can send over a higher-res version after confirming you have been paid.


Last but not least

Have fun with it!

And then all that rests me to say is: good luck!


* A couple of related tutorials *

Commission Guide by DarlingMionette Commission tutorial by shingworks
Add a Comment:
blueswansong Featured By Owner 5 hours ago  New Deviant
One question, which may sound very stupid.

When opening a PayPal account, do I choose personal or business.
krystalizedstorm Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Anyone here know what you're supposed to do when someone commissions you via paypal?
Do I just give them my email? Is that all I need to do?
I wanna be very clear on this before I open up my comms again, just to be sure
CarlyChannel Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
When one pays with points, does the payment add to your card or just add up to your own points?
A-Ferret Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
this was super helpfuls!!!! everything was explained so clearly. i feel like i understand the whole commissioning process a lot better now :3

i had been thinking about doing commissions for a while now, but i could never decide on a price. (im not totally sure about how the commissions thing works on here, but i plan on selling through all my social medias (technically, thats only deviantart and i guess thats more of a 'both' than an 'all') and i plan on having different sizes and stuff, like commissioning a 6x9 inch drawing vs a 9x12 inch one so there are options for all budgets and whatnot

but i cant decide on prices because i dont know how i will deliver the print (i mostly work in markers, so id want to send them a physical drawing, though id probably do that if it were a digital commission too..)

should you give the buyer the original drawing or a print of it?
and if you give them the original drawing, should you charge more than you would if it were a print?
should you give an option to choose whether they want the original or a print?
if you give the option for the original or a print, should you have a base price for the print (depending on the size) and have a separate base amount that would be added to that to get the original (like if i sold a 9*12 inch print of the commission for $20, but getting the original is an extra $10 or something like that)?
is this too complicated? am i just overcomplicating things for no good reason? 

i feel like im seriously overthinking this.....i have a tendency to do that.............
GameManiac7509 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2017
Gonna be opening myself up for commissions soon. I have most of it down in my head, and looking at this fills out the little holes I may still have.
DaVonteWagner Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I just opened my commissions, but no one is interested. What should I do?
FluffyWolfPaw Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2017  Student Digital Artist
join a bunch of group on DA, do some drawings and post to a bunch of groups, in the description of drawings say you do commissions. When you upload things try to advertise to popular fandoms to attract more people. Make friends on DA and attempt to do collabs or art trades. Also joining artist discord helps too. Make a bunch of social medias and post there as well. Do some free art for friends in exchange for them to share your work and for them to lable it as commission work. c: good luck homie!
DaVonteWagner Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I willl try. Thanks.
SallieTheRPGNerd Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I tried posting something on the job forum and someone told me it was the wrong forum???
Xxchocolate-queenxX Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
so uh i just started commissions and i just wanted to ask something, when do i get paid for the commission? 
Lisnovski Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If you do it for points, then check the "My Earnings" page on the "Shop" page.
Xxchocolate-queenxX Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
oh ok thanks!
Lisnovski Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Cartoonicus Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2017  Professional Filmographer
What is a commission journal and how do I start one?
cattyue Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I've question im still confusing bout what should i take for traditional art, bcs i dont know the price for my art or should i digitally?. Can u help me? u can check out my galleries. If u can i'd like to talk with u by note. Thank you.
ketsamachan Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2017  Student General Artist
Thanks for this!!
freqrexy Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2017  Hobbyist
This journal is easier said than done.  It's the first result on Google, I've been doing commissions for six months, and I'm lucky to even get 3 of them.  I cut my prices and I still haven't received any more.  I'm on Paypal and I am really afraid that I am over-pricing myself now.  Got any pro-tips?
ShinoBF Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Hello! I have a serious question!
I am preparing to start commissions, i planed everything and everything seems ok, but i just can't understand how can I deliver the piece to the client.
how does he pay? 
before I start I accept the money by the link of paypal, but what about points? if its points, he just has to send them to me and then I start? what do i do!? QAQ
WONHOLY Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2017  New Deviant
you can either start after the person who is commissioning you pays you the points or you make the piece and after it's finished, you contact the commissioner and then they can send you the points!
i don't know if i explained it well or if it was what you meant but i hope i managed to help you!
ShinoBF Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes its really like that! he transfers the points to me isn't it? its because sometimes da have thing to put premium and stuff like that, and its really confusing!! but i feel confident now! thank you very much for explaining! 
WONHOLY Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2017  New Deviant
yea, you dont need to be a premium member to receive points really!
i'm glad i could help!
The-Emmeranne Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I think I want to open comms in the future with traditional art as I don't really like digital but I feel so uneasy. I would like to send the original piece and refund in case of the order being lost or very damaged but I'm so afraid of being cheated/scammed. I don't want to underprice but I'm also afraid people think it's "too expensive" and other excuses to make it cheaper or free (not that I would ever accept it).

I have some questions: is it ok to sell prints of a commission? I don't feel like it's right to do it (unless if the client approved, maybe?) but once I saw an artist selling prints of paid comms almost as the same price of the original piece. I know being popular can fuel the number of people going to order commissions but does being unknown can drastically decrease the amount of customers looking for a commission despite the quality of the work? 
Aquapoison Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2017  New Deviant Hobbyist Digital Artist
MoonSt0n3 Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
How do I create the journal?
PlanetPeaches Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2017
Don't know if this has been mentioned in all of the pages of this thread, but is anyone making decent money doing commissions?
Rapmonsbigfeet Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think it depends, it's basically selling paintings, so the more skill you have, the more you can put the prices up. Y'know what i mean?
Dragon-Artist92 Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
This was super helpful! Thanks for posting! =D
XxNekoBoyxX Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What if paypal doesn't work in my country 
are there other payment options?
flawyflaw Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2017  Student Digital Artist
well i belive pay pal is international, for other payment methods is to send money with bank account? im not sure if many people will do that tho, you sure pay pal isn't working in your country?
XxNekoBoyxX Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah i live in Turkey and paypal is banned here
shawn1013 Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Maybe u solve this already, but if u can withdraw checks, then sell them using deviantart points instead ^^
100 points = $1 c:

Once u have atleast $20 or $5 (iforgot which one is for check) u can withdraw them :) after theyre converted ( 14 days to convert points to cash)
Make sure u accept points through widget. :)
Thats the inky way u can convert it into cash xD

If u already know all of this, just ignore me xD sorry
XxNekoBoyxX Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Actually I didn’t know that 
so thank you sooo much for telling me <3 
shawn1013 Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No problem! :) and i meant "only way" not inky way xD sorry typo
Cupric Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Definitely helpful and handy - thanks for taking the time! :happybounce:
OhWow21 Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2017  Hobbyist Artist
So I noticed a lot of artists who do/want to do commissions in this comment thread, and was wondering if anyone here specializes in digital art, and could possibly draw my main OC/persona, please DM me if you can! thanks!

(btw my character is one my DA, they're the more human one)
xlilslayerx Featured By Owner Edited Sep 7, 2017
I draw pretty much exclusively in digital art and human but I don't have any commission sheet set up (I was reading the journal to see where to start). If you'd like, I would happily help you out.
OhWow21 Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2017  Hobbyist Artist
okay! sounds good, please DM me maybe on how you want to do this????
LuckyHachi Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Why haven't I seen this before? >_> Need to read this five times.

*I was told my art ain't worth 5 cents even so I gave up* I'll save this tho for whenever I wanna try again! 
Clairebleulee Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I am not sure if you are going to reply but I have some questions. I have very little experience (basically none) with deviant art. How do you make a big page like this? I was thinking of getting a big page like this and putting my commission info in it. 

I have a youtube channel but i'm not sure if that's the best way of saying "I'm opening up commissions"

I also don't know how to add pictures, gifs, animations, or whatever deviant art can do. 
I also don't know anything about fonts, coloring fonts, and initially everything with customization. 
I was wondering if you know any posts that are guides to these things?



(i cant change my name into that because i dont have core) :( 
throwaway-things Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2017
Hi! (You may have resolved already, but whatever)
I would look up tutorials on how to use HTML in DA journals. It very easy to get started, and I can recommend a few places to get some basic information.
HTML codes:
Using HTML on deviantART

Hello and welcome to my little html tutorial. I've been working with html codes for a couple of years and I'm going to teach you what I know about using some basic html on deviantART. This won't make you a html expert or something and I'm not an expert myself but it will give just enough knowledge to make your journals, comments, news articles and other neat and lovely looking. :)
deviantART actually has FAQs about html but I still wanted to do this because they look a bit unorganized, in my opinion. Also, why would you want to look for those FAQs when you can just open this news article where you have everything in one place? :dummy:
You may already know some of these, but I hope you'll find at least something helpful in this news article.

Some basic html

:bulletorange:Bold text: <b>insert text here</b>
:pointr: Result: Example text
:pointr:This html code will work in: journal entries, group blogs, comments, artist's commen

(This one is more for profile creation, but it covers images and gifs and I'm p sure that you can put them in journals. If not, than it's still useful info)
PE: Decorating Your ProfileCommunity Week
Your profile page is the first thing people will see when they click on your name, so it's very important to leave a good impression! This article will provide some useful tips and tricks for both premium and non-premium members who want to convert their profile into their own, unique page. First off, some Do's and Don'ts of profile decoration:
Use dA's profile widgets-- there are lots of great options to chose from
Show off some art (that's what people are here for!)
Express your personality through colors, stamps, gifs, etc.

Add so many images that your profile takes forever to load
Use garish or headache-inducing colors
Make text difficult to read with dark backgrounds
Non-Premium Widgets
While many widgets are restricted or locked for non-premium members, there are still a variety of great widgets that you can add to your profile, even without a membership.
Clairebleulee Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow thanks!
throwaway-things Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2017
Kaesami Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Do you think I could do commissions if I would be offering banners?
Kind of like these (but bigger variety, also I've improved since then, these are old examples.)
Do you think people would be interested in something like that? I'm not sure if people would pay for it or be interested at all.
And I also don't know how much they would pay for it, if they would.
I haven't really seen people do commissions like these.
Muramasa-nii Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2017  Student Artist
what if you dont want to do a fetish related commission? cuz theres this guy who wants me to do this thing and i didnt say it sooner that i feel uncomfortable drawing those
Hardrockangel Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think in that case, you might be best off fully refunding the commissioner and in doing so, terminating he commission.
Communicate it clearly to the client though.

For instance, what you could send:
"Hello (name),

I am sorry, but I am unable to finish the commission work as per your request.
I will thus issue a full refund that you paid me for the drawing.

Kindest regards

Hope this helps!
orchidkitty Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the advice:)
Meadowi Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I was wondering if anyone could answer this question for me (yes I know this isn't the best place but maybe someone will see it)
I've been offered a job working on a comic pitch. I would be payed for my work but the client wants 2 sample sketches of characters so they can have an idea of my style. Should I charge for these sketches or do them for free? I don't have much of a portfolio in the proposed style which is why they asked.
If anyone has any advice I'd really appreciate it!
agifarclor Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2017   Digital Artist
If you want and if you have the time, you could try sketching or even making a finished sample in their proposed style just to add something to your portfolio. You retain the rights to it unless they pay for it. If they don't want it, you can entertain other people who might take an interest in it. If they're asking you for sketches with the intent of getting to know your style, I believe that's the reason we have portfolios.
niqht-liqht Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2017
i'd say don't bother with it, unless by 'sketch' they mean a piece that's almost finished or something like that
good luck!!
Meadowi Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! I'll take your advice :)
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