When Art Commissions Go Bad: Part II

I posted this on a forum I frequent, but after I wrote it I thought it might be worthwhile to post it here as well. I have to say that I've only had one really bad experience with a major artist (he used to draw a major title at Marvel for quite a while). I bought some art from him via eBay, promptly paid and also arranged, and paid, for a sketch of a minor, but fondly remembered, character that he once drew. He was all happy and chummy and things were looking great. As the art in question had already been done I was told that it'd take less than a day to do the sketch and it'd all be sent out to me, via air-mail, by the end of that week.

Then he vanished. I heard nothing for months. I emailed, I even phoned, nothing. Then I saw comments by him appearing in magazines (I presume he'd been paid for his art in these instances as well), so I emailed him saying how I thought his comments in both magazines were insightful, but I didn't say anything about the art he owed. I thought that I'd see if I could open a dialogue with the artist and then gently remind him. I need not have bothered as I recieved no reply. Finally someone contacted me out of the blue via a mailing list I'm on and asked if I'd had any dealings with said artist. I said I had, and that it was coming up to two years and still no word. The guy said that he and a few others were collecting details of commissions and art owed as they were going to confront the artist at a convention (he was very active on the convention circuit, selling art and arranging commissions) and demand either the art or the money back. I agreed that I'd be part of it, but that the artist should be emailed first to alert him of what was coming.

Out of the blue I got an email apologising for the (lengthy) delay and offering to send my art to me. I didn't get indignant, indeed I was thankful and said that it was good to hear from him again, that I was worried that something might have happened. The artist even said that he'd include a new sketch to make up for the delay, but I'd have to send more money for the extra postage. That confused me somewhat and I did think, it's a piece of paper, what extra postage? I was hesitant, but I thought, what the hell, it might be the only way I get the art, so I sent the funds over the same day. By the time the art arrived it'd been nearly two and a half years in the waiting. Guess what? No extra sketch, as promised, and the total postage was more than half of what I'd paid originally, let alone the top up, bring it to the artist making about 3/4 of a profit from postage alone. I guess he was charging me storage fees.

I'm not buying from that artist again, sad to say, unless it's pre-done, ready to ship and in the hands of another. It's a shame as I really enjoy the artists work and despite what happened I still like him, but, to be perfectly honest, I can't even bring myself to look at the stuff. When it arrived I put it into the metal case that I use to hold my art (fireproof & waterproof you see) and there it's sat, only coming out to be scanned.


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