Friday, June 19, 2009


I'll going to share a secret with all two of the people who might read this.

I hate doing commissions. I mean, I really, REALLY hate doing commissions.

It wouldn't matter if I was paid $1000 for a drawing or more, I would still hate the responsibility. See, what it boils down to, I guess, is selfishness. I would much rather spend my time drawing my characters and writing my stories, than working on the artwork as requested by others. And it always seems like, just when I'm on the verge of a creative breakthrough, some big financial problem smacks me in the face and I need extra money to make things easier. And even though I don't get that many commissions these days, they tend to be my most reliable means of putting some extra money in my pocket quickly, so I go for it.

I can't get my own creative concepts off of my mind, but as an honorable man, I compel myself to put commission work first. I may post warm-up sketches featuring my characters, but rest assured my serious drawing time is spent on drawings I owe others. In the end, no amount of money (probably) can compensate me for the stress I feel because I have to draw something for another person before I can go back to developing my own work.

It makes me wonder if I really have what it takes to be a true professional. I mean, I know of comic artists who draw their own things and do well with it--Adam Warren's up to Empowered Volume 6 so he must be doing something right. But on the other hand, he's got a reputation and a pedigree because of the work he's done in the past, work for others like Dirty Pair and Gen-13 and Exalted. But I can't--no wait, let me rephrase--I don't want to draw others' characters as a career. (I wholeheartedly don't believe in "can't" when it comes to creativity--I believe "can't" must be replaced with "don't want to" because we can do anything within our will to accomplish.)

I'm not sure what Fred Perry did before creating Gold Digger but I remember reading on Wikipedia that he came out of the military and decided he wanted to draw comics; Gold Digger was the result. So no past comic pedigree there. If he could do something like that, can I?

Anyway, back on topic, the fact is I hate doing commission work, but I took the money (and spent it already), so I can't get out of it. I just needed to vent. I try not to let negative feelings hamper the quality of my work (and sometimes, my commissions really turn out well), but more often than not, it's clear that some commissions are images that I just didn't want to do. Aside from the Bison image in my gallery, I have no really outstanding works of fan art in my portfolio. It's because I hate doing it. I just don't care about anyone else's characters as much as I do my own. No offense to anyone.

Anyway, back to work. Gotta git 'ur dun. I need to gain more financial responsibility (or just bigger finances) so I don't have to take on commission work that I don't want to do in order to recover from my mistakes.


Gary Pope said...

Haha! At least you get commissions! I think the fact that despite your feelings you still do it marks you as a professional. Sean Gordon Murphy wrote about this in one of his journals as well as a bunch of others like Omar Dogon. So you are not alone in your feelings. Also getting commissions actually MAKES you a professional.

Jonathan Price said...

You're right, I should be grateful that I at least get commissions. Plenty of artists more skillful than me get passed over whereas I know I can feel somewhat confident that eventually someone will hire me. That's something to be grateful for.

To be honest I wish I didn't feel this way. I wish I wasn't SO passionate about my stuff that it overwhelms all my decisions. I've turned down promotions at work because I was afraid it would have made drawing comics and writing books more difficult. I'm afraid of going to school for the same reason. It's nuts...

Or maybe it's trying to tell me something.

KENESU said...

I guess it depends. I'll draw the shit out of a Batman piece or even X-Men characters.

Commissions just bug me because it's rough when you don't have a fan base. Jim Lee, Frank Cho, and Mike Choi would make a killing doing that stuff because they are established...not to mention awesome. It's a lot harder for us common folk because we don't really have a name.

There's ways around drawing stuff for people. Creator-owned comics is the best way to go and you're moving in the right direction. Just the idea of making money from drawing my own characters and writing my own stories would be a dream come true. An even bigger dream is for those stories to expand beyond comics and enter the realm of television and movies. Hell, you know you made it when you see your character as an action figure.

Give it time, old chum.