Goliath and Sambuca–the poster children of my Kingdoms of Blood series. Harcloniter did an amazing job with them, really, and the first time I got a picture from him, I realized that his style would be perfect to represent my characters. If you go to the character corner section of my website, you’ll notice the art he’s done for most of my characters. As of right now, no art from Cobratongue University is up on that section of my website yet, but that’s because I want all of the characters to have art before I start adding them.
Commission artists rock my world, let me tell you. I love selecting a style I enjoy and seeing how an artist depicts my characters. Sometimes I’m picky, but usually I’m open with artist interpretation so long as it matches the description I give.
Could you believe that the way Harcloniter drew Goliath influenced my vampire lore? Originally, living vampires didn’t have pointed ears, nor did they have fangs that were all jagged. After seeing the design for Goliath, of course, I fell in love. He’s the sinister-looking vampire wearing a tophat with his hand on Sam’s(the half-dragon) shoulders, of course, in the picture above.
As a writer that honestly can’t draw for the life of me, I’m thrilled that I can purchase artwork and support artists. I do feel a little bit sad that I’m incapable of depicting my own characters via drawing, however, but I might eventually work on practicing that. For now, buying art of my characters will have to suffice.
Just like writers do artists fall in love with the characters they create; I’ve seen some that write full out stories as well for them! Bringing characters to life this way is just so much fun, and my folly of course is almost having an addiction to it. What can I say, I just love buying art! I like cartoony, anime, and realistic styles, of course. Sometimes realism can be shaky, however, and I think I’m the most picky when it comes to that. That’s because it can stoop into uncanny valley territory quite fast if done wrong. Here’s an example of two realistic pieces that I’ve gotten for my characters.
This dastardly vampire is Jasper from my Cobratongue University book. His art isn’t in my character corner yet, but will be when the rest of my characters get some too. I’m also getting him in Harcloniter’s style as well. This wonderful piece is done by Stillblade, who’s doing some more realism pieces for my characters as well. Her work is an example of realism done right.
This piece, by Galder, is of Elias Cipher, my San’layn Death Knight from World of Warcraft. Now, he’s not a novel character of mine, but does have an extensive story of his own that I wrote for him. This is another example of realism done correctly, where uncanny valley does not come into play.
Here’s another piece by Galder of Blood King Kael’thas. This is one I commissioned for the community I run in World of Warcraft. I run a San’layn/vampire discord, and people were a huge fan of that piece when I showed them. If you play the game and know the character I’m referring to, I’m sure you know why. Even if it’s not your favorite concept, it does look really cool being brought to life.
There are many ways to commission an artist. Many of them are those of whom I see on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or Deviantart. There’s portfolios all over too, not just there. Artists will typically use tags to mark their price pages. Most of my experience has been paying artists through paypal. There is also another website to go to that I’ve had mixed results with. Some artists have ghosted me, and getting replies at times is a bit obnoxious. But the art I have got from there are pieces that I appreciate. This website is known as artistsnclients, where you can look through artist styles and set up a commission. I think it’s blossoming right now, and is a rather wonderful idea.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a website like that for writing commissions? That’s something I’ve wanted to get into, of course, but I don’t think it’s taken off quite yet. It’s definitely not as easy selling a bunch of words as compared to solid art where you can see a character, of course. At least, that’s what I’ve come to understand.
Anyway, here’s an example of a piece I got from that website of a character from Cobratongue University, Derek:
This lovely piece was done by Yozora on artistsnclients.
Harcloniter is doing a piece right now for me of Derek in his own style, of course, and from the sketch, it looks wonderful. I can’t wait to share it when he’s done!
Now, there’s been pieces that I’ve gotten of which I really don’t like. I always feel so terrible for not ever posting or using them, but it’s because I don’t like how they came out. I paid the artist regardless–that’s what you should do. You also should, out of courtesy, be honest without being rude. The pieces I’ve gotten in which I haven’t really liked are those that I weren’t sure about at first. Slowly they began to look odd, uncanny valley, and I realized that I truly didn’t like how they came out. I really, really wanted to, but couldn’t. Which is just fine, and I wish I could appreciate the work more, but when it comes down to it, I won’t always be satisfied.
But, yes; pretty much you browse through an artist’s work, decide whether or not you like their style, look at their prices, and pick how you want your character done. My experience has been: usually artists will show you a sketch or two before the final product to see if you like how it’s coming along. You can request changes during that time, but be sure to speak up! It’s harder to change things later in the process than earlier. The artists I’ve worked with like details such as faceclaims and personality traits, as well.
As for paying them, some artists ask for half payment right away, some for full, and some for payment after they show you the sketch. Unfortunately, commission artists can be scammed by clients–that is, putting hours of work into a piece only to be ghosted or never paid. This is why their precautions are necessary. Of course, there’s the reverse–paying an artist and them running off with your money without doing the piece, or switching up styles completely, or taking much longer than they claimed while working on other client pieces first.
It’s always important to keep communication going if you have a time expectation, and you can’t be impatient, though. If the artist is taking months later than they said, without any communication to you? That might be cause for alarm. Do be understanding, however, if things come up. They’re human too. If they give you a time in which is super long? Don’t pester them constantly in a rude manner! Just ask nicely every now and then if you’re curious.
It can be rough for the commissioner and the client, for both scam situations are terrible. My experience hasn’t been terrible with the artists I’ve worked with, but I rarely wander aside from one websites like artistsnclients, where they have built in systems to ensure artists get paid and clients get their art.
So, yeah! Next time you crave seeing a character done up in a different style (if you can draw) or even at all (if you can’t draw, like me), consider commissions. Respect artists, do your research, and give feedback. Artists love feedback as much as writers. I know the ones that have done work for me love it when I share their work.
Credit, credit, credit! Artists put signatures in their work, but the people who draw your characters tend to make a living off of this stuff. You help them out if you credit them, like I am in this post.
Here’s a sneak peak of a comic that’s being worked on for one of my book scenes by Sasmi. The work she’s done so far is AMAZING, and I’m really excited to see the final pages. Can’t wait to share them with you all either! But as you can see, it’s not just drawings you can commission–you can get comic/manga pages as well. Artistsnclients has a lot to show for that one.
I’ll end things with a commission I got of Fallynn from Cobratongue University. Again, Harcloniter did a WONDERFUL job with her, and I’m so happy with it.
In conclusion, getting commissions are an awesome way to bring your characters to life, and be sure to do your research and pay your artist!