A thread on a popular art site recently reminded me of my first ever commission work.  A pen and ink portrait..

I was young and loved pen and ink drawing.  Mainly motorbikes and cars….. ok motorbikes mostly, as I had one and was smitten.  In fact I lost two jobs as I would rather be out on the bike than working inside.

I was asked by a very old lady if I would do a pen and ink drawing of her, from a very old, dirty and crumpled photograph (sepia)

My first commission!!!!  Very nervous I got on with it, creating an almost exact copy.

She saw it and hated it.  Said she was far prettier.  So I went back and re drew it.  I softened her chin and ever so slightly enlarged her eyes, which gave her a wistful, innocent look she had not actually had.

She had told me to do it properly and frame it for her, so I did….. I took to the framer and he asked who it was as he fell in love with her. (I was a kid, I knew no better)

Very proud I wrapped it lovingly and went to the club I was meeting her at.  She opened it and slammed it on the table, said she was not paying for it, and stormed out.,

I was young.  I promptly burst into tears and several people flew over to help.  One of the gentlemen bought the drawing off me there and then for double the amount she had been going to pay, and told me to never stop drawing.

So, now I ask for a 30% deposit, NON refundable, before doing any commission and NEVER do people unless pushed.

So I wondered.

Have you had a nightmare customer?
What happened?
Do you ask for nonrefundable payments?
Have you lost money?. 

Please tell us in the comments below.

By Abbie

I'm an oil painter and photographer, who also makes time to paint with words through my short stories and published poetry. Seascapes and animals are the primary focus of my oil paintings Experienced Community Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the fine art industry. Skilled in Human Resources, Technical Support, Oil Painting, Community Management, and Digital Art. Strong marketing professional graduated from Longcroft School. Head of the Technical Support Department for the largest international art site on the web. Founder of Our Arts Magazine Brutally Frank