I ended 2017 on a high note, and not just because of my medication. No, I got a few commissions around Christmas, which is always nice. There’s nothing like giving the gift of a piece of original art, made just for that person. Well, a shoe box full of Benjamin Franklins might top that, I suppose.
Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It
One of the commissions was of a zombie orca. Yes, that sounds like an odd combination, but good things can come from unusual pairings. For example, have you met my parents?
My client wanted some original art for a co-worker as a gift. She told me the co-worker loved zombies, specifically the TV show The Walking Dead. She also loved orcas, aka “killer whales” aka “Free Willies” (side note: if you ever see a sign on door reading “Free Willies,” enter at your own risk).
“Don’t worry,” I told the client, “I got this.”
The result was the darling watercolor cartoon you see above, as the subject was in my comfort zone.
Zombie anything is usually pretty easy for me to turn into a cartoon. It’s one of the most common things I draw a shows, actually. There’s a reason “zombie” is always on my Mashup Cartoons sign (you roll two dice and I draw the combination of two words taken from two different lists). Heck, “zombie shark” was one of my mashups for Inktober.
Over the years at comic conventions and appearances, to name only a few, I’ve drawn traditional zombies, cat zombies, dinosaur zombies, and dragon zombies (which are totally different from my dinosaur zombie drawings. They have wings and horns).
Some might wonder, “What kind of twisted person could come up with something like a zombie orca?” To which I would respond, “Have you met me?”
What are Commissions? How Do They Work?
I get asked from time to time how drawing commissions work and in some cases what they are in the first place.
A commission is when a client contacts an artist, either online or in person (say at a comic show) and hires that artist to draw them something. That’s the basic idea. You contact an artist, say you want a drawing of X-thing, and then work out the details. (And by X-thing, I mean whatever it is you want, not necessarily some obscure X-Men character).
My prices for commissions depend on several factors:
- The size.
- Traditional or digital art.
- Color or black and white.
- Medium (watercolor, marker, pen, pencil).
- The content.
- Number of subjects in the drawing (ex: I would charge more for a drawing of a group of zombies than a single zombie).
All of these factors help me determine what to charge. I have a rough idea for certain things (ex: a color drawing, regardless of medium, will always cost more than a black and white drawing).
If there’s an artist you like, see if they offer commissions. It’s a great way to get one of a kind art. It’s also the bread and butter of a lot of artists, especially at comic shows. Keep in mind, every artist has different prices for commissions.
For artists who regularly buy tables in artist alley, I recommend offering commissions. Just do what you’re comfortable with, and say so on a sign. Only want to do single character head sketches in black and white? Make a sign! It’s a lot easier for everyone involved if you lay out the rules for commissions up front.