Commissions; the Definitive FAQ

Another satisfied customer.

A note before the FAQ: This was not written or intended for 99.9% of my customers and clients. I have the most awesome customers ever! Enthusiastic, funny, more than willing to go back and forth on ideas and generally just let me go off on my own and do neat things with the incredible ideas they present to me. And they're so patient! You guys rock, plain and simple. This FAQ is intended as a slightly snarky resource for people considering commissioning my work, and as an encouragement to other artists. Take pride in your work and don't take shit from anyone--especially while they're waving money in your face.

Why do you charge so much?
Everything I make takes three things into consideration:
  1. cost of materials
  2. time taken to complete the project
  3. how much of a royal pain the project was, and/or how much I want to never, ever do it again
I have learned over the years that paying a little extra for the best possible materials is the only way to go. Period. As for being paid for my time, I should think that'd be a no-brainer; this is my job, this is what I do with years of experience and a long list of satisfied customers behind me, I am to be paid for it, thank you. As for the third consideration, that clearly varies from project to project. I will occasionally refer to this as "the bitch factor". If something is really, really demanding, I am going to charge more for it.

That said, there are occasions when something will be discounted because it's a prototype version. You'd be surprised to know how much there still is to learn through doing when it comes to pretty much everything. I know I continue to be.

In short: I make everything by hand with quality products, take time and care to do the very best work I can do, with years of experience, and customers get what they pay for. I take pride in my work because I make sure that my work is something to take pride in.
Can you make any design in beads?
This question requires a two-part answer, because it's really two questions in one.
  1. Given enough time, figuring and willpower, I believe I can absolutely manage to make just about anything work.
  2. Only if you're willing to pay up-front.
Explanation: I work on commission, not request. My time is used for my own endeavors, but if you would like to pay for my time to be used for yours, then please do.
I like ____, but I'd like other colors or finishes. Can you do that?
Of course! Most of the time, a change of colors won't result in any additional costs--but it depends on the colors you choose. Some bead colors are simply more expensive than others, but the price will be discussed beforehand, and it will be treated as any other commission.
Can you do custom crochet/plush?
Crocheted? Potentially. I've had plenty of experience playing around with shapes and various types of yarn, so it doesn't hurt to ask. In fabric-based plush... I think I need a little more practice before I'm accepting commissions unless it's a change of color request for something I've already done.

And if not obvious, chocobos are almost always available for commission.
Have you considered selling patterns?
Alarmingly short answer: no.

Long answer time! When it comes to crochet, I don't use patterns, I don't have patterns, I don't know how to do pattern notation, and it would just be too time-consuming and frustrating to try and figure that out when I'd rather just be doing the work. (I never wrote down guitar tab, either, for the same reason.) As for beading, I normally have a bit of super-simplified pixel art to work off of, most of which I've made or cleaned up myself, but no patterns proper, and bands/clasps are always on the fly. If you knew how often I deviated from my makeshift beading patterns anyway, you'd know there's no point.
I can do ____ myself, for less.
Then put up and shut up.
What's up with your shipping prices?
Having a single, solid number for shipping and handling became the easiest way to go. The USPS web site has never once been accurate, and I swear it seems like the scales at all of the nearby post offices are always freaking out and have given different estimates on different days. So, I have a general idea of actual shipping prices, but can't know until something is actually weighed, measured and charged. Any money left over from the actual shipping cost is used to pay off Paypal fees, Etsy fees, the costs of packaging, business cards, and gas to get to the post office. If there is actually anything left over after that, then rest assured it's used to buy more supplies.

As for what I ship in, yes, I tend to use giant padded envelopes for a good deal of small or flat jewelry unless something else it worked out. (Obviously, larger and more fragile items get boxes.) To date I have only had one lost, and that was en route to California in the middle of a holiday rush and a several-week-long snowstorm in the whole middle area of the country so, all things considered, replacing a lost pair of materia earrings was not a big deal in the least.

Expedited and/or tracked shipping is always an option, of course, to be paid by the buyer. Sadly the costs get disgustingly expensive outside of the US, but if the buyer is willing then so am I.
Can you hold items for me?
I am more than willing to hold onto items for one month. It is possible that I may be willing to hold for more, but that depends on a lot of circumstances and it will just have to be discussed.
What forms of payment do you take?
Paypal. I can be convinced about money orders, but personal checks are a big no.
You occasionally refer to a "blacklist". What is that?
That is my list of people who I will never, ever deal with again. They include people who don't seem able to read product descriptions or gather enough information from pictures and measurements to properly understand the actual size of a thing, people who have changed their mind no less than five times about key details about a project in as many hours, and above all people who don't actually pay for what they order and don't respond to e-mails or Etsy messages at all. There are others, but those are the major categories. If I don't get payment or an explanation in one week's time, you get bad feedback and blacklisted. It's just that easy.

(Thus far there has been one exception due to legitimate circumstances, because I was gotten back to as soon as possible. Etsy will remove negative feedback for legitimate reasons, and I will do the same to blacklisted names and addresses.)
You're mean.

I do not tolerate brats. Go tell it to Starbucks, kid.