As you're all aware, I deal with four different commissioned artists/studios. As such, I thought it would be a good opportunity to pass on some wisdom i've obtained through the last year.
Here are some things you should know prior to engaging an artist/studio;
1. Have an idea or scheme in your own mind as to what you want. If you can, collect reference photos as this will greatly assist in the artist realising your "dream".
2. Have a budget in mind, however keep it realistic. Artists have to make a living, and as such you shouldn't expect they be paid as slaves.
3. Look at an artists examples, ask them what they cost to give you an idea of what you could be in for cost wise. This will give you an idea of what to expect for your cash.
4. If you're looking to have an entire army painted (and you believe their prices reflect your budget adequately), ask if they do full army rates. Most artists will oblige as they can mass paint lots/squads etc (time economy for them works out in everyone's favour).
5. Obtain a rough timeline at the time of quotation, if you're in a rush to get an army painted, you will want to know if it is feasible. Nothing worse than watching the face of an artist turn white after you've paid in full then start screaming about how the army needs to be ready for a tournament in X weeks time. Save someone the heart attack.
Things to keep in mind as work begins;
1. Provide all details (build requirements, paint schemes, themes, reference art etc)
2. Agree on a payment scheme (typically half up front - they need to eat!)
3. Agree on checkpoint times - Perhaps a once a week email to update on progress (don't expect updates every day - that just gets bloody annoying!)
4. Ask for test samples to validate the scheme of a squad/army/etc before mass painting begins. The last thing you want is to have the miniatures come out looking nothing like you had imagined. It also saves the artist's sanity and feeling bad for failing to meet your expectations.
5. Keep changes to a minimal once given the go ahead. Do not bombard your commissioned artist/studio with 1001 change requests or requests for updates. This will only end up more costly for you and likely end what could be a good business relationship.
At project finalisation;
1. Ask for photos of the finished goods, so you too can (from a distance) double check any misses in detail - having to send back miniatures costs a bit postage wise for corrections.
2. Once happy with the results, pay the full amount owed in a timely manner. Ever looked forward to pay day and found you've been missed? That's how an artist feels as well - boiled rice for dinner next fortnight isn't an empowering thought.
3. Thank the artist for their efforts, tell them what you liked (and didn't like if applicable). If they are professional, they will appreciate the feedback to improve their skills. Positive motivations keep them in the business and happy to take any future work you may wish to throw their way.
4. Tell your friends - these guys are usually solo or part of small business, lets keep them employed by churning out top notch work!
I hope this helps some of you in managing expectations.