I'm bringing this topic to the forefront again to get some new opinions or opinions from those who may not have responded before or fresh ideas now that almost a year has passed. My reason is that I've been asked a few times if I do commissions or custom orders. Thus far, I have graciously turned those down, however, I'm wondering if I'm cutting my nose off to spite my face. So...although I know some of you have chosen to close your books and no longer take commissions while others still do, I'm needed some MORE input.
Below is a link to a previous post (about a year old) for those who either missed it or to refresh.
I have always and still do commissions. I enjoy them but I also have some guidelines. I always tell the customer upfront that I would be happy to make a bear for them and allow thewm to choose mohair, paw pad material, of course size, sex (not yes or no, but male or female) and clothing type or none. BUT I do not let them tell me I want a nose this size, bigger ears, longer muzzle, etc. I let them know that I must be allowed to use my own creative abilities to make the bear and that I am positive they will be happy with it. I rarely take a deposit and have never had a bear refused when it was complete. But I am rethinking that policy as I have recently had 2 people ask me to make a bear, say what kind of mohair they wanted, then after I ordered the mohair, they emailed to say they cannot get it now due to whatever reason. It hasn't hurt me because I can use the mohair anyway, but I think if the bear is going to be over a certain size, I will start asking for a deposit to cover my expense.
I do orders all the time - it's a great way to keep the $$ coming in. I ALWAYS stress to them, that I will make a bear out of a certain mohair, but your bear won't look like the original - it'll have it's own character. I tell them, if they like most of my bears, we won't have a problem. I take a 50% deposit, because I feel safer doing it that way.
Like Sonya, I've never had a problem. Many (if not all) have turned into repeat customers, mailing list subscribers, and I think it's a great thing to do.
I think the best idea is to do what Sonya does, or what I do - no promises on how the bear will turn out - then everyone will be happy!
I don't do orders at all now. I do try to incorporate requests for bears in my schedule ( blimey..schedule sounds like I am organised..I am not, I just have a vague idea in my head of what needs doing and what I want to do next)
I don't do orders because I can't..simple as that. My brain doesn't work like that and I can't feel that I have to do this one next..and then that one and so on. I don't do this as a proper business...though I do make a living from it...so if I had to make bears to order I'd feel hemmed in and not want to do anything. The excitement of making bears ,for me at any rate, comes from freedom of design and expression resulting from the creation of each idea..and from that usually a new idea evolves which leads to another and then another. I'd feel like I was on a treadmill worked by someone. I want to be the organ-grinder..not the monkey!! ( I think I've said that before!!)
Yeah fully understand Jenny. for some it works. total control is always necessary I think. I cant push my critters. They just come about when they come about.
I have found though, that my best success's have been critters who's new owners were known to me.
That is how I have worked all along with my bears. Right from the very start. I like knowing who they are going to. Does anyone else like knowing who they are going to before creation??? Or am I the odd one out????
Which would'nt be the first time
Shantell, I tried going the commissions route and for a while it was fine, I enjoyed it (and like others have said, it kept the money coming in). But I ended up feeling the same way Jenny does about it, stifled and uninspired. Even just having the mohair/fur chosen for me took away from the creative process I have to go through. So I stopped doing them. Actually, I kind of stopped making bears altogether about 3 months ago and it's taken till now to get going again....I realise I wouldn't be able to do that if I absolutely needed the income from my bear-making but I'm fortunate that's not the case for me (although it does help a LOT!).
Maybe it depends on each person's approach to their bear-making? How business-like you are? How much creative space you need? Whether or not you're happy making similar designs over and over or want to keep pushing personal boundaries?
As for pricing....I was always uncomfortable with that one!
See..to me once you start saying that customers choose eye colour ..fabric etc...you become a service ..not an artist. I have an ongoing order from a shop that I took earlier this year and it's been the bane of my life ever since. I have developed a type of vertigo which,if I am stressed, gets worse and stops me working. The stress of doing orders makes it come back with a vengenace and the knock-on effect of that of course is that I can't make any bears at all. So that is why I wish to goodness I said 'no' instead of 'yes' last year.
Quite honestly it doesn't bother me if I sell my bears or not..of course I want to sell them but I would rather give up than not have the buzz and pleasant rush of elation that I get when I have designed something new.
I'd find it total drudgery...but that's not what everyone finds...some find excitement in intrepreting someone elses ideas into a tangible form..and I can understand that too. But for me, the whole reason for making bears is to satisfy my inner creativity and if I was purely doing what another person wanted I would not feel inspired at all.
It's all personal though..some may say I am ridiculous for feeling that way. I love the freedom bear making has given me and don't want the stress of deadlines and order books.
Thank you....I really truly appreciate ALL your comments and opinions. I've not wanted to start with commissions/custom orders for all the reason you stated Jenny, Ellen, Helena. Bearmaking is strickly a hobby for me and something I do for enjoyment and I'm afraid not doing my own thing would ruin that for me. I'm afraid having someone else choose options for me would only create stress and that would not help my health issues in any way. I often start in one direction and end up in an entirely different one when it's all said and done. I sort of fly by the seat of my pants...not always pretty but fun needless to say!!!
But with all that said, I may try a few on a limited basis and see how I feel about it then.
I currently do take commission orders. I say currently, because doing them does take away that creative inspiration for me too. It becomes a more of a chore than it should be. Now, I am happy to have a pleased customer at the end, but would rather be doing what I want to do.....without the deadline. I too have difficulty with deadlines........deadline=stress! I'm going to continue doing them for now though, as I feel it is important to help build a customer base.......and the $$ coming in is very nice too. And it has helped my customer base to grow.......and most of the time they are repeat customers. Eventually though, I will probably stop doing them altogether. Someday......when I am more established as an artist. :pray:
Oh, and I do require at least 1/3 deposit at the beginning.....with the balance due upon completion of the bear (which is usually at least 4 weeks anyway). But sometimes I combine a layaway with it.......depends on the needs of each particular customer.
I do take commissions, I explain that my bears are one of a kind and cannot be reproduced to look like a previous bear, as that wouldn't be ethical to a collector who already has the bear they are wanting to be recreated.
So I say similar bears can be commissioned. All the collectors have been happy with their commissioned bears.
The only time I hated it was when a business bought five bears and wanted me to make three or five of each bear.
I felt I was on a production line and got quite stressed trying to make them all the same this took away the enjoyment for me.
So I asked if I could make him individual one off bears that was better for me.
I make bears to order for a company, the lady agrees a size and I make the bear the way I want it, she is happy with that.
We have been working together like that for a good six years or more and it works well. As I can be creative and don't feel pressurised in to making something I wouldn't normally make. Kerren
Hi Shantell. I guess we do it a bit differently. We get special order requests regularily and I had to even tell people I could not take anymore until after Christmas now. I ask for 20% down and give myself about 4 weeks to complete. I do not have them sign any kind of contract.
Once the bear is done we send pics of the little one but the customer is never obligated to adopt if they are not quite what they were expecting. I would then refund the 20% as well. I fortunately have never had to refund as all of them have been adopted. But I would refund if they did not want the bear because I feel that I would much rather have a super happy customer.
Hope this helps.
I agree with Jenny and Ellen on this as I like to do what I want and when I want.I hate feeling pressurised into making something that I haven't chosen to make myself and as bears come out with their own little characters you never know whether they will be liked when you make them up specially.I have only done the odd commission for a few friends and have just finished a panda for a niece for some one which I thought I would get stuck into so I could finish it and get on with my own ideas.The only thing is she liked the panda so much she kept it for herself and wants me to do another one!!!Luckily though she gives me plenty of time and always says that there is no rush so at least I don't feel so trapped into doing it and can fit it in around my other work.I definately would not want to do too many though as it takes the fun out of making bears if you can't choose yourself what you want to make.
I could never agree to making limited additions of three etc as it would drive me mad trying to make them all the same and I wouldn't want to because it would be too boring.
I know I'm not an artist, but I can offer the opinion of a collector. I just got my first commission bear from fellow TTer Catherine in memory of my late grandfather, who I was really close to and miss so much. I picked out his clothes and just asked that he be some sort of blond color mohair (b/c my grandfather used to be blond), soft, huggable and be large (b/c my grandfather was tall and played sports). And be wearing my grandfather's clothes. I didn't care about the color of eyes, nose, etc. because I had no idea what what look the best and I realized she's the professional artist, not me. If I didn't like her work, I never would have asked her to do it in the first place. I paid a deposit before she got started and didn't mind paying a deposit.
I am thrilled with my bear! I was so nervous when he arrived that I made DH open him. DH said I would love him and I do. Catherine also included pictures of the process and pictures of my grandfather. I can't tell you how much this bear means to me. I got teary eyed when I saw the pictures and the bear; I'm a little teary-eyed now writing this. I love my grandfather so much and wanted something to remember him that I could hug. Catherine did such a good job with the bear, and I can't believe she resized the clothes and made them look great.
After reading this post and remembering the post on this topic awhile ago, I can see why artists would not want to do it. But as a collector, I like commission bears.
Here's a link to my bear on Catherine's website:
I just peeked at your bear and he's fabulous! Catherine did an incredible job and I'm glad you have something to remember your grandfather.
I guess I have to line up behind Jenny and Ellen. I don't take commissions any more for the same reasons they both mentioned. As soon as I feel I "have" to do something, it's the last thing on earth I will ever do. I think the official name for it is oppositionality and boy do I have it! I do understand why customers like to ask for commission pieces though, and I'm delighted you found Catherine to make your bear.
Yes..I think it's very true that customers want them..and I have done them and done them with all the enthusiasm I can muster. I do the orders I have taken with the same care I do all my bears and , don't get me wrong, I am 100% grateful for the business and pleased that shops want to buy from me..and anyone else who buys my bears has my gratitude. I would never wish to appear ungrateful because I know that without people wanting to buy my bears I would not be able to do what I do. So I am sensible about this and do what I can to accomodate.
But my heart is in making bears that inspire me to pursue newer and more exciting ideas and I find that if I am being repetitive in any way that hampers my enthusiasm and kind of jams up my productivity because I start to feel a bit put upon and just think..'let's get this one out of the way so I can get on with what I really want to do' which is actually unfair to the person who ordered the bear.
So to be fair to them as well as to me..I don't do it. Which means that I have total respect for those who do because they have the ability to see past the mental block and create something wonderful despite the guidelines..and that's my stumbling block!
Catherines bear is lovely by the way!!!!