whatthepatrick asked: Hi, Bara! I've been a fan of your art for years, and I have a quick question for you. I'd like to open commissions, but as a full time thing. But! I’ve never done them before and I have no idea what I'm doing. Do you have any advice on how to go about it and what I might possibly need as far as taxes? Thank you!♥
hmm! i guess first and foremost i’d say, don’t overestimate yourself. you can always take on more work once you’ve completed your previous commissions, but taking on too many and then attempting to get through them while fending off angry customers is a shitty experience and can potentially damage your reputation.
also, don’t underprice yourself! i know this is a tough one because there’s no standard rulebook of pricing (well, the GAG’s handbook exists, but it’s hard to apply to some situations) and there are a lot of hobby artists online that charge very little. but: if you know you can deliver professional work, then you can feel more confident about charging higher prices. keep in touch with your clients, provide updates often, let your clients approve each step of the art or ask for revisions (within reason — you want them to be happy with the work they’re paying for, but you also can’t allow the occasional jerk client to take advantage of you for lots of freebies,) work at 300 DPI so you can provide prints or printable files at the end, etc.
DEFINITELY read up on legal rights and contracts if you haven’t done so already. there’s the aforementioned handbook, and also this. you probably won’t need contracts for most personal commissions, and most companies that know what they’re doing will have existing agreements for you to sign for professional work, but it never hurts to have your own contract written up, just in case
also: you don’t need to kill yourself doing your very very best on every commission you accept, but you do need to at least deliver the quality shown in your examples, as that is what your customers will expect from you. so, as tempting as it may be, it may not be wise to choose your absolute best work for your examples; choose images with a quality you know you can deliver consistently. if you end up delivering better than that, great!
as for taxes, save everything! obviously any records of payment from commissions, but also receipts for any business expenses (art supplies, printing costs, etc.) if nothing else, save any 1099s you get from companies you’ve worked for and report those accurately.
best of luck!