Updated: Oct 27, 2022
(for the foreseeable future)
So why am I not taking any commissions? This is a question I get sometimes and I always feel bad for turning those requests down. Since the following reasons are (for the most) not unique to me but also applies on other designers, artists, editors, I felt like that this warrants a blog entry to point out possible reasons from my side (but also others) of why people may get turned down.
This will be a longer read, I suggest you to not finish the read in one go, unless you are either super interested in the subject or super bored and feel like reading something, the same way I currently feel as I am writing this blog entry.
Having a Fulltime Job
Now the first one comes as a no-brainer. I have a full-time job, and others might be in a similar situation. In my case, I'm a UX-designer for a large international company. As how things go, working for such a company will leave one with a very unpredictable working schedules, as well as working hours.
While that might be not the case for others with a job, it doesn't change the fact that there will be up and downtimes for most jobs, which will make taking commissions a difficult thing to do. Since with money and some form of agreement (which equates to a verbal contract in some countries), comes the responsibility to deliver on a timely manner.
In my case that would simply not be feasible.
Nature of the Media
In my case, most commission requests are Live2D models. Compared to let's say an art commission, the time frame is very unpredictable. It gets even more unpredictable, if I also do the character design part of a new persona.
Looking at the examples I have revealed on this website alone, working time on a character design can vary from as little as 1-4 hours to as much as months. As a professional UX-designer, I have the habit of running iteration cycles on my work. In other words, the design gets questioned and challenged in relatively regular frequency and changes or redraws are made where the challenges have proven justifiable.
It isn't just as trivial as "this looks better now", it can go as deep as "how would this outfit make practical sense" - this applies especially for characters which have inhuman features (most current example a model with body parts of an insect, such has multiple arms, wings, etc.). This then escalates further exponentially when the model is drawn, separated into parts and then put together and rigged in Live2D.
In my eyes as someone who doesn't do Live2D for a living, gaging the efforts into a model and time necessary to finish a job just ends up impossible or unjustifiable.
Preferring a "Agile" Approach
As I've already mentioned my profession before, some people prefer to create a new character in a co-creative way with their "clients" - the same applies to me.
I've heard many less flattering stories about failed projects, with upset people on both ends. In order to prevent that from ever happening, I strictly work in an agile framework when I help people with their character. This method solves multiple issues and avoids risks which otherwise may appear such as:
The lack of communication: Let's say you work with an artist and give them a rough description of what you would like to see in the character they'll be working on and then, you wait until they have something presentable. I can guarantee you that, as soon as you get to see it, 99% of the cases, it won't be what you've expected and you'll haggle with them to get things changed or worse, to start from scratch. Miscommunication is a common phenomenon which you can find in the whole professional work environment, independent of then branch.
The lack of vision: Another common problem is the lack of vision. Most of the time, as a non-professional, people might go to an artist and say something along the following lines: "I have this wonderful idea for a character [enter your trope here] and... and..., yes, you know what I mean, right? Please design a character with these instructions, I know you can do it from what I've seen from you." The result will be pretty much the same as the scenario before, just even more extreme and frustrating.
The lack of trust: What is probably the worst one would be the lack of trust. Usually when someone commissions someone else, they will enter a phase of doubt when left alone. Without staying in touch regularly, one may think that a project isn't progressing fast enough, this applies especially if you yourself are not a subject matter expert (aka another graphic designer in this example).
The Question of Money
One point which is probably doesn't get the deserved attention most of the time is the question of revenue. Since there is a overall price value of commissions, obviously an artist from one place will make more money than one from another place (considering their living costs).
And frankly, in my case, making 'little money' (living in a very expensive country) from a commission is honestly not worth the trouble that comes with it, such as being obligated to open a company, going through extra steps in the yearly taxes, as well as disclosing my free-time activities with my current employer, which I am obligated to do so since I'm a full-time employee.
Ah yes, finally found an opportunity to use some Genshin gifs lol.
People who know me better, know about my spending habits on games like Genshin Impact, where I can spend without breaking a sweat. They can confirm that a couple of hundred bucks really don't seem to hurt that much at all.
So considering all these factors, this is the financial reason why I am not taking commissions. Some other people might have the same reason for why they don't take commissions.
Feeling that Something is Coming from the Heart
After so many technical reasons and explanations it feels appropriate to finally come with something emotional.
Yes, it isn't straight business if you want to create something special. Engaging with someone and creating a character from scratch that is going represent them later on works best, if you get to know that person better first (or their act/persona in that matter).
Something like that takes either time, or multiple attempts to get it right (you might have also experienced content creators changing their avatars like they are changing their dirty underwear on a daily basis [guilty as charged here, I will admit it]).
Here's also where the "I'll do it for free" factor comes into play in my personal case. It is not a secret that the content creators who are using my models up till this current point in time have not paid me a single penny (that's because I've refused to take money and not because they've refused paying).
Working for free however, doesn't mean free. What people are paying with in this case - is time. But the nice thing about this whole ordeal is, that they aren't paying me. What happens is that they are investing time into their future internet persona instead. Actual time, being part of the process.
Really gives the term "V-Tuber Parent" an even deeper meaning in a way, doesn't it, as it almost feels like being more than just a spectator awaiting a new child to be born but instead being an active part in the making. I personally really cherish these moments and it feels like something special is in the making.
If you have the privilege and actually meet such a person to work with you (even if it is not me), cherish the moment. Moments like these help you grow and learn, they don't happen as often as they should. Don't be afraid of debate sessions or moments where you don't see eye to eye, it is these hot debates, which ends up with a very special and personalized result.
Now obviously, this becomes very challenging if you are either running on a budget (aka the artist is charging you hourly) or you have only a limited amount of time (e.g. if you've announced a debut, in other words, you have a fixed deadline). On such occasions, just try to make the best out of it.
There are definitely more reasons out there, but I think for me personally, these are my main reasons. In short, I am usually working with someone on character designs, Live2D models or random stream assets, such as emotes, stream labels etc. for someone who cannot afford them otherwise. And if I am not, I am probably relaxing and recovering from my day job or working on my own streaming assets.
All in all, I am glad to help out where I can, but my time is limited and there is only so much I can do.