As a general rule, I don’t accept commissions for custom figures. The text on the Inanimate Objects “contact” page says as much. (The actual text changes from time to time, but the general gist is “no.”) Despite this, I continue to receive e-mails on a regular basis asking if I’ll accept a commission. Some recent events have brought this subject into light, so I thought I’d review all the reasons that make up that “no.”
First and foremost, my time is limited, and valuable (to me, anyway). I’m pleased to say I have a family and a day job, and both of those things demand most of my attention. Frankly, they’re far more important than me providing a stranger with another toy for his collection. What little time I do have for creativity I’d rather spend on my own projects. So you’ll forgive me if I don’t give up eating and sleeping to repaint your yellow lanterns.
Along those same lines, customizing is something I do for recreation. It’s a process that involves my time, my skill, and the results are for me. Once money enters the equation and I give up the end result, the task becomes work, and ceases to be fun.
Then, of course, there’s the cost issue. Except for a handful of crazy auctions ten years ago, few people want to pay what a decent custom is worth. $20 to $50 seems to be the going rate. Sorry to disappoint, but most of my work is far more valuable. And so is my time.
My average custom figure probably takes about 12 hours start to finish, and that’s not including prep time. (And really, what is an “average” custom? A repaint? Limb swap? Major sculpting?) Let’s say I’ve agreed to a commission for $50. After PayPal takes its undeserved chunk, and I pay return postage, I’m looking at a return of about $43. So $43 divided by 12 hours equals $3.58. That is well below minimum wage, and my time and skills are worth more than that. So unless you’re willing to offer a few hundred dollars for one piece, we have nothing to discuss. And even then, you’ll still hit the time factor.
Finally, there’s the issue of dealing with the customer. I’ve made it a practice to do my best to treat those I meet in the hobby with respect and courtesy. The vast majority of people I’ve encountered are fine, upstanding members of society. Some have even become close friends of mine. But others… Not so much. There’s always the yahoo that thinks he knows more and better. When it comes to customs, the customer is not always right. (A phrase that needs to die a quick death in all fields, as far as I’m concerned.) If I take a commission, chances are I was hesitant to do so in the first place. The last thing I want to do is argue with a client over insignificant details.
Let me point out that I am not against commissioning custom figures. I welcome the practice. I know many customizers that make a nice little side income doing so, and they turn out some fine pieces for their clients. Heck, given the volume some of these fellas produce, they must be at or near the level of doing so as a full time job! (I’m looking at you, Hunter Knight.) How these artists make commissions worth their while, I don’t know. That’s their business. I only know I have yet to find a way to make it worth mine.
And let’s not forget I’ve been able to collaborate and share some of my creations with talents such as Stew, Crushinaguy, and SpyMagician (of Spy Monkey Creations). So my stuff is available, to a degree.
In a perfect world, I’d love nothing more than to create custom toys all day, everyday. Reality has other plans, though. Until those plans change, I’m always happy to answer questions and help others with their own projects
Now go make your own damned figures.
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