I recently had a client ask me why I needed them to sign a contract and cover the cost of materials before I would begin working on their garment. The reason is simple: if the client can’t afford to pay you for the garment you are about to create for them before you begin working on it, you shouldn’t accept that commission. This can be a hard lesson to learn, but it is one we all eventually learn.
I have had countless friends reach out to me for help with cosplay costumes. And while I love making costumes for them… it gets complicated when it comes time to pay. Sometimes their finances aren’t where they were at when we first began the project. Then there are those rare occasions where your friend may have assumed that the garment was crafted for them as a gift. And since you’re friends, they don’t think they should have to pay you. I have heard every horror story there is since immersing myself into designer culture. It is hard to hear designers not being compensated properly for the hard work they did, especially if it was designed for someone you considered to be a close friend.
I once had a designer tell me about how they spent over two months working on a commission for a convention for a very close friend of theirs. For one reason or another, that friend demanded they overnight the garment about a week or two before they actually needed it. Which cost an extra $120 give or take. The friend then went onto explain how taken aback they were by the shipping cost and promised to set up a payment plan with the designer. Months later, that friend went ghost and unfortunately, the designer lost that friendship over the commission. They told me how they wished they would have figured out the shipping costs and laid everything out before accepting the commission because maybe they would have maintained that friendship.
Sometimes, it can be a really tough call. You don’t want to offend your friend by having them sign a contract. But at the same time, you don’t want to sour the friendship if they skip on the bill. For that reason, a contract can help you to layout exactly what your friend or client can expect from you. From the projected delivery time to materials cost to the agreed-upon rate, this will cover both parties so that there isn’t the awkward payment dance when the commission has been completed. In my contracts, I always include a list of materials, the projected cost, cost of labor, and the projected turnaround time.
Even though I have slowed down on accepting commissions, they are some of my favorite projects that I get to work on. Whenever I take on a project for a friend I accept it because I want them to be happy and I care about them. As I am making the garment, I envision how good my friend will look in it, and how excited I am for them to wear the garment. My favorite part of the process is getting to review the photos of them in their costumes and knowing I played a part in it.
Recently I accepted a commission that has really taken me outside of my comfort zone. I am using fabric paint to create my own pattern, and it is reminding me of why I loved sewing in the first place. It is also opening up my mind to envisioning new textiles I never thought were possible. I cannot wait to upload the video on this project and to release the photos from it.
I am also excited to reveal where you can catch this garment in action when the band takes the stage (yeah, did I mention this is for my FAVORITE anime cover band?!). Hopefully, I will have an update on this for you guys by next week. I will definitely be writing a blog about the band and about all of the exciting things they have on the horizon for 2020.
If you are looking to commission me for a design, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. We haven’t had our commissions publicly open since 2017 and we are excited to finally be accepting more commissions. Thank you for choosing to work with LadyCat, we cannot wait to collaborate with you soon!