The Rewards of a Commission
Nowadays you can directly back artists (and writers) via crowd funding projects via websites like Kickstarter and IndieGogo. It gives you a chance to support a creator while getting something in return depending how much you want to fork out. [Note: you can currently back one featuring art by Irish creator Patrick Mulholland here] Of course there has always been one way to support an artist (not counting picking up their books which kind of goes without saying) and that is buying their art. This can be through sketches, buying pages and, what this article covers, commissions.
Getting commissions can be an interesting experience. Take my last two for example. I had been pondering a new theme – a commission for each story from Colin Baker era of the original Doctor Who. All by Irish creators as I like to support the Irish guys and there are a lot of great Irish artists out there. I had a few artists in mind but nothing concrete (plus I was saving up for it). Then one day I was reading the “Red Lotus”, a story from Lightning Strike issue 5 (written by Darrin O’Toole) as part of a review and noticed how well Cormac Hughes drew technology and I instantly thought of the Cybermen. I asked him about a commission for the DICE ’14 convention which was a couple of weeks after [Note: pre-ordering commissions for conventions is a great way to pick them up as you save on postage and the artist doesn’t have to spend the entire con face down]. I just sent Cormac the DVD cover for the Cybermen story (“Attack of the Cybermen”) and he just did his own thing and he nailed it.
My next one was only recently and I’m blaming / thanking Chris O’Halloran for it. I was checking out week 13 of ‘Irish Comic Art Picks’ and noticed an excellent Judge Dredd commission by Nate Stockman which instantly moved him to the top of my list. I wanted him to do “Vengeance on Varos” (as it was next story) but ran into trouble as the DVD cover didn’t really do the story justice (in my opinion). I spent a bit of time on Google images and ended up sending 3 to Nate to give him an idea of what I wanted. He did a quick layout of his idea for me to approve and that was that. (He actually went to the trouble of watching the story which goes above and beyond). I think commissioning art can be a bit like being a writer. You pick the artist who you think will do a great job and then you give them as much or as little information as you think they need to give you the image you want. In my experience, it always turns out better than you expected.
Commissioning has been a rewarding experience for me throughout the years as, a character from the Daredevil TV show said, great art is great because of how if makes you feel and my collection makes me smile every time I look at it. Of course there are a lot of positives for the artist: they get to draw something different, they get a bit of promotion for their work and as Nate Stockman told me during our recent e-mail exchange: “commissions really do help artists out. When I’m waiting on scripts or in between projects I’d be twiddling my thumbs and not earning otherwise!” So think about supporting an Irish artist by getting them to draw something for you. You get a lot out of it and so does the artist.
[Note: Some of the creators at the upcoming Cork Comic Expo will have commission lists so check out their social media accounts to see about getting on them]