I have been in the contract business for quite some time since I am a certified Equine Massage Therapist as well as a certified Horse Trainer. I have boarded my horses at several facilities as well as accepted board from other owners. The horse industry is full of legalities and contracts. I have made mistakes and in making mistakes, I have gained wisdom over what to contract and what not to contract.
This journal is a guide line to contracting. When you enter a commission, you contract the artist to commission a piece for you. This does NOT MEAN that you sign away your rights on the piece and are at the mercy of the artist.
As in an interview, you aren't just GETTING interviewed at a job, you are interviewing the job as well.
In my contracts, I always make sure there is absolutely no wiggle room. Its been my experience that the wiggle room gets used to it's full capacity and without remorse. You want to leave no stone unturned.
So when entering a commission, you not only agree to the artist's terms of conditions, but the artists should be complying to YOURS.
The artist wants 6 months to complete a project? Thats fine. But in the contract you should save your own ass and state that by the end of those 6 months, if the project is not completed then a certain refund should be available to you through the artist. None of this "My life got busy" or "I haven't had the time" unprofessional bullshit.
Save your ass by paying half now and half when the project is complete. Never pay in full. Give the artist something to work towards (ie; the rest of the money when the project is done). Add this to your contract.
As a consumer, you HAVE rights. You are not at the mercy of someone you've commissioned. If you enter a commission without a contract eliminating that wiggle room, you are rolling dice for an uncertain future. NEVER take anyone on their "good word" (I have been burned many times on "handshake" deals). Protect your money, protect your time, protect your property.
Never do any type of transaction without paypal (for internet business). Off the internet, never do any type of transaction without a some form of traceable payment method. Keep records. Get updates. Track the time. If your commission is based on an hourly rate, request pictures for every hour. I've even gone so far as to create a riding log for my training horses so that when I ride the horse, I put the time/date down and I have myself and the horse owner (or at least a witness) sign it.
If the artist does not accept the terms and conditions on YOUR part, run. Run as far away as possible and find an artist with a better mind for business.