13 November 2011

Rather Embarrassing, OR: how to expect the unexpected from the unpredictable

 
Whenever I commission artists for projects or characters or simply to show my support for their work, I like to give them as little actual detail as possible, however developed the character of choice may be. There's a few reasons for this, namely that I hate being THAT client who nitpicks over every little detail to the point where the artist actually becomes the least important part of the equation. I've heard many a horror story about artists being essentially pushed not only outside their comfort zones, but also beyond their trademark skills and techniques, essentially reducing them to an impromptu ghost artist. When you commission someone, it should be because you like their style and believe it will work with your original vision, if not build on it. In other words, I want to be surprised at what they come up with just based on a concept. I mean, I could do all my own artwork for my written fiction and whatnot, but I'm a big believer in the notion that, "familiarity breeds contempt."

My brief to Kakumey regarding a recent commission was simply "Cel-shaded portrait of a woman with blue hair and a choker." She asked about other details such as eye color, and after a little thought, I said, "Well, maybe pale green or very dark blue, almost navy, but overall up to you. Surprise me." What I didn't quite tell her, and maybe should have, was that there was a little bit of an agenda in terms of usage.

For my DeviantART page, I was going to make another collection for my favorites, one specifically for women with blue hair, as I'd amassed quite the collection, and wanted to use it as the key thumbnail for the collection. Once at the collection's page, there would be a little description to the side, as is typical with collections and gallery folders, mentioning how one of my favorite reviews from Classic Game Room is YS I & II Chronicles for PSP leading to the following quote from that review:

"... a magical land whose main export is hot chicks with blue hair."

So, when Kaku sent me a tweet informing me that she was finished, I hopped onto Skype and saw the portrait, my reaction I think gave her the wrong impression. I was not offended or disappointed, just surprised (pleasantly, even), and then suddenly very, very embarrassed:

Black. 
Collar. 
Export.

Granted, the collection was tongue-in-cheek from the start and not meant to be at all misogynistic or objectifying, let alone racist... and objectifying. The lesson here is that, when commissioning an artist, there's nothing wrong with being brief and concise, but you may want to let the usage be known if you've got something in mind, just in case.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not racist... in fact, I maintain that it's physically impossible for me to be; I'm originally from Madison, WI, where we have a 3% black population. We don't even call them blacks or African-Americans, we call them the Green Bay Packers. I'm probably going to Hell for that joke, but if you've ever been to the midwest, it probably doesn't seem that funny for how largely true it is. 
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