Originally Posted by fatalinjection
Commissioning is a business. If you paid someone to paint your living room wall red, and they just threw blue paint all around, didn't do anything neatly, got it all over your carpet, etc, would you say, "These are people who are working hard to give you what you ask for. Some are better than others at what they do, but it was your choice to work with them."
Really, yes, it's our choice to work with them, but if we have an experience that we disliked, it's also our right to voice the fact that we were dissatisfied so that it can help other people make an informed decision about who THEY go to for their costumes.
This is so, but she reminds me of a point that has been distressing me, lately.
As I've been watching this thread, I've begun to worry about how VASTLY different the opinions on costumes can be. For example: A perfectly good commissioner might be given a bad rating by a tough critic, even if it is, in actuality, a high-quality piece. Wheras, in the opposing extreme, a mediocre commissioner might be given a stellar rating by a very generous critic for an average-quality piece. In both cases, a comissionee is giving a review that is accurate to THEIR beliefs, but would not be the general consensus should 100 other people commission that person. And, in either case, it could be detrimental towards a new business, should they receive a bad review, or detrimental towards a future customer, who sees a misrepresented good review.
I am going to suggest, if it's not too pretentious of me as neither a commissioner nor a commissionee, the beginnings of a concrete list of items to consider in one's review - to be as unbiased and factually-backed as possible, that I can only hope will be of help to someone.
Here are a few ideas (in addition to old ones), to get the ball rolling:
- I, personally, have spent months on perfecting costumes that needed research and development, so finding a commissioner who is FAST is not ALWAYS superior to finding a commissioner who might take longer. One should take into account the sewing time that is expected - but, in giving a review, the most important items to consider would involve the speed of communication responses, missed deadlines, or VAST misrepresentation of the time allotment needed.
- Expanding upon the above, but perhaps the most important item to consider before the arrival of the actual costume. An exemplary commissioner will be considerate and friendly in their posts/e-mails, and respond at least within a few days time. Immediate responses, of course, aren't always possible...That being said, I would say that if they're keeping contact within a week of your e-mails, then they are remaining professional. Communication, of course, is also dependent upon what is agreed upon initially
....especially if a commissionee expects progress pictures that the commissioner fails to deliver. If communication is not kept, then it is hard for EITHER party to be happy...the commissioner won't know what their client is expecting, and thus the client will end up with something they don't like. Therefore, in considering a communication review, make certain that you have also done your part...so you can faultlessly grade them on theirs.
- Again, I'm expanding upon the timeline consideration. The responsibility of SETTING a deadline falls to the commissionee, the responsibility of KEEPING a deadline falls to the commissioner. If a deadline is promised, it should not be missed, unless agreed upon and resolved between the two parties beforehand. In this regard, communication is the key to success, as mentioned up above.
- A double-edged sword, in that a commissioner can only be as accurate as the reference pictures provide, and thus relating back to communication (wow! I was right about it being important. o.o). If a commissionee has provided as many references as possible (and I, as a fellow cosplayer, can operate on no less than 5), then their review should reflect the parts on the costume they provided examples of. If a pictured item is missing, then...that's not accurate! But if one doesn't give the commissioner a reference of the back, and then complains that a design under the shoulder-blades was missing, they cannot possibly have reflected correctly on a commissioner's accuracy. It should never be expected that a commissioner would know your character, even if it seems obvious to you.
- If communication is kept smooth, then material choices will have already been discussed. However, for many people considering the purchase of a costume, a knowledge of fabric types is understandably limited. This means that either the comissionee should research what materials they LIKE (by looking at the tags on one's favorite outfits, investigating craft stores, etc) or the comissionee should leave the fabric choices up to the commissioner. Keep in mind: IF YOU'RE LETTING THE COMMISSIONER DECIDE, YOU'RE LEAVING IT UP TO THEIR BEST JUDGMENT, and opinions between you and your commissioner may VASTLY differ. What might feel like a terrible fabric to you could be what another comissionee was delighted to receive. If you're in doubt about fabric choices, ask the person whom you commission what materials they will chose, and why they feel that is the best choice. If you don't know what you're getting, then you are taking a gamble with your costume (If you do not like what you receive and you didn't previously discuss material choices, this is NOT the commissioner's fault). Thus, be very careful in your grading on material usage.
(In my personal opinion, if it helps anyone, I will always pick natural fabrics over synthetic: Cotton over Polyester, silk over rayon, etc. These fabrics are more expensive, but their quality is worth the price.)
- As was mentioned, creating a garment to fit a person that you have never seen is an extremely daunting task. Think of every time you go to a clothing store, and how your size can fluctuate from brand to brand. Think how long it takes to find an outfit that fits you the way you like, and then take into consideration that someone you have never met is trying to get it right on the first try. If possible, commission a costumer who lives relatively nearby, or whom you might see at an upcoming convention (to perhaps have an in-person fitting.) Also, the more measurements you can provide in your communication with the commissioner (in addition to the standard bust, waist & hips) the easier their job will be. Keep in mind, as well, that one should never take their own measurements, since one's movement in doing so will often be inaccurate. Even experienced commissioners aren't perfect with fit, however, because human beings and their body parts come in so very many sizes and shapes. I've even had costume pieces that depended upon the amount one could compress their wrist to fit a gauntlet, which is a hard thing to measure, indeed. In addition - one aspect of fit that is not very often taken into consideration is how the garment is INTENDED to be worn: If you're a female trying to dress like a male, a commissioner will sometimes lower a waistline on purpose to give the best impression for you. In such a case, a garment might SEEM to be fitted poorly, but was done so for your benefit. Make sure you talk to your commissioner about such things.
- This is a hard item to consider. One should take into account how many costumes a commissioner has created, what materials they are using, and what sort of track-record that they have. Higher charging commissioners do not always produce higher-quality costumes, however, and lower-charging commissioners aren't always 'cheap.' Until one has received their garment, it is very difficult to tell whether the price was worth it or not, but after it is in one's hands, one might consider the following: How -happy- are you with how it looks on your body? How does it feel when you wear it? How durable is it? How accurate was it? Was the commissioning experience worth it? Everything point mentioned above should factor into this grade, because if you've received something that delights you every time you think about it, and lasts for years to come, then any price you paid is a good one.
- A final note. If you're leaving a review, pictures speak louder than words. If you're promoting a commissioner who did an exceptional job, show how wonderful it was! If you're critiquing a costume that turned out poorly, document the details (the inside seams, the fraying edges, the missing clasps.) I've found it very difficult to see how accurate some reviews have been because of the lack of evidence, and, seeing as that a poor review could potentially devastate a business or create a backlash for youself, be sure that you can back your claims to prevent any embarrassment. It can sometimes be difficult to take pictures of an item (especially one that was received after a deadline, or the night before a convention), but it really does help any future customers decide where they'd like to go, so it's highly recommended.
I think that is about all for now. *dead tired* If anyone can think of anything else, I'd love to add it.