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Two women who are in business together asked me to paint two pictures of them, in two different situations. The paintings are situations related to their business. Having seen my art, they knew in general what my art looks like. Let's call them Nina and Tanika.

Tanika is very nice and Nina is a little more hard-edged. Not much for pleasantries. So for the first painting, they told me in general what they wanted, and I agreed to show them a little drawing, just to make sure we were on the same page before I got started with the big painting.

Tanika was happy for the most part, except for a small detail with her hair. Nina had problems with a few things. The clothes that I had to invent for them looked too sexy. She thought her hair was too stringy, and that I had made both of their breasts too big.

Well, her hair really looks like that, and especially in the reference photo. But okay, I agreed to make the changes, and got to work. I worked for a long time, and I finished it this morning. Everyone I showed it to thinks it is gorgeous. And I myself am very proud of it. I did a great job.

So I took it to their office today, hoping to give it to them and get paid. Tanika loved it. No complaints. Nina liked everything but the way she looked. She told me "It's a good start." I was pretty insulted by that, after all the hours and days I had worked on it.

She thought the hair didn't look right, not for being stringy, but because of the angle, which was how it looked in the reference photo. She thought her upper torso was too big, and her arms too skinny. Her nose was too pointy, and one eye too squinty. Again, I did my best to match the reference photo, and I think I did an excellent job. She also didn't like how I did Tanika's face, although Tanika liked it.

I pulled out my camera phone and told her I could just take a photo and we could fix these problems, since a photograph seems to be what she wanted. Except it wasn't. I depicted her pretty accurately, and while she might have been right on the upper torso complaint (although I wasn't that far off), her other complaints were about how her features really look. If I change the things she wants changed, it will look less like her.

So I didn't get paid, and I took the painting home, agreeing to make those changes. And I told her it probably won't matter, if you're that determined not to like it.

I am very angry about this. It's a nice painting. I think Tanika was thrilled, but Nina seems to be the one who makes the decisions for both of them. I've had similar situations, where people weren't happy with how I drew them, and in most cases, my drawing was dead-on.

I'm thinking I don't want to do the second painting.

I've never been one to make out contracts, but I feel if I had done that, we wouldn't be having this situation now. I don't know the first thing about it, but given my experiences doing these things for other people, I need to get something down on paper that says the customer will agree to accept what the artist paints, like it or not.

I showed them my art beforehand. I think that should have given her a good idea of what she would get. So now, I can "fix" these problems, bring it back in, and who's to say she's going to be happy? I want to get paid. I have worked hard. She could conceivably get away with never paying me. I don't think that will happen, but it could.

I'm curious to see what others think of this.

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I feel your pain bro. I learned very early that portraits are the most wanted but also the most criticized areas of art to do. You will never please everyone but if you feel you've done your best then that's what you should present to them regardless. To remedy the payment problem you should ask for half the money up front. That way the customer is already invested. You should also make it clear that there are no refunds and the 2nd half of the payment is due on delivery. This way u can weed out all the non-serious customers. As for your current problem, I would make the changes but I would also ask for half in order to secure supplies and work already done. If not then I would make it sweet and sell it as an original. The art buisness is rough so you have to approach it with a strong buisness mind. No what you will and will not tolerate and don't be afraid to be vocal about it. Trust me you will get more respect and less bs.
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